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How to Become a Back End Developer

You may have heard of full stack developers, who possess both front end and backend developer skills. But many don't realize that there are lucrative opportunities for developers who love working with different types of databases. If you're interested in learning how to become a backend developer, you've come to the right place.

A great backend team is the foundation of a smooth and user-friendly experience. Though this position may not seem glamorous, it's responsible for wrangling the thousands of terabytes at the core of several popular web apps. There are a few major learning paths if you want to become a successful backend developer, from coding bootcamps to college.

What Is a Backend Developer?

A backend developer is a developer that's responsible for the server, application code, and data structures for websites and their associated apps. These developers usually work as part of a team with front end and full stack developers to build and maintain sites from the ground up.

Entry-level backend developers are usually tasked with managing pre-existing code for a web application, but as you advance in the field, you'll gain more responsibility. Regardless of your level in the field, you'll need to know many different database concepts to work at your full potential.

Backend Developer Job Description

Backend developers master several different database management systems and server-side languages to give end-users a smooth data-driven experience. Think about this: whenever you've filled out a form or performed a search online, you've either added information to or requested information from a database.

Even a seemingly simple application like Netflix has a wealth of server management specialists on its team. Someone has to catalog all of the available films and make it easy for users to find what they're looking for and receive quality suggestions. These individuals ensure easy access to data that drives functional web applications.

Backend Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Backend developers earn an average salary of $81,161, according to PayScale. PayScale also reports that you can expect an entry-level salary of around $61,042 per year. After five to nine years in the field, you can start making around $95,000 per year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the job market for all web developers to grow by 13 percent by 2030. This will create 25,500 new jobs in that time, according to the BLS. This means that there's a healthy job market for backend developers to enter after completing their education.

Top Reasons to Become a Backend Developer in 2021

Backend web development skills are in high demand as a new digital economy emerges. With just a bit of formal training, you can drastically increase your earning power. Below are some top reasons to become a backend developer in 2021.

  • Great earning potential. We've already mentioned the entry-level salary of a backend developer, but the fact that it's almost $5,000 higher than the national median salary of $56,310, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, illustrates the earning potential of this field.
  • Several education options. You have plenty of options to learn the critical skills you need to work in this field, from coding bootcamps to colleges.
  • High demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 13 percent job growth for web developers, as stated above. This is almost double the average growth rate for all occupations, and there will be many more jobs for backend developers in the future.
  • Huge community. Because so many developers have taken this path before, you can lean on a wide range of experts for additional training if you ever need help with your code.

Backend Developer Job Requirements

There are a few job requirements to become a backend developer. Some of these requirements are strictly technical, while others are based on personality. To be a successful backend developer, proficient knowledge of server-side programming languages isn't enough. You also need several soft skills to help you get ahead in the workplace.

  • Knowledge of server-side programming languages. For years, the preferred language for backend developers has been SQL, but now there are several alternatives. Your career trajectory depends on the language you learn.
  • Knowledge of data structures. Data structures are common organizational methods for information, and you have to know how to create and maintain some of the major types to get a job.
  • Team player attitude. As you'll be working with project managers, front end developers, and more, teamwork is an essential skill for any successful backend developer.
  • Knowledge of development frameworks. Most organizations use Agile development, DevOps, or a combination of the two in the development cycle.

Types of Backend Developer Careers

Backend developers can master different popular application frameworks and enter several different careers. By learning more than one popular programming language and keeping up your programming skills, you can even start in one tech sector and enter a different tech stack later.

Backend Engineer

Backend engineers perform lots of server-side scripting and maintain servers so that front end developers can easily and reliably access a site's data structure. These engineers are similar to backend developers, but they work on more innovative and creative projects.

Database Administration

Database administrators design, develop, and maintain databases. They perform regular backups to keep the data safe, update permissions, and ensure the database runs efficiently. To become a database administrator, you will need to be familiar with SQL and other data science tools.

