The Skills You Need to Be a Back-End Developer
In our previous text, we focused on general differences between backend and frontend developers. We continue to create texts on this issue – today we’re going to address what backend developer skills you should have.
But let’s get back to what a “backend” is in a software development environment. Backend is the “administrative” layer of the project being created. For example, the frontend is the layer that is responsible for communication with the user – it is the user interface and everything that is “visible” while using the application. Whereas “backend” is everything that “happens in the background”. – server configuration, internal mechanisms, tools for maintaining the service in the network. The backend developer is responsible for tasks that directly concern the server layer.
The main role of the backend developer is continuous and harmonious cooperation with front-end developers. Without proper communication and a clear way of acting, there is no way to bring the project to the desired goal. In other words, the backend developer is responsible for the “logical” issues of the project, which is done by creating appropriate instructions in specific programming languages.
Their role in creating fast and user-friendly applications is enormous. They are also responsible for communicating the application with the database in such a way that the information flow is: fast and secure. They must keep up to date with the guidelines for data protection policies and guard the safeguards to minimize the risk of information leakage. Thus, the backend developer has an extremely responsible and sometimes demanding job. Therefore, not everyone can be a backend developer. What is certain, however, is that this type of specialization gives great satisfaction and in a way provides a “driving force” in the context of determining the final shape of the project.
Backend Developer Skills – social responsibility
Nowadays, it is very difficult to imagine a backend developer who has very low social skills. This is all the more important because such specialists very often work in larger groups. It is worth mentioning that this team does not have to consist of only backend developers – they can also be frontend developers, software engineers, and UX architects. The scope of competence of the team can be very wide, and this in turn causes that there should be harmony in such a team. This is achieved through appropriate approaches to work and tasks.
Very often there is also an approach, according to which backend developers are assigned completely different tasks, operate on completely different parts of a particular project. Often they also provide a “knowledge base” for less experienced colleagues and help them. As we have shown in the headline above, high social skills are highly desirable in the software development market.
Cooperation with software engineers and testers (QA team) is now standard. If you are thinking about becoming a backend developer, you must take these issues into account. It is a huge challenge, an incredible responsibility, but also great satisfaction. Our backend developers team defines their work in this way – it’s not easy, it’s challenging, but in the end, it’s engaging and allows for positive professional performance.
Backend Developer Skills – in a nutshell
Looking for a shortened “pattern” of a good backend developer? Check out our key points based on our experience.
- Knowledge of version control systems – including Git. However, each position may have different requirements in this regard. Are you interested in our job offers? Check here!
- You must be able to create and manage a hosting environment and know the database systems. It is also important to optimize these areas and make sure that they work flawlessly. A great advantage will be adequate knowledge of the applicable legal acts concerning personal data protection.
- An absolute obligation of the front end developer is the knowledge of the framework used in the company, as well as the programming language, which allows creating a backend.
- If you have excellent knowledge of how to create strong security, can do penetration tests, and turn in the circle of cybersecurity – this is your great asset!
Have many backend developers graduated from IT-related studies?
Our observations show that many backend developers have graduated from computer science studies, but there are also those who have come to everything by themselves or have previously worked in a completely different field of software development. There are known cases of testers who, thanks to their hard work, achieved a lot in the field of backend development. And they are often very, very talented people, authorities in such fields. We can point out such cases in our company – we are extremely proud of our employees.
Is it difficult to become a backend developer? Starting from “zero”, it is certainly very difficult to understand the knowledge needed to start working. As we mentioned earlier, this is an extremely responsible and often exhausting job. Contact with customers, a large number of tasks on which the functioning of the project depends – it is certainly not a job for everyone. However, if you are pre-programmed, nothing prevents you from working as a backend developer. However, it is worth knowing what skills are worth acquiring and… how to reach them. Fortunately, nowadays knowledge is literally at your fingertips. You can take advantage of online courses, you can acquire professional literature or… learn by yourself – sometimes from mistakes. Some companies organize internships for people who want to learn something new in the first place. It is a common practice that the best candidates during an internship are offered a job in such a company.
Do you want to take advantage of knowledge on the Internet? You probably know these services, but it is worth checking them once in a while:
- Bloc.io – a lot of training materials and a great opportunity to find your own mentor who will help you with the most difficult issues.
- Udemy – one of the most famous websites that deal with online courses, not only those concerning programming. It’s definitely worth using it, but we point out that it’s worth to read opinions about a particular course first.
- Udacity – focused on quick learning of the basics, which will allow you to take the first steps towards becoming a backend developer.
However, backend developer skills can be acquired in yet another way. You can look for your own mentor, who already works in the profession and has a great knowledge of the subject. A lot of people connected with this field of software development are very willing to share their knowledge. If you have a friend who is a backend developer – turn to him. His experience will allow you to acquire the most important skills before you start looking for a job in the profession.
