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Skills You Need to Become a Back End Engineer in 2021

We all know the importance of front-end developers. They take care of managing the visible parts of a website, such as the design or functionality. When having a website, all companies prioritize these aspects because it’s what users (and potential customers) first see, and first impressions are fundamental not only in love matters.

However, the back end of a website is equally important, and that’s why developers are always in high demand. If you’re thinking of becoming a back-end engineer, here are the skills you need to learn in 2021.

What’s Back-end Development?

First things first, to become a talented back-end engineer, you need to understand its basics. This means, know for sure what back-end development is about.

Back-end development consists of the invisible part of an application that makes everything work. It focuses on databases, scripting, and website architecture.

For instance, the front end is everything you see in an application. From the colors, the aesthetics to the app's interactive elements – in other words, the front end provides the how it looks element.

On the other hand, back-end development is how all those elements and all the application’s internal structures work. So, back-end development performs the how does it work task.

Among the responsibilities of a back-end engineer you’ll find these:

  • Creation of functional APIs following some principles
  • Design of service architecture
  • Creation of reusable code and libraries for future use
  • Implementation of security and data protection
  • Design and implementation of data storage solutions
  • Optimization of the application for maximum speed and scalability
  • Integration of user-facing elements developed by front-end developers with server-side logic.

6 Essential Back End Developer Skills

Front-end Web Technologies

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are three of the most crucial programming languages for web development. And despite these being often used on the front-end, they’re still useful for back-end engineers.

  • HTML: Determines the structure of web pages.
  • CSS: Determines how the elements will appear on the web pages (it’s the stylist of HTML).
  • JavaScript: Focuses on the interactive part of websites – it creates and controls dynamic website content.

These three programming languages are the soul of web applications and front-end development. So why would these be necessary skills for back-end developers?

It’s easy to clarify what back-end development is and why it differs from front-end development. But professionally speaking, there isn’t a clear distinction between these two careers because often, companies seek developers with multidisciplinary skills. After all, it’s all about building website applications the best way possible.

PHP

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a scripting language often used in back-end web development. With PHP, developers can manage dynamic content, databases, sending of customized emails and session tracking (among other things).

Nowadays it is one of the most popular programming languages. According to W3Tech’s data, 79.1% of all websites use PHP as a server-side programming language.

One of PHP's advantages is that it has a low difficulty learning curve because of its simple syntax. Developers can get a grasp of it quickly.

Python

Being a back-end developer without knowing Python is like being a chef who can’t use knives. Python is crucial for back-end development. According to a Stack Overflow study, Python is the fastest-growing major programming language.

Like PHP, one of the benefits of Python is that it’s easy to learn. However, the biggest highlight of this programming language is that it supports different programming styles, and it provides excellent data visualizations. The language has expansive data libraries that make visualization easy and development speedy.

SQL

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system. This programming language allows back-end developers to access and manipulate relational databases by letting them insert and delete records, create new tables, store procedures, and establish permissions (among other features).

Knowledge in Databases

As explained above, back-end developers often deal with the data of a website. So, they must have solid knowledge in the management of databases. Front-end development can also access databases and interfaces. However, server-side development is the standard method to access a website’s information. So, if you want to become a back-end developer, one of the skills you need to acquire is database management (this includes storage and recovery).

Frameworks

This skill applies to any type of developer. If you’ve been a developer for a while, you certainly know the importance of learning and using frameworks. They not only help you work faster but also be more productive in your coding tasks.

If you want to become a back-end developer, you’ll also need to learn all the frameworks that will help you stand out from the crowd. Companies don’t only want a code master, but they also want to work with someone that knows how to perform tasks most productively and efficiently. For example, when learning Python, you’ll also need to learn about its frameworks, such as Flask or Django.

Wrapping up: Other Skills to Keep in Mind

When companies are looking to hire a back-end engineer, it’s normal to go for the hard skills first. They need to make sure you’re going to be perfect for the job and have the necessary skills. However, they don’t only look for technical skills.

Nowadays, a company’s culture, among other aspects, is a big deal in organizations. They want employees that fit in with the company’s culture and move along their values. Therefore, always keep in mind that your soft skills, such as communication, empathy, time-management, problem-solving, are essential for landing a job. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best back-end developer in the world, if you can’t stand working with your team, or if you always look for problems instead of solutions, getting a job will be 3x times harder for you than for other less talented developers.

Push yourself to learn the hard skills shown above but don’t underestimate the soft skills; they matter too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina is the writer and editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelancer, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.

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