Software Engineer vs. Full Stack Developer

Software engineer and full-stack developer are popular job titles in the software industry. The two professions revolve around building and developing software. Yet, there are many noticeable differences between them.

Check out this comparison. I will highlight each field’s salaries, characteristics, and career paths. Plus, you will also learn more about their required skills and duties.

What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer focuses on designing and building applications. You will set up a software background and interface, for instance. Then, you must help maintain and develop that software’s function.

Your goal is to modify the system to meet customers’ needs. The scope of software engineering is very vast. It can combine many fields like science, math, management, and design.

Sometimes, you also evaluate and test the function of the software. Your duty is to find out the existing errors and solve them. Therefore, this profession requires excellent problem-solving skills.

Software engineers can choose to work for big firms or start their own projects. You can help maintain an existing system or create new software.

What is a Full-Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer works to improve and build websites’ operations. There are two types of full-stack developers.

The first one builds the user interface and appearance of a website. Meanwhile, the second one focuses on building the background and applications of a site. Yet, a competent developer should be able to carry out both duties.

In this profession, you must have excellent design and programming skills. There are many principles of website designing you have to learn. Along with that, you should be familiar with databases and servers.

The advantage of this career lies in its high versatility. You can thrive with the ability to build minimum projects.

Building a website

Key Differences

So, what are the differences between these two professions? Which one is more suitable for your skill set? I will dwell on their salaries, job outlooks, and duties to help you get the answer.

First, let’s check out this comparison table to learn about their differences.

FeaturesSoftware EngineerFull-Stack Developer
Learning CurvesMore flexibleMore gradual
DutiesDesigning building softwareFocus on websites
AccessibilityUsually full accessA partial access
Career OutlooksAmazing opportunities after 3-5 yearsAmazing opportunities after 3-5 years

1. Learning Curves

A full-stack developer should know the basic principles of website designing. You must be able to design the wireframe and create a website interface.

You need to master programming languages like CSS or Javascript. These languages are essential for website building. In addition, a deep understanding of database systems is also necessary.

Meanwhile, a software engineer should have a deep knowledge of computer science. The easiest path to acquire this knowledge is joining a college course.

Yet, you don’t always need a college degree for this profession. You can learn computer science concepts at home and follow this career path. Some examples are algorithms, networks, and data.

You have to use many programming tools

2. Duties

A full-stack developer constructs websites from end to end. For example, you can design the interface of a website. Your goal is to make the website more attractive and friendly to users.

Software engineers can work with many applications. It can be a website, software, or a system. Your job is to make the system more reliable to use.

Plus, you must fix and improve the system so it can meet users’ requirements. The duties of a software engineer are more diverse than those of its counterpart.

3. Accessibility

As a developer, you are responsible for nearly all parts of projects. Therefore, you can access all the programs and information resources. It helps you assist the other teams better in the project.

Meanwhile, software engineers don’t usually have full access to all the resources. The programs are only applicable to certain stages of the projects. Your access will expand the further you proceed.

4. Salaries

According to our reports, software engineers in the US earn about $133,722 per year. Meanwhile, full-stack developers have an average income of $107,690 per year.

5. Career Outlooks

You need to get more experience before working as a full-stack developer. Then, you may join courses and pick up new skills to proceed. It takes a few years before you can apply for a senior role.

Meanwhile, a software engineer should start in a junior position. You can work within a programming language, for example. After some years, you will meet more job opportunities with higher incomes.

6. Work environments

A software engineer usually joins a team in a big company. Each team member is responsible for a certain task. You can work on building a system’s applications.

Meanwhile, most full-stack developers choose to work as a freelancer. You can start your own project or seek online customers. This job is more flexible.

Which Should You Choose?

You can consider your skills and interests to choose between the two professions.

If you love building software, you should choose software engineering. This profession is also suitable for good problem solvers. Plus, software engineers usually work in teams and interact with many colleagues.

Meanwhile, full-stack developers often work alone and build their own projects. If you want independence, this profession may be the better choice.

You can work as a freelancer

Final Verdict

The two career paths bring promising job opportunities and outlooks. You can earn amazing salaries for your skills and knowledge in these fields.

I hope this comparison can help you decide between the two professions. Consider all aspects of a profession and your interests before making the decision. Thank you for reading!