What is the career outlook for Full Stack developers

Hello, I have 6 years of full-stack development and took 6 months off. At my last employer, shortly before leaving, they were planning on training developers on a low-code platform (Outsystems, to be precise). For the last 4 of the 6 years I worked, I used Angular 2+, .NET MVC/Web API and later Express. I started re-learning React a few weeks ago thinking I might want to do full stack + mobile with React native. I was wondering if Fullstack is really enough anymore (is the field saturated, too many devs depressing wages). I was wondering if it would be better to focus on machine learning, blockchain / DApps, data science or some other area now. Especially because in my case, I want to only work as a contractor under my own LLC.

I really appreciate freecodecamp.org and have been a donor and newsletter reader for years. It was one of the sites that helped me advance my career.

Hi @ochsec !

Do think it is that way across the board for junior, mid and senior level?

I am still pretty new to this industry(10 months in) but I would imagine it is pretty crowded right now for entry level developers.
With Covid, I feel like a lot of people (including myself) decided to learn programming.

But I feel like for you, it wouldn’t be that saturated for senior web devs.

I would think that with your experience your place in the industry is pretty secure.

But I could be wrong since I am not a seasoned professional :grinning:

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From what I’ve seen, the number of fullstack jobs has continued to increase faster than the number of qualified applicants.


yeah with that kind of experience, I would say throw your resume around, get on a few calls with recruiters and see what pay is like in your area and see if it’s worth it to you. I know my first dev job was low because there are lots of new devs but my second dev job I almost doubled my pay.

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The thing with being full stack is flexibility. So if one area is depressed you can easily pivot to another area. Or you can be on your own building what someone requires without needing extra support.

It is true no-code platforms are becoming more powerful and more popular, however, their biggest weakness is the fact the people using them to build stuff don’t know what they want most of the time. This isn’t something easily fixed, and is probably something you’ve ran into in the past. This isn’t automatically fixed by giving them more power thru their no-code platform, its fix by having a better understanding the problem they are trying to solve thru software. As such having someone with experience in building systems and understanding the problem is very helpful in situations where the problem isn’t clearly defined.

Its worth noting that these kinds of systems affect those who do work that is covered by these sorts of systems, so if you are able to build complex applications that these systems can’t, then your still relevant. If for example you can only build static web pages, then you might have a tougher time. I assume with years of full-stack experience you should be much safer off and still in demand.

A piece of anecdotal evidence I’ve been seeing are developers with good amount of experience are actually changing jobs and getting increased wages. I believe the main driving force are companies are seeing the end of the pandemic, and want to position themselves for what they assume will be a growth period after such a period of contraction. So part of this means investing to get workers who can take advantage of this growth. As such, wages are increasing, and people are changing jobs to those that are able to “bet” for this period.

I already know similar industries are following a similar pattern, where those that are positioned to “bet” for the future are taking advantage of those that are in worse shape, and are investing into growing their own share. Another example are airlines, where large powerful airlines are actually investing into upgrades/updates to their fleet and markets where-as smaller harder hit airlines are just trying to stay alive, and aren’t in the right position to increase their market share, thus “giving up ground” to those who can.

Again this is all anecdotal evidence and I suggest looking out on your own to check the job market, but it all passes the “smell test” for me, as even I can see the truth in the idea the worse of the pandemic is over, at least where I live. The same isn’t true everywhere, but it is worth keeping an eye out for when things start looking up for the exact same reason.

I think data-science/machine learning might be a little hard as a contractor, if you don’t have experience in this field before. The main blocker is you need data, and that data comes from the company hiring you. So that means they essentially give you all their data, which might make some companies uncomfortable for any number of reasons. I’m sure solid legal will make it less risky for them, but it isn’t something you see often and you yourself will have to deal with the legal stuff as part of your own company.

If you have experience doing that sort of stuff then more power to you and good luck! Being a contractor in those kinds of fields, and being able to deliver should allow you to get a solid paycheck! But getting into the door and finding those few jobs where they want a contractor for it would be a little tougher than less “risky” sort of work, plus due to the nature of the work there aren’t as many jobs to begin with.

Good luck, keep learning, keep growing! :+1:


Thanks for your insight. My significant other also decided to learn programming during the pandemic, but she’s not ready to start a job search yet.

