How to hire top back-end REST API developers
Whether your goal is to set up the basic back-end APIs needed for any app to function or to build the public APIs that will let you plug into the lucrative API economy, back-end REST API developers are here to help.
So how do you hire back-end REST API developers? What follows are some tips for finding top back-end REST API developers on Upwork.
How to shortlist back-end REST API professionals
As you’re browsing available back-end REST API consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the professionals you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Technology fit. You want a back-end REST API developer who understands the back-end technologies behind your API project.
- Project experience. Screen candidate profiles for specific skills and experience (e.g., writing APIs for an ASP.NET back end).
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular back-end REST API developer.
How to write an effective back-end REST API job post
With a clear picture of your ideal back-end REST API developer in mind, it’s time to write that job post. Although you don’t need a full job description as you would when hiring an employee, aim to provide enough detail for a contractor to know if they’re the right fit for the project.
Job post title
Create a simple title that describes exactly what you’re looking for. The idea is to target the keywords that your ideal candidate is likely to type into a job search bar to find your project. Here are some sample back-end REST API job post titles:
- Back-end REST API developer needed with Node.js expertise
- API integration for an ecommerce website
- Back-end REST API development help with a fintech app
Back-end REST API project description
An effective back-end REST API job post should include:
- Scope of work: From third-party integrations to public APIs, list all the deliverables you’ll need.
- Project length: Your job post should indicate whether this is a smaller or larger project.
- Background: If you prefer experience with certain technologies or developer tools, mention this here.
- Budget: Set a budget and note your preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.
Back-end REST API developer job responsibilities
Here are some examples of back-end REST API developer job responsibilities:
- Write APIs that integrate front-end features with back-end resources and business logic
- Implement integrations with third-party APIs
- Design, implement, and maintain data storage solutions
- Test and validate API implementations
Back-end REST API developer requirements and qualifications
Be sure to include any requirements and qualifications you’re looking for in back-end REST API developers, such as:
- Back-end REST API
- Web development
- Back-end development
- Desired technology stack
Back-End REST API Developers FAQ
What is back-end REST API development?
Every app has a front end and a back end. In order for these two halves to communicate with one another, there needs to be a standardized API (application programming interface) for sending and receiving data. REST (Representational State Transfer) is an architectural style for creating these standardized APIs. APIs can be used to link a client to its back end or the server side of a third-party app.
How much does it cost to hire a back-end REST API developer?
The first step to determining the cost to hire a back-end REST API developer will be to define your needs. Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions.
Cost factor #1: project scope
The first variable to consider when determining scope is the nature of the work that needs to be completed. Not all back-end REST API projects are created equally. Pulling data from your social media accounts through a publicly available API will take less time than building your own custom analytics API.
Tip: The more accurately your job description describes the scope of your project, the easier it will be for talent to give you accurate cost estimates and proposals.
Cost factor #2: back-end REST API developer experience
Choosing the right level of expertise for the job is closely tied to how well you determined the scope of your project. You wouldn’t need an advanced developer to write basic APIs to link your single-page app (SPA) with its back end. On the other hand, creating a public API for your SaaS (software as a service) app from which your customers will be able to programmatically extract data for their own services will require a seasoned developer who can ensure the security of your application.
Beyond experience level, you need to consider the type of experience the talent possesses. The following table breaks down the rates of the typical types of back-end API developers you can find on Upwork.
Rates charged by back-end REST API developers on Upwork
|Level of Experience||Description||Hourly Rate|
|Beginner||Entry-level expertise in back-end fundamentals: database solutions (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB), web servers (e.g., nginx, J2EE, Node.js), cloud solutions (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google Cloud), server-side languages (e.g., Java, Python, PHP), and RESTful API development.||$30-50+|
|Intermediate||Beyond fundamentals, specialization in industry-specific API use cases (e.g., Shopify API for ecommerce).||$60-90+|
|Expert||Full-stack development expertise (front end and back end). Experience leading teams of developers to carry a product through the SDLC (software development lifecycle). Capable of writing secure, enterprise-level public APIs for commercial products.||$100-120+|
Cost factor #3: location
Location is another variable that can impact a back-end REST API developer’s cost. It’s no secret that you can leverage differences in purchasing power between countries to gain savings on talent. But it’s also important to factor in hidden costs such as language barriers, time zones, and the logistics of managing a remote team. The real advantage to sourcing talent remotely on Upwork is the ability to scan a global talent pool for the best possible person for the job. Location is no longer an obstacle.
