As an aspiring, budding, or professional software developer in the 2020s, you’re in luck, as the demand for developers is skyrocketing. However, there are many facets to software development, and you may be thinking of which specialization to build on or transition into.
There is, quite literally, a wealth of paths for you to pursue—frontend, full-stack, mobile, game, data, DevOps. However, if you’re lost, consider becoming a back-end developer and creating the components that power user interfaces behind the scenes.
According to CRN, backend developers landed 58% of all interview requests for open software roles last year. And with an average annual salary of $118,795, a career in backend development is worth considering. So with all this in mind, this article will aim to equip you with the knowledge you need to make that all-important decision.
You are beginning your learning process.
As aforementioned, the code programmed by backend developers involves everything beyond the user interface. It’s what’s stored in servers and helps web applications work by facilitating communication with databases.
Of course, your skills need to be honed to near-perfection if you want to make backend development a career. The easiest way to build them is to take a 4-year course in general software development, with a specialization in backend development if applicable.
Fortunately, despite the pandemic, platforms like Udemy and Coursera are offering online programs that cover not just your foundation in programming but also the development of soft skills like logic and problem-solving.
If you already have the basics down, consider taking an advanced online course instead, like Harvard’s online graduate certification program on backend web development.
Choosing your specialization
Back-end development powers almost every function behind the scenes, so it is, understandably, quite a broad field. For example, backend development for web and mobile applications alone requires different skill sets.
So, unless you want to learn over seven programming languages and their corresponding frameworks, consider choosing a field to specialize in.
But you don’t just need to take into account the required skills for said specialty.
You also need to consider the current job market. For instance, you can specialize in web development, as analysts at Businesswire report that companies are increasingly relying on search engine optimization (SEO) to improve their website’s rankings in Google, enabling them to increase sales conversions.
Digital marketing specialists Ayima highlight that this data-driven approach to on-page SEO will only ever be successful if the website’s backend is optimized in line with Google’s ever-changing requirements.
If the backend has issues, the website as a whole will never reach its potential. So everything does start with the backend as Google won’t index poorly constructed sites.
Alternatively, you might want to specialize in mobile game development.
The recent Global Mobile Gaming Industry report mentioned how the gaming market alone is enough to earn mobile more than $48 billion by 2027, so there’s lots of room for you to cash in.
With most games needing to store information and connect to remote servers, backend development is an in-demand skill among mobile game developers.
PlayFab, for example, specializes in multiplayer games like Roblox and hosts over 5,000 titles with more than 2.5 billion unique player account globally.
Ever since Microsoft acquired it in 2018, demand for its services has only grown, and it can now securely process over 10 billion APIs calls each day.
Despite this, founder James Gwertzman says that the company is still looking to expand the scope of the services it provides to multiplayer games.
“The amount of tech needed to support those kinds of communities gets ever larger,” Gwertzman explained, emphasizing that the demand for developers in this area won’t be waning anytime soon. “Now, we’re looking more broadly now across the whole industry.”
Practicing your skills to perfection
As you progress in your chosen field, you’ll find that programming things like authentication systems and scrapers will become easier over time.
Once you’ve reached that point, consider taking on freelance projects at leisure, like a full-blown inventory management system. By challenging yourself, you’ll be gaining a competitive edge in your specialization.
For instance, if you’re considering developing a backend for mobile games, this will include knowing how to facilitate player-to-player communication, provide cloud support for in-game features, and fix any bugs.
Once you’ve gained enough experience and confidence in your capabilities, try testing the waters by applying for contract-based backend development projects that interest you. Actively seek out projects on hiring platforms like Upwork or express availability on online job boards like LinkedIn.
We’ve noted here on Mastering Backend that backend development is excellent for freelance work, unlike front-end development. Hong Kong-based companies, like data marketplace Amperse, are always looking for such developers.
By building your resume one project at a time, your efforts will eventually reward you with the full-time backend developer career you’ve worked so hard for.
Exclusively written for masteringbackend.com By Belinda Bennett