Solutions Architect

Solutions architects help build and maintain software solutions that allow businesses to move core functions online for easier scalability. These professionals rely on in-depth knowledge of business needs and tech possibilities to design solutions and oversee their implementations.

Backend Developer Meaning: What Does a Backend Developer Do?

A backend developer creates and maintains the data structure of a website by using one of a few popular programming languages. Though the job may seem simple, there are a few core concepts that successful backend developers must master.

Creates Data Structures

Data structures hold all the information that users send and receive to a central website. Because they have to be sturdy and easy to maintain, there are only a few types of frameworks that are used for this purpose. This means backend developers need to master these frameworks to succeed. One popular framework is SQL.

Writes Code

When a user performs a search or enters an email address on the front end, they expect a quick result. The backend developer’s code is partially responsible for the quality of that result. These developers need to write clean, bug-free code to make sure these popular databases are functioning correctly.

Maintains a Site's Integrity

Backend developers create a bulletproof user interface design by ensuring that every possible action that a user can take will produce a result. This involves a lot of troubleshooting throughout the process, which is where DevOps and Agile project management come into play. These operating systems can help developers complete applications and projects.

Essential Backend Developer Skills

Backend developers need several technical skills to make their backend technologies work smoothly. These include RESTful APIs, cyber security, and web accessibility. Read below to learn more about a few of the core skills you can expect to study during your learning journey.

REST Skills

Representational State Transfer (REST) is a collection of protocols that dictate how computers should interact with applications on a network. RESTful APIs are an essential part of backend development, and though you can learn an alternative to REST APIs that performs similarly, it’s your fastest route to employment.

Knowledge of Security Vulnerabilities

When you're creating databases that can hold millions of people's information, you should know the most basic ways to keep that information safe. Backend developers can attend one of the best cyber security bootcamps to learn more about information security and its best practices. An efficient developer incorporates cyber security into their process.

Knowledge of Accessibility

As our society evolves, so should the way that we handle data. Along with all of the other skills we've covered, it's important to ensure that the data structure of a site is inclusive and accessible, especially when handling form data. The development ecosystem relies on an accessible core framework.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Backend Developer?

It can take anywhere from three months to four years to become a backend developer. If you're reading this article, you've probably already seen a few articles about the topic and are wondering what’s the best path for you. You can enter this competitive field with a bunch of skills that don't take too long to earn.

The path that works for you depends on your goals in the profession. If you want to start working more quickly, a coding bootcamp will get you started with a faster turnaround. However, a four-year degree may open more career opportunities, and many organizations won't hire you for a senior position without some sort of advanced learning degree.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Backend Developer?

Yes, you can become a backend developer without a formal computer science degree thanks to coding bootcamps. You'll learn all the modern techniques you need to get an entry-level position in the field, usually at a lower cost and quicker turnaround than getting an associate or bachelor's degree.

You can usually tell which is the best backend bootcamp for you by studying its online presence and the blog posts on its site. It's important to also read third-party reviews of the bootcamps you're considering to get an idea of what students think.

Can I Become A Backend Developer From Home?

Yes, thanks to remote bootcamps and even free online courses, you've got several different online course options. Most will teach you how to create and manage SQL-driven databases and associated technologies, like Flask, which you need to get a job in the field. Even from home, you can enter this lucrative field.

How to Become a Backend Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Decide Which Path Fits Your Goals

We've already discussed some pros and cons to both coding bootcamps and traditional learning paths above. A formal computer science degree could be your ticket to managerial roles, but coding bootcamps remain a popular choice for entry-level workers. Decide what your career goals are and choose your education path based on those.

Step 2: Begin Your Studies

After you've done the research and found the perfect choice to build a robust foundation, the hard work begins. You'll have to study hard and make some sacrifices, but visualize the goal and keep your eye on the prize. Before you know it, you'll be ready to start earning real-world experience.

