IT Career Skills Series: Back-End Developer
In the digital age, required skill sets are constantly changing. You may be looking to upskill your current team or hire new talent to fill those skill gaps. Or maybe you’re looking to elevate your own skills and career. Whatever your goals, welcome to the IT Career Skills Series. In this 10 part series, we will breakdown the top skills for each role your need on your IT dream team.
Get a FREE downloadable Career Skills List and IT skills matrix to test your teams’ (or your own!) proficiency against these must have skills.
What Does a Back-End Developer Do?
Back-end development can be described in three major components: a server, an application and a database. How these components are selected, built, function and communicate is the responsibility of the back-end developer.
1. Programming Languages and Frameworks
Back-end developers use an array of programming languages and frameworks when building server-side software. Back-end developers should know at least one back-end technology in detail meaning how it works and what exactly it can do. Popular back-end technologies include Java, PHP, Ruby, Python.
2. Databases Knowledge
A data storage solution is a crucial component for all web applications so a back-end developer must understand how to store data wisely and securely. Being able to store and retrieve data is only part of the skillset. Databases need constant administration to streamline performance, ensure maintainability, and protect against vulnerability. Common databases include MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL.
The back-end developer must at least intimately understand the structural components of web architecture. Understanding how to separate files, structure code and data in databases, as well as, understand security, performance and scalability are all part of the solid foundation for any web application.
4. Accessibility and Security Compliance
Accessibility is the ability of the user to interact with the web no matter of their device, location, ability or circumstances. Back-end developers should be familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Because applications are accessible from anywhere by anyone, they are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. While web application security is a fast-growing industry, the back-end developer must understand the security vulnerabilities in each layer of the designed architecture and include protections against those vulnerabilities.
5. Testing and Debugging
Testing and debugging is a critical skill when it comes to developing the back-end services of a website, therefore understanding various techniques like unit testing, automated testing, stress and performance testing are essential. Once uncovered, errors need to be corrected. Determining how and why an error occurred is only half the skill set. The other half is determining the best and most efficient way to correct the error.
6. Version Control Software
Version control is the process of tracking and controlling changes to source code. Whether you work alone or on a team, change control is an imperative piece of the back-end developer skill set. Some popular version control software include git, CVS and SVN.
7. Understanding Front-end Technologies
It is important the back-end developer at least understand the basics of front-end development to design for the various delivery platforms and to communicate effectively with the front-end development team.
8. Understanding Scalability
Understanding scalability is crucial for the life of any web application. Growth of a web application can be vertical, meaning more programs or functionality included in the application, or horizontal, meaning more horsepower to run that application. The back-end developer must be capable of designing and building an application that scales to accommodate growth without collapsing.
9. Ability to Multitask
Back-end development touches many components of a web application: server, code, database. Being able to simultaneously work on the various components of a web application is a must.
10. Written and Verbal Communication Skills
Being able to communicate clearly, in writing and verbally, about a project are essential skills for any back-end developer. Misunderstandings can derail any project, costing time and money.
11. Strong Collaboration Skills
Web development is a team effort, therefore collaboration is an essential skill for any project to be successful.
12. Focus on Efficiency and User Experience
The back-end developer delivers the code required to complete the vision of the front-end designers, therefore while not visible, they have an important role in the creative process and ultimately the overall user experience.
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