And remember, never stop at self-development in the field of backend development. If you don’t develop, you… are actually retreating. The IT world is changing very fast, and so are the trends.
As a backend developer, I highly value solving very complex problems together through teamwork, in-depth analysis, and joint implementation. The ability to work as a team, analyze and take responsibility for one’s own work and that of others are certainly the most important features when selecting new team members. I am extremely proud to work in my team and be part of Concise Software.
Łukasz Śmiałowski – backend developer in Concise Software
However, this is not an opinion of a single backend developer. This is how the whole team thinks in Concise Software. This is how we are able to solve even the most difficult problems for our customers’ satisfaction. And this is the most important thing for us – that our partners are satisfied with the results of our work. We also want to ensure that our employees are constantly striving for self-development and that they enjoy their work. This is the goal of Concise Software and these values correspond to our mission.
Backend developer skills – here’s what else you must be able to do
Contrary to appearances, backend developer skills should not be “narrow”. Flexible, widely developed employees holding this position are a treasure in the software development industry. That is why, in this paragraph, we will deal with those skills, which are additional assets in the recruitment process. An excellent backend developer should know literally everything – but we know that it is impossible. Nevertheless, the broader the scope of knowledge of such a specialist, the better. We will show you in which directions it is worth additionally develop in order to have as many assets in the industry as possible:
- We have already mentioned skills in database systems. However, it is also worth knowing other of them: NoSQL or RDBMS, among others. In some companies, they are even required, and in other cases, their knowledge is an asset in the context of specific projects. Therefore, it is worth knowing at least the basics, so that in the further parts of the work you do not have any problem with them.
- Work organization is the key to effective work. It is often the case that a backend developer complains about the lack of time due to the accumulation of tasks. Problems on the side of the backend, the need to introduce “ASAP” changes, or high customer requirements. The competition on the market is huge and all requirements must be met. The backend developer is a function with which there is a huge responsibility.
- High interpersonal skills, ease in establishing contacts, and clarity in expressing ideas and thoughts. Sometimes it is extremely helpful in determining the final shape of the work. Often, brilliant ideas are born from the discussion. Here backend developers have an incredible chance to become authors of breakthrough solutions.
- The ability to read technical documentation, to focus and understand the formulations contained therein. It is extremely important to be able to meet the expectations of a specific customer.
- Meticulousness, accuracy, and even pedanticism during work. Creating software that is properly commented on by the programmer and reporting on all the steps taken are even required features of a good backend developer.
- Knowledge of the mobile and cloud application development sector is also a great advantage of a good backend developer. This should be kept in mind not only during the recruitment process but also during the work already undertaken.
- Knowledge and ability to use version control systems and tools for source code management. This is what every programmer should be able to do.
Is it difficult to become a backend developer?
It depends. A lot is brought here by a person’s personal predisposition, previous experience with the IT industry, and their type. If you know the basics of programming, have developed logical thinking skills, and learn very quickly – you have a chance to become a great backend developer. Choose the one programming language that suits you best, and that is required to be a perfect backend developer. Master it to the extent that you will feel comfortable in it. If you have the opportunity, consult your knowledge with a person who is already a backend developer and uses his knowledge and experience on a daily basis.
This is important because it will show you the points where you are doing less well and you will be able to use this to become even better in this profession. Also, identify issues and work on them. You must remember that development in the context of software development never ends and self-development is extremely important. Listen to the advice of your senior colleagues and follow their recommendations.
Contrary to all appearances, working as a programmer (in general) requires a lot of work outside the place where you do it. You have to show a lot of commitment to self-development, participate in training, use industry literature, and read specific websites. Creating original, comprehensive projects is now very welcome. Do you have an idea for something that can change the world? Create it. Don’t you feel like you have the strength to do it yourself? Offer cooperation to your colleagues. Amazing projects are sometimes born out of such a “rush” – all this will give you a great distance to your work and allow you to use your time and backend developer skills in a creative way.
Your first interview – how to become a backend developer?
Looking for a job in your profession, you can browse a lot of companies. Check also if we are looking for someone like that at Concise Software. We believe in the self-development of every employee and we are sure that it is worth investing in people. Our training program and the strong support of our older colleagues are the values that we follow on a daily basis. It is worth taking advantage of that!
But let’s move on to how to prepare for a recruitment interview in the context of getting your first job as a backend developer. A recruiter is… above all human. It is very important to get the right attitude before the recruitment interview.
To get the right attitude during a recruitment interview, you have to:
- To show that programming is your passion. Lack of some backend developer skills can be perfectly covered with engagement. A well-prepared but passive employee can ultimately become a burden on the company. And a committed one can become a very strong point of the team over time.
