Should I become a full-stack developer or a specialized developer?

If you’ve been doing your research, you probably know that there are many kinds of careers in web development and you might be wondering which to choose.

A good place to start is to decide whether or not you want to specializeOpenClassrooms provides several specialization options: we offer 12-month, bachelor’s-level diploma programs in Front-end development, as well as Back-end development in Java, Ruby and .NET

We offer a Full-stack development program (both front and back end) also an average of 12 months leading to a bachelor’s-level diploma.

For beginners, there is an accelerated 6-month Junior web developer program for which students can earn an associate’s-level diploma. After this program students will qualify for jobs as junior web developers and can go on to specialize, if desired. 

Now it’s up to you to choose.

What’s the difference between a full-stack developer and a specialized developer?

Specialized developers generally work in either front-end or back-end development. While front-end developers focus on the user side of things by building and maintaining the visible interfaces for browsers with languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, back-end developers are in charge of internal operations. They make sure users can access all relevant data and that the right data is stored in the right place.

Full-stack developers do a combination of the two. While they have more limited knowledge of specific programming languages, they can work in both front-end and back-end development and therefore follow a project from design, through to launch.

A day in the life

As a specialized developer, you’ll spend a lot of time writing and improving the code for the projects assigned to you. You’ll be an expert in your field and continue to learn throughout your career to keep up with the latest innovations.

As a full-stack developer, you will often work on a wide range of tasks because your role is truly versatile. You’ll spend less time working closely with different team members on the fine details since your role is more top level. You won’t depend on your coworkers to complete basic tasks quite as much.

What certifications will guarantee I find work?

If you take a look at job offers out there right now, you’ll see that both profiles are in high demand. The starting salary is similar for both types of positions. So the real question is, “what kind of work do you want to do?”.

Large companies are familiar with their specific needs and tend to look for specialized developers. Startups, however, seem to prefer full-stack developers because they can manage all of the company’s technological needs from the get go. If moving up the career ladder is important to you, know that full-stack developers often have a wider perspective on projects so they are better equipped to manage a team. They have proficiency in both front and back-end, which allows them to see a project through from a to z. 

How is my existing experience relevant to my decision?

Our Full-stack developer program is really strategic for those who already have professional experience and want to upskill with a goal for a promotion, and for those wanting to improve their performance in their current roles with a better grasp on both front and back. These individuals might include IT managers, freelancers or even C-levels who want to understand their tech team’s work better.

Planning to start your own business? You’ll be able to design your own products more easily if you study full-stack development.

I’m feeling lost. How do I decide?

No need to panic. The best thing to do is try out the different programming languages to find the right fit. Start with what you like best, and then move on to learn other languages as you go.

A career in web development means continuously renewing your knowledge to keep up with the market, learning new technologies and the latest frameworks.

Start with our beginners’ courses accessible completely for free:

Frontend

Build your website with HTML5 and CSS3

A precursor to Java

Think like a computer: Understanding the language of programming

JavaScript

Learn to code with Javascript

UML

Map out your project with UML

Ruby

Take you first steps with Ruby

Also consider reaching out to professional web developers to ask them about their jobs and how they got started. This all will help you narrow things down and make a decision.

Ready to start?

If you want to get certified for a career in web development we’ve got you covered! We offer a six-month job guarantee because we know you’ll get hired fast once you finish your studies. Set a call with one our Student Success Team members for more guidance. 

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