What Is Back-End Development? A Complete Guide

What is back-end development? What does a back-end developer do, and how much do they make? Learn more about this growing profession.
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  • Back-end web development focuses on server-side architecture, scripting, and databases for websites.
  • Developers can learn back-end programming languages through online courses or coding bootcamps.
  • Depending on where they live, back-end developers earn between $40,750 and $146,430 annually.

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away," said Antonie de Saint-Exupery, a French poet, writer, and pilot. Although he was never a web developer, many have still taken inspiration from his words when creating websites.

If you're exploring a career in technology, you might be thinking about pursuing web development. Maybe you've heard the term and wondered, "What is back-end development, and what does a back-end developer do?" The short answer is that back-end web development ensures that websites run smoothly and efficiently.

What Does a Back-End Developer Do?

Back-end web development refers to the server-side construction in web development and the operations that website visitors cannot see. It involves all the processes that run the internet, from social networking platforms to content management systems.

Back-end developers work with clients to decide which features and designs will work best for their websites. These professionals also often work with a team, including front-end developers, to ensure the site runs as planned.

These professionals need to communicate effectively to understand a website's goals and design efficient solutions. They focus on building website architecture, using scripting languages such as Python, PHP, JavaScript, and Ruby to automate operations. They also need knowledge of database management systems, such as MySQL and MongoDB.

In addition, these skilled web developers need an understanding of security concerns and the ability to address them when they arise. They also work with management to establish procedures for adding new pages.

How Much Do Back-End Developers Make?

$77,200 per year in 2021
(According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Back-End vs. Front-End
Back-End Programming Front-End Programming
Back-end development provides website functionality and stability. Front-end development provides the look and feel of websites.
This server-side programming uses architecture, databases, applications, and various programming languages to create a smooth-running system. This client-facing programming creates user experiences, including menus, graphics, interactive forms, and maps within a browser.
Back-end developers use programming languages like Python, Ruby, SQL, JavaScript, and PHP. Front-end programming languages include HTML and CSS. Developers may also use JavaScript to create interactive elements on a page.

Where Can I Learn Back-End Development?

Back-end web developers don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree, but they need the right skills to get hired. The first steps are learning a coding language, developing the skill, and building a portfolio. You can find many online resources, including YouTube videos, free tutorials, online courses, and coding bootcamps.

Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are intense courses that help you develop career-ready skills in all areas of web development. Back-end bootcamps may appeal to people who want to grow their knowledge and gain new technological skills. You often must meet admission requirements to get accepted. Many bootcamps run full time with scheduled class times and team projects.

You'll learn popular programming languages and how to work with servers, databases, and technologies such as Node.js and MySQL.

Some coding bootcamps work with industry partners to provide job placement opportunities for graduates. The best bootcamps also offer mock technical interview preparation and career fairs and provide a dedicated career coach.

Online Courses

Online courses are a good way for beginners and professionals to gain specific skills. This option works especially well for people who don't have time to attend a full-time bootcamp or pursue a degree. Online courses may offer self-paced learning with video instruction from professionals.

You can find courses that teach essential back-end programming languages and database skills. In addition, many courses are subscription-based, which means you can continue learning and building your skills for a low monthly fee.

Not only that, but platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera also provide shareable certificates of completion.

Back-End Programming Languages to Know
Name of Language What Is This Language Used For?
Python Back-end web developers use Python to retrieve data and manipulate the information for client-side responses.
Ruby Ruby offers many applications, including websites and web apps, and automated DevOps.
PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) powers social networking sites like Facebook. It supports content management systems, websites and applications, eCommerce, data analytics, and image processing.
SQL Structured Query Language (SQL) is a fundamental building block of database architecture. It defines methods to create, access, manage, and manipulate database records and information.

Frequently Asked Questions About Back-End Development

What is full-stack development?

Full-stack development involves all aspects of web development to design full-service websites and applications effectively.

On the client side, full-stack developers need excellent graphic design skills and an understanding of best practices. On the back end, they use scripting languages and expansive skills, including database management, analytics, and debugging.

Is back-end hard to learn?

Back-end development has a steeper learning curve than front-end development because it takes more than foundational knowledge. Back-end programming languages can be more difficult to learn, and there are many languages, too. On the front-end, there are three basic languages to learn: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Truthfully, both front-end and back-end development can be complicated to learn, and they take time and patience. Fortunately, there are various learning options, including online courses and back-end development bootcamps.

Does front-end or back-end pay more?

Back-end developers may make more than front-end developers. According to Payscale, the average front-end developer's salary was $78,410 in November 2022. In comparison, back-end developers make an average base salary of $87,280, according to November 2022 Payscale data.

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