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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.


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