Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: Whom to Choose?


May 11, 2023

The world of software development is spread far and wide. Amidst the multiple roles that are defined here, two popular roles that are often compared are Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer.

It is difficult to understand the difference between them. Both these roles can be found simultaneously in any organization or can be chosen based on requirements.

There is so much increased scope for full stack development and custom software development. As we evaluate the characteristics of software engineer vs full stack developer, there are certain areas where their roles overlap and certain places where there is a distinction.

Overall, we see a set of similarities and differences that exist. Each one specializes in their own aspect of software development and need different skills for fulfilling their responsibilities.

As we observe the soaring demand for both roles, it is highly significant to understand the individual characteristics of full stack developers and software engineers since both are an asset to technical teams.

This article focuses on understanding both roles separately and then observing the difference between software engineer and full stack developer.

Through this read, we will cover the following areas:

  • Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer
  • Job description
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Key skills
  • Salary
  • Similarity and difference between Full Stack Developer and Software Engineer

So, let us get started.

Full Stack Developer Job Description

A full stack developer is a technical expert who manages the front end as well as the back end with ease. They are apt at designing and creating websites and apps, dealing with clients, and working on databases, servers, frameworks, APIs, libraries, etc.

They are well-versed in multiple programming languages, frontend frameworks, and backend databases.

They have extensive knowledge and offer comprehensive system engineering services that consist of mobile, web, and native application technology stacks.

Since they are proficient in frontend and backend both, they can even monitor projects with responsibility and track their progress, for timely completion.

Full stack developers understand in depth, all parts of web applications, websites, mobile applications, and the way systems work in sync with each other.

They work on server configuration, database development and implementation, client coding, and QA testing. They also build effective user interfaces that can assist in data input and output.

Also Read: What Is Full Stack Developer: Roles, Responsibilities, Skills And Scope

Software Engineer Job Description

As you think about what a software engineer is, they are technology experts who have detailed knowledge of programming languages, OS, and software development practices.

They are keen to harness their engineering fundamentals to offer tailor-made software solutions for organizations.

A software engineer can build native applications for different platforms – mobile devices, desktops, consoles, TV sets, etc. with the help of languages like Java, C++, Swift, etc.

They apply mathematical analysis and the fundamentals of computer science for creating a variety of software elements.

They select apt algorithms for solving issues based on parameters like memory space, processing power, and OS compatibility. They work in sync with other members like programmers, designers, and analysts.

They undergo detailed planning of their projects with intensive knowledge about their project.


Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: Roles and Responsibilities


Full Stack Developer Responsibilities
  • Creation of websites, programs, databases, and online content
  • Maintenance of applications and codebase
  • Testing and fixing bugs for better functioning
  • Collaboration with management for project timelines
  • Creation of APIs and interfaces for two-way communication
  • Cross-platform accordance for different devices and browsers
  • Client consultation
  • Creating software prototypes
  • Becoming a leader for product teams
  • Writing of code for frontend and backend work
  • Performance monitoring of applications
  • Assisting team members in task completion
  • Developing APIs and RESTful protocols
Software Engineer Responsibilities
  • Creation of software documentation
  • Testing and creating programs for ensuring quality
  • Performing all types of testing – unit, integration, system, acceptance, etc.
  • Informing management and teams on project status
  • Identifying risks and suggesting changes
  • Management of software development life cycles
  • Monitoring system performance
  • In-depth data analysis for the enhancement of systems
  • Creation of project plans and schedules
  • Establishes new solutions to assist businesses
  • Communication of project status with departments and clients
  • Finding out areas of improvement and further lines of action

Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: Key Skills Involved

Even if they lie in the same industry segment, there are distinct skill set requirements that the two roles must exhibit. Some of them are common while others totally stand apart. Here are they:

Full Stack Developer Skills:
  • Detailed knowledge of programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, PHP, jQuery, etc.
  • Management of frontend and backend tasks
  • Databases like MySQL, NoSQL, PostgreSQL, etc.
  • Managing the security of databases
  • Core application development
  • Understanding of web architecture and code structuring
  • Leadership, project management, task management, client communication
  • Time management, creative thinking skills, analytical thinking
  • Modernized development methods like DevOps, Agile, CI/CD, etc.
Software Engineer Skills:
  • Working knowledge of programming languages like Java, C++, Python, Ruby, etc.
  • Object Oriented Design principles
  • Debugging and issue resolution
  • Different Testing methods like unit testing, integration testing, etc.
  • Easy communication with team members
  • Computer and database architecture, data structures
  • Visual and web designing
  • Time management, analytical thinking
  • Communication and interpersonal skills

Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: The Salary Details

Full Stack Developer Salary:

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a full stack developer is $98,026 in the United States

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a full stack developer is £56,784 per year in the United Kingdom

According to talent.com, the average full stack developer salary in Australia is $120,000 per year

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a full stack developer is $115,115 per year in New Zealand

Salary of Software Engineer:

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a software engineer is $90,824 in the United States

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a software engineer is £50,392 per year in the United Kingdom

According to talent.com, the average software engineer salary in Australia is $119,974 per year

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a software engineer is $98,000 per year in New Zealand

Before we plunge into the difference between Full Stack Developer and Software Engineer let us go through the similarities they possess:

The Similarities:
  • Focus on achieving client and project goals
  • Work as a part of a team to design, develop, and test software
  • Collaborate with data scientists, programmers, data analysts
  • Build testing environments to simulate real-world conditions
  • Understanding of modern approaches like DevOps, Agile, Scrum, etc.
  • Hands-on programming experience with popular languages

Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: An Interesting Evaluation

Parameters Full Stack Developer Software Engineer
Functions Experts in all steps of app development. Can work on any part of the application. They look at server-side and client-side development, creating faster prototypes with a holistic approach.


They can develop databases, construct APIs, and design websites. The web applications developed by them can have multiple functionalities

Create applications that execute on a desktop. Can work on specific parts of the application. They undertake coding, testing, and execution of applications belonging to a specific section.


They oversee a feature of an OS while operating on it. The software developed by them has user-centric and limited functionalities.

Opportunities Web designer, web developer, full stack developer Search engineer, gaming developer
Development Works on both – frontend and backend development Develops applications that are executed on the computer
Focus Areas Web applications Native applications
Accessibility Can access all components of web application without any hindrance Can access partial components since their responsibility is limited
Product Utilization Anyone can utilize their products with access to the Internet and a browser, for e.g. Grammarly, Amazon, etc. Products are installed on devices that are accessed only after installation, for e.g. MS Word, Adobe Photoshop, etc.
Learning Curve Learning about web programming, and front end and back-end development is good enough to start off Having a formal degree in computer science is essential for getting into this field
Activities Full stack developers undertake design and implementation activities during the software development lifecycle. They take care of UI design, logic design, coding, and testing. Software engineers also take up designing system architecture and implementation activities but one after the other, not in parallel.
Domain Experience Exposure to multiple technical domains like BI, data warehousing, etc. Exposure to limited technical domains, specializing one at a time
Programming Languages, Libraries, Frameworks Full stack developers must know technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, Python, Mustache, EJS, Svelte, Next.js, Semantic UI, MongoDB, etc. Software engineers must know technologies like C, C++, Java, Python, Swift, Node.js, Angular.js, TensorFlow, React, Django, Spring, etc.
Role in a Project Serves as a team leader, assisting all team members in thorough task execution Serves as a senior team member collaborating with other team members in phases
Limitations Since newer technologies continuously get added, it is difficult for the full stack developer to stay abreast with the latest skills and technologies, all the while. Since they work independently, it becomes difficult for them to resolve issues and stay integrated in the team, as an involved team member
Sample Use Cases Websites for business/blog, chat applications, social media applications, video conferencing apps, etc. Task management system, sentiment analysis, employee management system, image encryption system, etc.
Choosing Between Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: The Final Verdict

Selecting between Software Engineer vs Full Stack Developer can be a tough task. The above differences and comparisons can surely help you take a final call. Both are well-known for their salient features and possess their own popularity quotient. The demand for both is increasing by the day and they are offering great career prospects.

As organizations decide on whom to choose, it is important to understand what exactly the project need. Both roles are specific to certain tasks and hence involved stakeholders must perceive what needs to be done. A full stack developer would be a better choice if your project demands variety and flexibility. If the need is a focused or narrow area, a software engineer would be a preferred option.

We @ SPEC INDIA offer Full Stack development services including frontend, backend, database management, and all that it takes for a complete development setup. As a Full Stack development company, we ensure that our Full Stack developers are all set to assist you with needed expertise in all areas, identifying roles and responsibilities with corresponding challenges.

As you hire our team of Full Stack developers, you can rest assured with your core abilities leaving the Full Stack Development to us, as we deliver a full-proof and robust application, maximizing your RoI.

Our custom software development services cover the gamut from developing to testing to deployment and management. We help you realize your vision at scale with our custom, seamless, and scalable software that is designed to meet a specific set of needs of users and organizations.

Take the first step towards success by partnering with us for hiring full stack developers or software engineers, to create customized software solutions that are easy to scale, easy to maintain, and tailored specifically to your needs.


SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as an ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.

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