Cost factor #4: independent contractor vs. agency
The final variable regarding talent cost is hiring an independent contractor vs. an agency. An agency is often a “one size fits all” model, so you’ll often have access to a designer, a project manager, an engineer, and more. When hiring individuals you have total autonomy regarding who is responsible for which part of the project, but you’ll need to source each of those skills separately.
The trade-off between hiring individuals vs. hiring an agency is the level of administrative overhead you incur personally in coordinating tasks among all members of the team. Project scope and personal preference will determine which style is a better fit for your needs.
Common back-end REST API developer mistakes
Unencrypted APIs: You should always use some form of encryption for your APIs. At a minimum, SSL or TLS should be used to encrypt any data flowing through your APIs. Insecure APIs are a common access point for data breaches. People often liken APIs to gateways, but they are more like tunnels that ensure information can travel only between two points. Failing to use encryption would be like leaving the maintenance access door to your tunnel unlocked, allowing a malicious third party access to your traffic or to go somewhere the public is not supposed to be able to reach.
Nondescript error codes: It can be tempting when writing lots of APIs to return the generic 400 Bad Request error code. But as is often the case in life, taking shortcuts and cutting corners can lead to headaches further down the line. Poorly scripted API error messages are a recipe for increased support tickets and rising blood pressure for the poor developer who has to address them. And for customer-facing APIs, it can lead to bad press and poor user reviews.
Oftentimes, simply taking the extra step to use the appropriate standard HTTP status code is enough to direct most developers to the source of the issue. 401 means the failure was caused by an authentication error, while 403 means the request was understood but the user didn’t have the right permissions. For cases where the standard error codes aren’t enough, however, it can be helpful to include a simple message or a link to a help page for more information on your site.
Not versioning REST APIs: The digital world is constantly changing. You need to make sure that your APIs remain up to date with the latest security and performance best practices, and sometimes that means making app-breaking changes on the back end. That’s why it’s important to practice versioning early on, especially if this is for a customer-facing API. This will allow you to take advantage of new data technologies and improving services while still providing service to slow adopters within your customer base. You can implement versioning in the request header or the endpoint URI.
Tips and best practices
Use nouns instead of verbs when naming API endpoints
REST takes a resource-based approach to API development. The actions you can perform are strictly defined by HTTP methods such as GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE. Since actions on resources in HTTP are verbs, it makes more semantic sense to name your endpoints as nouns. So instead of calling GET /addUser123, calling GET /users/123 is preferred. The latter naming is better because anyone looking at your code can immediately tell that 123 is likely an ID for a single user from a collection of users.
Save resources by filtering your queries
Speaking of resource collections, they can get pretty huge. Sites can have thousands of users, so how can we make our API calls more efficient? The answer is to make more-specific queries. You don’t need to pull the entire list every time the front end of your app needs a certain resource. You can use filtering, sorting, and paging to narrow down the number of results being pulled in an API request.
- Filtering lets you narrow query results by named parameters such as price or country.
- Sorting lets you pull results in ascending or descending order by a selected parameter such as date.
- Paging lets you place a limit on the number of results being pulled per view.
Document your APIs
At the end of the day, whether your API is for internal use or in a customer-facing product, it’s important for others to be able to read and understand how to use it. API documentation is a skill in and of itself. Documentation should be well written and easy to navigate. It should clearly tell developers what they can and cannot do with your API, what specific commands they are able to make, and the preferred data format they should use.