What is Back-End Development?
Back-end development refers to the server-side of development in typical client-server architecture. When perusing the internet individuals interact with the client-side of a server while benefiting from the design employed by back-end developers. Back-end developers determine how a website runs by creating data functionalities and infrastructure, much like an engine beneath the hood of a car.
In the case of an engine most people drive cars without being aware of exactly how the engine is benefitting their experience, and it is the same for back-end development. Many people have come to expect websites to have efficiency and ease of use associated with solid work from back-end developers without ever directly noticing the fruits of their labor.
Prerequisites of Back-End Development –
Becoming a back-end developer requires a great deal of aptitude in both computer science and web development. These are very broad areas of study–with the exact area of relevance depending primarily on one’s chosen area of specialization. But with this in mind, there are some core foundations which will greatly contribute to one’s potential for success in back-end development.
- Computer Science
Web development is a subcategory of computer science, and yet many experts cite extensive knowledge of computer science–even those seemingly unrelated to web development–as a primary factor in achieving excellence in web development careers. This is because many of the daily challenges faced by web developers are problems that can be solved by a well-read developer that would have been passed off to a specialist by another who held only specialized knowledge of computer science.
- Basics of Data Structure and Algorithms
Experts report that many web developers skip this step, which hurts their progress overall. Building a strong foundation in data structures and algorithms prepares professionals to advance at a pace that is most conducive to comprehension and mastery. Professionals looking to begin mastering back-end development will want to begin with learning the following concepts:
- Data Structures
- Algorithm Stacks
- Linked Lists
- Sorting & Searching Algorithms
- Crawlers & Scrapers
- Specialize in a Programming Language
There are a number of programming languages employed by back-end web developers. Of these languages, it will be hard to learn them all sufficiently when starting out. So it is best to pick a language to more readily master when starting out–which will take you farther in the long-run than trying to learn them all in the beginning. Here’s seven of the most common languages used in web development:
- Learn Databases
Almost all websites today employ some sort of data-storage functionality. Learning how to operate, manage, and repair these databases will be a major part of excelling as a back-end developer. Building one from scratch will take time and practice, so you might want to begin with exploring what kinds of databases are currently on the market.
- Begin Practicing / Training
At this stage you should have a basic understanding of how the back-end of web development is carried out. Starting practicing what you know by building prototype blogs, web databases, or web applications. Don’t worry if these are not profitable or market-ready, these are just for building out your portfolio and reinforcing your skills.
At this stage, you can practice with a professional internship, through a bootcamp, or MOOC designed to provide students with training opportunities.
- Create Something
At this stage in one’s career as a back-end developer it is an ideal time to either start working on an existing startup idea or–if you don’t have a startup idea–to develop a clone of an existing product on the market that exemplifies your interests and career goals. You could use an existing business’ structure for guidance in creating a b2b hosting model, an online marketplace, or marketing functionality.
- Host your Creation
Whatever project you decide to take on, once you’re finished deploy it on a cloud-service provider so that users can access it from the world wide web. Here’s a great article exploring the pros and cons of hosting with various services: Google Cloud vs AWS vs Azure.
- Chart your Career Path
The following user has created an excellent resource for directing prospective web developers throughout their careers. The rull roadmap is posted on github and the user recently created a roadmap Youtube channel to further help guide web developers.
Degree Paths to Back-End Development
Back-end software development is an advanced area of specialized web development which can be earned through degree programs or through professional advancement in the workforce. Different individuals will be more comfortable with different paths. Here’s a breakdown of the traditional degree paths to consider:
- Associate’s Degree Program
An Associate of Web Development degree program is usually completed in just two years and will provide professionals with a boost in back-end development skills. Some programs will focus specifically on back-end development while others will provide a more foundational introduction to web development as a whole.
- Entry Level Position in Web Development
- Enrollment in Top-Tier Bachelor’s
- Bachelor’s Degree Program
A Bachelor’s of Software Development is the most common entry-point into a career as a back-end developer. The best undergraduate programs provide students with a sufficient education to jumpstart a career. Degree specialization options also provide students with the opportunity to specialize in an area of the market such as database architecture, cloud storage, or a particular programming language.
