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Meet our Backend Developer community

Braintrust is a user-owned talent platform created by and for the world’s top talent. This includes a talented network of experienced Backend Developers available for hire.

Looking for Work

Maayan Loutset

Maayan Loutset

Sr Software Developer
Ottawa, Canada
  • C#
  • Backend Engineering
  • JavaScript
  • SQL

Looking for Work

James Dixson

James Dixson

Snohomish, WA, USA
  • Mobile
  • Backend Engineering
  • Python
  • Node.js

Looking for Work

Chris Picard

Chris Picard

Software Engineer
Denver, CO, USA
  • Java
  • Backend Engineering
  • Infrastructure
  • Spring

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How to hire Top Backend Developers


Hiring a back-end developer involves assessing a range of technical skills and personal attributes to find the candidate that best fits the needs of your organization. Regardless of the size of the company or the nature of the employment agreement, the goal is to identify someone who can develop and maintain the server-side logic of your applications, manage databases, and ensure high performance and responsiveness.

At a startup, a back-end developer might be required to wear multiple hats, perhaps working on both back-end and front-end, or even taking on DevOps tasks. They often work in smaller teams, so good communication skills and the ability to collaborate effectively are key. Due to the fast-paced nature of startups, adaptability and comfort with rapid iteration and change are essential. Developers at startups may also have to work with limited resources, requiring creativity and the ability to prioritize effectively.

In contrast, a larger company may have more defined roles, allowing a back-end developer to specialize more deeply. These roles may involve working within larger teams and more complex systems, requiring a strong understanding of software architecture and design patterns. Developers at larger companies may need to navigate more layers of management and approval, so understanding of corporate workflows and processes can be beneficial.

The decision to hire a full-time developer versus an hourly contractor can depend on your organization's needs. A full-time developer is typically more integrated into your team, contributing to the culture and long-term goals of the company. They can provide continuity and stability, particularly for long-term projects. Full-time developers usually have a wider range of responsibilities and are expected to contribute beyond just writing code, such as participating in meetings, brainstorming sessions, and company events.

On the other hand, hiring a back-end developer on an hourly basis can offer more flexibility. This could be a great solution for short-term projects or when you need to quickly scale up your team for a specific task. Hourly contractors might also bring in a fresh perspective and varied experiences from working with multiple clients.

Whether hiring for a startup or a larger company, full-time or hourly, it's essential to assess a candidate's technical competency in server-side languages, database management, API design, and understanding of front-end technologies. Soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication should not be overlooked. Beyond these, a cultural fit with your organization and alignment with your company's values are equally important factors in making a successful hire.

Proficiency in Server-Side Languages

Back-end developers should be proficient in one or more server-side programming languages. This includes languages like Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, .NET (C#), Node.js (JavaScript), and Go. Depending on the nature of your project, the requirements can vary. For instance, if you're working with a lot of data analysis and machine learning, a developer skilled in Python could be a good fit. On the other hand, if you're developing a large-scale enterprise application, Java or .NET may be more appropriate. Their proficiency is usually demonstrated by a deep understanding of the language’s syntax, constructs, data types, and structures. They should be comfortable with developing algorithms, managing memory, handling exceptions, and debugging. Further, a strong grasp of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) principles or functional programming concepts is often necessary, as many server-side languages utilize these paradigms.

Understanding of Databases and ORM

Strong database management skills are critical for back-end developers. They should have a thorough understanding of relational databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Oracle, and be proficient in SQL to create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) data. An understanding of database design and normalization is also crucial. Knowledge of NoSQL databases like MongoDB or Cassandra is also becoming increasingly important, especially for handling big data or developing real-time applications. Understanding of ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) libraries is beneficial as it allows developers to interact with their database, like they would with SQL. For example, SQLAlchemy in Python, Hibernate in Java, and Entity Framework in .NET are widely used ORM libraries.

Experience with Server and Hosting Environments

Back-end developers should be comfortable working with different server technologies such as Apache, Nginx, or Microsoft's IIS. They should understand server configuration, deployment, and maintenance. Understanding containerization tools like Docker and Kubernetes is also crucial for creating and managing portable, scalable applications. Moreover, familiarity with cloud service providers like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure is often necessary, as many businesses now host their applications on these platforms. This includes knowledge of specific services for computing (like EC2 in AWS), database management (like RDS in AWS), storage, and more.

