Be it a website or web application, back-end developers are the pillar and pole of the web as they play an integral role in the structure, design and seamless functioning of the web. Simply put, Back-end development powers the web, and given the importance of back-end developers, their services are compensated handsomely.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, Back-end developers require a minimum of an associate’s degree and earn a median salary of $73,760 per year. However, according to Glassdoor, top companies like FAANG pay even higher salaries. For instance, back-end developers at Google earn between $103,388 - $111,908 per year, while Amazon back-end developers earn a bit higher, between $111,062 - $126,158 annually.
However, to land a job at five of the most revered tech companies in the world, you need to be proficient in every aspect of back-end development. There’s plenty to cover, from back-end programming languages to back-end technologies and databases, to attract a job opportunity from these companies. Thereafter, there is the elaborate interview process that is no cakewalk.
Therefore, to set you on the right foot and spare you the troubles that come with knowing and whatnot, we’ve compiled everything you need to cover to land a job at any of the FAANG’s as a back-end developer.:
What Is Back-end Programming and Development?
Back-end development refers to user-side development where the purpose of the written code is to communicate information in the database to browsers. Back-end programming constitutes managing databases, scripting, and the architecture of websites. It also determines the behind-the-scenes responses to user requests and interactions.
Back-end developers build programs and establish workflows that are focused on how a website works. Then, they lay the code that powers web applications with functionality and logic. Back-end programming requires a tech stack consisting of servers, libraries, applications, and databases.
Even though the specific responsibilities of back end developers may vary from company to company, their key responsibilities include:
- Writing APIs.
- Writing code to interact with a database.
- Creating libraries.
- Working on business processes and data architecture.
Front-end Development vs. Back-end Development
Front-end development involves creating and developing dynamic designs and interfaces for client’s usage. Simply put, front-end developers determine how a website will appear to users and how they will interact with web applications. On the other hand, back-end developers lay the foundational code that contributes to a website’s functioning, user request management, and execution.
Front-end programming and back-end programming are flip sides of a coin, and a website needs both to function properly. However, back-end development is more technical and requires extensive practice and experience to master. This is why they are typically more in-demand and earn higher salaries than front-end developers. For example, the average base salary of a front-end developer is $86,161 per year, whereas a back-end developer earns $124,589 on average.
Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG
Levels of Programming Languages
Programming languages vary in their levels of abstraction and are grouped into two categories:
Programming languages that provide abstraction from the hardware are known as low-level languages. These languages are represented in the binary form, i.e., 0 or 1, which are machine instructions. Low-level languages are further divided into machine-level language and assembly-level language based on hierarchy.
- Machine-level languages – are first-generation programming languages positioned at the lowest level in the hierarchy with zero abstraction levels from the hardware. These languages are written in binary form, do not require a translator to run, and are thus, hard for humans to understand.
- Assembly-level languages – are second-generation programming languages that are placed above machine-level languages in the hierarchy. Their syntaxes and keywords are in simple English, require an assembler for translation into machine code, and are easy to learn and maintain.
High-level programming languages offer flexibility to developers by allowing them to write machine-independent programs. These languages are close to human languages and can be understood easily with close attention to a problem’s logic. However, high-level languages require a compiler to translate them into a low-level language.
Recommended Reading: The Hardest and Easiest Programming Languages to Learn for FAANG Interviews
Types of Back-end Programming Languages
Now that we have a rough idea about various levels of programming in terms of hierarchy and level of abstraction from hardware, let’s understand the various types of language used in back-end programming. Although there are five major types of programming language based on their development paradigm, not all find applications in back-end development.
Back-end development mainly involves two types of programming languages, namely:
- Object-oriented programming languages
- Functional programming languages
Functional Programming Language
Functional programming languages follow a declarative programming paradigm and revolve around creating programs by applying and composing functions. They are “action-based” and emphasizes more on expressions and declarations than the execution of statements. This also means that the statements can be executed in no particular order.
Some of the most popular functional programming languages are Haskell, SQL, Scala, F#, and R, among others.
Object-Oriented Programming Language
An object-oriented programming language has more to do with creating objects in an organized way. As opposed to functional programming languages, statements here are executed in a particular order. In addition, they offer features like abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance, classes, and objects. The concepts of inheritance and polymorphism enable code reusability and allowing code to be defined in multiple forms.
Java, .NET, and Python are the most popular object-oriented languages used for back-end development.
Popular Back-end Programming Languages
The back-end languages that a web developer decides to keep in his quiver define his career trajectory. Here is a detailed list of the most popular back-end languages in 2021.