- Entry-to-Mid Level Employment in Back-End Web Development
- Advanced Internships
- Enrollment in Top-Tier Master’s
- Master’s Degree Program
A Master’s degree program in back-end web development will provide professionals with the advanced, specialized education needed to excel in a web development career. These degree programs are usually highly focused and provide students with a specialization needed to move into more prestigious areas of occupation–such as working with top tech companies.
- Mid-to-High Level Employment
- Advanced Specialization
- Enrollment in Top-Tier PhD
- PhD Program
A PhD of Web Development is reserved for the industry’s top scholars and industry experts who wish to work on the cutting-edge of the market. These professionals often work with technologies that have not been released to the public or to market. PhD web developers are often paid consultants for the largest technology companies and research projects.
- High Level Employment
- Advanced Specialization
- Access to Non-Consumer Technology
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) represent some of the very best ways to develop quick and affordable expertise in a targeted area. Specifically in the case of learning back-end web development, MOOCs allow professionals to develop targeted skills with virtually no barrier to entry. Besides being offered by some of the country’s most prestigious institutions of higher education, the following MOOCs are increasingly recognized by employers as markers for success:
- Full Stack Foundations (Udacity)
- Building Functional Prototypes using Node.js (edX)
- The Web Developer Bootcamp 2020
- Java Programming Masterclass for Software Developers
Similar to a MOOC are these Linkedin professional development courses, which represent bite-sized courses for quick learning and professional development:
- Building Your First iOS 13 App
- Android Development Essential Training: Create Your First App with Java
- iOS App Development: Essential Courses
- Rapid Application Development with Python
- Introducing App Development for iOS 14
- Android Development Essential Training: Your First App with Kotlin
Top Boot Camps
These coding Boot Camps are designed to propel professionals forward into a desired area of expertise. By employing a laser-focused curriculum these programs are able to provide a rigorous education in a short span of time. Many employers will pay to send employees to the right boot camp, and having these on your resume will certainly work in your favor:
7 Top Certification Programs
These programs provide backend development certifications that are recognized by employers and peers as effective markers of proficiency. If you are wanting to learn backend development on a time-efficient schedule than these are going to be some of your best options:
- Full-Stack Web Development with React Specialization by The Hongkong University of Science and Technology (Coursera)
- The Web Developer Bootcamp (Udemy)
- Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding Specialization by University of Michigan (Coursera)
- The Complete 2020 Web Development Bootcamp (Udemy)
- Become a Full-Stack Web Developer (LinkedIn Learning – Lynda)
- Full Stack Web and Multiplatform Mobile App Development Specialization by The HongKong University of Science and Technology (Coursera)
- Responsive Website Development and Design Specialization by University of London (Coursera)
Other Great Resources
Sometimes the best education opportunities are those that are free and available to everyone on the world wide web. Youtube videos, eBooks, blogs, and other resources can often rival top education programs in quality of content and education offered. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best resources online for both prospective and current backend developers:
Back-End Development Youtube Channels
These channels are a great way to either learn and practice concepts for the first time, or to polish up existing skills. Many professionals are visual learners and will appreciate the stress-free format of learning with Youtube.
- Learn Code-Academy
- Google Chrome Developers
- Helping Develop
Best Back-End Development Books
These are considered to be among the best of the best books in learning backend development and the various programming skills therein.
- Head First Java: By Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
- Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++: By Bjarne Stroustrup
- Learn Python The Hard Way: By Zed A. Shaw
- The Joy of PHP Programming: By Alan Forbes
- Beginning Node.js: By Basarat Ali Syed
Best Back-End Development Blogs for 2020
All of these blogs are non-corporate independent blogs that are designed to educate and connect web developers of all skill levels. These are excellent resources for staying up to date on industry happenings as well as for learning from some of the best backend developers in the world.