June 19, 2023
min read

What is a Backend Developer?

Krissy Davis
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If you're into web development, chances are you've come across the term "backend developer." Did you know that they make up around 25.2% of all developers? According to Stack Overflow, backend developers are in high demand and crucial to any tech team.

💡 Learn more about tech roles in our DevLexicon

But what exactly is a backend developer?

Simply put, a backend developer plays a crucial role in building and maintaining the hidden workings of websites and apps. While users may not see these parts, they are essential for smooth operation. Backend developers handle important tasks like managing databases and creating APIs, using their expertise to ensure efficient and secure data processing. 

This article explores what it takes to become a backend web developer and discusses the technical skills required for success in this exciting field.

Key Takeaways from this article:

  • Backend developers build and maintain mechanisms for data processing and server-side functions.
  • Programming languages, frameworks, databases, and servers are common tools.
  • Anyone can learn backend development skills through courses and certificates.

What is backend development?

Backend web development is about creating the backbone of websites and apps by writing code that connects everything - servers, databases, and other technologies. 

Backend development involves communication and building APIs that let different software components talk to each other. Think of backend devs as the translators of the digital world, making sure everyone speaks the same language.

Here's a table outlining some common tools used in backend development:

Category Examples Description
Programming Languages Python, Java, PHP The languages used to code the application logic
Databases MongoDB, MySQL Where application data is stored
Servers Apache HTTP Server, NGINX Software that handles requests and sends responses
Frameworks Node.js, Laravel Pre-written code for building web applications

What does a Backend Developer do?

Backend developers are responsible for making things work behind the scenes of a website or app. They use their technical knowledge and problem-solving skills to create systems that handle data and perform various functions. They also need to work well with other developers to build the overall structure of the website or app.

To give you an idea of what a backend developer does, here are some of their responsibilities:

  • Building and maintaining databases that store critical information.
  • Creating APIs that allow different parts of the application to communicate with each other.
  • Ensuring web security by implementing measures like encryption protocols.
  • Developing scripts that automate routine tasks such as backups or updating software versions.
  • Troubleshooting problems related to server-side functionality.
  • Designing the database structure, ensuring they're organised and efficient. 
  • Working with services like Stripe or PayPal to build secure and smooth payment systems.

Backend web developers are also responsible for improving the performance of the code they write, making it run faster and smoother. They also need to keep themselves updated with the latest technologies, ensuring they have the best tools for the job.

But it's not just about the technical stuff. Backend developers also need to be good communicators. They must work well with their team members, sharing ideas and collaborating effectively. 

What are some of the specific tasks that a Backend Developer may be responsible for? 

One important job is developing and managing APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). These APIs act as rules defining how different parts of the application communicate. It's like creating a common language for the software components to understand and work together.

Another crucial task is managing databases, which involves designing and setting up the structures that hold all data. The goal is to ensure the databases perform well and keep the information safe and secure. It's like building the foundation of a house to support everything on top.

To give you a better idea of what a backend developer might do daily, take a look at this table:

Task Description
Write server-side code Developers use programming languages like Python or Java to create custom solutions for handling data processing and other backend functions.
Monitor system performance Ensuring servers are running efficiently and troubleshooting issues as they arise is crucial to providing users with seamless experiences.
Collaborate with frontend developers Working closely with designers and other developers to create cohesive web apps requires clear communication skills and attention to detail.
Develop security protocols Protecting user data from unauthorized access or cyber-attacks is an ongoing challenge for developers in any industry.

As you can see, backend development involves many complex tasks that require specialised knowledge and technical expertise. While there may be some overlap with frontend development, like working with designers and writing code using languages like HTML/CSS/JavaScript, the main focus is creating solid systems that drive web applications. 

What's the difference between Frontend and Backend Devs?

In short, frontend developers handle the visual and interactive parts, while backend developers work on all behind-the-scenes code. 

Related article: Frontend vs Backend Development?

More specifically

Frontend developers use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create the look and feel of a website or application. They are responsible for how users interact with the site or app through buttons, forms, menus, and other elements.

Backend developers use Python, Java, or PHP programming languages to build server-side logic. They handle data processing tasks like database management and server scripting. Backend developers ensure that all parts of a website or application work together seamlessly by creating APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) which facilitate communication between different parts of an application.

What are the skills needed as a backend developer?

It's crucial to have a firm grasp of the programming languages mentioned above if you want to excel as a backend developer. Knowledge of databases such as MongoDB and MySQL is also essential. Backend web developers must be well-versed in network protocols and web security to keep data safe and sound.

