The field of website development has been flourishing in recent years. With sites gaining more traction, businesses have realised that to attract more customers, they need to have a strong online presence. As a result, they’re seeking out talented people to design web applications for them.

Has this led you to be interested in the industry too? As you might already know, there are three types of developers: frontend, backend, and full-stack. The steps you must take vary according to the category you choose. In this article, let’s focus on becoming a backend programmer.

Firstly, what does a backend developer do?

what does a backend developer do

Every website can be divided into two halves: the front end and the back end.

  • The front end is what visitors see and interact with as displayed by their internet browser.
  • The back end is what is hidden away on a server, including content management systems, databases and coding.

In other words, backend programmers create the logic and functionality to make a site work as intended. They do this through using server-side scripting languages like PHP or Ruby on Rails. It’s a yin/yang situation where a functional website needs both its front and back ends to work in harmony.

Other typical backend responsibilities include:

  • Compiling and analysing data generated by the website
  • Implementing and managing the databases
  • Optimizing site performance i.e. page loading, search functionality, etc.
  • Troubleshooting performance issues and errors
  • Collaborating with the rest of the team to ensure all needs are met
  • Staying updated on programming languages, industry trends, and best practices
  • Discovering new ways to improve website infrastructure
  • Developing APIs for the mobile version of web applications
  • Working on business processes and data architecture
  • Creating and implementing libraries and frameworks

Secondly, is backend development a good career?

backend development career

In terms of salary, web developers are well paid in general and backend programmers are no exception. Glassdoor.com lists the average base pay for a backend developer at around USD 101,000 per year. Older data shows that salaries start at around USD 44,000 for those with minimal experience and reach about USD 111,000 for senior positions.

Indeed.com lists a PHP 570,000 average for counterparts in the Philippines based on 128 salaries reported. The amount can go up to PHP 995,000 per year depending on the city they’re based in. In comparison, a software engineer in the same country makes a little lesser at around PHP 518,000 per annum.

Another benefit of pursuing a career in this field is that it can be rewarding in its own way. As back end languages tend to be more technical than those used on the front end, you’ll find it easier to learn frontend development too if you want to become a full-stack developer in the future.

Generally speaking, web developers have a great job outlook. In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that it would grow by 9% by the year 2029. To compare, systems analysts are predicted to grow by 7% while computer programmers are expected to decline by 9%.

The demand for talented developers in the tech sector won’t fade anytime soon. Hence, if you’re interested in how to make systems work from behind the scenes, backend development can be an exciting career for you.

Thirdly, what do you need to become a backend developer?

backend developer skills

Most backend programmers have received some form of formal training such as bachelor’s degrees in advanced mathematics or computer science. Don’t worry if you have these at the moment; a basic understanding of how logic works is a good place to start.

If not, consider enrolling in an in-person or online course to be exposed to the necessary groundwork. This ensures that you won’t fall short at any stage once you’ve set forth on your journey to backend web development.

The requirements for specific roles are different but it’s a must to have a passing familiarity, if not a command of, several programs, languages, and technologies. If you’re unsure where to start or what to focus on, here are our suggestions.

Java

Although they have similar names and briefly intersected in the Netscape era, this isn’t JavaScript. Java is a general-purpose programming language for developing applications. Meanwhile, JavaScript is applied to incorporate interactivity and animation into websites. Both run on browsers or servers but differ in execution and capabilities.

Java is typically written in an Integrated Development Environment before being compiled in low-level code called bytecode. In contrast, JavaScript can be executed in its original syntax through an engine. The former can handle more robust programming tasks which is why it’s intended for backend use.

Being a high-performance language, it’s a very useful skill for backend programmers. Not only does it support object-oriented programming but also it runs in any system that support a Java Virtual machine.

SQL

Structured Query Language was ruled an industry-standard language by the American National Standards Institute way back in 1986. With it, you can insert and delete records, create new tables, store procedures, and file queries in a database.

To familiarize yourself with it, try open-source platforms such as MySQL which provides free access to SQL database source codes. It can be installed on desktops and servers and is relatively easy to use. Plus, it runs on Windows, UNIX, Linux, and more.

While you’re at it, you might want to learn about NoSQL as well. This allows you to communicate with databases that store data through means other than relational tables as are typical in SQL.

Frontend Languages

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are more often used in frontend development but are worth learning too. After all, they determine what visitors see, from page text to scrolling to images to drop-down menus. They work together to form the design of a site.

As for why they’re essential for backend, there’s actually some overlap in the skills required for either specialty. Companies prefer to hire those who have multidisciplinary skills too. For this reason, full-stack developers are in the greatest demand for being able to do both.

Not all employers are looking for multi-speciality programmers though. Many larger organisations tend to have separate divisions thus need backend-specific experts.

Python

This is one of the top used languages in website development today. A 2019 study by Stack Overflow shows that Python is the fastest-growing major programming language in the world and second to Rust in likeability. Its popularity lies in how it handles simple and complex projects with equal ease.

Python supports multiple programming styles and provides great data visualizations. It allows you to use object-oriented, functional, and procedural approaches easily.

It also supports expansive data libraries thereby allowing for speedier development. This has led Python to be deployed across various niches e.g. Spotify, Instagram, and Dropbox.

The best thing about Python is that it’s fairly easy to learn. Its simple syntax enables you to deal with intricate systems and ensure all elements have clear relationships with each other.

PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor is one of the most usable server-side languages out there. Unlike Java or Python, it’s a scripting language, meaning it interprets scripts at runtime to improve performance or automate routine processes in web applications.

Millions of applications and websites are developed via PHP—and for good reason. It’s an open-source platform, supported by most hosting servers by default, and has a gentle learning curve. Added to that, it offers built-in supports for MySQL.

It’s not considered to be a critical skill for backend development but it does make you more marketable to prospective employers especially as a remote worker.

Organizational

You’ll need many technical skills to be a backend developer, but it pays to work on non-technical ones too. Hone your communication skills so you’ll have an easier time with collaborations, be it with other developers who are working on the same project as you.

Other organizational skills worth developing include:

  • Policy enforcement.
  • Coordination.
  • Prioritization.
  • Situational assessment.
  • Task analysis.
  • Workflow management.
  • Development planning.
  • Scheduling.
  • Research.
  • Instruction leadership.
  • Team building.
  • Proactivity.

Conclusion

become a backend website developer

For those interested in programming and technology, a career in web development is an excellent choice. Though it requires a bit of effort and training, it’s worth becoming a backend developer. Make sure you work on the above must-have skills if you want to pursue it as a career.

Are you already equipped with all of the core skills we’ve mentioned? Then you’re ready to get out there and apply for a website development role. If you’re having a hard time finding opportunities to go after, we at Remote Workmate are here to help.

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