Everything You Need to Know About Being a Back-End Developer

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Backend developers usually work on the part of the website that you cannot see. However, because the results of their work are not always visible, it is sometimes unclear what a backend developer does.

In short, a backend developer is a kind of software developer who will work with the server side of web services.

This will include managing databases and server-side logic and making sure that all of the backend code can integrate with front-end code.

Websites and web applications cannot function without proper backend development, even if the best graphics are created.

This makes back-end developers indispensable. Since more and more companies and businesses are moving online, backend developers are in high demand.

Let’s look at the details of the position. What is a backend developer, what skills do you need, and how do you become one?

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Alternatively, we can create an entire team that you can integrate into your company as part of staff augmentation and even provide some backend development services directly.

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What Does a Back-End Developer Do?

Key Responsibilities

The key responsibilities of a back-end developer include working as part of a larger team to make sure that a website works correctly.

Some factors that a back-end developer may be responsible for when it comes to creating and maintaining web pages include information databases, back-end logic, servers, APIs, and microservices architecture.

Whether you are working as a web developer or a mobile app developer, you will need to collaborate with front-end developers. Alternately, some programmers are able to work with the full stack. These are known as full-stack developers.

Key responsibilities of a back-end developer, including managing information databases, back-end logic, servers, APIs, and microservices architecture.
Learn about the key responsibilities of back-end developers, focusing on information databases, back-end logic, servers, APIs, and microservices architecture.

Day-to-Day Activities

If you decide to become a backend developer, a lot of your day-to-day tasks will require you to build and maintain websites and web apps.

As part of this, you will need to write high-quality code, perform quality assurance testing, identify any issues and debug the code to fix them, make sure the website is running as fast as possible, etc.

Even though there is a lot of coding and software development required on a day-to-day basis, you also need to be able to think critically and problem-solve to finish tasks successfully.

You will also need to keep up to date with your clients and the front-end developers working on the project very regularly.

Backend Developer Skills

Technical Skills: Programming Languages, Database Management

There are several skills that backend developers must be proficient in to conduct their work successfully.

First, they need to know several popular programming languages that are suitable for backend development. These can include programming languages like Python, PHP, JavaScript, RUBY, Java, and C#.

Then, backend developers will need to be able to work with common frameworks like Laravel, Django, Spring, Ruby, Node.js, and many more that might be relevant to the development languages being used.

A back-end web developer should also be able to understand and use database management systems (DBMS) to design and manage data storage.

This can be things like SQL and NoSQL databases. MongoDB, MySQL, and Oracle are common database options.

You will also need to be familiar with servers like Apache, NGINX, Lighttpd, Microsoft IIS, and more. These will be used to run the database and store data.

You should also be able to use your skills to build an API (Application Programming Interface) for web browsers or Android and iOS if you are working with website or web application development, respectively.

And last but definitely not least, you should be able to work with network protocols and web security. Not only should you know how to secure databases, but in this work-from-home age, you should also be able to ensure your own cybersecurity.

Soft Skills: Problem-Solving, Collaboration

There are several non-technical skills that are also important for server-side development. Critical thinking is one of the most important soft skills for those working in front-end and back-end website development. Alongside critical thinking, you will need to be adept at problem-solving.

These two skills are very important for identifying issues and debugging, as well as for working as part of a team.

Other soft skills you need are communication and time management.

Last, you need to be able to focus on continuous learning to stay up to date with industry knowledge. Backend web development is a constantly changing environment, and if you are not able to keep up with the industry.

Tools and Technologies Used by Back-End Developers

Development Environments and IDEs

In order to write code, most back end developers use an integrated development environment (IDE).

Some examples include:

  • Visual Studio Code
  • IntelliJ IDEA
  • Pycharm

These not only let you write the code but also give you a platform to test it. This means that these development environments can be used from the start of the process, to the debugging, to the very last touch-ups before implementation.

Frameworks and Libraries: Node.js, Django

As already mentioned, you will need to be able to use certain frameworks and libraries. The framework that is used will depend on a back-end developer’s choice of language.

Node.js is a particularly popular choice for JavaScript. Those writing with Python might prefer Django.

Frameworks and libraries are often language-specific. Programming languages such as Python won’t be able to use the pre-built components and tools designed for languages like JavaScript.

Databases: SQL, NoSQL

Being able to work with both SQL and NoSQL databases is one of many necessary skills.

SQL (Structured Query Language) databases are usually used when working with structured data. Some good options include MySQL and PostgreSQL.

NoSQL databases are usually used when you are working with unstructured data. MongoDB and Cassandra are popular options.

How to Become a Back-End Developer

Educational Paths: Degrees, Bootcamps, Self-Learning

If you want to become a back-end developer, there are a couple of different ways to learn the basics and land developer positions.

A degree in computer science is a great option. However, it usually takes about four years of full-time study and can cost anywhere between $35,000 to $80,000, according to the Study Info Center.

Boot camps are a good alternative as they usually get you qualified in six months or less. They are also very practical and help you create a quality portfolio.

Alternatively, you can self-study by taking online courses that provide you with some kind of certification.

Certifications and Courses

Participating in online certifications and courses is a popular self-learning option, as already mentioned.

This requires more dedication and research as you will likely have to take multiple different courses. Coursera and Udemy are both popular options.

Additionally, they are a great option for continued learning and for career progression. For example, you can take courses related to the front end of websites or specialize in popular industries like machine learning.

Building a Portfolio: Projects and Contributions

A portfolio is one of the most critical components that a back-end developer needs when applying for developer jobs.

You can contribute personal projects or examples of websites and applications that you have contributed to. I highly recommend including video tutorials and code segments to illustrate how you code.