Step 3: Earn Some Experience

Whether you do some freelance coding work or jump right into a salaried role, you'll need to get working experience. Working with a team on a tight deadline is different from working in an academic environment, and it's important to get a taste of professional standards to advance your career.

Step 4: Continue Learning

Your learning journey never ends after you've started working as a backend developer. Technology is always evolving, and new skills can expand your career opportunities. It's a lifelong process, and you have to stay involved to get the results you want.

Best Schools and Education for a Backend Developer Career

If you'd prefer the formal training route, there are a few strong options for aspiring backend developers. You can choose to attend a coding bootcamp that will get you started quickly, or you can go the traditional learning route to get a more thorough understanding of the discipline.

Backend Developer Bootcamps

Several of the best coding bootcamps offer backend courses to help you enter the tech industry. You can learn the ropes of object oriented programming and enter the field within just a few months of study. If you want to expand beyond the basics, many bootcamps also offer full stack courses to help you master both sides of a site’s structure.

Community College

Community colleges offer a wide range of courses. Think of these as the middle ground between coding bootcamps and bachelor's degrees. In a community college setting, computer science students learn the basics of server-side development in a more in-depth way. Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees and shorter certificate programs.

Backend Developer Degrees

You can get a computer science bachelor's degree before working as a backend developer if you want to open more doors. You'll be able to find a job just about anywhere and perform more tasks than a self-educated backend developer. If you want to get into the theoretical side of backend development, you can go for an advanced degree like a master's.

The Most Important Backend Developer Certifications

Though certifications aren't necessary for starting a career as a backend developer, there are a few reasons to earn them regardless. They can deepen your understanding of key technologies while boosting your earning potential.

AWS Certified Developer

Amazon Web Services (AWS) holds a large amount of the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market share. This service allows companies to build data-heavy applications without worrying about purchasing server space. AWS skills are highly prized by many companies, and this certification shows you have them.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is the closest competitor to AWS. Much like AWS, this company also offers a cloud application developer certification to help you learn its intricacies. No matter where you end up working, this Microsoft certification will be useful.

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) MySQL Developer

Oracle maintains the MySQL infrastructure, and this certification shows you've mastered its development process. There are no prerequisites either, so if you've been working with MySQL for long enough, you can earn this certification without too much extra studying.

How to Prepare for Your Backend Developer Job Interview

The best thing you can do to prepare for your job interview is to review the basics of your profession, read over common questions that interviewers ask, and relax. After you've done all the hard work of learning how to do the job, it's time to cross the finish line and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Below are a few common backend developer interview questions.

Backend Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • Can you tell us about a problem you encountered during a project and how you solved it?
  • What are some best practices you keep in mind for performance testing?
  • What is a deadlock? How do you solve it?
  • How do you find an application's expensive queries?

Should I Become a Backend Developer in 2021?

If you want to join a booming field with good entry-level salaries, then the answer is yes. Being a backend developer isn't for everyone, but if you've always enjoyed working with information, this can be a path to getting paid for that passion. You can work on exciting projects and network in the industry after just a couple of months of study.


Can You Become a Backend Developer Without a Degree?
Yes, you can. Several coding bootcamps offer courses just for aspiring backend developers. Many of these bootcamps also have connections with employers to ease your job hunt.
Is It Hard to Become a Backend Developer?
It's challenging, but not impossible. You'll have to learn several different technologies that work in concert to make your goals happen. If you enjoy the process, it'll be a fun challenge as opposed to a grueling chore.
Who Earns More, Front End or Backend Developers?
Backend developers earn more than front end developers. According to PayScale, front end developers make $75,310 per year, and backend developers make about $81,161 per year.
Is a Front End Developer’s Job Easier Than a Backend Developer’s?
It depends on your perspective. If you like writing applications but hate data structures, then it will seem easier, and vice versa. Do your research on both sides and see which appeals to you more.
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