Proficiency in API Design and Development

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allow different software applications to communicate with each other. A back-end developer should be adept at creating and maintaining RESTful or GraphQL APIs, which allow the front-end of the application to communicate with the back-end. They should understand the principles of good API design including handling endpoints, request/response models, status codes, and versioning. Knowledge of security practices for APIs, such as token-based authentication (OAuth) and JSON Web Tokens (JWT), is also critical to protect sensitive data. Tools like Postman or Swagger can be used for API testing and documentation.

Understanding of Front-End Technologies

While their primary role is server-side development, back-end developers still need to understand front-end technologies to ensure smooth integration between the client-side and server-side of the application. This includes languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are fundamental to web development. An understanding of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is also crucial, as it allows the client-side of the application to communicate with the server asynchronously. They should also have a basic understanding of front-end frameworks or libraries such as React, Angular, or Vue.js, and how they communicate with back-end services through APIs. Understanding these technologies allows back-end developers to collaborate more effectively with front-end developers and aids in debugging full-stack issues.

Familiarity with Version Control Systems (VCS)

Version control systems like Git are fundamental tools for managing changes to code over time and facilitating collaboration between developers. They allow developers to track modifications, revert changes, and resolve code conflicts. A proficient back-end developer should be comfortable with common Git commands for committing changes, creating branches, merging branches, and resolving merge conflicts. They should also understand workflows in Git, such as the feature branch workflow or the Gitflow workflow. Familiarity with platforms like GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket, which provide cloud-based Git repository hosting, is also crucial.

Security Knowledge

Security is a paramount concern in back-end development. Back-end developers should be aware of common web security vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). They should understand secure coding practices to mitigate these risks, such as validating and sanitizing inputs, implementing proper error handling, and using parameterized queries or prepared statements. Additionally, they should understand how to implement authentication and authorization controls, often using standards like OAuth and JWT. Knowledge of encryption and hashing algorithms, HTTPS/SSL, and data privacy practices is also important. Familiarity with security tools and frameworks, such as OWASP ZAP or Spring Security, can be beneficial.

Problem-Solving Skills and Critical Thinking

Aside from technical proficiency, back-end developers must be excellent problem solvers. They should be able to decompose complex problems into manageable parts and devise efficient solutions. This often requires a deep understanding of data structures, algorithms, and system design principles. Critical thinking skills are important for evaluating different approaches to a problem, considering trade-offs, and making sound decisions. These skills are often demonstrated through coding interviews, technical assessments, and past work experiences. Additionally, good developers often have a strong sense of curiosity and a commitment to continuous learning, as they must constantly adapt to evolving technologies and techniques in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do back-end developers work on?

Back-end developers are in charge of the server-side of web applications, which includes the server, the application, and the database. They create, maintain, test, and debug the entire back-end. This includes the core application logic, databases, data and application integration, API and other back-end processes.

In more detail, here is what a back-end developer typically does:

  1. Server-side logic: They write the web services and APIs used by front-end developers and mobile application developers.
  2. Database creation, integration, and management: They use database systems like MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server to store and manage data.
  3. Integration of user-facing elements developed by front-end developers with server-side logic: Back-end developers ensure that the front-end application and the back-end service work together as expected.
  4. Building reusable code and libraries for future use: This helps speed up the development process by minimizing the need to rewrite common functions.
  5. Optimization of the application for speed and scalability: Back-end developers need to ensure that the applications they build can handle the required number of users and data.
  6. Implementation of security and data protection: This includes things like ensuring data privacy, protecting against unauthorized access, and other security measures.
  7. Data storage solutions: They manage complex querying, database schema design, and the relationships between data entities.