If you do not have anything to add to your portfolio, try taking part in open-source projects.

Recommended Programming Languages and Frameworks for Back-End Development

Overview of Popular Languages: Python, Java, PHP

Languages such as Python are very popular for their readability and versatility. They are great for beginners trying to learn how to build the back end of websites for the first time.

Java is also popular, but this time for its performance and scalability. It is usually used when building web applications that are expected to see lots of traffic.

PHP is also a very common option. Although not as popular as some others, it is simple and efficient, which means it might be the perfect fit for some situations.

Frameworks: Express, Spring, Ruby on Rails

As mentioned before, frameworks are often, but not always, language-specific.

Express is a JavaScript framework. It offers a very simple and minimal approach to help you use Node.js.

Spring is a Java framework known for providing extensive developer tools. It’s usually used for enterprise-level applications.

Ruby on Rails is another popular option and uses the Ruby language. Ruby on Rails is extremely extensive and can really enhance productivity.

Importance of Database Management in Back-End Development

Types of Databases: Relational vs. Non-Relational

Understanding the difference between relational databases and non-relational databases is crucial for back-end developers.

As already mentioned, relational databases (SQL databases) use structured tables and are ideal for complex queries, while non-relational databases (NoSQL databases) handle large volumes of unstructured data.

Database Management Skills

As a back-end developer, you must possess strong database management skills to build high-quality back-end applications.

This includes designing efficient schemas, optimizing queries, and ensuring data integrity and security. Proficiency in SQL and familiarity with NoSQL databases are essential.

Security is a top priority for back-end developers. They need to have the skills to implement measures to protect data from breaches, manage user authentication, and ensure that applications comply with security standards and regulations.

What is the Difference Between Back-End and Front-End Development?

Roles and Responsibilities Comparison

As already mentioned, one focuses on the back-end of a website, like the server-side logic, databases, and overall performance, while the other handles the user interface and user experience, or the portion of the website that users see and interact with.

Collaboration and Workflow

Both front and back-end developers are responsible for working together in the app development process.

They need to communicate, coordinate workflows, and use some collaborative tools to ensure all aspects of web development work together for a successful product.

Collaboration between Back-End and Front-End Developers

Effective Communication Strategies

It is very important for a large team to be able to communicate properly to ensure successful collaboration.

They can do this by having regular meetings and using communication tools.

Additionally, tasks can be split into small segments to be tested together, with small deadlines ensuring all components work well together.

Tools for Collaboration

Tools like GitHub for version control, Docker for containerization, and Jenkins for continuous integration help back-end and front-end developers work together efficiently.

Additionally, video meeting tools like Zoom or GoogleMeets, as well as workflow tools like Notion and Trello, can be used to manage projects.

The Skill Sets Required for Frontend vs Backend Development

Comparative Analysis

The skills needed for front-end development differ a lot from back-end development skills.

For starters, front-end web developers need to be educated in design and UX skills, while back-end developers need to know about server-side technologies and database management.

For example, the front-end developer will design a form with a submit button, while the back-end developer will figure out what to do with the information they get when the form is submitted.

Since their requirements are vastly different, the languages and tools that they use will often differ. Front-end languages include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Overlapping Skills

Despite their differences, front-end and back-end developers share some overlapping skills, such as problem-solving, debugging, and collaboration.

Knowledge of both front-end and back-end development can make a developer more versatile and valuable.

Exploring the Backend Developer Salary

Salary Ranges by Region and Experience Level

Salaries for back-end developers vary based on region and experience. In the United States, for example, entry-level developers might earn around $88,286 annually, according to Glassdoor, while experienced professionals can make as much as $151,000.

According to ZipRecruiter, salaries are generally higher in tech hubs like San Jose and Cupertino.

Factors Influencing Salary

Experience level significantly impacts salary, with seasoned developers earning more than their junior counterparts. This can be attributed to them being more productive.

Geographic location also plays a role, with salaries varying widely across different regions and countries. As a general rule, the higher the cost of living in an area, the higher the average base salary.

The industry in which you work can also influence pay. Lucrative industries like tech and finance pay a lot more than industries like lifestyle and productivity.

Opportunities for Advancement in the Field of Back-End Development

Possessing a diverse skill set and relevant certifications can boost your earning potential.

Knowledge of cutting-edge technologies and frameworks, coupled with certifications from recognized institutions, can make you stand out from other applicants.

Additionally, leadership roles, such as team lead or project manager, offer pathways for growth.

Continued Education and Skill Development

Continuous learning is vital in the ever-evolving field of back-end development. If you want a career in web development, it should be a focus for you.

As already discussed, you can earn certifications from online platforms. However, you can also consider pursuing advanced degrees, attending workshops, and networking to stay current with industry trends and enhance your skills.

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Back-end development is a critical aspect of modern web applications, requiring a blend of technical and soft skills.

They ensure backend functionality, performance, and security, working closely with front-end developers to deliver seamless user experiences.

Aspiring back-end developers should focus on building a strong foundation in programming languages, database management, and collaborative skills.

With dedication and continuous learning, you can enjoy a rewarding and dynamic career in back-end development.


Frequently Asked Questions

The role of a backend developer is to create and maintain the server-side portion of a website or web application.

To be a backend developer, you need common backend developer skills like knowledge of basic backend programming languages, their relevant frameworks, relational databases, etc.

You also need soft skills like problem-solving and collaboration.

Yes, a career as a backend developer is considered quite good. It is a very high-demand industry that offers opportunities for career growth. The average backend developer salary is also quite competitive.

Yes, Python is a general-purpose programming language that can be used by back-end developers. Python is one of the most popular options for beginners.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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