Backend Developer Path: Steps on How To Become One

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 December 2022

Published 16 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The web development industry has recently gained popularity and become more lucrative as businesses have learned that acquiring more leads necessitates a robust online presence. Consequently, businesses look for skilled developers who can design and create the most attractive and efficient applications using the latest technology. Understanding the career path for backend developers can help you learn how to pursue this role. In this article, we outline the backend developer path, entailing the duties and responsibilities, average compensation, required skills as well as steps you can take to kickstart the career.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a backend developer?

Essentially, a backend developer creates and maintains the technology that powers the components that allow the user-facing portion of a website to function. As a backend developer, you're responsible for creating applications by coding and deploying them on the organisation's server. Backend developers connect actions to data functions on the organisation's server to allow the programme to run effectively, whereas frontend developers are in charge of customer-facing application content such as user interfaces.

Backend developers may occasionally handle databases to guarantee that apps can obtain information. In other instances, a backend developer creates components needed for the operation of the software. This comprises the application's fundamental logic, databases, data and application integration, APIs and other backend operations. Outlined below are some of the responsibilities of a backend developer:

  • Developing, integrating and managing databases

  • Creating backend frameworks to develop server-side software

  • Integrating cloud computing data with servers

  • Helping in the area of web-server technologies

  • Being proficient in programming languages, especially those relating to the server

  • Assisting in the development, deployment and maintenance of content management systems

  • Developing comprehensive reports, statistics and analytics

  • Staying up to date with the latest knowledge and trends in operating systems

  • Integrating server-side data with APIs

  • Keeping updates on security settings to avoid hacking

  • Backing up and restoring files

Read more: 38 MuleSoft Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)

Backend developer path: Step-by-step guide on how to become one

You can consider the following steps as a guide to your backend developer path:

1. Assess whether an education course is a good fit for you

Although you inevitably need experience with frameworks and coding to kickstart your developer career, formal education isn't always a prerequisite to working in a technological profession. Getting into an educational programme, be it a university degree, diploma degree or technical certification course, may substantially increase your opportunities of landing a job, securing a higher income or getting a more senior position. If you choose to pursue a degree, you can consider majoring in software development, information technology or a similar subject.

Evaluate at what stage you want to kickstart your career as a backend developer. You can choose to enter the industry at the entry or mid-career levels, but be mindful of what and how much training you may require to get to your desired level. If you're unfamiliar with the foundations of coding, you can enrol in a programme that can teach you the essentials of backend programming and development.

Related: What Does It Take To Be a Software Engineer?

2. Study a programming language

Notwithstanding the fact of whether you pursue formal schooling, learning a server-side programming language like Java or C++ is a crucial step to becoming a backend developer. Because the technology that drives the web is built on open standards, a backend developer has numerous options as to which language to employ. You can select from a range of scripting and multiparadigm languages. This decision varies depending on the organisation type and departmental needs. Modern websites generally contain a number of server languages. Some of the most commonly used languages are:

  • PHP

  • SQL

  • C#

  • JavaScript

  • Python

  • Ruby

  • C++

Related: How To Learn Coding Online: Benefits, Tips and Guidelines

3. Learn about data structures and algorithms

A data structure is essentially a designated location where data may be stored and organised. An algorithm, on the other hand, entails a set of procedures to solve a certain problem. A fundamental grasp of both algorithms and data structures helps you in learning the frameworks needed to make the job easier. This way, you can compose optimised and effective computer programs. The basic responsibilities include updating data structures as well as algorithm stacks, locating and sorting algorithms and constructing graphs and link trees.

4. Understand the concepts of the framework

There are several learning frameworks available in the market. But for new backend developers, the best approach is to choose one and keep training with it. You can decide which framework to begin with by assessing the server-side programming languages you're familiar with.

The majority of frameworks are model-view-controller (MVC) resources that make it simpler to code a program. Although other backend developers may code a programme using only their programming language expertise and not with a framework, adapting to utilise a framework makes your programming more efficient and consistent. As a result, backend engineers typically are required to know how to operate inside standard learning frameworks.

Related: Coding vs. Programming: What's the Difference? (With FAQs)

5. Update your database knowledge

Another crucial skill for you to develop as a backend developer is database administration. As a backend developer, you're advised to be able to connect apps to databases in order to obtain information. Additionally, a backend developer needs to be able to design databases as well as organise the data lifecycle.

6. Practise consistently

If you're serious about your career in backend development, it's best that you practise consistently. Practising improves your abilities and provides experiences that you may discuss in a job interview. Develop important abilities, such as writing in a server-side language and creating databases, so that you can do them successfully. By practising, you may become better acquainted with the fundamental ideas required to fulfil the work in backend development.

7. Be mindful of security

Comprehending best practices in cybersecurity may assist you in avoiding security breaches in the systems you develop. Because the backend development team is in charge of building server-side code, you ought to fully comprehend how to safeguard it. You're required to stay updated on the latest security recommendations.

Related: How To Become a Cyber Security Analyst (Duties and Skills)

8. Evaluate and determine practical training strategies

Learning requires hands-on training techniques. These include developing your server-side apps, implementing security upgrades and constructing databases. If you're serious about your backend development career, it's best to have a portfolio. To do so, you can begin working on projects early on. Choose tasks that pique your attention and take them through to the finish line. As a result, you can have the practical experience to highlight on your resume on top of your educational attainment.

What is the work environment of a backend developer like?

The work of a backend developer often entails long hours. You can be a backend developer virtually anywhere, either as a full-time staff in major firms or small enterprises. You can also operate as a contractor for an agency or an independent consultant on a freelance basis.

Related: What Is Freelancing? With Advantages, Disadvantages and Tips

How much does a backend developer earn?

The average annual salary for a backend developer is $88,351. On top of your salary, you may expect common benefits such as stock options, health insurance and paid leave. Do note that the salary varies depending on the type of industry, the size of the organisation, your employment status as well as your level of education, experience and expertise.

What skills do you need to become a backend developer?

Outlined below are some of the hard or technical skills to commence your career as a backend developer:

  • Programming language: As the most basic prerequisite, a backend developer has to be well-versed in at least one server-side programming language such as Java, Ruby or Python.

  • Database and cache: A comprehensive knowledge of database management system (DBMS) technology is essential. You may look into Oracle and SQLServer for this purpose.

  • Server management: A thorough exposure to server management and frameworks is important in administering servers.

  • Application Programming Interface (API): This knowledge is critical to ensure a smooth interface with external software components and operating systems.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Do you need JavaScript as a backend developer?

Although more often used for front-end development, JavaScript can be used as both front-end and back-end programming languages. For backend work, backend developers typically utilise a form of JavaScript known as Node.js. The Node.js framework enables a developer to manage data updates from the front end and create scalable network applications capable of handling numerous concurrent user requests. Node.js is a cross-platform and open-source runtime environment to execute JavaScript code outside a browser. It's important to understand that Node.js is neither a framework nor a programming language.

Related: 6 Types of Java Certification (Plus Tips to Achieve Them)

What is a developer roadmap?

You can choose to become a front-end or back-end developer. Whatever your ultimate end goal is, to become a developer, you can study programming languages, server management, various proxy settings, code infrastructure, cloud design patterns and designers and logs management. It's best if you also can comprehend why one tool may be more suitable in certain cases than others. If you're keen on becoming a backend developer, it's also important that you refine your understanding of web components and security, CSS architecture and frameworks, version control systems and repo hosting services.

Related: Front-End Developer vs. Back-End Developer: Key Differences

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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