How to Become a PHP Developer

There is a large number of programming languages out there, with each one offering its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Today, we’re shining the spotlight on PHP, touching on topics like what PHP is, who uses it, and everything you need to know about becoming a PHP developer.

Let’s get started.

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Why and What Is PHP?

According to the PHP’s website: “PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.”

The server executes the PHP code, and then the client receives the generated HTML. It’s a relatively simple language for a newbie to learn. That simplicity doesn’t preclude an impressive number of advanced features that any experienced professional programmer will appreciate.

Fun fact: PHP used to stand for Personal Home Page, but that name ran the risk of pigeonholing the language, so it was changed. Sometimes, it’s all about the packaging!

79% of all websites whose server-side programming language is everyday knowledge use PHP. The language is everywhere, favored by popular sites such as Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Wikipedia, and Wordpress.

What Exactly Is a PHP Developer?

Quite simply, a PHP developer is a professional who develops applications, programs, and websites, using the dynamic scripting language called PHP. Sounds easy enough, right? Sometimes, PHP developers are referred to by more generic titles like “software developer” or “web developer.” However, PHP developers are just a specialized subset of the developer position.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a PHP Developer?

PHP developers stay rather busy thanks to the host of tasks they’re expected to tackle. These include, although certainly not limited to:

  • Create, test and deploy new, innovative website applications in a timely and efficient manner, while concurrently working with other developers to meet data acquisition requirements
  • Identify and fix compatibility issues involving CSS, HTML, and scripting, often between a series of different platforms and browsers.
  • Test websites on all sorts of browsers (mobile, notebook, tablet), and address issues identified by customer feedback.
  • Research and explore various architectural considerations relating to the system design process, including web usability, the website’s performance, and database design. Explore and assess different alternatives for implementing new application features.
  • Communicate with and work alongside other development teams and company management to solve conflicts, establish priorities, select the best solutions, or develop criteria for new content.
  • Develop plans for keeping the website updated and current at all times, recommend improvements for performance, create and fine-tune style guidelines for the website’s content, and choose the most effective design tools, programming languages, and applications.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of website specifications such as product features, budget, programming languages, communication protocols, functionalities, structure, and deadlines.
  • Keep up with the latest programming practices and web technologies via reading, continuing education opportunities, and participating in relevant professional workshops, groups, and conferences.

These responsibilities may vary from business to business, depending on things like staff size. A small company may hire a PHP developer to handle anything programming related, while a larger organization may have a full IT/programming department.

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What Are the Crucial PHP Developer Skills?

For a good PHP developer to meet all of the expectations listed above, he or she must be able to draw from a robust set of appropriate skills. Here’s a list of the most needed expertise and talents:

  • PHP, of course, even if it’s just at the beginner level. It's a start.
  • Knowledge of Ajax, jQuery, and MySQL.
  • If you’re going to be a full-stack developer, then you need to know JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.
  • APIs, Unix/Linux, and MVC Framework Architecture.
  • Understanding CakePHP- an open-source web framework, and PHPUnit- a unit testing framework.
  • Photoshop or a similar design tool
  • Good communication skills
  • A knack for problem-solving
  • The ability to think critically

The last three listed skills go under the category of “soft skills,” ones that are more associated with personality traits, as opposed to “hard skills,” which are skills that can be quantified and taught. It is all just a fancy way of saying that certain personality types fare better at PHP development than others.

If you’re already a developer, but you’re looking to get into PHP, it would be smart to consider the upskilling option. Additional training and continuing education become a crucial part of your continued career success. This happens when you realize that one in four IT professionals worry that their skills may become obsolete. Additionally, you increase your value at your place of employment by upskilling with PHP. Of course, if your company fails to appreciate your newfound skills, then those new skills will help you to seek a new position elsewhere!

What about PHP Developer Compensation?

PHP developer jobs pay well and offer great opportunities for growth. According to Glassdoor, a PHP Developer salary in the US averages $93,987 annually, while a PHP Developer in India earns an average salary of Rs 279,320 per year, according to Payscale. According to the Glassdoor article, Junior PHP Developers (less experienced, just starting) can pull in an average of $74K annually, while a Senior PHP Developer commands a yearly average of $114K.

Bear in mind that these salaries can be higher or lower, depending on the company size, location, local demand, etc. 

What’s the Future for PHP?

According to this article, there were over 5,000,000 PHP developers worldwide in 2013, a figure which rose to 5,500,000 by September 2018. For comparison, it should be noted that the number of software developers worldwide, regardless of software development language knowledge, was 23,000,000 in 2018, and is expected to hit 26,400,000 by the end of 2019, and 27,700,000 by the end of 2023.

The U.S. Board of Labor Statistics forecasts a 15 percent boost in web development positions by the year 2026, and that increase includes PHP positions. Although questions have arisen over whether PHP is a dying language, PHP is used by almost 80% of the world’s websites and has a large community of devoted adherents. New languages may come and go, but PHP will always be around, especially if it continues to evolve alongside the more modern languages. For the record, PHP’s latest version is 7.3, released on December 2018, so yes, it continues to grow and keep up with the times. Not bad for a language that first appeared in 1995!

What Are the Steps to Becoming a PHP Developer?

If you’ve decided to become a PHP developer (or have wisely decided to upskill), then you need a spelled-out plan for success.

For starters, you should have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, especially something like computer science, software engineering, or programming. Bear in mind, and this degree isn’t mandatory; sometimes, verifiable work experience in one of the above fields will be taken into consideration instead.

Then, you should learn the PHP language itself, of course. There are many PHP learning resources online as well as classes offered by colleges, adult education programs, or online learning institutes. Bear in mind; there’s not just a single PHP course; there are Basic and Advanced courses to consider.

Next, you need to put what you learned into practice. The more you play around with PHP, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. Start small, creating something in pure code, then work your way to more involved programming as you get more familiar with the language.

Finally, aspiring PHP professionals should get certified, accomplished by taking a course and passing the certification exam. With that certification under your belt, you show future employers that you are well-versed in PHP programming.

If this all sounds involved and complicated, there’s a simple solution. Read on, and discover the best approach to PHP development mastery.

Want to Learn PHP the Right Way?

Simplilearn offers you a convenient, easy way to master the ins and outs of PHP. Their PHP Training Course for PHP Development Suite and the Advanced PHP Development Training will teach you how to make dynamic web applications using PHP. This certification is a comprehensive training course that teaches complete PHP and MySQL fundamentals, CodeIgniter, Laravel 4, and much more.

This corporate training solution provides a blended learning delivery model, an Enterprise-grade Learning Management System, 24x7 learner assistance and support. And of course, certification in the form of a completion certificate once you satisfy the requirements.

If you want a more comprehensive, in-depth experience, you should also look into Simplilearn’s Complete Web Development Certification Course. You will master full-stack web development in an all-inclusive training program that includes a complete introduction to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, Python-Django, and of course, PHP!

Through 37 different web development courses, you will acquire all of the necessary tools of web development, culminating in certification, once you’ve completed the requirements.

No matter which path you choose, Simplilearn will help train and equip you to meet the new challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-growing digital world.

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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