Spotlights

Job Description

Creating responsive, powerful websites that receive millions of views requires a team of skilled specialists. While Front-End Developers focus on interface with users, Back-End Developers are in charge of the unseen technical side of things — the servers, databases, and applications. These workers are the gurus behind the curtain who build site frameworks and collaborate with other team members to ensure everything integrates smoothly and functions as it should. 
 
They write web services that allow for “exchanging data between applications or systems” (as Tutorials Point puts it) and Application Programming Interfaces which let different apps communicate with each other. Back-End Developers also write the server-side scripts that allow web apps to function correctly. It’s their job to partner with management and customers to ensure all proposed changes are able to be implemented seamlessly.  

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Entrusted with major responsibilities, though the work is “behind-the-scenes”
  • Opportunities to help organizations grow and become more profitable 
  • Teamwork and collaboration with Front-End and DevOps professionals
  • Development of high-demand skills that can be used anywhere on Earth
2018 Employment
160,500
2028 Projected Employment
181,400
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

Organizations rely on Back-End Developers to help build fast, powerful websites capable of delivering an array of services while capturing user information. Expect full-time work, unless you are self-employed, in which case there should still be amble contracts to keep you busy. However, time spent finding clients is unpaid, as is the time used to refresh skills and practice new ones as technology evolves. For those working on salary for a large employer, extra hours may be necessary when things get behind schedule or an unwelcome problem pops up. 


Typical Duties

  • Working closely with Front-End Developers to incorporate their work into the server-side
  • Writing clean code, optimizing and debugging apps, and creating libraries 
  • Developing optimized apps for speed, performance, and scale
  • Creating strong data security practices 
  • Constructing data storage solutions
  • Outlining technical requirements for jobs
  • Staying up on new trends and technologies that can improve apps
  • Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team 
  • Continually optimizing processes

Additional Responsibilities

  • Ensuring compliance with organizational protocols 
  • Offering OJT and guidance to affiliated coworkers 
  • Participating in industry-related conferences and educational programs
  • “On-call” incident response and management
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Ability to facilitate collaboration
  • Attention to detail
  • Change management skills
  • Critical thinker and problem-solving skills
  • Customer service 
  • Decisiveness
  • Flexibility
  • Good organizational and time-management skills
  • Great interpersonal and communication skills
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Strong security-consciousness 
  • Team-oriented and goal-focused

Technical Skills

There are numerous technical subjects to be familiar with, including:

  • Accessibility
  • CMS framework
  • Code versioning tools
  • Database admin
  • Data output and data migration
  • Front-end languages (HTML, JavaScript, CSS)
  • Hosting 
  • Integration 
  • Python, Java, Ruby, .NET, and PHP
  • Mobile platforms 
  • Scaling 
  • Security compliance 
  • Server-side CSS preprocessors
  • Session management 
  • Setup and administration of backups
  • Testing platforms
  • User authentication/authorization 
  • Web development
Different Types of Organizations
  • Computer and software companies
  • Governmental/Military agencies
  • Healthcare 
  • Higher education institutions
  • Large corporations
  • Media and entertainment
  • Self-employed
Expectations and Sacrifices

Where would the world be without Back-End Developers? Workers in this field keep the modern world running, though few people ever stop to think about all the effort that goes into the websites, apps, and other tech resources we rely on every day. This is one of the most important yet least recognized career fields out there, so we can consider that lack of recognition as a sacrifice. 
 
Whether always appreciated or not, this job is critical to organizational success. Without fully-operational websites and apps, work grinds to a halt and companies start bleeding cash. One mistake can impact a website function that happens to be crucial. Some errors can have a ripple effect capable of ruining an otherwise perfect site or open up a vulnerability for hackers to exploit. Suffice it to say, expectations run high and so can job stress levels. 

Current Trends

Technology is never static, so Back-End Developers should always read up on the latest breakthroughs. A few current hot topics include HTTP/3, which uses a faster protocol known as QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections). There’s also an increase in using the API query language GraphQL. As an open-source language, expect changes! Other trends include the continual creep of AI and natural language processing systems. Those are here to stay and will only get more popular. One last trend we’ll mention is Nest.js, a framework built with TypeScript and made to scale server-side apps. Keep your eyes open for more developments.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...

Back-End Developers don’t crave the limelight, they just enjoy working on their projects behind the scenes. When they were younger, they were probably the same way, happy to enjoy their pastimes in solitude and without fanfare. Obviously there was likely an early interest in computers and specifically in coding or areas that go beyond what the average user gets involved with. It can be fun to know about things that others don’t, and this can lead to a shared bond amongst developers with the same unique interests and knowledge. 
 
Professionals in this field have demanding jobs and have probably always had a strong work ethic and attention to detail. They may be fiercely independent, yet happy to pass on what they know to others with similar passions. In addition, since they often collaborate with Front-End Developers, they should possess good “people” skills garnered through early school, family, or work experiences. They know how to partner with others, direct work, give and take, and find feasible solutions that you can depend on. 

