Backend development is a significant part of any development team, and hiring a backend developer is crucial for any organization. A backend developer creates certain background features and components and ensures the overall performance of web applications.
Simply put, backend developers are there to create, sustain, test, and repair any issues found in the backend of web and mobile applications. However, there’s a lot more to backend developers than these simple tasks. While finding the perfect fit for your company might be challenging, it doesn’t have to be.
What Is a Backend Developer?
A backend developer is the opposite of a frontend developer. A frontend developer's job is to focus on the front end of development, which is what customers and clients see when they visit a webpage. A backend developer is someone whose job is to focus on the server-side software, which is the non-viewable aspects of a webpage.
For example, a backend developer will focus primarily on developing software solutions and will strive to ensure that applications work properly, can process data, and perform certain actions when needed. Backend developers are also in charge of database management, performance optimization, web security, and resolving technical issues.
While a backend developer will work independently at times, they will need to possess good communication and leadership skills since they will often have to collaborate with graphic designers, programmers, and other professionals on your team.
What Does a Dedicated Backend Developer Do?
A dedicated backend developer will work closely alongside frontend developers, graphic designers, and other professionals in the workplace to ensure that applications run smoothly. Backend developers spend their time fixing, adjusting, and designing the parts of an application that are not seen by the public eye. Their time may be spent on several different backend components, but all in all, they are there to create and maintain important features of programs and applications that make or break the digital experience customers have.
While frontend developers work closely with the elements a user sees and interacts with, the role of the backend developer is to ensure that these interactions process correctly and that the program can distribute the requested information. However, the responsibility of backend developers doesn’t end there.
Not only do these developers manage important databases, but they also maintain application program interfaces (otherwise known as APIs) and test and debug features to ensure that they are working efficiently and effectively.
What Skills Should a Dedicated Backend Developer Have?
There are a few important skills that backend developers should possess. Aside from communication and leadership skills, backend developers need a good mix of technical knowledge and soft skills.
Backend Developer Languages
For the technical aspect, backend developers need to understand one or more of the following languages:
- HTML: Also known as Hyper Text Markup Language, HTML is the standard go-to markup language when creating webpages. It is used to create structure and is comprised of different elements which communicate with the browser, informing the browser on how to display content.
- Java: Java is a popular and commonly used programming language. More than 6 million developers use Java, and it operates on more than 5.5 billion devices. It is both a software platform and an object-oriented programming language.
- PHP: Also known as Hypertext Preprocessor, PHP is an open-source, common server-side scripting language. It reads and interprets scripts while automating repetitive processes to improve the performance of applications.
- Python: Python is one of the most used programming languages to date. According to a 2019 Stack Overflow survey, Python was the fastest-growing major programming language and was beaten only by Rust as the most loved programming language.
- SQL: SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It enables backend developers to access and operate databases.
Backend Developer Frameworks
Backend developers should also be familiar with several of the following frameworks:
- CSS: Otherwise known as Cascading Style Sheets, CSS works alongside HTML. It tells HTML elements how to be displayed and can manage the style of several web pages all at once. CSS works with rules instead of elements.
- Django: Django is a framework that works alongside Python. It works to boost the quick and clean development of the logical design.
- Express: Express works alongside Node.js. It is a flexible and minimalistic framework that features a strong selection of structures for mobile and web applications.
- Flask: Flask is another Python-based framework that allows backend developers to easily create web applications.
- Laravel: Laravel is a PHP-based framework that is both free and open source. It consists of an impressive syntax that is both expressive and elegant.
- Ruby on Rails: As a full-stack framework, Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is boasted as a server-side web application framework. It allows backend developers to access structures for databases, web services, and web pages.
The languages and frameworks a backend developer may use depend on your site or application and how you want it to function.
Backend developers should have a decent understanding of all things technical, from computer programming languages and frameworks to database management and API-related tasks. They will also need to understand and have experience in writing code for various products and applications and should have good knowledge of the open-source control system Git.
