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Career Path: How to Become a Backend Developer

Computer programmers find themselves seeking a job in a particular field. One major role is that of a Backend Developer or Backend Engineer. Individuals on this career path enjoy coding and have a basic understanding of programming fundamentals. Backend Engineers can be found across industries, helping to build websites using advanced technologies for companies large and small.

Getting Through the Door

While seeking an entry-level position as a Backend Developer, starting off with learning all aspects of a server-side language, as well as its framework is key i...more

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Career Path: How to Become a Backend Developer

Computer programmers find themselves seeking a job in a particular field. One major role is that of a Backend Developer or Backend Engineer. Individuals on this career path enjoy coding and have a basic understanding of programming fundamentals. Backend Engineers can be found across industries, helping to build websites using advanced technologies for companies large and small.

Getting Through the Door

While seeking an entry-level position as a Backend Developer, starting off with learning all aspects of a server-side language, as well as its framework is key in this field. Familiarity with website architecture, databases, data structures and algorithms will also help you reach your career goals. You will have the opportunity to learn on the job while contributing to the core backend infrastructure and process enhancements of a company's site. Providing support to a development team by helping to construct, launch and maintain professional applications across platforms is an essential task. Employers will expect you to identify and communicate best practices for backend development.

Other skills that can help you on your path include having a strong knowledge of development and programming methodologies. Experience working in a Linux command line environment and with languages like Python, Java and Ruby is crucial. Some other minimum requirements for an entry- or junior-level backend engineer position include:

  • Creating testable, well-designed and efficient code
  • Able to provide support to the entire application lifecycle
  • Writing unit tests and confirming functionality
  • Ability to work in an agile team environment
  • Building automated tools for manipulation, mapping, modeling and testing
  • Troubleshoot challenging problems and debugging to optimize performance
  • Unafraid to ask questions, take risks and come up with new solutions
  • An understanding of network protocols and configurations
  • Excellent technical, written and verbal interpersonal communication skills for efficient along with seamless operations

Degrees and Experience

To land that first job as a backend developer, employers look for you to have a bachelor's in computer science, software engineering or computer security. There are also in-person boot camps and online courses for individuals who don't have a degree. A few years in computer programming is helpful, as well as familiarity with REST-based services, cloud infrastructure, automated integration tests, accessing data on mainframes and continuous integration.

Working as a Junior-Level Developer/Engineer

As a junior-level developer, you will become comfortable with database methodologies and can work with general command line tools in a company's given operating system. Being passionate about learning new technologies, as well as possessing experience with large-scale datasets, data warehousing and ETL processes are significant. In addition as a junior-level engineer, you will gain a general understanding of Java, CSS, XML, JavaScript and HTML to automate and deliver solid test suites. Knowledge of technologies like Oracle, NoSQL, MongoDB, Spring Boot, AWS and Jenkins will also be a plus for obtaining a mid-level position.

Moving Up the Ranks

Climbing up the ladder in this career path may seem like a daunting journey, but it can be achieved with perseverance. As an entry- or junior-level backend engineer, you will find yourself working around a team of very experienced developers and asking for help from these professionals is a wonderful way to gain valuable insight. Being able to communicate, as well as collaborate, is very important when it comes to completing projects successfully. You must ratchet up your troubleshooting skills in order to identify complex problems in advance and come up with solutions. Besides being experienced with backend technologies, frontend development is something to definitely get familiar with.

Advance Your Career: How to become a Senior Backend Developer

You, as a Senior Backend Developer, will take the lead position in the implementation of all server-side logic, maintenance and definition of a database. At times, the employer may task you with being responsible for the integration of frontend elements built by the team into the application. Overseeing all aspects of web development, which includes design, backend reports and interaction with a company's product is a major responsibility for the senior backend engineer. You are also able to optimize a website to maintain a top position on search engines. Contributing to co-worker code reviews to uphold quality and consistency, as well as to share knowledge is a given duty. Besides colleagues, you will go over data with an employer's clients.

Study the Core Fields

As a senior backend developer, you have to manage and coordinate across all phases of the agile development process to get tasks completed. You are responsible for building complex backend data services and APIs using object-oriented programming languages. Fluency in technologies such as Bootstrap, CSS3, HTML5, PHP, Java, Angular, JQuery and MySQL is vital for the job. A Senior Backend Engineer can incorporate tools to understand how users interact with the UI to improve user experience and conversion. You will design secure applications that meet regulatory, compliance and security standards, as well as implement automated testing platforms and unit tests.

Invest in Yourself

You have proven your expertise in the field as a Senior Backend Developer. You can create design documentation and provide technical assistance when and where needed. You are also proficient with SEO, architecting data pipelines for analysis and production, as well as web service development. To gain an advantage, employers also like to see experience with object-oriented databases like Sybase, developing Java Enterprise (J2EE) applications, Docker containers, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Having a master's degree in computer science, engineering or math is preferred although a bachelor's along with five or more years of experience will suffice.

Don't Stop at Backend

Grow your knowledge of new, emerging technologies in the field. Achieve frontend experience with Angular.js and React.js. Be adept with video and image manipulation, Salesforce development and the Play framework. Gain experience with AWS (Beanstalk, EC2), Kubernetes and/or the Google Cloud Platform, as well as Redis, ElasticSearch and distributed systems. Network with other developers to learn the latest trends in the industry and to keep on track with your goals.

