Become a Back-End Web Developer

Back-end developer is the most popular term for a web developer who focuses on server-side scripting, databases, and the architecture of a website’s files and pages.

People who make good back-end web developers usually have one or more these traits:

  • Analytical
  • Detail oriented
  • Strong math skills
  • Good at working alone or in very small groups
  • Self-motivated
  • Good at long term planning
  • The ability to visualize concepts

Here are some benefits which being a back-end web developer has over being a front-end developer:

  • Better pay than front-end developers.
  • Other people at work are less likely to understand what you do. That gives you more freedom to do your job as you see fit.
  • You can move your career into operating system based software development in the future. It is a very similar field which may offer you different challenges.

If you decide to focus on back-end web development you need to include these steps on your plan to becoming a web developer.

Step 1: Choose One Server-side Language and Learn it Well

To start, we suggest you choose between PHP and Ruby on Rails for these reasons:

  • Both languages are not usually taught at universities, so you have less competition.
  • Both languages are free to install and use on your server. That is not true with every server-side language.
  • PHP is a simpler language to learn than Ruby on Rails, and there are more PHP positions available than there are for Ruby on Rails.
  • Ruby on Rails is more complex than PHP, but positions for Ruby on Rails pay better. It is also a newer language, so you will have less competition than you would for PHP jobs.

A great way to learn a programming language is to get a good introductory book on the language and follow along with the first few chapters.

The book will walk you through setting up your system and building a small and a medium sized site using the language you choose.

Here are some good PHP books:

And some good Ruby on Rails introductory books:

Another great learning tool for getting started learning a programing language is a video or video course.

Here are some good introductory videos on PHP:

And some Ruby on Rails introductory videos:

Step 2: Learn About Website Architecture

Being able to create a website with a good structure is as important as being able to write code.

You will need to learn from a few resources to get a good understanding of the principles and best practices of website architecture. We’ve listed out a mix of resources below.


Videos & Video Courses:

Step 3: Learn About Databases

Databases are usually under the control of back-end developers.

You will need to know what the popular database formats are and have some experience working with at least 2 of them before you should start seeking out a job. MySQL is probably the most popular database management software in use. We suggest you learn and work with MySQL along with at least one other database type.

You will need to seek out a few sources to really understand how databases work and what systems are popular. We’ve pick some resources below to get you started.


Videos & Video Courses:


  1. Hello ROBERT STOWE,
    Thanks for your information. It really motivates me a lot. It seems like I should try to be a back end web developer. My question is how long it can take if I work hard like 6 hour a day. I am in a little hurry. My math and analytical skill is not that bad, above average.
    I don’t have enough money to buy any training material. Will I find everything for being a back end web developer?
    Thanks for your information.

    1. I think the total time it will take to be proficient is dependent on your dedication and aptitude.

      Six hours a day is a considerable number of hours and if you remain dedicated maybe you could find a paying position in a matter of months.

      Everything you need to know to become a developer is free on the internet. If you in a hurry I suggest you focus on developing your portfolio. As a back-end developer you will need to have a library (probably on GitHub) of code snippets and applications you have built. So, as you train you should also seek to be building on that library.

  2. These are good resources and there are many more out there but it’s going to take a certain kind of person and a significant dedication in time and self-discipline to master a server-side scripting language or site architecture on one’s own, especially if you’re in a hurry. These disciplines don’t lend themselves too well to rushing and you’re not doing yourself any favors by glossing through things. I recommend an instructed course as the most efficient use of your time and resources and the most likely road to success.

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