The Skills You Need to Be a Back-end Developer

What is back-end development?

Back end development team working
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Are you thinking about moving into the flourishing field of web development? 

As you may already know, there are three types of web developers: Front-end, back-end, and full stack, which combines both.

This article focuses solely on backend developers by looking at what they do, the skills required to become a backend developer, and how you can become one.

What is the Role of a Back-end Developer?

Back-end developers are responsible for and focus on the inner workings of web applications to build out the "server-side" of web applications. Server-side is the code and language that runs behind the scenes on the web server or the back-end. The front-end is the client side, and front-end developers are charged with creating the experience on the client side.

Back-end developers work hand-in-hand with front-end developers by providing the outward facing web application elements server-side logic. In other words, backend developers create the logic to make the web app function properly, and they accomplish this through the use of server-side scripting languages like Ruby or PHP.

Aside from making web applications functional, backend developers are also responsible for optimizing the application for speed and efficiency. Moreover, backend developers often create a data storage solution with a database, which is a crucial component for all web applications since it stores information (like users, comments, posts, etc.). Common databases include MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL.

Who Works with the Back-end Developer?

Backend developers typically work in groups or with a backend team. However, within larger teams, there can be both back-end and front-end developers, which can include engineers, and UX architects.

On the back-end team, back-end developers work alongside software engineers each with a specific role like REST API development or quality assurance (QA). Even within the back-end, there are different roles and responsibilities. 

Skills and Technological Expertise Necessary to Become a Back-end Developer

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Using the Total back-end job description template as a reference, below are some of the core skills and technologies a back-end developer must know.  

  • Proficient knowledge of the back-end programming language and the framework that is used by the company
  • Understanding of front-end web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (to communicate with team members on the front-end) 
  • Ability to manage a hosting environment, including database administration as well as scaling applications to handle load changes
  • Knowledge of accessibility and security compliance 
  • Experience with version control, such as Git

Where to Learn Back-end Skills

Most back-end developers have formal training in one way or another including a computer science (CS) degree. 

Back-end developers may have to do more abstraction than front-end developers. They could be data mining, writing abstract algorithms, and so forth. That's why a formal CS degree is important. 

Nevertheless, if you're beyond your college years, there are both in-person courses (or boot camps) as well as online options available to prepare you for a career in back-end development.

In-person Back-end Development Courses

The best way to find an in-person backend development course near you is through online research. However, here are two suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  • General Assembly has a 10-week backend development course 
  • Betamore has a 12-week backend course (which is part-time) 

In-person boot camps/courses aren't cheap. But they are more affordable than a formal CS degree. (Plus, unlike online classes, you have the luxury of being able to interact with peers and an instructor.) 

Online Learning Options for Backend (Or Full Stack)

It is not as easy to find backend-only online courses. Most teach full stack, which is both the front and back-end. Nonetheless, here are some online course options to consider: 

  • Udacity has a full stack nano degree, with backend development emphasis 
  • Bloc.io has a full stack online course, too, with one-on-one mentorship
  • Udemy has a variety of online course options, including backend development. Be sure to read the reviews on the Udemy course before enrolling.

Conclusion

Back-end developers play a critical role on web development teams and are responsible for handling data storage and ensuring content gets delivered to the front-end.