Java, created in 1995 by Sun Microsystems, is the world’s most popular back-end programming language. Java is ideal for established and large enterprises because of its stability and versatility. Being an object-oriented language with remarkable exception handling and memory management, Java is easy to control, manipulate, and extend.
Java consistently features in the top 5 most used programming languages worldwide, as per Statista. There is a reason why it still dominates software development even after its emergence two decades ago. Due to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java’s versatility makes it the most popular back-end language out there. Platform-dependent codes of most other programming languages run differently when compiled on different operating systems. However, with JVM acting as the middle layer, Java is platform-independent and can ensure that a code runs similarly, regardless of its operating system.
Having spent 20 years as a commonly used language, Java has a huge and active developer community. This makes learning Java simple because the language has a substantial number of forum threads and online tutorials to help you out when you get stuck.
What Is Java Used For?
Java and its back-end technologies are powerful tools that are suitable for a wide range of objectives:
- Mobile Application Development (Android)
- Website Development
- Database Connectivity
- Image processing
- GUI based programs
Companies That Use Java
A wide range of industry-leading companies uses Java as their primary back-end programming language. Here are some noteworthy companies that use Java in their tech stacks.
Java Career Path
Java developers command a salary of $103,446 annually. With a background in Java, you can pursue several lucrative roles such as Solution Architect, Scrum Master, Business Analyst, and Project Manager. Java developers can also become DevOps Specialists who are among the highest-paid IT professionals as per StackOverflow.
Recommended Reading: Most Popular Coding Languages for FAANG Interviews in 2021
PHP is a dynamic back-end web development language developers use to write multiple solutions for a single problem. While this is an advantage for back-end developers, it also means that the meaning of the same block of code changes completely when the context is changed, resulting in scalability and speed issues. However, after the launch of PHP 7, speed concerns have relatively reduced.
PHP powers 78.9% of all websites on the internet in association with other server-side programming languages. This implies that 8 out of 10 websites, including Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and WordPress, are somehow powered by PHP.
PHP is one of the most used languages for web development for beginners for a variety of reasons. It simplifies bug-fixing by allowing you to compile and run a program until you reach the section that comprises errors. PHP also has a large community with robust tool support, which provides users with extensive resources to leverage for problem-solving.
PHP tech stacks like MAMP, WAMP, and LAMP are also fairly easy to set up compared to other programming languages like Ruby on Rails.
What Is PHP Used For?
PHP is used to:
- Collect form data.
- Generate dynamic page content.
- Send and receive cookies.
- Write command-line scripting.
- Write server-side scripting.
- Write desktop applications.
Companies That Use PHP
Here are some companies that use PHP for their back-end development:
PHP Career Path
PHP developers are paid $64,910 per year; however, senior developers with 20+ years of experience can earn up to $87,238 per year. With additional skills and expertise in database languages like SQL, PHP developers can transition into database administration or architect roles to attract higher salaries.
Net Framework (C#, VB, F#)
ASP.NET is a web application framework developed by Microsoft to build websites using languages like Visual Basic (VB), C#, F#, and more. It has a Model-View-Controller architectural pattern, making it easy to manage and control back-end development with a controller. The controller interacts with models to process data and shows results as a front-end web page.
.NET was made open-source in 2016, which means that it can now be integrated into iOS, Linux, and Android using .NET Core. Businesses prefer .NET because the programs made with it are highly stable and reliable. Being a Microsoft product, the support for .NET is also amazing.
What Is .NET Used For?
The .NET framework can be used to develop a wide range of applications, from web to mobile and windows-based applications. It is also used in gaming applications and when working with Distributed File Systems and Big Data.
Companies That Use The .NET Framework
Many prominent companies use the .NET framework for back-end development and support. These include:
- Durstexpress GmbH
- Stack Overflow
NET Framework Career Path
Ruby on Rails is a web development language built on top of Ruby, an open-source programming language. Ruby on Rails has a robust set of tools that simplifies development and allows you to simply create basic tasks. Ruby enables developers to create and launch applications quickly. Being an open-source language, Ruby also offers the flexibility of being modified and built upon to developers.
What Is Ruby Used For?
Ruby offers a variety of uses that simplify the development of various applications, such as
- Automate repetitive tasks
- Build web applications
- Build mobile applications and games
- Create prototypes
Companies That Use Ruby
Here are some of the leading companies that use Ruby as a back-end language:
Ruby Career Path
Ruby is associated with higher salaries when compared to most other programming languages like Objective C, Python, Swift, etc. StackOverflow lists it as the fifth highest-paid programming language. According to Indeed, the average compensation for a Ruby developer is $115,130, where you will also find 2200+ job postings for software engineers at all levels.
