Investigating Average Full Stack Developer Salaries – Do They Even Matter?

Lyudmila Kucher
Lyudmila Kucher

I specialize in outstaffing and staff augmentation, and I have extensive expertise in sourcing and hiring IT professionals. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and insights thro...

We often get asked about the average full stack developer salary in different European countries. It’s a tricky question to answer, so this time we’re taking an in-depth look at this issue.

Consider this: a Ukrainian developer living in Poland, working for a high-profile company based in Dublin, Ireland, and earning twice the average salary of software developers in the UK thanks to a specific skill set. Should you see this person as a Ukrainian, Polish, or UK-based software developer?

Location is becoming irrelevant. Skills and years of experience are the most important factors in this industry, and they make the main difference in developer salaries. What makes it even more subjective is that there’s a lot of techs out there. Different technology stacks require different specialists.

For example, one company might need a full-stack web developer specialized in the MEAN stack. They would be willing to triple the standard rate for such a developer. A company that doesn’t rely on the MEAN stack much in their projects would pay much less for the same specialist. The difference? Based purely on the type of work and technologies these companies specialize in.

So how do you make sense of it all? We’ve used Toptal review, other popular freelancing sites as well as Stack Overflow as our source for full stack developer rates in different European countries.

 

Why Full Stack Developers?

According to last year’s EU Startup Monitor study, the main problems for European start-ups are:

  • Achieving profitability (~86% of companies in study)
  • Managing cash flow (~72% of companies in study)

And the proposed cure for these issues is to metaphorically, but also quite literally, forget about borders and look for developers, job opportunities, new clients, and funding possibilities around the world.

Thanks to the software industry creating and widely adopting frameworks for different technologies, for a while now it has been getting easier to become a full stack developer.

So naturally, the demand for full-stack devs has been rising in all markets. What is the average full-stack web developer salary? Do salaries differ for offshore programmers?

It seems full stack is the best type of developer to look at in this simple study of ours. They can take on a project, or build their own start-ups, entirely by themselves. And, just for the purpose of this little study, we could sort of disregard their technology choices because they use different tech to achieve the same goals.

 

Salary Approximations

There aren’t many sources of verifiable data regarding developer salaries. The industry is becoming more and more transparent, but it’s a slow transformation.

Virtually no companies provide full-stack engineer salary information (or any compensation info for that matter) in their job descriptions. Pretty much the only platforms where there’s at least a bit of data are freelancing sites.

Let’s try and see what the average full stack developer salaries are across different European countries. Our salary estimates are based on the most popular freelance platforms and Stack Overflow’s Salary Calculator.

 

Average full stack developer salaries – freelance platforms

Here we looked for the keyword “Full Stack Developer” on Freelance.com, filtering it to people with 5* ratings only, and the following is a comparison of rates for 9 European countries.

CountryAverage $ /hrLowest $ /hrHighest $ /hr
Germany6025120
Poland40.6570
Sweden36.71570
Italy32.52060
Netherlands302040
UK281050
Ukraine281836
Spain24.41050
France23.31240

Next, we searched for the same keyword on UpWork.com, filtering it down to freelancers with 90% or higher success rates, and 100+ hours billed:

CountryAverage $ /hrLowest $ /hrHighest $ /hr
UK58.254097
Ukraine55.74080
Spain492575
Poland41.62387.5
Netherlands58.254097
France471580
Germany32.32245
Italy312540

 

Average full stack developer salaries – Stack Overflow salary calculator

Lastly, we used Stack Overflow’s tool, which uses data from their 2018 developer survey, to calculate the salary for full-stack developers in the same 9 countries. The filters were 5 years of experience + Bachelor’s degree. We divided annual salary numbers by 2080 (number of hours in a standard work year) to reach hourly rates:

CountryAverage $ /hrLowest $ /hrHighest $ /hr
Germany28.0822.1435.10
UK26.2720.6433.16
Netherlands24.8519.4431.33
Sweden23.4918.6029.72
France21.0716.7427.00
Spain19.4315.6624.84
Poland15.56925.22

Conclusions – should you even try to measure the average full stack developer salary?

 

According to Freelancer and Stack Overflow, the highest rates are in Germany. If you look at UpWork – UK has the highest salary estimated, followed by Ukraine. Of course, there are a lot of other alternatives to Upwork with different salary statistics you can refer to.

In all reality, only one source offers data collected in true scientific way – the Stack Overflow calculator, which unfortunately doesn’t have rates for Ukraine (it only calculates rates for 13 countries).

We’ve collected all this data, but it really doesn’t tell us much. Now what?

It’s time to face the facts, and remember what I wrote at the beginning of this article:

Skills and years of experience are the most important factors – they make the difference in developer salaries.

The software industry needs to wake up to this reality. As far as business cost optimization goes, managers need to realise that cutting costs in the developer department is not the way to go.

There are so many methodologies for forecasting development costs, so many different open-source technologies that can lower those costs. There’s also a smorgasbord of project-management methodologies which. If you apply them correctly, they can serve not only to optimize costs but also boost development speed and the quality of the end product.

The key to success lies in solid project requirements based on real-world data, as well as the way the project is managed.

So ultimately the biggest lesson from this article is that average full stack developer salaries don’t matter. What matters is to find and hire remote full stack developers with the right combination of skills, at a rate that won’t destroy the project budget.

The software industry is too complex for managers to be able to make a good decision based on average salary only. Not to mention all the other options for hiring developers, like our outstaffing service or outsourcing agencies.

So again, remember – it’s all about skills and experience in software development.

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