What Is A Back End Developer? What Do They Do?

Backend development is one of those jobs that slips under the radar. It stays hidden from the eyes of an end-user, yet is critical to the smooth functioning of any website or app. Any online service that fetches data from a server or relies on cloud computing cannot function without a backend.

But what is a back-end developer and what do they do? Back-end developers collaborate with front-end developers to ensure the smooth functioning of a website. They maintain databases, APIs, and back-end logic- these tasks require familiarity with tools such as Python, Java, Laravel, Django, etc.

On average, back-end developers earn more money than front-end developers simply due to the high demand and skills required. Becoming a back-end developer means you must be proficient with multiple programming languages and frameworks. You also have to understand how data is stored and recovered from databases on servers.

What Is A Back End Developer? What Do They Do?

A backend is responsible for handling server-side logic, databases, client requests, and more. Not only do backend developers create all of this, but they also have to maintain the entire infrastructure and make sure it works consistently. Finally, a backend developer must work together with the frontend developer to ensure proper integration.

While frontend developers create the UI and scripts for interactive events, backend developers handle the APIs and networked services used by that app/ webpage. Backend developers must build code libraries that are reusable and progressive, so they can be used again in the future. Typically, languages like Java, PHP, and Python are used on the backend (but JavaScript is also used in some cases).

Many end-users take data protection and web security for granted. But somewhere out there is a team of backend developers working tirelessly to make sure that your information is safeguarded from malevolent actors. Server-side security is just another branch of backend development.

Backend developers also take care of data storage solutions, optimizing for maximum reliability and efficiency. To make a highly responsive and functional back end that performs well, every backend developer must have at least a nominal understanding of frontend development. Backend developers are involved in engineering as well as QA testing for server-side code and databases.

What Is The Difference Between Front End & Back End Developers?

In the most basic terms, a frontend developer deals with client-side stuff while backend developers deal with server-side stuff. So, a front-end developer would write the HTML for a webpage and use CSS for styling + JavaScript for interactive events. Meanwhile, backend developers maintain the databases and write server-side logic to process requests from a client.

Frontend developers work with frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular. Backend developers work with Laravel, Django, Ruby on Rails, and Meteor. Frontend developers use languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while backend developers work with Java, PHP, Python, and C#.

Both sides of the development spectrum must coordinate with each other in order to create a well-rounded app that functions smoothly. To best explain the whole ecosystem, I shall use the analogy of a house. Everything that you can see and interact with, like the furniture, taps, switches, etc. are frontend elements.

Then, you have things like plumbing, insulation, electrical lines, air conditioning ducts, etc. that are embedded within the walls and underneath the floors. This is the backend- you can’t see it, but it’s essential. Because without electricity or water, non of your appliances would work and you wouldn’t be able to live in that house.

Developers who work both frontend and backend are often called full-stack developers. These are very experienced individuals, whose skills are highly desirable. They usually work in management or lead teams comprised of frontend and backend developers.

Is Back End Development Hard?

Generally speaking, backend development is considered harder than front-end development. That’s because the work entails more complex programming logic and lots of data manipulation. Besides, if you’re someone who likes to work with graphical interfaces and prefers design work, backend development can be quite boring.

Frontend developers generally don’t need to learn any languages other than HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The first two are very easily understood and don’t take much time to learn. JavaScript is a scripting/ programming language that is easier compared to Java or C#.

As a backend developer, you will have to familiarize yourself with programming in at least one backend language. This could be PHP, Java, Python, etc. You’ll also have to learn frameworks such as Django and Flask.

Since you’ll work with data and storage, you need to have SQL skills. Plus experience with data processing and storage algorithms, data structures, etc. A backend developer also develops and maintains APIs that are accessed by frontend developers.

Clearly, the range of skills required is quite expansive. And it takes time to learn these languages, frameworks, algorithms, etc. But once you get past the initial bump, backend development can be quite an interesting career field.

Languages Used In Back End Development

The primary languages used in backend development include Java, Python, PHP, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript. In addition to these, backend developers must have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. This allows them to better optimize the backend code.

For working with AI and machine learning, Python is preferred. While JavaScript is used by certain companies who want a full-stack solution with just one language- since it’s also used on the front end. Any backend developer working with databases also has to learn Structured Query Language (SQL).

Who Earns More- Front End or Back End Developer?

According to Indeed, the average salary for a front-end developer in the United States is $102,522. Comparatively, the same website claims the average salary for a backend developer to be $115,677. If you take a look at the lows and highs, backend developers on the high end have the potential to make significantly more.

However, all of this will depend on the company and the job itself. For reference, on Glassdoor, the average front-end developer makes $84,846. While the average backend developer makes $82,358.

There is quite a bit of demand for front-end developers, with job openings in big multinationals such as Google, IBM, Amazon, etc. The very same companies also have lots of job openings for backend developers. So in the end, it comes down to your personal preferences and education.

As a front-end developer, you’re expected to have a knack for creating intuitive and human-friendly interfaces. So you need to have at least some design skills. If you’re a creative or artistic person, all the better.

Backend developers deal with complex logic and algorithms, so you need to be a problem solver. And you’ll have to be decent with math. While these are skills that can be learned along the way, it’s nice to have an established knowledge base before you start.

What Are The Back End Development Skills?

As I mentioned earlier, you’re a problem solver and need to be good with logic + maths. You also need to be proficient in backend languages such as Java, Python, PHP, C#, etc. Having some SQL experience is also helpful.

In addition to all of this, you’ll work with frameworks such as Laravel and Flask. Knowledge of database management systems like Oracle, SQL Server, MongoDB, etc. is also needed. As a server-side developer, you’ll have to work with web hosting platforms such as AWS, Azure, Heroku, etc.

The Three Parts Of Back End Development

The term “back end” usually encompasses three individual components that work together. These are- the server, the app, and the database. The server is where all your backend logic resides, along with data.

It’s a computer, often operated as part of a network with other systems. Servers don’t need graphical UIs like our home PCs. They are designed to receive requests from a client, and send back data or process some logic.

Servers can store any kind of data- spreadsheets, tables, forms, multimedia, etc. They also contain the software framework needed to update and patch apps over the internet. Without servers, there can be no online services.

Next is the app itself. What you see on your laptop or phone is the front end. The server runs backend logic and processes requests in real-time.

The backend code for the app responds differently to requests depending on the HTTP verb and Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). By pairing these two, a route is created for data. Frameworks like Express are used to streamline the routing process.

Finally, there’s the database. These are usually implemented on their own dedicated server that’s focused on storage. This way, the load on the main server is reduced and data transit speeds are improved.

Databases are set up for redundancy and are configured to retain data even if the power goes down (or the software crashes). Languages like SQL are used to query and manipulate stored data. 


As you can see, back-end development is a vast topic with lots of quirks. However, it is the backbone of all web-based services. I hope this article gave you some perspective on what back-end developers do, and the skills required to become one.

The initial learning curve is certainly harder compared to front-end development. You’ll have to learn more complex languages and understand database management. But, the salaries and job opportunities can be even more rewarding compared to front-end developers.

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