Backend Developer Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level software engineer with between two and five years of relevant experience.

Being a backend engineer means that you are responsible for the construction and the efficiency of all the backend functionality of a website. You are crucial in getting a project off and running. As a backend developer, you can integrate user-facing elements created by frontend developers with server-side logic, as well as build libraries and reusable code for future use. Our engineers are ambitious, multifaceted and can work independently and in a team environment to get the job done.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Using frameworks to build service-side software and integrate APIs and cloud computing
  • Analyzing and compiling data, codes and processes to identify areas of improvement and resolve issues
  • Work jointly with frontend developers along with other team members to set up objectives, as well as design cohesive, functional script
  • Think strategically, creatively and innovatively using sound judgment and technical skills
  • Strong understanding of programming techniques and tools, as well as the web development cycle
  • Record data and report findings to the appropriate parties
  • Proficiency in writing and optimizing SQL queries
  • Create security settings, restore and back up technologies for databases and websites
  • Work in a fast-paced, ambiguous environment while managing and prioritizing multiple responsibilities

What We Look For

  • 3+ years experience with backend web development
  • 3+ years of experience building well tested high volume, large-scale, distributed systems
  • Experience with programming languages like HTML, Ruby, PHP, Python, C# or Java
  • Experience with creating REST APIs and version control like Git
  • Experience with modern MVC frameworks such as Django, Rails, Pyramid, Flask, Sails and Laravel
  • Experience application architecture stacks, including API layer, business logic, data modeling, hosting, network and UI/UX
  • Superb communication, time management, analytical, mathematical and problem-solving skills
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in technology
  • B.S. in computer engineering, web development, computer science or equivalent experience

These Would Also Be Nice

  • Experience creating mobile applications using Objective-C, Swift or Android
  • Experience with cloud development (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud)
  • Experience doing unit testing with Virtual Machines
  • Experience with Webpack

Senior Backend Developer Career Paths: Where To Go From Here

You have achieved your goal of becoming a Senior Backend Engineer, so now you're ready to go even further. The IT industry is growing at an extremely rapid pace with companies relying on more online platforms to increase their business. Employers are looking for the advanced software engineers for their projects, and you are one of them. You have acquired more than 10 years of experience being a Backend Engineer and have honed your frontend tech skills to the point where you can be considered a Senior Full-Stack Developer.

Moving up the corporate ladder in this field, there's the Lead Software Engineer. Besides testing and developing software programs, this role involves design planning, heading up project leadership, scheduling release dates, participating in product committees and contacting clients. Taking this path will guide you towards becoming a Lead Software Development Engineer (SDE) where you will steer the efforts in building the software that will fit a company's needs, as well as oversee other software engineers to ensure projects meet deadlines. A Senior Software Architect is a next step on this road. In this role, you will be responsible for the development of software and programs. From this point, you can branch off into the positions of an IT Director, a Chief IT Architect, a Software Engineering/Development Director, VP of Engineering, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and a Chief Operations Officer (COO).

In your quest to the next level of your career, a majority of the positions listed require a bachelor's degree with a master's being preferred. Managerial experience, industry certifications and years of expertise is a necessity. You will also need to possess not only great communication skills but be able to lead effectively and make important decisions for the company as a whole.

PHP

PHP is a widely-used open-source scripting language that has seen wide use in web application development. PHP code must be processed by an interpreter like the Zend Engine. With a strong open-source community and large adoption world-wide, PHP ...

.NET is a framework created by Microsoft that consists of common language runtime and its own class library. Its key benefits are managing code at execution in the form of memory management, thread management and remoting. It also has added safet...

Java is a statically-typed, cross-platform language. It is concurrent, class-based, and object-oriented. It has minimal implementation dependencies and compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilat...

C++

C++ is an object-oriented language derived from C, and invented by Bjarne Stroustrup, while working at AT&T's Bell Labs. It is widely used for systems-level programming, and building applications on Windows and various Unix operating systems (Lin...

C

C is a widely used low-level, static-typed, compiled computer language known for its efficiency. Developed in the late sixties, C has become one of the most widely used languages of all time. It provides direct access to memory and due to its de...

Python is an object-oriented programming language notable for its clarity, power and flexibility. Python is an interpreted language, meaning that an interpreter reads and runs the code directly, rather than compiling down into static lower level c...

JavaScript is a scripting language, originally implemented in web browsers, but now widely used server-side via the Node.js platform. It supports a runtime system based on numerical, Boolean and string values, with built-in, first-class support f...

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is a markup language derived from SGML, used to describe web sites and applications to be run in a common web browser. Invented in 1993 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, HTML documents are broken up into HTML elements, w...

CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) describes how HTML elements are displayed. Along with JavaScript and HTML, CSS is one of the cornerstones of front-end web development. CSS separates presentation and content, allowing styles to be defined and used t...

Top industries hiring Backend Engineers

eCommerce

The retail landscape has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Retail was once a brick-and-mortar industry, comprised of small, independently owned-and-operated businesses and large chain stores with multiple outposts throughout the c...

Analytics

Analytics and Business Intelligence roles are often confused but are also directly linked. Data that is collected when a user interacts with a system is then cleaned and stored. That data is then accessed using reports and graphical dashboards. Th...

Platform

With an increase in spending noted for the overall information technology industry, it’s no wonder that platform jobs are projected to be in demand as companies seek ways to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Platform jobs are a subs...

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