People’s lives are increasingly reliant on online applications and tools today. These apps generally offer an excellent and seamless user experience. Have you ever considered how these apps implement this user experience? All credit for these tools belongs to their backers, who perform all the necessary work that often remains unseen. The back-end programmer is responsible for this work, so our objective in this article is to provide a deeper understanding of the skills involved and the people who work in this field. If you are also interested in front-end programming, we have covered what a front-end developer is in previous articles.
What is a back-end developer?
Web programmers are categorized into two main groups: back-end and front-end developers. If you’re new to the programming world and aspire to become a programmer, you must familiarize yourself with these terms. To understand the responsibilities of a back-end programmer, we first need to grasp what the back-end entails and discern the difference between front-end vs. back-end development.
So, who is responsible for maintaining website and application functionality? The “back-end” of a website is a combination of technology and programming that enhances its power and accessibility for users. The back-end of any website comprises three components that remain hidden from the user:
A back-end developer leverages technology to operate and maintain these vital website components that users interact with. The back-end developer’s code contributes to the front-end developer’s functionality.
These developers are responsible for creating, maintaining, testing, and debugging the entire back-end, which encompasses the core application, databases, data and application integration, APIs, and various other back-end processes.
The most common example of back-end programming is when someone reads an article on a website. The font, color, and design represent the front-end programming part. Simultaneously, the content of the articles and other data used on the website, which are stored in the database and made available through the server, are related to the back-end part.
The server is essentially like the personal computer users use to access the site, with the difference that the server is dedicated to specific tasks. Therefore, additional peripherals such as a mouse or keyboard, which can be used on thousands of computers, are not on the server. Furthermore, the back-end is commonly called the “Data Access Layer,” while the front-end is the “Presentation Layer.”
Most of today’s websites are “dynamic,” meaning that web page content is generated at runtime. Dynamic pages contain one or more scripts executed on the web server each time users access those pages. Everything that occurs before the page is displayed in the browser is part of the back-end.
What is the difference between front-end and back-end programming?
Back-end and front-end programming are terms that programmers and computer professionals use to describe the construction of hardware layers, computer programs, or websites. Back-end programming and front-end programming differ based on a user’s access level. There are two types of users: humans and digital tools. Most data and operational processes are stored in computers in the back-end of an application, so users cannot access it.
A back-end programmer is responsible for the data access layer of software or hardware, including activities involving digital tools and guidance. Front-end programming creates this layer, which includes all software and hardware interfacing with various external aspects of an application. Front-end programming includes data entered by users, websites, and other applications, keys, and additional features.
UX experts design these features to be accessible, user-friendly, and engaging. Front-end user services support back-end applications and programs and facilitate communication between users and the resources the application requires. Back-end programs may interact directly with front-end programs or communicate with each other using an “intermediate” program that bridges back-end and front-end programming activities.
Finally, it’s worth noting that a developer with both back-end and front-end skills is called a “Full-Stack Developer/Engineer.”
Who is a back-end programmer?
A back-end developer or back-end software engineer is someone with the necessary skills in back-end languages who can perform the following tasks:
- Creating, integrating, and managing databases
- Utilizing back-end frameworks to build server-side software
- Possessing a solid knowledge of web server technologies
- Integrating cloud computing solutions
- Demonstrating proficiency in server-side programming languages
- Developing and maintaining content management systems
- Integrating APIs
- Becoming familiar with and working on various operating systems
- Implementing security measures to prevent hacking and configuring security settings
- Generating reports and conducting statistical analyses of website data
- Providing website support and optimizing performance
Back-end developers play a vital role in web development teams, ensuring the correct functionality of data or services requested by the front-end system or software.
The back-end combines databases and server-side software written in languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, and .NET, running on web servers, cloud servers, or both. Back-end developers utilize tools like MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server to create applications that facilitate communication between the server, application, and database. Their tasks include locating, modifying, storing, and integrating data into front-end code.
Once they’ve comprehended the technical requirements and needs through discussions with business owners, back-end developers employ the mentioned tools to construct applications or web pages. They aim to deliver optimal solutions by processing and returning data to user-friendly interfaces, enabling form submissions, account creation, online shopping, and more.
Back-end programming languages
A proficient back-end engineer should know at least one server-side or back-end programming language. Familiarity with HTML and CSS scripting languages enhances back-end programmer performance in website design. Below, we will list some of the most popular back-end programming languages:
To become a proficient back-end developer, improving your Python skills is essential. Python is one of the premier programming languages extensively employed in contemporary web development. Among the crucial skills that back-end developers should possess, Python ranks at the top.
Ruby is a versatile, interpreted programming language that supports various programming paradigms, including object-oriented, functional, and procedural programming. It enjoys widespread usage in web development worldwide and is highly recommended for beginners in back-end programming due to its relatively easy learning curve than other languages. Like Python, Ruby emphasizes developer productivity, ultimately expediting web development. This programming language boasts compatibility with nearly all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
PHP, short for Hypertext Preprocessor, is one of web development’s most common and extensively used server-side languages. Unlike Python or Java, PHP is a scripting programming language that interprets scripts at runtime to automate processes or enhance application performance. While PHP is only a core skill for some back-end developers, familiarity can ignite enthusiasm for the field and encourage further learning.
