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Backend Developer Roadmap — How to Become a Backend Developer?

Posted on 
December 2, 2021
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Understanding the backend roadmap is crucial if you want to work as a backend developer at a top company. The backend engineer roadmap illustrates the career path of backend developers from junior to senior engineering positions.

Backend development is one of the most in-demand and highest-paying skills in the field of software engineering. That’s primarily because of the range of responsibilities associated with the role. Backend developers manage the server-side of websites and applications. Landing a backend developer job with a FAANG+ company requires a degree of excellence that only a small percentage of engineers manage to achieve.

To become an effective backend developer, you’re required to have some must-have skills that will help you succeed in this role. In this article on the backend engineer roadmap, we’ll observe the journey you’ll be taking as a backend developer. We’ll also look at the essential skill sets needed to rise to the top and some important tips that will help you crack backend developer interviews.

If you’re a software engineer, coding engineer, software developer, engineering manager, or tech lead preparing for tech interviews, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! 

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Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • The Backend Roadmap — Starting as a Backend Developer
  • Backend Roadmap — The Career Path to Choose
  • Must-have Backend Developer Skills to Succeed in FAANG+ Interviews
  • FAQs on Backend Developer Roadmap

The Backend Roadmap — Starting as a Backend Developer

This section will look at the various steps you need to take to climb the backend ladder and become a champion backend developer. Let’s go ahead and take a look. 

Learning the Fundamentals of the Internet

When you start s a backend developer, knowing the fundamentals of how the internet operates is critical. When we refer to fundamentals here, we’re talking about concepts such as HTTPs, DNS, the functioning of servers, cookies, and browsers. These are the most basic skills that any developer who starts is required to have. Remember, these skills aren’t restricted only to backend developers alone. Even front-end and full-stack developers are required to know their way around these core concepts.

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Understanding Programming Fundamentals

The next step in your backend journey is understanding the fundamentals of programming in computer science. Here’s what you’ll essentially need to know:

  • How variables are used and stored
  • How compile-time and runtime errors manifest
  • The core principles of Object-Oriented Programming - you’re required to be good at the programming language of your choice. Popular OOPs include Java, Python, Ruby, and Perl. 
  • The fundamental differences between Scripts and Compiled code

Note that when you appear for FAANG+ interviews, recruiters won’t specifically ask you questions around these concepts, as you’re already required to have a firm grasp of these concepts. At technical interviews, your knowledge of core data structures and algorithms is extensively evaluated.

Learn some of the most popular Back-end Development Languages to get a job at FAANG.

Creating Your Portfolio

An essential part of cracking FAANG+ interviews is having a portfolio that neatly lists the various projects you’ve been part of. Having an online portfolio is best in this regard. A good portfolio is sure to make you stand out from the rest of the competition. Given that FAANG+ companies have acceptance rates of less than 2%, you ought to do everything in your power to make your profile stand out.

If you’ve worked on many backend projects, you can save versions of your code on Github and keep revisiting to relearn. Github is an excellent open-source version control system that allows you to perform a lot of functions. With Github, you can:

  • Collaborate with other backend developers and find out creative approaches to problem-solving
  • Keep track of versions of your code and revisit them
  • Create backup versions of your code

Take a look at some of the Backend developer interview questions here.

Backend Roadmap — The Career Path to Choose

In this section, we’ll briefly look at the backend developer career path.

Junior and Mid-level Backend Development

When you take the first step in the backend roadmap by landing your first backend job, preferably with a FAANG+ company, you’ll begin as a junior developer, with compensation of anywhere between $80,000 and $110,000. You’ll most likely remain a junior for the next 2-3 years before moving to mid-level backend development.

For junior positions at FAANG+ companies, the main focus in technical interviews is on coding. As for systems design, you’re only expected to be good with the basic concepts.

Senior and Managerial Backend Development

After spending 3-4 years in mid-level backend development, with your compensation anywhere in the range between $150,000 and $250,000, you’ll move to senior backend developer positions Engineering Manager positions (EM positions are typically reached after 8+ years of experience). As an Engineering Manager, you can make upwards of $300,000 in FAANG+ companies.

Interviews for senior and managerial positions focus more on systems design concepts and less on coding. However, you’re still required to ace the coding rounds if you apply for senior backend positions.

Additionally, managerial interviews focus increasingly on leadership and behavioral interviews along with systems design. So, if you’re applying to senior or executive backend positions, don’t neglect to prep for behavioral interviews.