Python is currently the third most popular language as per the TIOBE programming language Index (March 2021). It is also the third most loved programming language on StackOverflow Developer Survey 2020 with 66.7% ratings.
The versatility, simplicity of syntax, and strong community make Python the fastest-growing programming language. Python is one of the best languages for back-end development for beginners because of its coding simplicity and extensive support in the form of tutorials and guides available online. Python shares many similarities with Ruby as they’re both dynamically typed, open-source, object-oriented languages, which are great for prototyping.
Many companies use Python with Django, a Python-based free and open-source web framework, enabling scalable, secure, and rapid development of websites. Python also has a wide array of uses in data science and artificial intelligence.
What Is Python Used For?
Some of the most popular use-cases of Python are:
- Cross-platform shell scripting
- Quick automation
- Simple web development
- Data Science and Machine Learning
Companies That Use Python
The leading companies that use Python in back-end development are:
Python Career Path
Python is used by data scientists who are among the most highly compensated developers with an average salary of $122,233 a year. Apart from this, according to a report from Indeed, the platform records over 2500+ jobs posted every 24 hours for Software Engineer, Product Manager, Python Developer, Research Analyst, and Data Analyst, among others.
SQL or structured query language is a declarative language used to create, modify, and interact with databases. A declarative language is a language wherein coders state the results they want to see without specifying the said result’s steps or process. A query language is advantageous to those who work closely with data and databases.
What Is SQL Used For?
SQL is used to create, manipulate, and access databases. Since financial analysts, data-driven marketers, or online entrepreneurs work closely with data, SQL is beneficial to them. Also, SQL acts as an ideal stepping stone for Big Data aspirants.
Since SQL is a query language, it is used by almost every company or enterprise that has a database.
SQL Career Path
With expertise in SQL, you can pursue administrative as well as development roles. SQL is also a prerequisite in business intelligence and data science. An SQL developer earns an average salary of $88046 annually. As the highest-paying tech companies, Facebook and Google pay their Database Engineers an annual salary of $126878 and $147,759, respectively.
- Mobile apps
- Desktop applications
- Web servers
Back-end Programming Languages Used at FAANG
Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google are shaping the future of the technology industry as a whole. Landing a job as a back-end developer in one of those companies requires an exceptional level of expertise to shine in every round of the recruiting process.
Here are the back-end programming languages and back-end technologies used by FAANG firms:
- Facebook: Hack, PHP (HHVM), Python, C++, Java, Erlang, D, XHP, Haskell, MariaDB, MySQL, HBase, and Cassandra.
- Amazon: Java, C++, Perl, PostgreSQL, RDS, and RDS Aurora.
- Netflix: Python, Java, MySQL, Gluster, Apache Tomcat, Hive, Chukwa, Cassandra, and Hadoop.
- Google: C, C++, Go, Java, Python, Node.js, Bigtable, and MariaDB.
As we mentioned earlier, building expertise in popular back-end languages isn’t enough to land a job at these FAANG firms. Therefore, supplement your skills with established competence in back-end technologies that help enhance web development processes.
Best Back-end Technologies to Get Familiar With
When paired with the right back-end technology, back-end development languages double the performance and efficiency of web applications. To that end, let’s examine some of the best back-end technologies that can help you cut down development time and enhance efficiency in back-end development.
Express.js is a server-side and mobile API application framework for Node.js, one of the most popular back-end frameworks with superior scalability and issue support. Nearly 20 million websites use Node.js to cut down development costs by 58%.
Django is the most popular Python web framework that fosters rapid development, enhanced scalability, security, and clean, pragmatic architecture. The new generation of back-end developers chooses Python as their back-end language because it’s open-source, works on any platform, and remains scalable for further development. Django aims to simplify and accelerate the creation of complex database-driven websites. It is listed in the top 10 most used web development frameworks among developers on Statista.
Pyramid is a back-end technology that simplifies web development and offers many features that make complex software effortless and straightforward. Pyramid also offers a cluster of resources and built-in tools. Working with Pyramid enables back-end developers to work with countless add-ons, packages, and applications without affecting the scalability and performance of an app.