“From what I’ve seen”

Are you talking about job postings, what your friends & colleagues have said, or your specific employer?

Thanks, @dmoneyballer , I had a similar experience when I started my last job at Roche I got a 40% pay increase.

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I’m talking about my experience with job searches, interviewing candidates, and conversations with recruiters. I am also talking about the impressions I’ve gotten from friends and colleagues, and the last time I looked into the statistics and projections from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I do have a track-record of being flexible that others can attest to and have built apps/services on my own. The reason I moved to my last job is that it gave me the opportunity to work independently on projects to build internal tools and services as well as a customer-facing app.

people using them to build stuff don’t know what they want most of the time

Been in requirements meetings with various stakeholders so I definitely know what you’re talking about there. Also, have been on Agile teams where requirements are constantly revised.

The main blocker is you need data , and that data comes from the company hiring you

I most recently developed services around medical data, so I’m sure if I had been an independent contractor I would have had to sign a ton of agreements. Although, I guess it would basically be the same as what I signed in onboarding.

From what everyone’s saying, it sounds like Fullstack still has plenty of opportunities. I just have to decide how to approach the market and what I want to work on.

I dunno if “full stack” is really a thing. It’s a buzzword, it doesn’t really mean anything: what you’re describing is just that you’re a reasonably experienced developer whose employment has focused on web-based software, and that you have experience of both client-side and server-side systems. You can pretty much apply for most web-related jobs, as what you’ve listed says that you’ve likely got enough experience to be able to pick up new frameworks/tools or new languages. And there are many more jobs for developers with experience than there are developers. You’re in a really good position.

Re low code platforms if that’s one of the things you’re worried about, it’s always been the case (particularly at large multinationals; it’s much easier to bill for one thing). It hasn’t reduced the need for developers in the past, and afaics no current platforms are drastically better than what existed beforehand. It’s just getting press from PR atm & there’s a long way to go before it’s going to start biting at employment figures.

You can probably do this now and do well out of it; large organizations are always hiring contractors. Helps if you’re a specialist in something (but then that naturally narrows the field of available jobs).

If that’s from a programming perspective, then you’ve mentioned two very fashionable things and one thing which isn’t necessarily programming. Machine learning is very useful, but there aren’t a huge number of jobs, not relative to your current skillset. Application of machine learning is only going to increase, but that isn’t really any different to what you’re doing at the minute: plug a library in to an app, use it. But re. actual creation of the models and the applications that use the models, (afaics) that seems likely to stay specialised. And Blockchain/DApps – most of the field is a solution in search of a problem atm. Making a bet on blockchain technologies is fair enough, but again it’s not a big field re. jobs as there currently aren’t many practical usecases. That being said, lots of people are making lots of money out of selling something with the name “ML” or “Blockchain” slapped on it, so from a cynical perspective you can do very well out of selling snake oil, but anyway… Data science is a bit nebulous, but it’s applied statistics + some CS + domain knowledge – analysis of data is extremely important, but how long will it take you to be able to specialise in that? None of these things are bad bets per se, and highly specialised knowledge in any will probably pay more from a contractor PoV, it’s just how willing you are to sink a large amount of time getting to the point where you’ve got enough specialised knowledge to be able to get work (vs. where you are now, where you can effectively get work straightaway)

Depending on where you are, it may or may not be true that wages are not at a level you would like.

Specific to the US, the national picture is quite good for Senior Software Engineer, Full Stack Developer/Engineer, and similar. Your local area may or may not be reflective of that. For example, I am in the Houston, TX area. Historically, I have been paid near the top 10% for my area (according to various industry surveys), but only in the top quartile nationally, and slightly below median for certain regions (i.e. Silicon Valley).

That has started to change in recent years. All the majors (FAANG) are hiring like crazy in the Austin TX area, and many of them are hiring across my state for remote workers, pushing the top of the pay scale up a good bit more. Based on a recent conversation with a SDE manager at Amazon, his team has 5 openings now. He anticipates another 13, possibly 20, before the end of the year - and he has to “compete” with all the other SDE managers to fill his roles.

tl/dr - I think the outlook is pretty good for full stack.

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