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.
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.
This article focuses solely on back-end developers by looking at what they do, the skills required to become a back-end developer, and how you can become one.
What Is the Role of a Back-End Developer?
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, back-end 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, back-end developers are also responsible for optimizing the application for speed and efficiency. Moreover, back-end 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?
Back-end developers typically work in groups or with a back-end 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 Be a Back-End Developer
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
- 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 back-end development course near you is through online research. However, here are two suggestions to get the ball rolling:
- General Assembly has a 10-week back-end development course.
- Betamore has a 12-week back-end 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 Back-End (Or Full Stack)
It is not as easy to find back-end-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 back-end 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 back-end development. Be sure to read the reviews on the Udemy course before enrolling.
More Skills to Include on a Resume
- Well organized, detail oriented, ability to multi-task, excellent time-management, planning and prioritization
- Knowledge of Mobile web development or cloud app development
- Proficient in the use of version control / source code management tools
- Knowledge of CMS and CRM platforms, (Salesforce & Adobe AEM/CQ)
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
- Experience in writing re-usable unit test documents
- Strong organizational and communication skills
- Skilled in performance tuning, query plan / explain plan analysis, indexing, table partitioning
- Exceptional knowledge of Database technologies – RDBMS or NoSQL
- Excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
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.