Despite any misconceptions about Go’s popularity among developers, according to the Stack Overflow report, it is one of the five most favored programming languages worldwide. This is a programming language crafted by Google, featuring syntax reminiscent of C. This language empowers developers to construct highly functional, secure, high-performance web applications. Noteworthy features include ease of learning, readable code, Google’s backing, compilation, a robust standard library, concurrency support, high performance, and more.
Back-end developer salary
Considering the growing demand for hiring back-end programmers, it’s no surprise that their salaries have also increased. However, it’s critical to note that back-end programmers’ salaries can fluctuate significantly based on location, skill level, work experience, and other considerations.
In the following regions, the demand for back-end programmers is notably high. As a result, we’ve chosen to investigate the salaries of these programmers in these specific countries (data courtesy of ZipRecruiter):
- Switzerland: $110k/year (CHF 101k/year)
- Denmark: $89k/year (DKK 552k/year)
- Australia: $70k/year (A$95k/year)
- United Kingdom: $75k/year (£54k/year)
- The Netherlands: $48k/year (€41k/year)
- Germany: $66k/year (€56k/year)
- Austria: $74k/year (€63k/year)
- Sweden: $64k/year (SEK 552k)
- Ireland: $79k/year (€67k/year)
- Canada: $57k/year (CA$72k/year)
- Finland: $55k/year (€47k/year)
- France: $53k/year (€45k/year)
- Italy: $33k/year (€28k/year)
- Russia: $30k/year (2.19m/year)
- Spain: $40k/year (€34k/year)
- China: $45k/year (CN¥288k/year)
- Portugal: $47k/year (€40k/year)
- Romania: $20k/year (RON 84k/year)
- India: $8k/year (₹629k/year)
The path to becoming a back-end programmer
If you aspire to become a professional back-end developer, follow the path outlined below:
1. Introduction to the front-end
A fundamental understanding of the front-end is essential for back-end programmers. You should possess sufficient knowledge of this area and be acquainted with languages such as HTML and CSS and frameworks like Bootstrap. This knowledge allows you to adjust static templates if necessary.
2. Learn at least one back-end language
In the previous sections, we introduced various server-side languages. After thoroughly exploring each language, you can select the one that aligns with your project requirements. Starting with PHP or Python is recommended.
3. Familiarize yourself with and learn a database
It’s advisable to learn about databases concurrently in your chosen programming language. This is because mastering a language requires understanding databases. There are various databases to explore, but MongoDB is a suitable option.
4. Choose and master a framework
It would help if you started learning an appropriate framework after gaining proficiency in a programming language. Frameworks can streamline your coding process and enhance your productivity. Once you become accustomed to frameworks, you may find it challenging to code without them.
5. Advancing beyond language mastery
Transition to working with a framework once you have mastered your chosen language. Frameworks optimize code, enhance security, and accelerate work processes. They provide a structured and consistent framework for your development projects.
6. Learn version control and Git mastery
Version control is crucial for managing projects, especially when errors and issues arise. With version control, you can maintain a history of changes, easily revert to previous stages, and track modifications. Services like GitHub and GitLab offer valuable version control capabilities.
7. Explore specialized topics
You will be well-prepared to undertake various projects upon completing the preceding steps. However, the journey doesn’t end here, as there are always new concepts to explore and master in back-end development. Consider delving into the following specialized areas:
- Learning to work with REST, SOAP, JSON APIs, and more.
- Understanding web security algorithms such as the SHA family.
8. Building a portfolio
It’s essential to build a portfolio showcasing your skills and completed projects. Consider internships or personal projects to gain practical experience before pursuing a professional career. A portfolio is a critical factor in hiring, demonstrating your capabilities and expertise to potential employers.
Skills required to become a back-end developer
A proficient developer remains well-versed in all industry trends and updated with the latest advancements in the field. Continuous learning and a deep passion for the craft are hallmarks of a skilled back-end developer.
In a world where technology evolves daily, staying abreast of these innovations is critical to back-end programming success. The technical skills required to become a proficient back-end developer include:
- Profound knowledge of back-end programming languages and frameworks.
- Competence in managing hosting environments and databases.
- Adequate expertise in access and security compliance to ensure robust protection of data and systems.
- Experience in working with GIT, a version control system commonly used in collaborative development projects.
Back-end developers don’t need to master every programming language, but fluency is essential. Proficiency in a specific programming language enables them to excel in their role and contribute effectively to development projects.
Back-end developer job outlook
In line with market trends, there is no substitute job for back-end programming. Consequently, the future looks promising for individuals in this field.
Back-end developers are in high demand, with statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicating substantial growth in web developer positions. These positions are projected to experience 23 percent growth between 2021 and 2031. This upward trajectory underscores the strong and favorable job outlook in the coming years.
In this article, we’ve delved into the concept of back-end programming and explored the income potential within this profession. It’s critical to acknowledge that programming is vast and multifaceted. If you’re contemplating entry into this world, familiarize yourself with its various domains before deciding. Remember that it’s often more beneficial to focus on learning specific programming areas in a concentrated manner. This is rather than mastering everything simultaneously.