What Does A Back-End Developer Do?
Demystifying the wonderful world of Back-End Web Development
For those who are completely new to web development, we get it, the terminology can be baffling! Put simply though, a back-end developer (aka a server-side developer) is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes activities that occur when you perform any action on an app or website. Be it logging into your banking app, adding (one too many) items to your Amazon basket or simply scrolling down your Twitter timeline, these actions function as seamlessly as they do due to the work of a back-end developer. Through coding, they build and maintain the technology needed to power the components you see, use and navigate on the front-end.
Smart stuff, huh? If that’s stoked your curiosity, why not join us as we delve a little deeper into the wonderful world of back-end web development?
What’s the difference between Front- and Back-End Development?
First things first, it’s important to establish the difference between front and back-end development. Basically, back-end developers determine how a website or app functions while the front-end focuses on designing the interface and how it looks to users. Interestingly, the work of back-end web developers is never directly seen by users.
If you struggle to remember what separates the two, we like to think of them in terms of human qualities. Take the basic introvert-extrovert binary for example: imagine back-end as being a bit quieter, getting on with important work in the background, not enjoying any fanfare. On the flip side, front-end is more outgoing and largely about the external - what you, as the website user, can see and interact with.
Both roles are equally important and they work together in harmony.
If you’re curious as to whether a back-end developer career path is better suited to you, consider where your skills and interests lie. As back-end development is more specialised, it’s often considered a less intuitive and accessible starting point than front-end. Nonetheless, a back-end developer job may appeal to you if you enjoy understanding how things work, rather than how they look, getting to grips with data - and if you’re motivated by money, as back-end developers generally command a higher salary than front-end.
Back-End Developer job responsibilities
So, if you’ve decided you’d like to work as a back-end web developer. What can you expect to be doing on a day to day basis? Well, daily tasks and duties will likely include a combination of the following:
- Building and maintaining web applications
- Optimising the efficiency and speed of applications
- Implementation of security and data protection
- Writing high quality and reusable code
- Managing hosting environments
- QA testing
- Troubleshooting and debugging
- Keeping abreast of new technologies
- Reporting on analytics and statistics
What skills are required to be a Back-End Developer?
Back-End Developer programming languages, stacks & frameworks
To succeed as a back-end developer, there are various skills you will need to have. A thorough understanding of coding languages and software frameworks is one of them. Some common back-end developer languages and frameworks are as follows:
- Python – As a newbie to the world of back-end web development, you’ll probably hear a lot about Python. Whilst it’s not back-end specific (it’s a general-purpose coding language) it gets a lot of use server-side and is an open-source programming language. This refers to source code which is available to the public, free of cost, for use or modification from its original design. It’s become exceedingly popular owing to how easy it is to read and work with.
- PHP – An acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, previously known as Personal Home Pages, PHP is another open-source scripting language. It is used by the likes of WordPress and Facebook. A big draw of this language is that it can be embedded into HTML, which is typically long and has lots of commands, making it much easier to manage.
- Ruby on Rails – Ruby is a general-purpose programming language and is celebrated for its simplicity. You can even get Ruby developers, who specialise in this language. On its own, however, it is not well equipped to work with web applications. The result? Ruby on Rails! This is a software framework that requires minimal back-end work, enabling developers to create and launch applications quickly.
- Other common back-end developer languages and frameworks include Java, Perl, C#, SQL and .Net
Back-End Developer education requirements, certifications & training
If all of the above is sounding like gobbledygook, it’s time to enrol at back-end developer school! Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find back-end specific courses online. Generally, it is taught in the context of a full-stack web developer course (which is a role that combines front- and back-end web development) or you can learn specific back-end programming languages (i.e. Ruby or Python courses).
Nonetheless, here at Wired Sussex, we’ve done some digging and found some great, introductory courses to kickstart your learning:
- Learn Back-End Web Development: PHP And MySQL From Scratch (Udemy)
- 2020 Complete Back-End Web Development (Udemy)
- Introduction to Back-End (Udacity)
In terms of formal qualifications, it’s up for debate as to whether a degree is necessary for a back-end developer. Some argue that, compared to front-end development, back-end requires more abstraction which involves data mining and writing algorithms. In which case, a computer science or mathematics degree can, undoubtedly, be valuable.
However, the bottom line is, a knowledge of back-end developer programming languages & frameworks is what matters most. With that in mind, online courses like the ones we mentioned above can help you get the ball rolling.
Back-End Developer salary in the UK: what will you earn?
Once you’ve acquired all the necessary training and experience, you can begin applying for a back-end web developer job.
On average, a back-end developer can expect to make around £52k a year. A junior back-end developer salary is typically in the region of £24k whilst those who are more established in their career can secure a salary of £70k. As with many jobs, however, these figures can vary according to location and company so they should be taken as a rough guide.
Are you considering a back-end developer job as a career? At Wired Sussex, we connect talented job seekers with amazing companies in (you guessed it) Sussex. Check out the opportunities currently available via our jobs board.