If you plan to hire a software engineer or full-stack developer for your project, you need to clearly understand what the key differences between these two are.
Even though both software engineers and full-stack developers handle all software development essentials, they have different approaches and focus areas. When you run your business, you are interested in hiring the right person to perform your tasks.
Being in the staff augmentation business for many years, our team faced numerous cases when the company searched staff for software development projects, not knowing whom they needed.
Of course, it’s evident that these two roles are related to each other, and full-stack development is a sub-category of software engineering. Yet, why these job titles must be different?
If we look at these two positions from another angle, we can see the difference. A software engineer usually decides how something should be constructed, and a full-stack developer is a contractor who builds stuff.
So, the tasks of full-stack developers and software engineers are different. Let’s see four critical differences between these two roles.
4 Key Differences When Hire a Software Engineer or Full-stack Developer For Software Development Projects
1. Skillset and Scope
Both software engineers and full-stack developers must have in-depth knowledge of coding languages. Yet, a full-stack developer needs to have a broader understanding of more advanced programming languages. It is so because full-stack programmers work across many tasks, from front-end development and core application to back-end programming.
Among full-stack developers’ responsibilities is a user interface design and management of app functions. They are also working on the applications’ back-end and managing databases and security.
With so many responsibilities, the person who handles a full stack developer’s role needs to continuously oversee a technology portfolio, react to industry needs with agility and switch from one area to another when required.
A software engineer has narrower responsibilities set, though they must possess strong skills in many areas. In addition to software development, they must be able to test and resolve programming errors, dive deeply into the code, and debug, often using QA automation to speed up their work.
Software engineers usually develop individual applications, in most cases taking responsibility for only one project at a time. Their work often focused on applications downloaded to one device and used only from that location. Before a software engineer takes the task, strict planning and consulting should be done.
2. Soft Skills and Personality
Since the full-stack developer has a variety of tasks, their personality should be adaptable. This person needs to thrive by working fast when building prototypes and carrying out ad hoc testing one minute before switching back to work on servers and databases or discussing new features with the client.
Primarily, there won’t be time to build knowledge or specialize in a particular area, so such a developer should be comfortable with this. This person begins working on the task and problem-solves rather than plan or consult with colleagues.
Since software engineers are team players, they need to communicate well. Moreover, they are planners – people who are happy to work with diagrams and charts, the ones who plan the solution to the issue before they start working. The primary job requirement is a strong sense of vision and foresight.
Moreover, software engineers need to clearly explain if their requests are practical or achievable to the client. If it’s not, the programmer should be able to provide alternatives.
3. Training and Background
Full-stack developers don’t need to have a specific technical degree. Their duties require a learn-on-the-job skills. Most programmers of that kind are gaining unpaid experience, spending several years building up their portfolio and skill set. Usually, such developers spend hours learning code.
Beginner full-stack developers, apart from coding, need to gasp a business sense and knowledge of what organizations need in terms of back- and front-end technology.
On the other hand, software engineers are more likely to have a degree in computer science or electronics. However, their specialization depends on whether they work on embedded software or middleware development.
4. Prospects and Career Path
Full-stack development seems to be a more challenging career path. It’s because of the nature of this job. Each area of a full-stack developer’s responsibility is evolving, and the programmer needs to keep track of every advancement they need. Moreover, it requires a strong understanding of what should be done, so that every project the developer works on is split into a smaller group of tasks. As a result, the developer will be able to keep up with every task and check the advancements in each area needed for the project.
It might seem that it is a great idea to transfer creative tasks to graphic designers who know how to code the layout. Yet, creative thinking and problem-solving are the most desirable skills for both full-stack developers and software engineers.
Software engineers also face various challenges since this job may depend on the company the engineers work at. For example, a skilled software engineer may end up in a position where he needs to fix and maintain legacy software so that there will be little room for expanding his skills.
Another challenge software engineers can face is becoming highly specialized in developing the application. As a result, they can be left working in isolation without teamwork that often enriches and accompanies software development. And if you have a narrow niche product it might be extremely hard to hire a software engineer who specializes in such product development.
As for salaries, they depend on geographical location, expertise, and experience. It is evident that Easter European engineers earn less than the US. Usually, you can attract better pay when you work in a particular niche or have a unique skill set. Both roles are a part of a growing sector, and it’s easy to find a job with a good wage.
Some professionals are migrating between roles so that a full-stack developer can become a software engineer or vice versa.
Both software engineers and full-stack developers cover all software development essential. Yet, they differ in their focus field and approach.
Top Sum Up
As a business owner, when searching for programmers, you need to define what kind of developer you need since there are a lot of cases when the person is looking to hire a software engineer but requires a solid full-stack programmer.