- Be calm and answer questions with a smile. Try to establish good, direct contact with the recruiter. He also wants to talk to you so that both sides are satisfied with the effect of recruitment.
- Your attitude must be appropriate. Show that you are not afraid of the recruitment process. By doing so, you will prove that you are not afraid of company challenges either. If you have the opportunity, say hello to the members of your working team. Smile – a smile breaks the ice.
- During the second stage of recruitment, try to find new solutions. Even if you are not able to meet your recruiter’s expectations one hundred percent – try to be 100% committed. Ask questions. If you have such an opportunity – write down possible solutions to problems.
What should a backend developer know?
Everyone has a different opinion about it – in terms of technology. However, it is known that there are technologies that are worth knowing, or at least one that you like most. You can learn others later.
Ruby on Rails
Some say that it is one of the simplest and at the same time most accessible languages for beginners. Its syntax seems logical and not very complicated, but the language itself allows for the creation of complex and very fast running programs. Look for yourself – what it takes to write a program that writes: “lollollol”?
This is certainly not the solution that will solve all programming problems. But it will surely allow you to get to know the simple syntax of the programming language. As an introduction to others, it’s perfect.
SQL will come in handy for you. It’s an acronym from “Structured Query Language” and is used for communication and database management. Solutions such as Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL use this standard and make it mandatory if at all, to ever work effectively with databases. A good backend developer must at least know the basics of SQL.
SOAP, or Simple Object Transfer Protocol, is, as the name suggests, a communication protocol that was created on Microsoft’s initiative to enable communication between applications using XML language. The protocol was created in 1998 to meet Microsoft’s needs. However, its usefulness is also appreciated today. It is still frequently used due to its standardization, security guarantee, and simple operation, enabling control of the content of data transmitted.
Representational State Transfer, or REST for short, is an architectural style and good practice model that allows you to define the format of the transmitted data. It is also an element of HTTP protocol standardization. REST was created by Roy Fielding as part of his dissertation in 2000. Due to its flexibility, speed and simplicity of construction it is very popular among programmers. Unlike SOAP, REST is not a protocol. It can be described as a service that communicates on a client-server relationship. It is stateless and cached.
Hypertext Preprocessor, originally Personal Home Pages) is a scripting programming language for the dynamic generation of documents (web pages, CSS style files, XML files) in a CGI (server-side) manner. PHP is publicly available on an open-source basis. PHP works with various database servers mostly based on SQL. It can also use text and XML files as a data source.
Python is a high-level programming language. When we talk about Python we very often mean something more than the language itself. Python is also libraries, the whole ecosystem associated with it, and above all: community. It is thanks to the community that Python is such a popular language. “Pure” Python is nothing special – it is not a very fast language with very simple syntax. The real power of Python is the additional packages and libraries created for free by the community. It is thanks to them that Python has become a great language for data analysis, creating web applications, or writing bots.
What language you choose to start with is up to you. Consult with someone who has more experience than you and will be able to help you with this. There are no barriers for you to learn several at once – the flexibility in this area can even help you incredibly. The IT industry values people who are not afraid of challenges and take self-development very seriously, offering training programs and conference trips, among other things. Take advantage of this – it is definitely worth it! At Concise Software, we also follow this approach.
Well, okay. Why is it worth becoming a backend developer?
Our employees do not hide that this work gives them a lot of satisfaction. In fact, each job is a different challenge, and we can be sure that the entire Concise Software team is very committed to each task. The backend developer is no different from any other specialist in this respect. However, it certainly has qualities that are not found in other people who work in software development. And it’s worth pointing out these characteristics.
Amazing responsibility combined with great satisfaction. Independence in action and at the same time the need to have the skills to work in a group. It all adds up to the fact that the backend developer – although full of contradictions – is an extraordinary character and usually happy in his work. Concise Software makes sure that each of our employees feels satisfied with what they do. We cooperate with very interesting partners, we do not deal with boring projects. We believe that we create a better, connected world. This is a mission that we have been following for over a decade!
Do you think that you’d fit in with our team? Or maybe you just start your adventure with backend development and need advice? We are at your disposal. In the first case, check if we currently need a backend developer – if so, we’d love to have you in our office!
Or maybe you know someone who would be a perfect fit for our team? If this person joins our team – you will receive a cash prize from us. Our referral system is at your disposal!
But what if you are just learning and need support? We have previously included a quote from Łukasz Śmiałowski – our backend developer and in it a link to his LinkedIn account. Don’t be ashamed to contact him and ask a question. Knowing Lukasz, he will definitely help you.
You may like to read:
Backend Developer vs Frontend – differences and responsibilities
Backend developers: How to start down the career path
QA in software development – everything you should know
10 frontend developer skills the market wants right now