Backend Engineer vs Developer: Comparing Skills, Roles & Responsibilities
Hiring & recruiting developers / Job Seekers

Backend Engineer vs. Backend Developer: Skills, Roles, and Responsibilities

Gabriela Molina
Journalist, Director of Content at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

In software teams, especially in software development Agile teams, the team’s different roles are often 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.

But that’s not the case. A back-end engineer is focused on the structure, stability, and performance of a back-end system, while the back-end developer is responsible for coding the algorithms and features that make it work.

This article, put together with our Recruitment Director Ihor Shcherbinin, will explore each role, analyzing their main characteristics and the differences between a backend engineer vs. a backend developer.

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, ensuring its high performance and responsiveness to requests from the front end.  

What Does A Back-end Developer Do?

While the back-end engineer has the role of the chef, the back-end 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 back-end 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.

Back-end Developer Salary

What is the hiring cost of backend developers? Here are some average Back-end developer salaries around the world, based on values sourced from and Glassdoor:

CountrySalary per yearSalary per monthSalary per hour

How different is the backend developer vs. software engineer salary? From our research, when comparing a software engineer vs. a backend developer in terms of salary, they will earn comparable values.

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 for achieving 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 team members.

Backend engineering 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 structures.
  • Generating reusable code libraries.
  • Creating data storage solutions.

What Does a Back-end Engineer Do?

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

They oversee building a software application’s structure. Backend engineers spend time writing server scripts and APIs that front-end engineers and UX designers will later use. 

Backend engineers work on the server components of multi-tier web applications, focusing on web services and data stores. They may also be involved with business rule implementation logic. 

Backend Engineer Skills

  • Proficiency in PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, .NET, and 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 programming languages

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 applications.

Back-end Engineer Salary

What is the hiring cost of backend engineers? Here are some average Back-end developer salaries around the world, based on values sourced from and Glassdoor:

CountrySalary per yearSalary per monthSalary per hour

Back-end Engineer vs. Back-end Developer: Main Differences

Is the back-end developer an engineer? 

The back-end engineer vs. back-end developer discussion takes place because they have similar tasks and responsibilities. Let’s dispel those doubts. Here are the main differences between back-end developers vs. back-end engineers:

1. Project Perspective

This is the main factor that distinguishes these two jobs:

Back-end engineers will usually concern themselves with the macro of a project: how it’s structured and designed. They will have an understanding of the project’s overview at all times but will only understand individual features as much as they contribute to the whole, without going into much detail.

Back-end developers, on the other hand, are more concerned with the micro of a project: they are responsible for creating the many features a project needs to function and will need to understand and think about them at a deep level to do so.

2. Skills

To complete their respective jobs, engineers and developers need a different set of skills:

Back-end engineers will need strong notions of software design and architecture. They will also need the basics of software development so they can analyze at a glance if their designs are achievable and with which technologies.

Back-end developers are the ones actually executing the back-end features, so they will need to be highly knowledgeable of technical concepts and their execution. Programming expertise is essential.

3. Who They Answer To

Due to their different levels of project responsibility, these two jobs also answer to different people:

Back-end engineers mainly answer to both the company executives and the project owners. They will often mediate between the requirements put forth by the client and the development team.

Back-end developers will answer to both the back-end engineers and their own team. They must work as a team to carry out the design created by the engineers, so their work is up to the specifications of the project.

Looking to Hire a Backend Engineer or a Backend Developer Fast? Go Remote!

Hiring remotely gives you enormous benefits for these types of positions. The primary gain of remote recruitment is widening your talent pool. You can hire skilled back-end engineers or developers from anywhere in the world. 

Global engineering hiring not only gives you the chance to cut salary costs but also to explore geographical areas based on the expertise you need. Where can you find a backend developer or engineer to hire? 

