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Full Stack Developer Guide 2023

Want to know all about being a full-stack developer? You’re in the right place. As a tech recruitment agency with software developers on our team, we know a fair bit about the topic. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that covers everything from a detailed full-stack developer salary guide across major Australian cities to the crucial skills and courses needed to excel in this dynamic field.

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What is a full-stack developer?

Blending creativity and technical expertise, a full-stack developer is like a jack-of-all-trades in the world of website and application development. They can handle the entire process, from designing a user interface to managing server-side functions.


Full-stack developer skills

Full-stack devs need a diverse set of skills to handle both the front and backend of web applications. In some cases, a developer can be frontend or backend leaning. Here are some key skills they typically require:

Frontend development skills

These centre around key technologies such as HTML and CSS and responsive design, which are essential for constructing and styling web pages. Mastery of JavaScript is crucial for adding interactive elements, and familiarity with frameworks like Angular, React, or Vue.js is very beneficial.

Backend development skills

These cover proficiency in server-side programming languages like Python, Ruby, JavaScript, TypeScript, Java, Golang, PHP, or Node.js. Equally important is knowledge of database management and familiarity with MySQL, MongoDB, Oracle, or SQLServer, and understanding how to effectively design, query, and manage data.

Additionally, skill in API development is essential, enabling the creation and management of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow different services to communicate with each other.

Version control/Git

Understanding of version control, particularly Git, to track changes in the codebase and collaborate with other developers.

Basic design skills

Understanding of basic design principles including UI/UX design.

Web architecture

Knowledge of how to structure code, separate files, data storage, and computing resources efficiently for a scalable and robust web application.

Additional Technologies

Familiarity with cloud services (like AWS, Azure), containerisation technologies (like Docker), and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices can be advantageous.

Other skills

Soft skills such as problem-solving and troubleshooting issues, the ability to effectively communicate with team members and stakeholders and time management are just as important for full-stack developers and complement technical expertise.

Full stack developer vs software engineer

The terms are often used interchangeably in the tech industry, especially in smaller companies and start-ups, but they can have slightly different connotations depending on the context.

Full-stack engineers may engage in more complex engineering problems, including system architecture design and performance optimisation. They often have deeper knowledge in areas such as algorithm design, system architecture, data security, cloud computing, and DevOps practices.

Full stack developer salary in Australia

The salary for a full-stack developer in Australia varies widely depending on experience, location, and other factors.

Junior full-stack developer positions typically start at $70,000 per year, while more senior full-stack engineers can earn up to $200,000 per year + super. The average salary for full-stack developers sits somewhere around AUD 120,000 per year + super.

Contract full-stack developers and engineers can expect anywhere from $900 and up to $1200 per day, depending on experience and expertise.

Average full-stack developer salary by city

These are averages based on more recently advertised roles on Indeed.com, Jora.com and Seek.com (in 2023). Keep in mind, remuneration is nuanced so take this information as a guide only.

  • Sydney: $120,000 - $128,896 per year
  • Melbourne: $125,000- $125,982 per year
  • Brisbane: $119,999 - $124,550 per year
  • Perth: the average is about $123,750 per year
  • Adelaide: $100,000 - $130,000 per year
  • Hobart: $90,000 - $120,000 per year
  • Darwin: the average is around $119,350 per year

Lookahead's recent placements in 2023

There are many salary surveys out there. We recommend folks start with Think & Grow’s. They have collaborated with the major VCs and many large employers, many of whom are not their clients - so it’s a reasonably comprehensive view of the market.

Even when you’re looking at a well-researched salary survey, it’s hard to know whether their numbers are right for your situation. Averages can be misleading, especially when you’re trying to hire above-average talent. With that in mind, the most useful thing we can do is provide anonymised salaries for offers that developers recently accepted.

👇 Please note:

  • We’re a niche tech recruiter who companies partner with to source the best developers in Australia.
  • This usually means higher than average salaries. That said, companies in crypto, finance or US companies hiring remote Australians usually pay more than our clients do.
  • To keep things anonymised we round to the nearest $5k and only talk about base salaries. Corporates often have valuable benefits on top, startups offer stock. Keep this in mind.
    Senior in one company might not be senior in another.
  • We hire many other roles (data engineers, product managers, UX designers - anyone in a software team). But the volume is lower and it’d be harder to anonymise, so we’re focusing on devs.

Jun-Dec 2023 Placements

  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $200,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $190,000
  • Front End Developer | Senior | $840
  • SRE / DevOps | Senior | $190,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $900 daily rate
  • SRE / DevOps | Senior | $1000 daily rate
  • Backend Developer | Senior | $200,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $165,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $160,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $150,000
  • Backend Developer | Senior | $155,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $160,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $1000 daily rate
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $150,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $165,000
  • Front End Developer | Mid | $115,000
  • Full Stack Developer | Senior | $165,000

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How to become a full stack developer

Want to know what a full-stack developer roadmap looks like? It goes something like this.

