remote job consultationWe are offering free consultations on how to lead & manage remote teams during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More

Backend Engineer vs. Backend Developer: Are They Different?

backend engineer vs backend developer

In software teams, it often happens that the team’s different roles are interconnected, and therefore it’s easy to mix them up. You might think that a backend engineer has the same roles and responsibilities as a backend developer. After all, they are part of a software team with the same project. They might even end up doing similar tasks, especially in software development Agile teams where members take cross-functional responsibilities to successfully achieve their goals.

However, the truth be told, a backend engineer is not the same as a backend developer. They do have different responsibilities and skills that, despite having similarities, also define what they bring to the table when developing software. This article will explore each role, analyzing its main characteristics.

What is a Backend Engineer?

A backend engineer is responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the server-side of web applications. In other words, a backend engineer’s primary responsibility is to build the structure of a software application.

They set the software team’s foundations of what they need to do to achieve the main goals. This means that one of the primary functions of a backend engineer in a software development team is to write business logic, server scripts, and APIs that will later be used by the other developers and members of the team.

The day-to-day of a backend engineer consists of optimizing servers for speed and stability, ensuring the structure is secure and generating reusable code libraries and data storage solutions.

Backend engineers are also in charge of:

  • Optimizing servers for speed and stability.
  • Building security structure.
  • Generating reusable code libraries.
  • Creating data storage solutions.

What Does a Backend Engineer Do?

Backend engineers have a set of skills that are necessary to perform their jobs efficiently. As stated above, they are the ones who set the path to the software team.

In simpler terms, think of a backend engineer as the chef of a restaurant. A chef knows exactly how to make the perfect recipes to impress their fancy guests. But besides making the recipe, they are responsible for making a list with the necessary ingredients and delegating specific tasks. A backend engineer does the same thing.

Backend Engineer Skills

  • Proficiency in PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, .NET, JavaScript.
  • Knowledge of Java, HTML5, and CSS3.
  • Server-side experience with SASS and Less.
  • Understanding of accessibility and server compliance.
  • Solid OOP and software design knowledge.
  • Knowledge in database systems.

Backend Engineer Responsibilities

Besides the tasks explained above, a backend engineer also has these responsibilities:

  • Regularly inspect server code for speed optimization.
  • Conceptualize and implement solutions for data storage.
  • Improve the quality of the team’s code through writing unit tests and automation.
  • Collaborate and work closely with the product and design team to understand better the end-user requirements.
  • Configure the backend usability of all front side application.
Want the best international tech talent

What is a Backend Developer?

A backend developer is responsible for writing the web services and APIs used by front-end developers and mobile app developers. They oversee the server-side web application logic as well as the integration of the front-end part.

Besides being in charge of the server-side logic, their primary focus is to define and maintain the central database, making sure that it has high performance and responsiveness to requests from the front-end.  

What Does a Backend Developer Do?

Retaking the chef’s example, while the backend engineer has the role of the chef, the backend developer would be the sous-chef. He/she understands what must be done to create the perfect dish and knows how to execute it. The backend developer understands the structure built by the backend engineer and focuses on features or tasks to make the development of the software possible.

 Backend Developer Skills

  • Understanding of JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, NodeJS, ES2015+, and jQuery.
  • Integration of data sources and databases into a single system.
  • User authentication and authorization between multiple systems and servers.
  • Expertise in JS, ReactJS, VueJS, AngularJS, and jQuery.
  • Write clean and maintainable code.
  • Understanding cross-platform functionality and compatibility of applications.

Backend Developer Responsibilities

  • Troubleshoot and debug applications.
  • Conduct UI tests and optimize performance.
  • Participate in the application lifecycle.
  • Develop sustainable web applications with clean codes.
  • Provide training and support to other team members.

Backend Engineer vs Backend Developer: Main Differences

The backend engineer vs. backend developer discussion takes place because they have similar tasks and responsibilities, as seen above. However, the main difference relies on the fact that a backend engineer is mainly responsible for communicating with the company’s leaders to understand the end-user necessities. This helps them have a more comprehensive panorama into what the application’s development should be and should look like.

On the other hand, a backend developer is mostly responsible for executing the backend engineer’s plans. They have single tasks, and features that combined made the development of software applications possible.

In other words, developers are not responsible for designing the entire development system, while engineers are. Backend engineers have to demonstrate that the design and methods they’ve made for the project are viable. 

Looking to Hire a Remote Backend Engineer or Developer? 

This article was a small guide to differentiate the main differences between a backend engineer and a backend developer. 

If you are looking for someone who traces a plan that makes your business application possible, you likely need the help of a backend engineer. But if you need someone to be part of your development team and takes care of important tasks for the development or maintenance of your app, a backend developer is the role you are looking for.

If you need help headhunting and recruiting IT talent, you’ve come to the right place! At DistantJob, we’ve been successfully helping companies hire talented remote techies ready to help them achieve their projects and goals. Whether you need a software engineer or a backend developer, we got it covered. Contact us!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

or... Subscribe to our newsletter and get exclusive content and bloopers

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina is the writer and editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelancer, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.