Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer | Which of the Two Might Be a Better Career in IT?

“Should I become a software engineer or a full stack developer?” Perhaps, you are confused about which one is best for you between the two.

Don't fret—you are not alone. Many people, including those in the digital industry, don't have a clear distinction between a software engineer and a full-stack developer. Most of them use the two terms interchangeably to refer to the same profession.

However, there is a world of difference between a full-stack developer and a software engineer. It would help if you had a clear distinction between the two concepts before deciding which one is best for you. Here, you have the top-rated courses for Full Stack Developers.

What does software engineering refer to, and how is it different from a full stack developer job description?

full stack developer

What Is Software Engineering? 

A software engineer is a broad term that can be seen as a superset of full-stack web development. It encompasses everyone, including specialists in coding languages such as Python and C#, and embedded engineers. The software development field can also include mobile apps developers and a software developer who creates apps for your mobile device, depending on the operating system.

Software engineers know how to architect a program and decide how it will be built before software developers take the responsibility of building it.

Software engineers are experts in the field, and there is a high demand for software engineers in the market. They are responsible for planning projects and coming up with solutions that solve a particular issue.

Full-stack developers are a subset of software engineering. Full-stack developing deals with databases and handling client-side development and servers. On the other hand, software engineering covers client-side development, servers, handling databases, and many other development areas.

Many skills of a software engineer and a full stack developer overlap each other.

laptop in the air

What Is a Full Stack Developer?

Full-stack web developers are a subset of software engineering.

The developers handle all the work involving servers, handling databases, system engineering, and clients.

Full-stack development requires someone knowledgeable about front-end and back-end development. Front-end development involves software development from scratch. It involves planning and designing a website by inputting a set of instructions and making the website functional and responsive.

Back-end software development involves developers who work on the website while the front-end developer focuses on the design and development. The back-end developers come up with web applications that make the website more responsive. Such applications can include hyperlinked buttons.

ai intelligence

The full-stack developers are famous as they possess many skills and extensive knowledge about web development. There is a high demand for full-stack web developers in the market, and their demand also reflects in their salary as they are highly paid.

A full-stack web developer can work on a mobile stack, a native application stack, or a web stack, depending on the client's needs and the nature of the project. The developers are experienced in server-side and client-side development. As such, they can oversee a project from scratch and keep the progress in check throughout the process. Additionally, the developers can help other developers, such as the back-end developers to complete their projects.

Most companies and organizations require the services of a full-stack developer. The developers can enhance the company's productivity, and they can also handle multiple responsibilities.

man behind the computer

What is the Difference Between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer? 

Becoming a software engineer or a full stack developer requires a lot of knowledge and experience in the fields. The two files have a lot of similarities and overlapping of roles and responsibilities. Therefore, it's possible to confuse the two and even use the names interchangeably.

But is a full-stack developer a software engineer?

Let's look at how the two fields of web development differ.


Full-stack developers are responsible for coming up with fast prototype designs for a project. Unlike software engineers that are specific, full-stack developers are holistic in coming up with solutions when undertaking a project.

first difference

As mentioned earlier, software engineers have a specific role in the development of software or application. They are involved in developing a step of the whole program. The software engineer has to look at the specific aspect of the web development process. He/she must ensure that the particular step of the program development works well with other components of the project and is also free from errors.


Software developers and full-stack developers also differ in terms of the skills that they possess.

For instance, a software engineer knows various popular programming languages and their choice of a programming language depends on the project's requirements. The software engineers are focused on languages that are used in creating apps for different operating systems like Windows, MAC, etc.

Such languages include Java, Swift, C#, and other software development languages. Software engineers also need to be well-versed with basic concepts and knowledge of computer science.

girl with books

On the other hand, full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable in client-side development, system engineering, handling database, and server management. The developer requires to know the programming languages associated with such domains.

A full-stack developer should be familiar with front-end programming languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. They should also have experience in back-end programming languages such as PHP and Python.


Most startup companies prefer hiring full-stack developers. They hire the full stack developers as technical partners for technical support as they can handle both client-side and server-side developments. The full-stack developers also possess a variety level of skills that make them capable of operating as entrepreneurs.

On the other hand, there is a high demand job for software engineers in large companies. They prefer them as they can handle a particular aspect of the project to perfection. The software engineer works with a team to ensure the whole project is running smoothly. They also deal with any issue that may arise during the process.



A full-stack developer develops web applications. Their web products can handle a specific issue such as Grammarly, or they can handle multiple issues. All the web applications you see on your computer are products of full-stack developers. Their products are accessible to anyone as long as you have an internet connection and a browser.

Software engineers build native apps. As such, the products of software engineers remain installed in a device. You can only access the applications if you install them on your device. Most of the products by software engineers serve a single purpose, such as MS Word, Adobe Photoshop, and Skype.

peple around the table working


There is a demand for full-stack developers, and the high demand reflects in their salary.

Companies and other organizations pay full-stack developers highly as they can handle multiple responsibilities, including client-side and server-side developments. The salary of a full stack developer will increase depending on their mastery and experience with different languages.

a lot of money

The salary of a full-stack developer in the United States as of 2020 is between $105,813 and $108,984 per year.

A software engineer's salary in the United States may be lower than that of a full-stack developer. However, their pay increases with an increase in expertise. As a software engineer, you can enhance your expertise in your area to attract better pay.

The average salary of a software engineer in the United States is about $92,046.

Learning Path 

You don't require a technical degree or a bachelor's degree courses to become a full-stack developer.

You can train yourself on programming languages, design, front-end development, and back-end development and start your career as a full-stack developer. If you want to get the required knowledge in the field, you can take full-stack development courses.

boy studying

If you want to start a career as a software engineer, you need to have at least a degree in computer science. The barrier to joining software engineering as a professional is bigger than in joining full-stack development.

Role in a Team 

Most of the time, a full-stack developer is a leader in a team. He/she will help other team members to complete their tasks.

They are better placed as heads of a team because they have knowledge and experience of client-side development and server-side development.

On the other hand, software engineers are mostly part of a team, and they work in a specific step in the development process. They work together with other members of a team to complete the project without errors.

what is your role


Both software engineering and full-stack development careers have drawbacks that you should be prepared for as you choose.

For instance, new technologies are emerging in the market. The job of a full stack developer becomes more challenging as you have to keep up with the new technologies, and you need to learn all the new skills in the field. You'll have to learn the new skills so as not to lag. As a full-stack developer, you are involved in solving back-end problems.

One significant challenge with software engineering is working in isolation. Software developers work on specific aspects of the project, meaning they are mostly working in isolation from other team members.

work in isolation


Software engineering Vs. full-stack development, which one should you choose?

Your career choice between the two should depend on your interests, intrigues, and what you want to achieve. As you have seen in our comparison article, there is a world of difference between the two professions. 

However, they are both well paying though you'll have higher barriers in joining software engineering than in full-stack development.

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