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How to Become a PHP Developer

There are multiple pathways available to somebody trying to pursue a career in PHP web development or database development. There are higher education options, both online and on campus, that will help equip you with important skills like communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other soft skills.

Then there are the software engineering bootcamps, programs, and courses that will help equip you with the technical skills and basic knowledge required to perform tasks related to PHP development, such as programming languages, object-oriented programming, the MVC framework, and other full stack developer skills.

In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know about how to become a PHP developer, including how you can find the right education for you and what a job in this field is like.

What Is a PHP Developer?

A PHP developer is a software developer with the technical skills to perform server-side, as opposed to client-side, web development in the PHP language. PHP is a popular server-side scripting language that a web development team uses to create dynamic content for the web.

PHP Developer Job Description

PHP web developers perform tasks that are directly linked to computer programming, usually as part of a broader development project. The work of a senior PHP developer is geared towards the creation and maintenance of websites. This incorporates testing, interface layout, functions, navigation, and usability.

A professional PHP developer spends most of their professional life working on popular content management systems (CMS) like MediaWiki, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Moodle, eZ Publish, eZ Platform, and SilverStripe.

PHP Developer Salary and Job Outlook

According to the job search platform Glassdoor, the average salary of a PHP Developer is $79,556 per year. If you are a professional PHP developer working at the lower end of the industry, you could earn as little as $52,000 per year. If you are a senior PHP web developer working at the upper end of the industry, you could earn as much as $121,000 per year.

Your earning potential is often dictated by the company you work for and how much experience you have. Experienced developers who have been in the field for seven to nine years earn about $84,274 per year, again according to Glassdoor.

The job outlook for PHP developers is also quite promising. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t collect statistics for PHP developers, BLS projects that employment for all web developers and digital designers will increase by 13 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Top Reasons to Become a PHP Developer in 2021

PHP development is a broadly applicable skillset. Even if you do not end up working with web development, the skills you learn for PHP development can be applied throughout the tech industry. You can use them, for example, in computer and information systems management, computer programming, computer systems analysis, and software development.

Below are a few more reasons it’s worthwhile to become a PHP developer in 2021.

  • Opportunities for career growth. While you might start off as a PHP web developer, you can climb up the food chain by becoming a software engineer, Java developer, computer programmer, or information systems manager.
  • Great earning potential. The median salary of PHP professionals, especially if you are a well-rounded PHP developer, is more than enough to help you navigate the cost of living, whether you’re working in San Francisco or Omaha.
  • Low minimum education requirements. While you should always seek ways to learn new skills, your career pathway as a PHP developer can start after completing just a few courses and or a bootcamp program. A college degree and previous career experience aren’t necessarily required for a high-paying job role.
  • Chances for collaboration. The PHP community is very collaborative, which means that you will always have access to different ideas, whether you are a junior PHP developer or a more senior developer.

PHP Developer Job Requirements

Generally speaking, PHP web developers are expected to produce compelling evidence of software development experience. Beyond that, you will also be expected to demonstrate competence with some of the more technical aspects of the job, which demands a very unique skillset. There will be more on these skills a little later.

The point is that some of these skills can be acquired without extensive education. Below are the minimum skill requirements for most PHP jobs.

Types of PHP Developer Careers

There are three core career pathways for PHP professionals. They can become developers, designers, or systems managers.

Web Developer

The primary role of a web developer is to create, design, and maintain applications for the Internet. While PHP has a wide range of uses, its traditional functions are related to web development.

Graphic Designer

The primary role of a modern graphic designer is to create and maintain compelling visual concepts on a computer. If you learn Adobe Dreamweaver, you can take your PHP design skills to the next level.

Database Administrator

The primary role of a database administrator is to store and organize data using highly specialized software and web technologies. You can use PHP to create a database management system.

PHP Developer Meaning: What Does a PHP Developer Do?

The tasks of a PHP developer revolve around helping an organization or clients maintain a strong web presence. Besides that, these professionals have three essential job responsibilities.

Manages Web Processes

This means ensuring that the infrastructure that powers the web-based processes in your organization is running smoothly. This includes simple things like account registration and ecommerce applications.

Finds and Eliminates Scripting Errors

A scripting error is usually the result of bad code. Among the more common errors in PHP programming are warning errors, notice errors, parse errors, and fatal errors.

Creates Menu-Driven Systems

Among other things, menu-driven systems are created to display the elements and size of an array, delete an element from an array, reverse the order of each element, and traverse the elements in an array.

Essential PHP Developer Skills

The following range of skills is what’s most associated with PHP developers. You will seldom find a job listing that does not require a working knowledge of the three common skills below.


PHP is an open source, general-purpose scripting language that developers use in conjunction with a variety of useful web frameworks. To conduct tests, developers can avail themselves of several unit testing frameworks as well. The language can be used to access file transfer protocol (FTP) servers, database servers, and lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) servers.

JavaScript and jQuery

JavaScript is a high-level, just-in-time, multi-paradigm programming language. It is a core technology used for the World Wide Web, of which PHP development makes up a considerable part. Written in JavaScript, jQuery has been designed to simplify the HTML DOM, event handling, Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) animation, and AJAX.

Problem-Solving Skills

In addition to the required technical skills, PHP developers must also have excellent problem-solving skills. This allows them to discover errors in the PHP code and make sure the site continues to operate properly.

