Attributes of competitive full-stack engineers for Japanese companies

If you are a foreign IT engineer who wants to find a job or change jobs in Japan, there are not only engineers specialized in specific fields of expertise but also “full-stack engineers”, those who have multiple skills.

In this article, we will explain the current situation of full-stack engineers in Japan. Such as, what skills are required for foreign employees to work as full-stack engineers in Japan, or what kind of job you will be responsible for and in what kind of company or how much can you earn.

Full-Stack Engineers in Japan

“Full stack engineer” is the name that has become popular in recent years, but its meaning is almost the same as “multi-engineer”. It is a general term for IT engineers with multiple skills, and does not refer to engineers engaged in specific occupations.

More specifically, a full stack engineer is a person who has a wide range of knowledge and skills related to IT system development and can perform various kinds of development by himself/herself. It is a versatile IT engineer who is familiar with infrastructure and security, also familiar with web system development, and can develop iOS and Android applications too.

Full-Stack engineers that Japanese companies are looking for

Overseas companies, especially English-speaking companies, have established a division of labor for IT engineers, and their evaluation depends on how advanced their skills are in their field of expertise. For this reason, IT engineers with a specialty tend to have higher estimation and salaries rather than full-stack engineers with a wide range of specialties.

On the other hand, traditionally Japanese companies have a culture of handling work across job types or departments, and those IT engineers who are capable of doing many types of different jobs, rather than just specialize in one thing, are more treasured. The recruitment policy also reflects the Japanese way of thinking, and Japanese companies welcome full-stack engineers who can do anything by themselves.

Job description and income of a Full-Stack engineer

There are many IT engineers with specific skills, but full-stack engineers with multiple skills are rare. For that reason, in Japan, the market value is higher than the typical IT engineers, and the salary and income tend to be higher.

These are statistics just for reference, but according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s “Survey of IT-related industry salary, etc.” (August 2017), the average annual salary of Japanese engineers was 5.92 million yen. Based on the results of this survey, the average annual income of a full-stack engineer can be expected to be between 6 and 10 million yen.

Skills in Demand for Full-Stack Engineers

There are various types of IT engineers in the world, but a full-stack engineer is an engineer who can fulfill many roles by herself/himself. For that reason, the knowledge and skills required are extensive. It depends on the company you work in and the project you are working on, but you should consider that the following knowledge and skills are required.

・Knowledge and skills as an Infrastructure engineer
Knowledge and skills to design, build and operate infrastructure such as networks, servers and databases.

・Knowledge and skill as a web engineer
Knowledge and skills as a front-end engineer and back-end engineer involved in the design, development and operation of websites and web services.

・Knowledge and skills as an Application Engineer
Knowledge and skills for designing, developing, and testing application systems such as business systems, web apps, and smartphone apps.

・Programming skills as a programmer
Programming skills using each programming language. PHP, Ruby, Go, Python, Java, C #, JavaScript, etc. are major programming languages, but if you call yourself a full-stack engineer, you should not only learn one language, ideally, you should be able to develop a system in multiple languages.

“All skills are average level” is that enough!?

For full-stack engineers, there is the impression that it is a super engineer who can do anything, but there is also a negative image and is that what they do is too wide and superficial and that everything is halfway. Certainly, they tend to have an average level, if they cover many fields.

To be active as a full-stack engineer, it is essential to have a wide range of IT knowledge and skills, and it is also important to be specialized in a field that no one can beat you. Even in the IT industry, where the transition is fast, the trend of six months ago is said to be old. Among them, the ability to adapt to the trend may be the most important, such as identifying areas where needs will increase in the future while constantly feeling changes in demand, and making efforts to grow your skills.

Build Your Ideal Career as a Full-Stack Engineer!

Full-stack engineers in large companies

As mentioned above, full-stack engineers are engineers who work in a wide range of tasks, but in actual system development sites, it is common that multiple engineers with different specialized fields are engaged in their duties. Especially in large companies, it is better to think that there are few cases where full-stack engineers handle all fields and processes because the division of labor of engineers has been established.

That doesn’t mean that large companies don’t have a full-stack engineer position. Using a wide range of knowledge and skills as a full-stack engineer, it is possible to play an active role as a development manager. Of course, in order to become a manager, management ability to supervise multiple engineers with different roles is essential.

Full-stack engineer in start-ups and venture companies

Start-up venture companies are highly demanding for full-stack engineers. Many startups and venture companies are developing IT systems with limited funds. That’s why a full-stack engineer allows companies to have an excellent productivity with a small number of people. In extreme cases, a single full-stack engineer can do it from start to finish, which is more cost-effective than developing multiple engineers with different specialties.

Of course, full-stack engineers working at start-up ventures are more responsible, but it is attractive to be able to engage in the entire project with great discretion.

Full-stack engineers also have advantages as freelancers (independence and entrepreneurship).

If you are an engineer who wants to work as a freelancer in the future or an engineer who is thinking of starting a business, experience as a full-stack engineer will become advantageous.

If you become independent as a freelancer or start a business, naturally, a full-stack engineer with a wide range of knowledge and skills will be able to accept more orders. You can also hold multiple projects, so you can aim to increase your income while choosing your own job.

Besides, full-stack engineers who can develop in multiple programming languages can make course corrections easier. This is the same as the two-sword style of the baseball player Shohei Ohtani who can play an active role as a batter when he cannot throw as a pitcher. Even if one programming language declines, a full stack engineer who can develop in another language should have a low risk of losing your job.


A full-stack engineer is an engineer who has a lot of knowledge and skills, but of course, no one has a lot of knowledge and skills from the beginning. The correct way of thinking is that only those who have worked hard as IT engineers and who have continued to improve their skills will eventually be able to become skilled full-stack engineers.

Foreign IT engineers must not only improve their skills as engineers, but also clear the language barrier. It is not easy for a foreign IT engineer to become a full stack engineer in a Japanese company, but making efforts to become a full stack engineer will surely be a future asset. We encourage you to improve your knowledge and skills and walk towards your ideal career.