Full-Stack Engineer / FSE
An FSE is any technologist who can both create and deploy something they have engineered. It could be as simple as a basic web page or as complex as a full cluster of containers. It’s the only title that matters.
“DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers are among the highest paid, most experienced developers most satisfied with their jobs, and are looking for new jobs at the lowest levels.” (StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019)
[Mastery is Fluid.]
Confusion About Full-Stack
💢 Many add full-stack whenever they want to imply a wider skill set even though all it really does it confuse everyone.
Nothing says, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I do know a few buzzwords” more than using the term full-stack in anything.
Job postings for such things often include asking for years of experience in a technology that hasn’t been around that long.
The more precise your communication the better, and those who know this are the ones you really want to impress, if any.
So why use “full stack” at all?
Best Title to Convey Wholeness
I use the term full-stack engineer despite the confusion because it actually applies in our case.
Like it or not, “full stack” has come to convey a sense of wholeness and completeness in the tech industry.
From your first day here you learn how to create and deploy. You are the complete package, a whole engineer.
This distinction is really important.
I have worked with several individuals who completed some Summer camp, bootcamp, or some online learning and had nothing to show for it. This is downright unethical [and reminds me a lot of Dolores Umbridge’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class]. These unprepared individuals are the polar opposite of those who are Good to Gig.
First Stack, Full Stack
So what if you use GitLab and Netlify to deploy a template of a web site you just downloaded for free that you can now customize. That might seem like a simple thing, but it’s 100% full-stack — you just happen to be using really big service providers for core parts of your stack.
As progress on your stack improves it is always ready, useful, and empowering. You apply more power as you level up.
An Agile Approach to Personal Development
My approach to the FSE title is based on the same core principles from Agile development where a solution is always operational even if it means the improvements come in small increments per iteration.
[This needs to eventually be it’s own article. There is so much here to explore and apply.]
Different from a Full-Stack Developer
An FSE is not the same as a full-stack developer at all. Another, thankfully less used term is full-stack programmer which is utterly ridiculous and should never be used.
The key word is engineer. This is vastly different than a developer. Another term software engineer came on the scene more than a decade ago and still confuses people.