How Long Does It Take to Become a PHP Developer?

Becoming a competent PHP developer can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to several months, depending on the education track you pursue. If you choose to study full time, there are actually some bootcamp programs that can be completed in just four weeks.

However, if you cannot commit to full-time study, it should not take you much longer than three or four months to become a PHP developer. The critical detail is that it is possible to acquire the skills required for PHP development regardless of your circumstances.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a PHP Developer?

Yes, there are numerous PHP bootcamps available in person and online, many of which will equip you with the skills you need to compete with more educated PHP web developers. The key to succeeding in a bootcamp environment is a combination of focus, dedication, and a natural aptitude for numbers and sequences.

Can I Become a PHP Developer from Home?

Yes, several PHP courses and bootcamps can be completed from the comfort of your own living room. This is because many courses can be completed online at your own leisure. Some of these courses are even offered for free despite being taught by highly experienced industry experts.

How to Become a PHP Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

The following steps can help you achieve your PHP development goals. While this is not a one-size-fits-all process, it will give you the foundation you need to excel in the field.

Step 1: Do Some Research

Software development is a very broad field, offering up many opportunities to specialize. You need to find out what PHP actually is, what its technical and business applications are, and whether you will actually need this skill to excel in tech.

Step 2: Start Studying

Once you are satisfied that PHP is for you, start off with a few beginner courses that will help you learn the fundamentals of PHP development.

Step 3: Get Some Practical Experience

When you start seeking employment in this field, interviewers are going to be more interested in your skills than the degree on your resume. In many of your courses, there will be a number of practical activities, but it would also benefit you to get your hands dirty in the real world, either through internships or freelancing gigs.

Best Schools and Education for a PHP Developer Career

To become a PHP web developer, you could either pursue a traditional educational pathway or a more modern one. The following four options are worth your consideration.

PHP Developer Bootcamps

PHP is usually just one element of a broader web development bootcamp. Not all web development bootcamp programs cover PHP, so make sure to look for one that does.

Vocational School

Vocational schools cater to those who need training for specific careers. This can include basic PHP instruction in the form of computer technology or information science programs. Critically, these programs offer opportunities for you to get meaningful hands-on experience. While they don’t confer college degrees, they are more affordable than universities.

Community College

A PHP course at a community college is a minor component in an associate degree program. You can get an Associate Degree in Web Development, Computing, or a related field. Generally, programs like this will take you about two years to complete.

PHP Developer Degrees

There is no such thing as a PHP degree program. However, PHP development will feature as part of a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology. A program like this will take you about four years to complete.

The Most Important PHP Developer Certificates

The jury is out on whether you actually need some form of certification to excel at PHP development. While hands-on experience is more important, professional certification could get you noticed in a hiring scenario. The real question is which certificates and certifications are worth your while.

Certified PHP Engineer | Zend

The Zend PHP certification program will require you to sit for an exam. Passing that exam will demonstrate competence with PHP basics, functions, data formats and types, object-oriented programming, web features, input/output (I/O), security, databases, strings, patterns, arrays, and error handling. The exam fee is $195.

Certified PHP Developer | W3Schools

When you enroll in the W3Schools PHP course, which costs $95, you will need to devote yourself to about 20 hours of coursework. Your studies will cover subjects like generating dynamic page content, managing files and databases, controlling user access, and encrypting data. When you are done, you will earn a certificate of completion.

Building Web Applications in PHP | Coursera

Building Web Applications in PHP is a certificate program by Coursera and the University of Michigan. The coursework should take you about 31 hours to complete, during which time you will learn about dynamic web content, HTML, CSS, PHP installation, and SQL installation.

How to Prepare for Your PHP Developer Job Interview

While PHP development is a technical skill, a major component of your work will be problem-solving. When you sit for your first job interview, you need to be able to demonstrate that you are somebody who can solve problems.

You can only solve computing problems if you have a genuine grasp of the concepts. Most of your interview questions, therefore, will be geared towards assessing your knowledge of PHP.

PHP Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • What is PHP and why is it called a scripting language?
  • Why would you use PHP?
  • What is PEAR in PHP?
  • How do you increase the execution time of a PHP script?

Should I Become a PHP Developer in 2021?

Yes. As we have already established in this article, there are plenty of web development positions available for people with PHP skills, and employers are prepared to pay top dollar. Even if you don’t have any programming experience right now, it’s not too late to start training to become a PHP developer.


Can You Become a PHP Developer Without a Degree?
Yes. You can become a PHP web developer by completing a few online courses, joining a coding bootcamp, or even earning a technical diploma. Employers care more about what you can do than where you went to school.
Is It Hard to Become a PHP Developer?
Yes. While there are clear education pathways that lead to careers in PHP development, the field requires considerable technical aptitude. A background in mathematics, statistics, and science will certainly assist with your professional development, so you should take advantage of your STEM education if you have it.
What Is PHP Programming?
Yes. While there are clear education pathways that lead to careers in PHP development, the field requires considerable technical aptitude. A background in mathematics, statistics, and science will certainly assist with your professional development, so you should take advantage of your STEM education if you have it.
What Are PHP Frameworks?
A PHP framework is a platform on which you will develop your PHP web applications. Examples include Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Zend, CakePHP, and Fat-Free Framework.
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