A backend developer can earn a lucrative income while learning a lot and helping a lot of companies build websites and platforms that service all types of industries. Backend development can be an incredibly exciting field for those with a keen interest in technology and innovation and programming in general.
But what is a backend developer and how exactly do you become one?
A backend developer is "a type of programmer who creates the logical back-end and core computational logic of a website, software or information system," according to Techopedia. This kind of developer actually creates components and features that users indirectly access through a front-end application or information system.
This means that back-end developers' jobs are primarily to develop and maintain the core functional logic and operations of a platform by exercising their programming skills in C++, C#, Java and other programming languages, as well as creating algorithms and business logic to manipulate data that's then received in the front-end development.
"The key job role of a back-end developer is to ensure that the data or services requested by the front-end system or software are delivered through programmatic means," Techopedia explains. "Back-end developers also create and maintain the entire back-end of a system, which consists of the core application logic, databases, data and application integration, API and other back-end processes. Moreover, a back-end developer performs the testing and debugging of any back-end application or system."
In an interview with Espressoweb, the company's backend developer James shared what a day in his life looks like.
"Daily tasks can take on any number of things, from running reports for internal procedures," he shared. "It can also consist of support tickets where certain elements are broken, to building bespoke functionality and plugins for different websites. A lot of my time is spent building plugins or functionality from scratch for certain websites. I also have to maintain and tweak server settings, and look after clients sites such as Promain and Evergreen Direct."
Given how much a backend developer takes on, you might be wondering: How much does a backend developer make? According to PayScale, the average pay for a backend developer is $29.48 per hour, which amounts to an average salary of $66,667 per year.
Front- and back-end developers lead very different careers, though they should have knowledge of both of each others' roles and responsibilities, given how much they need to communicate.
While a backend developer handles the data logistics of a platform, frontend developers handle the part of the platform with which users interact. This includes everything you see when you're navigating the internet, from fonts and colors to dropdown menus, sliders and more.
A front-end developer's main goal is to provide user-friendly platforms, "a back-end developer must be able to write code to receive the information input from the user and also save it somewhere — like in a database," according to CareerFoundry, which notes two main types of databases: relational (like PostgreSQL and MySQL) and non-relational management systems (like Mongo).
Becoming a backend developer requires a lot of hands-on experience and a range of technical skills, on top of knowledge of web server configurations and programming languages.
What skills do you need to become a backend developer? A backend developer should have technical skills, an eye for detail, an ability to solve problems efficiently and be able to work both in teams and alone. They spend most of their time at a computer in an office, so they should be comfortable with that. But they'll also have to collaborate extensively with colleagues during the early development stages and if or when problems arise. And they usually work on some sort of a team. On the back-end team, back-end developers may work alongside software engineers with specific roles and, within the back-end itself, there may be different roles.
"Because their job is to create a seamless hand-off to a front-end developer, they must be able to interpret and follow instructions related to the ultimate functionality of an IT-based product," according to Artisan Talent. "They deliver the programming required to complete the vision of a website designer. They have an important, but non-visible role in the creative process. They [also] must be comfortable with technology architecture and how a computer and its software functions. They are deadline driven, organized and understand how people view and understand content on the front-end. The back end developer lives in the world of bites and bits, writing screens of codes that the average viewer simply wouldn’t understand."
Specifically, some of the skills a backend developer needs include the following:
Wondering how to find a job as a backend developer? Fortunately, companies are always hiring for backend developers. What kind of companies need this job? Essentially, all companies that have some sort of information system like a website will have a backend developer who's making sure that it's running optimally.
There are tons of job search websites specifically for web developers and others in the tech world. Of course, you can search mainstream job sites, but you might have better luck narrowing down legitimate opportunities with developer-specific or developer-heavy job boards.
Here are a few job boards, as well as resourceful sites with job listings, to get you started on your backend developer job hunt:
If you can land a job as a backend developer, you'll spend your time learning and creating.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.