Here are some of the most popular sites where you can find your next candidate:

  1. DistantJob: DistantJob is a top remote recruitment agency that can offer your company pre-vetted and rigorously assessed candidates ready to work for you. We can quickly select the top 5 remote experts who will fulfill your requirements and expectations, all while keeping in mind their company fit. If you want long-lasting developers that will enjoy working for you, then DistantJob is your best bet.
  2. Upwork: A freelance talent community where you can find people from a wide array of categories, including back-end developers and engineers.
  3. Toptal: A freelance talent community more geared to tech and project management.
  4. DevTeam.Space: Powered by an AI Agile process, DevTeam.Space is a community that features experts in back-end engineering and development and many other top technologies.
  5. Hired: Hired empowers job seekers by giving them a platform to host their profile. From there, companies can search through these candidates and find the best matches for their needs.

Find The Right Back-end Developer Or Engineer With DistantJob

Now that you know the differences between back-end developers and engineers, you can now make more informed decisions as to which type you should hire to bolster your team’s ranks.

If you need help headhunting and recruiting remote IT talent, you’ve come to the right place! At DistantJob, we’ve been successfully helping companies hire talented remote tech experts ready to help them achieve their projects and goals for over 15 years.

We have simple and efficient steps to help you hire the best back-end developer candidates for your company and boost your project:


1. What is Back-end Development?

When you interact with a website for any reason (say, clicking a button or filling out a form), that information goes to a place called the back-end. The back-end represents the server-side logic that powers websites and applications. It’s the behind-the-scenes part of all the actions we take in a site. 
Backend development primarily focuses on databases, scripting, backend logic, APIs, and website architecture. It is everything users can’t see but that powers everything that happens on a website.

2. What Are Backend Programming Languages?

Backend development can be executed using 2 different types of programming paradigms, each with its set of languages: 

Object-oriented Programming (OOP): This programming paradigm is based on the concept of classes and objects, which can contain data (in the form of fields) and code (in the form of procedures). Objects talk to one another and change their data to work in a way that the user wants. Some popular object-oriented backend languages are PHP, Python, Java, Ruby, C#, and C++.

Functional Programming: Functional programming consists of a paradigm where programs are constructed by applying and composing functions. Functions can be bound to names, passed as arguments, and returned as other functions. Some popular functional languages are Clojure, Wolfram, Racket, and Haskel.l

3. What Skills Are Required For Backend Programming?

The skills change depending on the job demands as backend development takes care of different aspects and parts. However, apart from the languages mentioned, there are other skills every backend expert needs to have:
* Deep understanding of deploying or hosting.
* Knowledge of version control (Git and GitHub).
* In-depth understanding of accessibility and security compliances.
* Ability to manage a hosting environment along with database administration.
* Understanding of scaling applications to handle the load changes that is a large amount of data traffic. 
* Knowledge of front-end technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) 
* In-depth understanding of algorithms and data structures. 

4. What Is The Difference Between Frontend And Backend Development?

Front-end development focuses on programming the visual elements of a website or app that a user will interact with (the user-facing).

Back-end development refers to the side of a website users can‘t usually see (the server-side of a website or application).

Though both are important to web development, they differ in their roles and responsibilities.

5. Which Language Is Best For Backend Development?

While it depends on the type of website or application you want to build, overall, the top 8 languages for backend development are JavaScript (Netflix), Python (Instagram), Ruby (GitHub), C# (Microsoft Visual Studio), PHP (WordPress), Java (Twitter), Perl (BBC), C++ (Photoshop).

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina, the Executive Editor at DistantJob and Director of Content at ThinkRemote, combines her experience as a former freelance journalist with deep insights into remote work, technology, and recruitment best practices. Her diverse journalistic background covers a wide array of topics, positioning her as a knowledgeable voice in the tech and remote work sectors. Featured on platforms like Datasciencentral and Simpleprogrammer, Gabriela's expertise extends to shaping narratives around remote workforce strategies, making her contributions to DistantJob invaluable for those navigating the remote tech hiring landscape

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