What is a Back-End Developer? (With 5 Steps on How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 April 2022

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.

You can divide a website into two main parts, which are the front end and the back end. Back-end developers are software developers who develop codes and solve issues related to the back end of a website. Before pursuing this career, it's essential to research and understand what the job entails and the qualifications required. In this article we answer the question, 'What is a back-end developer?' by outlining their duties and describing their skills and how to become one, and their national average salary.

What is a back-end developer?

The answer to the question, 'What is a back-end developer?' is that they're a software developer who specialises in developing and designing server-side functions for software or websites. The back end comprises a database and software written in server-side language that runs on either web servers or cloud-based servers. Back-end developers are important members of an organisation's web and software development teams. This is because they ensure that data and services requested by the front-end system are accessible.

The following are some duties and responsibilities of a back-end developer:

  • creating, integrating and maintaining databases

  • integrating cloud computing

  • developing and maintaining web applications

  • evaluating the effectiveness and speed of existing applications

  • managing the hosting environment

  • troubleshooting and debugging back-end codes

  • collecting data and reporting it to stakeholders, such as clients or management

  • developing new programs, products or features by monitoring the organisation's needs and the current trends

Related: What Does a Front End Developer Do? (And How to Become One)

How to become a back-end developer

The following steps can help you enter this profession with the necessary qualifications and experience:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

To start as a back-end developer, it's important for you to obtain a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as information communication and technology (ICT), software engineering, computer science or another IT-related course. A bachelor's degree helps develop the technical skills necessary for you to build a successful career in this field. The coursework for these degrees may cover topics such as operating systems, Python and JavaScript programming, data structure, and algorithm, database and web development. The skills you develop can help solve real-world challenges that you may experience in your workplace.

2. Apply for an entry-level job

Getting an entry-level job is important for a new graduate who wishes to build a career as a back-end developer. Look for lower-level positions, such as an entry-level software developer or a junior cloud engineer, to gain experience operating in a professional IT department. You may also find internships in general development or back-end development a useful starting point.

Entry-level experience allows you to familiarise yourself with tools such as Apache, NGIX and other programming languages used in completing back-end development duties. You can search and apply for these jobs online or submit applications directly to your prospective employers.

Related: How To Become a Software Developer

3. Obtain a master's degree

A master's degree may be vital in developing your career as a back-end developer. A master's degree in software engineering, computer science or any other IT-related field may help you gain advanced knowledge and specialist skills that can be essential for your professional development. The coursework may cover areas such as computer architecture, software engineering, algorithm design and artificial intelligence (AI). Master's degrees typically takes up to two years to complete after finishing your bachelor's degree.

4. Create a good professional resume

An impressive resume may help you attract a hiring manager's attention. Try to make your resume concise, relevant and updated. As a back-end developer, include data management, coding, communication and problem-solving skills on your resume. Also, consider reviewing the job posting to highlight specific skills and qualifications you know the employer is seeking.

5. Consider joining a professional body

You may join a professional body where members can get many benefits, such as an opportunity to network with other members and receive career development support. There are a variety of associations you may join related to IT or computer science. Some popular options are The Australasian Association for Information Systems (AAIS) or the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Related: How To Become a Web Developer

Skills for a back-end developer

Here are some soft and hard skills that may be essential in this role:

Programming

It's important to begin by strengthening your programming skills and mastering the programming language that's commonly used by back-end developers. Expert knowledge and understanding of a server-side programming language, such as PHP, Java, Python, Perl, C# and NodeJS, is essential. Practising with other experienced developers and doing more research about the language you wish to learn allows you to obtain and master these programming skills.

Related: 8 Beneficial Computer Programmer Skills That Are in Demand

Framework

As a back-end developer, it's helpful to have an understanding of different frameworks used in the workplace. Frameworks can help save time and improve security and scalability. Examples of the frameworks used include Django, CakePHP, Laravel, Flask, Asp. NET and Spring boot.

Data structure and algorithms

Data structures and algorithms are integral aspects of every programming language. Back-end developers use their thorough understanding of these areas to develop software or websites. This knowledge can help you create systems that perform calculation, data processing and automation.

Database

Database skills are essential for back-end developers. These skills enable developers to manipulate database management system software for easier storage and retrieval of data. A competent back-end developer understands both relational and non-relational databases.

Application programming interface (API)

API development skills are valuable because they enable software developers to link and integrate a wide range of programs and systems. You can also use knowledge of API to help organisations increase productivity, save costs and improve connectivity and collaboration. Showing good API understanding can show an employer that you have extensive knowledge of computer and software development.

Problem-solving

A back-end developer's job may involve solving both simple and complex problems. A back-end developer may use a range of methods to solve problems in the workplace. For example, they might divide large projects into smaller units to help them find the error.

Communication

Communication skills are important to back-end developers in their daily interactions, collecting user experience feedback, creating presentations of their final projects and creating reports. Communication skills entail active listening along with verbal and non-verbal communication. A back-end developer listens keenly to clients and responds appropriately to their website or system requirements. Back-end developers may also liaise with other team members when developing software or a website.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Salary for a back-end developer

The national average salary of a back-end developer is $118,450 per year. Your total income may vary depending on your work schedule. For example, some back-end developers may work for one company, whereas others offer freelance services. Employees are more likely to earn an annual salary and receive ongoing work. Meanwhile, freelancers can set their own rates and choose their own clients.

Tips for preparing for a back-end developer interview

Here are some tips that may help you prepare for an interview in this field:

  • Refresh your programming knowledge: During your interview preparation, it's good to practise some of the programming languages listed in the job description because the hiring manager may ask technical questions about these to assess your knowledge.

  • Consider the dress code: Dressing professionally for an interview creates a good impression for your potential employer, and tech companies can have varying dress codes. You can contact the interviewing company to get an idea of their dress code or review their website to determine whether their culture is more formal or more relaxed.

Frequently asked questions relating to back-end developers

Some frequently asked questions about a career as a back-end developer:

What is the difference between front-end and back-end developers?

A front-end developer codes and creates user-visible parts and functionality of a website, whereas back-end developers focus on the website aspects that users can't see, like the database. Examples of tools that front-end developers use include HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Back-end developers use tools such as SQL server, Apache and NGINX.

Where can a back-end developer work?

Back-end developers work in teams at IT firms or in the IT departments of a wide range of technology-driven organisations. They may also work for various clients as freelancers. Back-end developers can become consultants or lecturers at higher learning institutions once they have obtained further qualifications and knowledge.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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