Must-have Backend Developer Skills to Succeed in FAANG+ Interviews

In this section, we’ll look at some must-have backend developer skills to succeed in interviews at FAANG+ companies. Read on to find out.

Fundamentals of Network Protocols and Web Security

As a backend developer, you must understand how to secure stored data and keep information away from the hands of hackers and cybercriminals. Any database or server requires end-to-end security frameworks to be in place to avoid data or information leaks.

Backend developers are expected to keep security at the forefront of their operations while building web pages and applications.

Here are some basic concepts that you should be thorough with:

  • CORS
  • Network Protocols
  • Hashing
  • HTTP/HTTPS
  • Authentication
  • Network Security

API Modeling

As part of the Backend Roadmap, knowing your way around APplication Program Interfaces is crucial. APIs enable the interaction between servers and users and are a key concept in distributed systems design. Note that systems design is a crucial component of FAANG+ interviews, with recruiters asking design-specific questions mostly during On-site interviews of FAANG+ companies.

Mastering Data Structures and Algorithms

The first natural step to landing a FAANG+ job is mastering core data structures and algorithms. FAANG+ interviews evaluate your problem-solving and analytical skills through these concepts.

You’ll be asked to solve 2-3 problems over multiple stages of your interview. While practicing problems in these concepts, make sure to approach problems through power patterns - i.e., identifying patterns in problems and classifying problems with similar patterns; then using these analogous patterns to approach and solve new problems.

Below are the important concepts that you’re expected to master in core data structures and algorithms:

  • Arrays, Linked Lists, and Strings
  • Recursion and Hashing
  • Sorting Algorithms
  • Graphs and Trees
  • Greedy Algorithms
  • Dynamic Programming

Check out this comprehensive guide on What to Prepare For Coding Interviews to learn more.

Mastering Distributed Systems Design

The next part in the Backend engineer roadmap to land FAANG+ interviews is mastering concepts in distributed systems design. Engineering design is a crucial area that’s evaluated in technical interviews. Below are the essential concepts you should be thorough with to comfortably ace design rounds in technical interviews.

  • Loading and Caching
  • Sharding techniques
  • Network protocols
  • Databases and database security
  • File processing systems
  • Sharding techniques
  • Systems design case studies
  • Concurrency
  • API modeling

Check out the ultimate Systems Design Interviews Checklist to Get Into FAANG+ Companies for a comprehensive list of topics to nail system design interviews.

Fine-tune Your Behavioral Skills

Behavioral interviews test your workplace attitude and characteristics of your personality in general. A lot of engineers appearing for technical interviews neglect the behavioral component and end up losing out.

Given the fact that FAANG+ interviews are highly competitive, you’re required to give it your best in every single round to stand a chance at landing your dream offer.

To learn more about what to expect at behavioral interviews and optimally approach these interviews, check out our comprehensive piece on - 10 Key Behavioral Skills Required to Land a $500k Tech Job

Backend Engineer Roadmap FAQs 

Q1. What are some backend skills that are tested in FAANG+ interviews?

Backend developers are required to have an extensive working knowledge of OOPs concepts, Application Program Interfaces, Servers, HTML, JavaScript, computer architecture, web security, databases, and network protocols to crack FAANG+ interviews. 

Q2. Are you required to know multiple programming languages to be a backend developer?

No, you don’t have to know multiple programming languages. But you need to be adept with at least one Object Oriented Programming Language. Python, Java, Ruby, and Perl are popular OOP languages used extensively to build software and applications. 

Q3. What do backend interview questions at FAANG interviews include?

At FAANG interviews, backend interview questions are typically around core data structures and algorithms and distributed systems design involving concepts such as arrays, strings, linked lists, graphs, trees, concurrency, scalable systems, and API modeling. 

Q4. Is mastering SQL an important component of the backend roadmap?

As a backend engineer, part of your responsibilities involves working with servers and databases, which requires working knowledge of SQL. More so, SQL questions are often asked in backend interviews, so brushing up on core concepts is highly recommended. 

Q5. How much do backend developers make on average?

According to data from Glassdoor, Back-end engineers at FAANG+ companies make anywhere between $90,000 and $150,000 per year. Google is known to offer the highest compensation for backend developers among FAANG companies. The salaries of Senior backend developers at top tech companies can stretch up to $250,000-$350,000 per year. 

Get Ready For Your Next Backend Interview

Are you thinking of getting started with your backend interview prep? Check out our one-of-its-kind Back-End Engineering Interview Course that is tailor-made to help you crack backend interviews at the biggest companies. 

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