Flask is a Python framework that reflects Python’s simplicity and minimalism in its functioning. Thanks to its middleware approach, it has a simple core but can be integrated with other plugins and extensions to enhance its features. Flask’s web applications, which have since evolved within the Python community, are also more explicit than Django because Flask was developed long after Django. It currently holds 54.3k stars on GitHub.
Laravel is a popular PHP framework that benefits from the large community of developers driving the efficiency of PHP due to its easiness in providing resolutions and ensuring rapid and cost-efficient web developments. Other features of Laravel include simplicity in syntax, tools for database migration and schema builder, a simple and secure authentication mechanism. With 64.4k stars on GitHub, it is currently the most popular development framework on the platform.
Ruby on Rails
Rails web is an add-on framework for Ruby, a programming language that has earned a lot of acclaim for its readability and simple syntax. Ruby on Rails is also very fast, which makes testing less tedious. As a result, RoR helps developers cut down development time and enhance implementation quality by enabling the speed and ease of writing code. Ruby on Rails is the #8 most used web development framework among the top 10k sites.
The Phoenix framework is tailor-made for fast and efficient development. The Elixir programming language and Erlang Virtual Machine enable Phoenix to offer rapid development, enhanced productivity, and high scalability. Furthermore, Phoenix is perfect for developing highly concurrent systems due to its ability to handle multiple incoming requests. In addition to this, it is also known for its speedy development and the smooth experience it provides.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Perfect Back-End Technology
Back-end is the backbone of websites and web applications. Here’s how you can decide which back-end technology to use with your preferred back-end programming language
Time and Resources
Once you have clarity on the time and resources available to you, you can either choose a technology that offers rapid development and trade-off functioning or choose a better functionality and richness in features over speedy development. In the case of the former, Ruby is an ideal choice to accomplish back-end goals within strict deadlines. Django, on the other hand, is ideal when there is no time constraint.
Determine your development team’s technical expertise and select a back-end technology that matches your team’s technical capability. For instance, if your team’s overall expertise is inclined towards Python, choose Django or Flask for development.
Every back-end technology has distinct features and use-cases. Assess your project needs and problem domain, and choose a back-end tech stack whose parameters align with your needs.
If you’re a startup, your best bet is to choose a popular back-end technology that has a proven track record instead of experimenting with a relatively unpopular and new technology. This will ensure that you can assemble a decent team at a modest rate, as experienced developers will charge you higher fees.
Although websites used for business applications already necessitate seamless scalability, you would still benefit from reassessing your business goals to determine the need for investing in scalable technologies. It’s a good idea to develop a minimalistic website and test it first to ensure the scope for scalability.
Sound knowledge of frameworks, languages, servers, etc., is essential for choosing the right back-end technology. Evaluating these parameters will help you make the right decision, positively affecting the development phase.
Start Your Prep to Uplevel Your Back-end Engineering Career
This comprehensive overview of back-end development must have helped you understand every aspect of back-end development. To pursue a career in back-end development, you must master preferred programming languages and the suitable back-end technologies used in your dream company.
The responsibilities of back-end developers require them to be well-versed in every aspect of back-end development.
To land a job at FAANG as a back-end developer, you need extensive domain knowledge and relevant experience in projects. You can achieve this by following the steps outlined below to master back-end development.
- Start with gaining in-depth knowledge of data structure and algorithms.
- Become well-versed with the basics of databases.
- Pick a programming language and development framework of your choice, and start programming. If you have a target company in mind, research their current projects and technology stack to shortlist the skills you would need to acquire.
- Leverage coding forums, online tools, coding competitions, and certified courses to enhance your problem-solving abilities.
- Build projects of your own to gain practical knowledge. Start with simple projects and upload them on GitHub to receive feedback from experienced developers. Soon, you’ll be able to code complex programs to showcase on your portfolio.
- If you are preparing for a technical interview, time yourself as you solve as many coding problems as you should to feel confident about appearing before a hiring team.
Becoming a developer, front-end or back-end, isn’t a year’s journey. Neither is securing a job in the field an easy task. It takes time. Therefore, it is vital to put in the work to become a certified programmer with what it takes to land your dream job.
It’s normal to feel lost before you even start the developer’s journey; however, with this guide, we’ve been able to simplify your thousand miles journey into the simplest form. It is now your turn to take this recommendation into real-life play, equipping yourself with the right expertise and experience to eventually land your dream job.
If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, and need help with the prep, join Interview Kickstart. We offer a one-of-its-kind Back-end Engineering Interview Masterclass, which is tailored to help back-end engineers prepare for the toughest interviews at FAANG and other Tier-1 tech companies.
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