Backend Developer Soft Skills
A backend developer should also have soft skills, including:
- Communication: The ability to effectively communicate with both clients and team members
- Problem-solving: The ability to pinpoint issues and solve them during and after the development phase
- Detail-oriented: The ability to closely monitor and notice minor details
- Interpersonal: The ability to effectively collaborate with team members during projects
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of a dedicated backend developer will vary from company to company. Some common duties include:
- The involvement and participation in the overall application development. This could include researching, planning, coding, debugging, and launching the product
- Collaboration with frontend developers, graphic designers, APIs, and other professionals
- Communicating with clients and customers to determine if there are bugs
- Outline requirements for technical and design aspects and communicate these requirements to other teammates
- Provide leadership when necessary. This could include training, helping, and providing support to other teammates
- Create superior and reusable code that can be recycled in future projects
- Create and maintain operational and workable web applications
- Troubleshoot applications and offer solutions when needed
- Keep up-to-date on technological advancements and current best practices
- Carry out UI tests and improve performance based on those tests
- Contribute to meetings, discussions, and educational programs
Education and Qualifications
Alongside the recommended hard and soft skills, a dedicated backend developer should also possess the following education and qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science, computer programming, or a related field and/or equivalent X amount of experience
- Deep knowledge of web development
- Experience with programming languages and frameworks. The amount of experience will depend on whether you are hiring entry-level, intermediate-level, or senior-level web developers.
Hiring Backend Developers
To find and hire the best backend programmer or developer, you’ll need to follow a few important steps.
How To Find and Hire the Best Backend Programmer?
Because hiring backend developers can be intimidating, the first step should be to find a talent marketplace that can take the work out of finding the perfect fit for your company.
For example, Revelo is a talent platform that helps to connect remote software engineers in Latin America to U.S.-based companies. Revelo’s mission is to help companies build their engineering teams cost-efficiently and quickly, so software engineers are pre-vetted. This means you can choose from a talented pool and hire talent to start on your project right away.
Other steps to hiring the right backend developer include interviewing them and testing their skills. You will also need to be prepared to choose between multiple qualified candidates.
Questions To Ask During the Hiring Process
An important part of finding the right backend developer is to ask the right questions during the interview process. As a hiring manager, it’s critical to know what to ask when meeting with potential employees.
Some common questions that you should ask include:
Can you tell me more about your background and how you got involved in computer science?
This is a typical question in most interview scenarios. It allows you to:
- Assess your potential employee
- Get an overview of what motivated them to pursue a backend development career
- Gauge their experience, training, and education
What steps do you take when you encounter an application that has stopped working?
This question enables you to assess a prospective employee’s interest in web design and ability to solve problems. For this question, you’re looking for someone who can offer solutions and fix any problems on the website or app.
Can you describe any projects you’re currently working on or have worked on in your free time?
This question is important to assess the skills that potential hires have devoted to projects. This can help to gauge how dedicated to web development they are and to see any hidden talents they may have.
What is your experience with APIs?
APIs are an important part of any web development, so prospective employees should have a good understanding of and experience with them. They need to be able to explain:
- API functions
- How to call on them
- How they would fit the results into their design
How do you handle deadlines and stressful situations?
Web development can be a rewarding but stressful career with strict deadlines, so it’s important that any potential employee can demonstrate how they have handled deadlines and high-pressure situations at work in the past. You will want potential hires to explain times when they have had to overcome obstacles to adhere to important deadlines.
Can you find the error in this code?
This question helps determine the attention to detail of your prospective employee. It also allows you to assess their technical knowledge and how well they work under pressure.
Testing Their Skills
It’s important to not just take the interviewees at their word and to test their skills during the interview process.
Ask to see their portfolio.
No matter the experience a programmer has or the level that they’re at, they should have a portfolio based on their past work. This portfolio can include projects as an intern, a co-op, or other projects they have done on their own for fun.