1. Learn the essential skills

  • Choose your frontend development stack: learn HTML/CSS, followed by Angular or React, both of which are JavaScript-based, and learn about APIs. Get to know about jQuery and dive into advanced JavaScript to strengthen your frontend stack.
  • Choose your backend stack starting with Node.js and Express.js. Programming languages such as Java, Python, and PHP are a must on the list of back-end development skills. Perfect writing code in PHP, C# and Python over time to become the best full-stack developer.
  • Along with back-end skills, you must learn about databases. Some popular choices include MySQL, MongoDB, Oracle Database, and SQLite.
  • Get familiar with web hosting and popular servers such as Heroku, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon web services, and Microsoft Azure.
  • Choose your full-stack developer frameworks, which is where you will spend a lot of time. A few popular ones are Angular, React, and Django and mastering any of those can land you several jobs. Full-stack developers use Angular, which is useful for single-page applications. Django, written in Python language, supports databases like Oracle and MySQL. While React is useful for creating UI, Symfony can help in the creation of robust applications.
  • Learn version control skills, the most popular being GitHub. Subversion and Git are other version control skills you need to learn. It is quite common to use version control skills for a full-stack developer.

2. Get qualified

While learning the above skills can be done without formal qualifications, many employers prefer to see some programming or software development training.

Think about getting a qualification. Options include a certificate or diploma in IT and programming, specialising in frontend and/or backend development or a bachelor's degree in IT or computer science. In Australia, many of these are offered by universities, TAFE, and private companies like Upskilled, Lumify Learn, General Assembly and Code Academy. See a list of suggested courses below.

3. Get job ready

  • While you’re studying, consider doing an internship or mentorship program to put new skills and knowledge into practice.
  • Join web development meet-ups and attend conferences and events.
  • Participate in hackathons and practice designing creative applications to build up your portfolio.
  • Chat with a technical recruiter to get the lay of the land. Reach out to our team here.

4. Master the mastery

Already a full-stack developer looking to upskill?

Bradfield School Of Computer Science - an intensive online school for software engineering seeking mastery. Their primary offering is a 12-month live online program, intended for mid-career software engineers to take part time to accelerate their careers.


Stages of the developer: a few tips from Alex Sloman.

  • As a junior: be useful and ask questions, expect to make mistakes and fail with grace.
  • As a mid: take on responsibility and consolidate your gains with praxis.
  • As a senior: design thoughtful solutions, mentor your juniors with care, and keep a calm demeanour.
  • As a lead: consult, delegate, and empower your team, heighten your sensitivity to people, and develop a panoramic view of technology.
  • As anyone: develop good habits, contribute to open-source, and be excellent to one another.

Full-stack developer courses

  • Certificate IV in Information Technology (programming) - Develop the technical skills and knowledge required for junior-level programming roles. Learn about programming languages (Java, Phyton, HTM, CSS), mobile applications and database creation and management.
    • Upskilled: Online, 12 months, self-paced.
    • Lumify Learn: Online, 15-months, self-paced, you can also Connect to companies hiring in cybersecurity through an Industry Partner Program.
    • Tafe NSW: 4 months full-time on campus, part-time available.
  • Diploma in IT specialising in Back End and Front End Web Development from TAFE NSW: 6 months, full-time
  • Diploma of IT (Advanced programming) at TAFE - if you learn more than just essentials.
  • Diploma of Information Technology (Back End Web Development) from Lumify Learn - Up to 18 months, self-paced, online.
  • Software Engineering Program by UTS: The program is designed for IT and non-IT professionals who are interested in transitioning their careers into programming, software, web and UI development. The program includes practical training, industry award and job placement support to help professionals secure a job in the software industry. It can be taken in 24 weeks part-time or 12 weeks full-time, with remote learning available.
  • Software Engineering Bootcamp: Sydney - Run by General Assembly, this is a full-time software engineer bootcamp that will immerse you in the world of software engineering through 12 weeks of live coding instruction, one-on-one career coaching, and connections to top employers to get you hired.
  • Coding Bootcamp by Coder Academy - Go from not knowing a single line of code to mastering the fundamentals of full-stack web development in 6 or 10 months. Online.
  • Swinburne Online Graduate Certificate in Programming and Development - This course is created in collaboration with industry mentors MuleSoft and GitHub to ensure your computer literacy skills are aligned with current industry expectations; 6 months, full-time, online.
  • Certified Full-Stack Developer from Lumify Learn - 6 months, online, build skills and knowledge in front-end and back-end development and prepare for a role as a Software Developer, DevOps Engineer or Automation Engineer. This program is made up of two globally recognised certifications - Entry Level Python Programmer and DevOps Foundation