Back-End Developers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Enroll in as many programming, database management, web development, and other computer science classes, as possible. Mathematics, speech, English, business, and psychology courses will also be useful. Become active in your school’s computer club or local technology groups and participate in coding competitions.

Postsecondary Education

Back-end developers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, database management, computer engineering, web development, information technology (IT), mathematics, statistics, or a related field. Some developers augment their degrees by earning specialized micro degrees or certificates in information security, AI, cloud computing, or machine learning.

Tech education companies also provide bootcamps that provide shorter-term training paths for entry into the field. For example, General Assembly offers a software engineering immersive boot camp that covers both front-end and back-end development. Udacity and Udemy also provide bootcamps and classes.


A growing number of schools offer certificates in back-end development. For example, Harvard College’s Division of Continuing Education offers a back-end web development graduate certificate. Classes in the program include Designing and Developing Relational and NoSQL Databases; Database Systems; Systems Programming and Machine Organization; and Data Systems. Many colleges and universities offer certificates in web development, software engineering, and other IT–related fields. Contact schools in your area to learn more about available programs.

Other Education or Training

Pursuing continuing education is important in any career, but even more so in software development because both software and hardware continue to evolve on what seems like an almost daily basis. Professional development in-person classes and webinars are offered by IT associations and organizations, colleges and universities, and online learning platforms.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The IEEE Computer Society offers the certified software development associate credential (for entry-level software professionals), the certified software development professional credential (for experienced software designers and engineers), and the professional software engineering master certification (for very experienced and skilled software professionals) to individuals who meet experience and education requirements and pass an examination. The Artificial Intelligence Board of America offers the artificial intelligence engineer credential, and the DevOps Institute offers several certification credentials in the related field of DevOps. Oracle, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, and other tech companies provide certification in software development.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

At least one year of experience (e.g., full- or part-time job, internship, co-op) in lower-level software development and database management positions is required to enter the field.

Back-end developers need a variety of technical skills and expertise, including comprehensive knowledge of back-end programming languages such as Ruby, Python, PHP; scripting languages such as JavaScript, HTTP, Grails, AngularJS, and Groovy; database management systems such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM’s DB2; web application architecture; algorithms and their formulation; servers and their functioning; data structures (types, properties, and uses); and GitHub, a popular code hosting platform for version control and collaboration. They also must have a basic knowledge of front-end programming languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Other important traits include the ability to troubleshoot and resolve computer bugs and any other issue that affects back-end performance, top-notch communication skills because developers interact frequently with technical and non-technical colleagues and customers, curiosity and analytical ability in order to learn about new technologies and tools and assess their pros and cons, the ability to work in a fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment, excellent organizational and time-management skills, flexibility, and a passion for software development and lifelong learning.