A portfolio is the best way to view a potential employee's skills. Not only do portfolios showcase the potential employee’s background in backend development, but they can also be useful tools for evaluating:
- The candidates’ development level
- Skills they have acquired and are looking to acquire
- What their career goals align with
Likewise, you could also ask to see their GitHub projects. Most proficient developers would have experimented with GitHub’s open-source platform and contributed to projects there.
Conduct a live coding interview.
Want to see how your prospective employee performs under pressure? Consider conducting a live coding interview.
This type of interview can help to assess how a potential employee performs under intense pressure. Plus, they are a good way of allowing potential employees to showcase their abilities and skills. You’ll be able to assess a candidate's:
- Coding skills
- Ability to explain their process
Perform a programming test.
If you want to be thorough in selecting the right hire, you may want to consider performing a programming test with your prospective employees. It’s a great way to screen developers before hiring them and may be one of the most effective methods of finding the right fit for your company.
In conducting a programming test, you will provide your potential hires with real and hands-on problems in which they can then troubleshoot, debug, and code their way through.
Picking Between Qualified Candidates
It’s possible that during the hiring process, you may run into more than one qualified candidate. If there’s only one role to be filled, you’ll have to pick between these candidates. But how do you do that when they’re all qualified for the job?
There’s no easy or right way to choose between qualified candidates:
- Take your time deciding which candidate would be the right fit for your company.
- Think about how they will fit with your company and their coworkers and teammates.
- Consider the job and the most important aspects of the role. Then compare those aspects with your candidates and see which aligns best.
- Compare their educational backgrounds and experience to see which would better align with your company.
Finally, if you’re still having trouble, you may need to conduct another round of interviews with a specific focus on certain qualifications to determine which prospective employee would be the best fit.
Junior/Entry-level Backend Developer Salary and Skills
Junior backend developers will possess a different skill set than their superiors. As such, their salary will also be different and lesser than someone with more experience.
A junior backend developer should be able to work with their teammates, create and manage computer applications either by writing or adjusting source code as directed by their supervisor, analyze data to offer performance improvements, review software code and identify bugs and errors, identify potential security risks, and test new software applications.
The skills they should possess include:
- The understanding, knowledge, and experience of at least one programming language and an associated framework
- The understanding of REST, or Representational State Transfer. They should know how and why HTTP verbs and status codes are used
- Experience with and knowledge of MongoDB
- Familiarity with creating servers and databases
- Basic understanding of OOP (object-oriented paradigms)
As observed by Comparably, the average salary of a junior backend developer in the U.S. is around $65,400. However, this figure can range from $57,000 to $70,000.
Senior Backend Expert Salary and Skills
Senior backend experts should possess all of the skills of a junior backend developer — and more. They should have a good understanding of Git and experience using GitLab. They should be able to collaborate with project managers, engineers, and other stakeholders. It is also important that they can solve advanced technical problems, craft complex code, and do other similar tasks.
The skills they should possess include:
- The understanding, knowledge, and experience of more than one backend programming language and framework
- The understanding, knowledge, and experience of some frontend programming languages
- Understanding of data structures and algorithms
- Knowledge and experience with databases, APIs, and servers
- Experience using GitLab and other continuous integration systems
- Familiarity with multi-stage build systems
- Knowledge and experience in building and packaging archives like .deb and .rpm
- Linux experience
In the U.S., as observed by Comparably, the average salary of a senior backend developer is around $77,441 but can range from $34,770 to $222,000.
Hire the Best Backend Developers for Your Team
If you're looking to hire backend developers, why limit yourself to the U.S. marketplace? Some of the best talent is in Latin America. Revelo partners with hundreds of companies to provide them with pre-vetted, top remote software engineers. We match companies with talent who become full-time hires to become an integral part of their team.
Reach out to Revelo to learn how we can help scale your software engineering team quickly and cost-effectively.