Typical skills that are required for a back-end developer include:

  1. Proficiency in back-end programming languages: This could be any number of languages, but some of the most common ones are Java, Python, Ruby, Node.js (JavaScript), PHP, .NET (C#), and Go.
  2. Database management: SQL for relational databases and a good understanding of NoSQL databases. ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) libraries knowledge is also beneficial.
  3. Server technology experience: Such as Apache, Nginx, or Microsoft's IIS.
  4. Web server technologies: Like J2EE, Apache, Nginx, ISS, etc.
  5. Frameworks related to their server-side language of choice: Like Express.js for Node.js, Django or Flask for Python, Laravel for PHP, Spring Boot for Java etc.
  6. API design and development: REST & SOAP.
  7. Understanding of front-end technologies: Like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and AJAX so they can communicate well with front-end developers.
  8. Knowledge of version control systems (VCS): Such as Git.
  9. Security compliance: Understanding of key security considerations like encryption, data protection, secure coding practices, etc.
  10. System architecture skills: Knowing how to structure an application and how different components work together is extremely valuable.

In general, the back-end developer's role is to handle data and ensure everything on the client-side of the application works by implementing the server-side processes.

How much does it cost to hire a back-end developer?

The cost to hire a back-end developer can vary significantly depending on factors such as the developer's level of experience, location, and the complexity of the project. On average, in the US, a mid-level back-end developer can earn a salary in the range of $80,000 - $120,000 per year. However, in regions with higher cost of living or for highly experienced developers, salaries can go well above this range. If you're hiring a contractor or freelancer, the cost could range from $50 to over $150 per hour depending on similar factors.

How do I hire a good back-end developer?

Hiring a good back-end developer requires a combination of assessing technical skills, soft skills, and cultural fit. Look for proficiency in server-side languages, understanding of databases, experience with server and hosting environments, and knowledge of API design. Test their problem-solving skills, perhaps through coding challenges or technical interviews. Review their previous projects or ask for code samples. Pay attention to their communication skills, ability to work in a team, and their adaptability to new technologies. Consider using job boards, professional networks, or specialized tech hiring platforms. Remember to communicate your company’s needs and goals clearly during the hiring process.

How much does a back-end developer charge per hour?

The hourly rate of a back-end developer can vary greatly depending on their expertise, years of experience, the complexity of the project, and location. In the US, freelance back-end developers can charge anywhere from $50 to over $150 per hour. Internationally, rates can differ significantly, with countries with a lower cost of living often having lower rates. However, when considering rates, it's also important to take into account the quality of work, reliability, and communication skills of the developer.

How long does it take to build a backend?

The time required to build a backend can vary significantly depending on the complexity and scope of the project. A simple backend for a small application might be built in a few weeks, while a complex system for a large application could take several months or even longer. Factors affecting the timeline include the number and complexity of features, the scalability requirements, the technologies used, the team's proficiency, and the level of testing and refinement required. It's crucial to have a well-defined project scope and clear communication with the developer or team to manage expectations and timelines effectively.

Is it hard to find good back-end developers?

Finding good back-end developers can indeed be challenging due to the complex nature of the role and the high demand for these professionals in the market. The back-end is the backbone of any software application, requiring skilled developers who understand how to create efficient, scalable, and secure server-side applications. Candidates need a strong grasp of a range of technical skills including server-side languages, databases, server environments, API development, among others. Also, the rapidly evolving tech landscape means that developers need to keep their skills updated. Finding a developer who not only possesses these technical skills, but also aligns with your company's culture and can understand your business needs is a complex task, making it seemingly difficult to find good back-end developers.

What types of applications do back-end developers typically work on?

Back-end developers work on a wide variety of applications including web applications, mobile app back-ends, desktop applications, microservices for cloud architectures, APIs, and more. Essentially, any application that requires server-side processing, data management, or interaction with databases involves the work of a back-end developer. This could range from a simple blog site that retrieves and displays posts from a database, to a complex e-commerce platform that processes transactions, manages user data, and integrates with various other services. Back-end developers also work on real-time applications like chat applications, large-scale data processing systems, and much more.

Why hire a back-end developer?

A back-end developer is critical to creating robust, efficient, and secure applications. While the front-end of an application deals with the user interface and user experience, the back-end ensures that all the necessary data processing, business logic, and database interactions happen smoothly and securely. Without a skilled back-end developer, an application might suffer from performance issues, data inconsistencies, security vulnerabilities, or scalability challenges. Furthermore, back-end developers are essential for integrating your applications with third-party services through APIs, implementing security practices, ensuring data privacy, and much more. In essence, hiring a back-end developer is crucial for building a successful, reliable, and secure software application.

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