Backend developers are in great demand in software development companies. However, this job requires more knowledge and experience than ever before. Lack of experience and essential backend developer skills are the main reasons why developers fail their job interviews.
Therefore, it is important to lay the basis for the required hard skills that developers should have to nail down their interviews and get hired as back-end developers.
The fundamentals of computer science and the Internet
A fundamental understanding of computer science is a paramount skill for any backend developer. Without it, the chances you will develop a good application are very low.
Just like electricians must be well-versed in any topic around electricity and electrical equipment, backend developers must understand how the Internet and computers work. HTTP, browsers, hosting, DNS, operating systems – all of these words should ring the bell for you if you want to be a good software developer.
As a back-end developer, you should put all your focus on sharpening your main programming language skills. You should be well-versed in language syntax and basic constructions, understand the logic behind the language and know how to apply design patterns, algorithms, and data structures.
As for the choice of a specific language, you should study the requirements of the company you are applying for. Different companies require knowledge of different programming languages.
However, the most demanding back-end languages for 2022 are PHP, C#, Rust, Go, Python, Ruby, and Java.
However, it’s not about what language you use for coding, it is about how good you are at it.
If you are confident in your programming language skills, make sure you tighten up your backend developer skills in different frameworks. A framework will be an irreplaceable tool during application development. Here are the most used frameworks in backend development for 2022:
- Laravel – PHP
- ExpressJs – NodeJS
- Django – Python
- Ruby on Rails – Ruby
- Spring – Java
Version control system
A version control system (VCS) is software that provides teamwork opportunities for one or more projects. The development team interacts with a console or browser-based tool to upload code to the server, download it to your work computer, and modify the structure.
Working in the company as a back-end developer requires knowledge of different version control systems. Not only do you need to understand what Git is, but you need to know how to work with it.
As a back-end engineer, you need to be able to create local and remote repositories, see who made what changes when, and where, create new branches of a project, merge existing branches, set up access controls, roll back to previous versions, and so on.
This is an essential skill to have when working in a company as you will be working in a team and this will make working on the project much easier.
The most common VCS are Github, GitLab, and Bitbucket.
Work with databases
Databases are used in 99% of applications allowing you to save and get vital data from them.
You need to know how databases work at least on the basic level: what they are, how they are used, what tables are there, how they work, how to send a query to a database, receive a query, change data in a database, how to do proper sorting or even build a proper database, etc.
The task of the backend developer is to gather this data correctly from all sources and present it to the front-end department so that the user can see his profile.
In addition, you need to be a confident user of different database management systems.
For backend developers, it all boils down to mainly relational databases: PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB.
However, understanding non-relational (NoSQL) databases is also important: Cassandra, MongoDB, CouchDB, Neo4j, RavenDB, InfluxDB, Firebase.
Understanding how servers and the Internet work, APIs, and RESTful principles is a MUST for a back-end developer.
To manage resources in your application, you need to implement an application layer that receives requests and generates responses. Here you will have to work with routes and controllers, know how to call APIs of third-party applications, as well as to operate, test, and manage API versions.
A bare minimum here is a confident knowledge and practical experience of the following technologies:
In software engineering, it is not only important that the product works well, but also that it is well designed.
Back-end developers should know about common application design mistakes, what they lead to, and how to avoid them.
Due to the fact that the IT world is constantly developing and the number of applications is constantly growing, companies may require knowledge of different types of architectures.
That’s why it’s worth learning common web application architectures:
- microprocessor architecture
Also, you should clearly understand the basic ideas of different design principles.
Design principles are a set of certain rules and recommendations that must be followed when writing clear and readable code of a program.
By knowing and using these principles, you will be able to adapt to new approaches as quickly as possible.
Knowing these common design principles from Microsoft will boost your chances of getting hired:
- Separation of concerns
- Dependency inversion
- Persistence ignorance
Before software is released, it should always be tested. Testing allows you to make sure that the software meets the necessary requirements and is most likely free of bugs.
Although it is another profession, and most companies hire dedicated testers for this position, backend developers also must understand the basic concepts of testing.
After writing code, backend developers must check it for bugs and inconsistencies in different scenarios. This process varies from company to company and they can expect candidates to have experience with testing.
Make sure you know how to test software on real projects that have some kind of business logic, third-party APIs, various databases, and external dependencies.
Thus, you must be familiar with at least one of the following types of testing on a basic level:
- Unit testing;
- Integration testing;
- End2end testing.
Cloud technologies are soaring today. They give web applications the power they need and make it much easier to support them.
Experience in working with cloud technologies is required in many companies for a backend developer position.
Today, there are two main models of cloud integration that companies require from back-end developers. The first one involves integration at the application and software services level (SaaS), and the other is at the infrastructure level (IaaS) using intermediary programs called cloud brokerage.
IaaS involves the integration of software from third-party providers or the company’s own software resources, and SaaS involves a kind of virtualization of any cloud resources and eliminates the need to depend on a particular provider.
9 out of 10 companies will require experience in these backend developer skills:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud Platform
- Windows Azure
CI/CD and DevOps
From a technical perspective, the goal of CI is to provide a consistent and automated way to build, package, and test applications.
CI/CD is one of the hottest software development methodologies. With the advancements in cloud technologies, CI/CD was integrated into the development processes of many software companies. The ability to quickly coordinate and implement changes during app development is a necessity today for any developer. In a highly competitive environment, this methodology dramatically reduces the time from code development to product release.
Today, this concept is an indispensable practice in software development companies.
Therefore, any developer needs to understand the basics of CI/CD:
- Software development lifecycle – build, code, planning, monitoring, operation, deployment, release, testing
- How different teams work together
- What methodologies and tools are used for that – Gitlab, Docker, Jenkins, Buddy, SonarQube, etc.
Becoming a backend developer and getting your first job is a long and challenging process. It requires both theoretical and practical skills in different technologies. Since each company may have its own requirements for a developer, it is impossible to make a specific development plan.
However, these universal skills are the bare minimum you should have to pass the interview in the software development company and grow as a specialist.
Don’t forget that there is an avalanche of soft skills that are important for any back-end developer:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work under pressure
- Logical thinking and analytical mind
- Focus on the results
- The ability to switch to macro tasks
- Planning and execution skills
- Ability to work in team