Education and Training Needed
  • A bachelor's degree in computer programming, computer science, or a related field
  • Courses to build organizational, time-management, and communication skills
    • Classes in languages such as Python, PHP, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, and Laravel
    • Web server tech such as Apache and NGINX
    • Databases, such as MySQL, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL
    • Sourcetree, Github Client
    • Microservice platforms - Docker, Kubernetes
    • Local development environments - WampServer, Laragon, XAMPP
    • Collaboration platforms like Jira or Slack
    • Speed testers like Google PageSpeed Insights
  • There are countless sites offering courses, certificates, and bootcamps for virtually any skill you need to work on. A few of the most popular sites are:
    • Betamore 
    • Bloc.io 
    • CompTIA
    • Coursera
    • edX
    • General Assembly
    • LinkedIn Learning
    • Pluralsight
    • Udacity
    • Udemy
Things to look for in a program
  • There is no specific major called “Back-End Development,” and many of the skills you’ll need will come from outside of packed college classroom
    • Nonetheless, try to find computer science programs that cover as many applicable topics as possible
  • Check out the program’s faculty bios and learn about their backgrounds and awards
  • Read what current students and alumni have to say, on the school site and elsewhere
  • What are the program’s funded research areas and do they align with your interests?
  • How quickly do grads get jobs? Many schools brag about job placement statistics 
  • Look at acceptance rates, online offerings, tuition costs, scholarship opportunities, IT-related student clubs and organizations, and career services 
  • Make sure the institution is fully accredited
Top Programs

Why not start your search with U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 listing of Best Computer Science Programs? Read about their ranking methodology to see if their criteria match the things that matter to you. Each student has different needs. For most, the cost of tuition (or the ability to qualify for enough financial aid) are major factors. Others may also need to worry about their GPA and the competitiveness of their application package. Many employers of Back-End Developers are at least as concerned with your practical skills and experience as they are with which school your diploma comes from. 

Things to do in High School and College
  • Get in as much work-related experience as you can. Training certifications and courses look great on a resume, but nothing beats practical experience that you can prove
  • Try to get an internship, if possible. They may not pay much but do your best, build skills, and ask for a recommendation from your supervisor 
  • Hop on Upwork, Freelancer, or other sites to acquire experience working with a wide range of clients. You’ll get practice, feedbacks, and earn some extra money!
  • Print out a few Back-End Developer job postings from Indeed or other sites, and highlight the required qualifications listed for jobs you want. Next — work on those skills!
  • See our above Education and Training section for courses to do on your own time
  • Remember, soft skills are important, too! Volunteer to be on school committees or for extracurricular activities that let you build your leadership and management traits
    • Consider taking ROTC leadership classes as a non-cadet student
  • Find internships on job portals or ask your college program for assistance
  • Join IT-related clubs, grow your network, and learn all you can from peers
  • Don’t just read but study Back-End Development articles and newsletter items 
  • Latch onto a mentor willing to show you the ropes 
  • Participate in online discussions threads, but keep laser-focused on learning
Typical Roadmap
Back-End Developer Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • The first thing you should do is prepare before it’s time to hunt for jobs
  • Take the TripleByte Quiz and they will connect you with employers if you pass the screening test
  • Use your school’s career center. Get help with your resume and interview skills
  • Make a solid resume template and add things to it every time you gain a new experience or achievement. Use it as your “master copy”
  • Look for jobs on Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor
  • Print out job ads and highlight keywords and phrases, then tailor a version of your master copy resume to that exact ad. Have an editor or resume expert look it over
    • If the employer allows you to submit a cover letter, research the company and add a few lines about how your values and interests match theirs
  • Spread the word! Tell your network you’re looking for jobs and follow-up frequently
  • Actively seek out industry-specific job fairs, conferences, and trade shows versus traditional job fairs that may not be worth your time
  • Check out VelvetJobs' Back-End Developer resume examples
  • Be ready for that interview by reviewing FullStack’s 47 Back-End Developer Interview Questions To Focus On in 2020
How to Climb the Ladder
  • It takes time from move from entry-level roles up to Senior Back-End Developer jobs
  • Get noticed! Learn new things, knock out training courses, and excel at your job 
  • Speak to your boss about promotion opportunities. The best source of information on internal promotions will come from the inside
  • Beyond senior roles are Lead Software Engineer, Senior Software Architect, IT Director, Chief IT Architect, Software Engineering/Development Director, Chief Technology Officer, etc. These often require a master’s degree and years of experience
  • Loyalty is important to companies, but small organizations don’t offer the same chances to move up. If necessary, look elsewhere but keep good relations with every employer
  • Train others so when the time comes, you can move up and they’ll take on your duties
  • Spread your knowledge by creating online content, engaging with professional organizations, and perhaps even teaching a class or two
Recommended Resources

Websites

  • Apache 
  • Association for Computing Machinery 
  • CompTIA Association of IT Professionals
  • Docker
  • Github
  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Hashnode
  • JavaScript
  • Kubernetes
  • Laragon
  • MongoDB
  • MySQL
  • NGINX
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Refind
  • Ruby
  • Sourcetree
  • Stack Overflow
  • WampServer
  • World Organization of Webmasters 

Books

  • Beginning Node.js, by Basarat Syed
  • Head First Java, by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates
  • Java: The Complete Reference, by Herbert Schildt
  • Learn Python the Hard Way, by Zed A. Shaw
  • Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++, by Bjarne Stroustrup
  • The Joy of PHP Programming, by Alan Forbes
Plan B

Back-End Developer duties can sometimes be thankless. People who love IT may not be cut out for the duties this field requires. Hackernoon’s Should You Be a Back-End, Front-End or Full-Stack Developer? post can help you decide which of those three areas might suit you best. Otherwise, a few alternative careers to consider include:

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Computer Programmers
  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Database Administrators
  • DevOps
  • Information Security Analysts

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