The table below summarises some technical skills to help you become a successful backend developer.

Technical Skills
Category Skills
Programming Languages Python, Java, PHP
Databases MongoDB, MySQL
Network Protocols TCP/IP, HTTP/HTTPS
Web Security SSL/TLS certificates

Alongside technical skills, having excellent communication and collaboration abilities is vital for working effectively with others to construct websites or apps. Staying informed about industry trends is important to remain up-to-date with new language updates and platform changes. Being flexible and open-minded during collaboration allows more innovative solutions to emerge.

What jargon should backend developers know?

Some standard terms that a backend developer should be familiar with include API, server-side scripting, database integration, and web security. Understanding these terms will help you work more efficiently with designers, frontend developers, and stakeholders.

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It's a set of rules that enables different software applications to communicate with each other.

Server-side scripting refers to code that runs on the server rather than the user's computer or device. This code processes data, manages files, and performs other operations necessary for website or app functionality.

Database integration involves connecting databases to web applications to store and retrieve data as needed.

Web security refers to practices and protocols designed to protect websites and apps from cyber attacks such as hacking or malware infections. As a backend developer, you must understand these concepts to build robust, secure, efficient, and efficient systems.

Framework refers to a set of pre-written code that can be used to create a web app or website.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the protocol web browsers use to communicate with web servers.

Middleware is software that sits between the web server and the database. It handles tasks such as authentication, authorisation, and caching.

Object-oriented programming is a paradigm that uses objects to represent data and behaviour.

Stack is a collection of software used to create a web application or website.

How to become a backend developer?

To become a backend developer, you should start by taking free online courses and learning the basics, such as programming languages. These will help you learn how to manipulate data, manage servers, and create APIs.

In addition to programming languages, you should also familiarise yourself with popular databases like MongoDB and MySQL. Understanding network protocols and web security is also critical for any backend developer. 

While formal education can be advantageous in acquiring the necessary qualifications, it's worth mentioning that many developers are self-taught or have gained expertise through online courses, boot camps, or hands-on experience. However, it's important to recognise that some companies may require a degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering or a related field. 

Here are some additional tips for becoming a backend developer:

  • Be patient and persistent. Learning to code takes time and effort. Don't get discouraged if you don't understand something right away. Just keep practising, and you'll eventually get the hang of it.
  • Be willing to learn new things. The software development industry is constantly changing, so it's important to be willing to learn new things. This means being open to new technologies, new ways of doing things, and new ideas.

Backend Developer Salary

According to Stack Overflow, Canada is the place where backend developers can make the most money, with an average annual income of around 93,701 USD. If you're considering a move, the UK is another country that should be on your list, where you can expect to earn approximately 87,948 USD annually. Now let's turn our attention to Central Europe, where German backend devs bring in an average of about 70,380 USD.

Country Price (USD)
Canada $93,701
UK $87,948
Germany $70,380
USA $68,350
India $20,636

Backend Developer jobs 

Many incredible opportunities await you in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We've joined forces with the most cutting-edge tech companies in Europe, and our mission is to connect them with exceptional software engineers like yourself. Check out our job board and say goodbye to the hassle of endless job searches.


What are some common challenges that backend developers face in their work?
As a backend developer, you face challenges such as ensuring server-side security, optimising database performance and integrating complex APIs. These require technical expertise, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills to overcome.
How do backend developers typically collaborate with frontend developers?
Backend developers typically collaborate with frontend developers to build websites or apps. They communicate technical requirements and work on integrating server-side functions with client-side interfaces.
What are some common misconceptions about backend development
Think backend development is just about coding? Think again. Misconceptions include overlooking the importance of collaboration, workplace skills, and industry knowledge. Technical expertise is only part of the equation for success.
How has the field of backend development evolved in recent years?
Yes, backend development has evolved with newer technologies and tools such as serverless computing, microservices, and cloud computing. It has also become more collaborative, emphasising security practices to protect user data.
What emerging trends or technologies should backend developers be aware of?
As a backend developer, you should know emerging trends like serverless architecture, microservices, and containerisation. Keep updated on programming languages and platforms, and stay informed about web security protocols.
What's the difference between a Full Stack and a Backend Developer?
A full stack developer is a jack-of-all-trades in the software development world who can work on both the frontend and backend of a website or app. This means they can work with a website's visual aspects, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and the server-side elements, such as programming languages like Python, Java, or PHP. On the other hand, backend developers focus on the server side of a website or app. This includes tasks such as database management, security, and API integration.


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