Full Stack Developers: The Future is T-shaped

  • November 13, 2019

Nothing in the tech sector stays static for long. The skills and employment landscape is continually evolving, but there is one role that is consistently on the up and up and it’s that of the full stack developer.

There seems to be an insatiable demand in the industry for what some refer to as “T-shaped professionals”. In terms of developers, this refers to individuals who have a broad set of skills across the stack but deep knowledge in at least one discipline.

In the metaphor, the vertical line of the T refers to deep knowledge and specialism in one area, and the horizontal line refers to broad knowledge across areas that are not specialisms but within which there is the ability to learn, grow and collaborate with experts. The idea is that people with these T-shaped skills are capable of working across all areas of a project and able to apply knowledge across the board.

The draw of full-stack developers is growing

There is still demand, of course, for front or back-end specialists, but many companies are breaking down the barriers between siloed departments, integrating back and front end development teams and opting for versatile, full-stack developers when building their teams.

From startups to global conglomerates, there is a rationale for making these so-called T-shaped hires across the board. Most companies are looking for leaner, meaner departments, so the draw for a one-stop-development shop, in particular for startups or smaller organisations, is obvious.

Are full-stack roles just a way to cover all roles with less personnel within a smaller organisation?

For large-scale organisations with bigger floorplans, bigger needs and bigger budgets, where you would expect they would prefer to have a wealth of experts to form huge teams that have all the bases covered, there are benefits to employing full-stack developers.

Not only do full-stacks offer more bang for your buck in many cases, but people with these broad skills also have holistic approaches and understand everything that is happening at all stages of the development process. A full stack developer can jump in wherever they are needed. Often their ability to view issues or problems with multiple hats on can provide valuable insight, and their joined-up thinking can catch potential problems and pitfalls early, and perhaps prevent them altogether.

What range of skills are employers looking for?

A “full-stack developer role” isn’t a specific job description. While there is no definitive list, most employers looking for full-stack developers expect both front and back-end experience, but the role goes beyond just marrying two specialisms. All full-stacks have a different array of skills, and there is no perfect formula. Most full-stack roles require a mixture of the following:

  • Back End Languages – .NET Core / Java
  • Front End Languages – JavaScript – (Angular, React, NodeJS)
  • Microservice Architecture
  • Cloud Computing experience – (Azure / AWS)
  • Database and data (includes SQL)
  • UI/UX
  • Security

This list is not exhaustive, and the relentless pace of technological progress means that skills and platforms change so much, so often that what sets apart full-stack developers from specialist front or back-end developers is not necessarily hard skills.  The main draw of the full stack is the ability to learn quickly, retain that knowledge and adapt. That, combined with a willingness to collaborate and use innovation to achieve results, and the cerebral agility to master many skills and specialisms at once. Employers need developers who can apparently effortlessly morph into whichever flavour of tech expert that is in demand at any moment.

It’s no wonder that professionals with a broad skills base are in demand.

But a broad skills base isn’t enough – it’s the ability to combine truly deep knowledge of certain specialisms whilst developing an array of excellent skills in other areas that can also be built upon that provides the true allure of the full-stack developer.

For all of these reasons, employers are looking for these diversly-skilled, T-shaped people to fill their developer vacancies, and the expectations are growing. There is fierce competition for true full-stack developers, and as you might imagine, the career trajectory and remuneration packages on offer reflects those market conditions.

If you are already a full stack developer or fit into that metaphorical T-shaped mould that employers find irresistible, Intec Select want to talk to you about some exciting opportunities. Please get in touch.

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