Where to Start Learning Back-End Development from Scratch?

So, you’re keen to add back-end development to your resume’s hard skills section. And it’s not just that. You’re curious about what makes servers tick, and you’re ready to gain the necessary skills on your own.

But you’ve done even the tiniest bit of research, you’re probably overwhelmed by how many learning resources you have at your fingertips. Which ones will actually teach you something? Which ones are the best suited for beginners? And what should you start with, even?

Take a deep breath. There’s no need to stress out anymore: your friendly neighborhood academic paper writers at Essaypro.com have compiled this mini-guide to help people like you. It’ll cover the best beginner-friendly resources out there, what you should focus on learning first and how to do it in the most efficient way possible.

First Things First: Here’s Your Roadmap

Back-end development as a field is massive. That’s because servers can be running on any of a dozen programming languages, from Python and Java to C# and PHP. That’s not to mention the hosting and database management, server-side security, version control, and many other skills!

So, where should I start?” Here’s a bare minimum of skills that you can use as your roadmap:

  • Server-side programming language. Your options are plentiful: Python, PHP, Java, C#, C++, JavaScript, etc. It’s best to try all of them and pick the one that seems to be the most compelling for you.
  • Hosting management. You’ll need to master cPanel or bash terminal for this purpose.
  • Version control systems. Git is the de-facto standard tool for version controlling and making backups, so you’ll want to know your way around it.
  • Database management. To add this skill to your resume, you’ll have to learn the basics of SQL and NoSQL.

Do I need to learn front-end web development first?” No, that’s not necessary at all. Knowing any front-end technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) isn’t a prerequisite for gaining back-end development skills.

Part 1. Online Platforms

There are entire websites created for people like you – people who want to learn back-end development on their own. They combine theory with exercises in on-website code editors. Plus, they’re free to use!

W3Schools

This website is by far the most complete one when it comes to web development tutorials, be it for back-end or front-end technologies. The tutorials themselves are among the most comprehensive ones out there, too.

You can learn any of these most popular server-side programming languages on W3Schools: Python, Java, C#, C++, PHP. There are also tutorials on SQL and NoSQL, Git, AWS Cloud, Node.js, and so, so much more.

freeCodeCamp

This platform offers a 300-hour course on back-end development and APIs. Over its course, you’ll learn how to use Node.js, a JavaScript runtime environment, and MongoDB, a NoSQL database program.

The learning itself is built on challenges (i.e. coding practice) and is fairly fun, especially compared to W3Schools. And, as a cherry on the top, you can get a free certification after you complete five projects!

Codecademy

Out of 12 programming languages available on Codecademy, six of them are server-side ones: Python, Java, C#, PHP, C++, and JavaScript. Plus, there are plenty of beginner-friendly lessons on SQL and automating workflows, too.

Most basic lessons are free of charge, but as you venture further into learning this or that language, they become paid. And if you like Codecademy’s teaching style, the platform also has a paid back-end developer career path. (But there are student discounts available!)

Part 2. Online Courses

Next up, there are online courses. Apart from being affordable enough (and sometimes free, too), they have another significant perk: you get to study in a global online community and get help from experts!

Coursera

Coursera is now synonymous with MOOCs, massive open online courses. Most of its courses are free of charge (unless you need certification at the end of the course, though).

Here are four top back-end development courses hosted on Coursera:

  • Server-side Development with NodeJS, Express, and MongoDB (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology);
  • Crash Course on Python (Google);
  • Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL) (University of Michigan);
  • Developing Cloud Apps with Node.js and React (IBM).

Udemy

Yes, you won’t find a lot of free courses on Udemy. But don’t be too quick to skip this section because of that. You can find some of the most comprehensive courses on this platform – and they’ll be entirely worth your buck. Here are just six of them:

  1. Complete back end development with NodeJS with projects by Igneus Technologies;
  2. Java Programming Masterclass for Software Developers by Tim Buchalka;
  3. The Self-Taught Programmer: The Definitive Guide to Programming Professionally (Python) by Cory Althoff;
  4. The Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp: Go From SQL Beginner to Expert by Colt Steele and Ian Schoonover;
  5. PHP for Beginners – Become a PHP Master – CMS Project by Edwin Diaz;
  6. Git Complete: The Definitive, Step-by-step Guide to Git by Jason Taylor.

edX

This MOOC platform is the brainchild of two major universities – MIT and Harvard. That’s why the courses it hosts are on par with what the top universities have to offer. And yes, they are free to take! (You’ll have to pay for certification, though.)

Here are four courses you should check out on edX:

  1. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) (University of Michigan)
  2. CS50’s Web Programming with Python and JavaScript (Harvard University);
  3. Introduction to Node.js (Linux Foundation);
  4. Introduction to Database Queries (NYU).

Part 3. YouTube Channels

If you’re more into video tutorials, look no further than YouTube. It’s home to hundreds of awesome channels where experts share their tutorials for back-end development beginners. Here are just four channels that are worth hitting that subscribe button:

  1. Programming with Mosh. Mosh Hamedani has built his career in training professional software engineers. On his YouTube channel, he shares hour-long tutorials on MySQL, Python, Git, Node.js, and C#.
  2. Codecourse. This UK-based channel is full of detailed tutorials on many aspects of coding in PHP, from populating dropdowns to creating push notifications and building shopping carts. Plus, there are videos on Git, Node.js, and MySQL.
  3. Traversy Media. Created by Brad Traversy, a self-taught programmer, this channel deserves to be your go-to place for tutorials on Python, Node.js, PHP, MySQL, APIs. Brad knows how to make the most complicated concepts easy to understand!
  4. London App Brewery. This channel can transform you into a Python or Java coder in just a hundred days! How cool is that?

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Tjbk79TARiE

In Conclusion: How to Make the Most Out of It

Contrary to the popular belief, you don’t have to spend a small fortune to become a back-end developer. There’s nothing impossible about building the necessary skill set on your own. Just make sure to follow these three tips:

  • Find the best way to learn. Some people are at their most productive when they learn from YouTube tutorials. Others need to discuss their newly-acquired knowledge with other people to fully grasp it. Every person’s unique that way.
  • Make it a daily habit. It’s better to take baby steps every day than do a study marathon once a week. Why? You won’t risk getting rusty between the study sessions, for one. Plus, you’re likely to build your skillset faster this way.
  • Practice makes perfect. You can’t become a developer of any kind without getting your hands dirty first. So, strive to open the code editor and write at least a couple of lines of code every day, too. In other words, make it your priority to learn by doing.