How to Become a PHP Developer in 2022
What is PHP?
PHP is a server side programming language primarily used to create websites and web applications. It is a scripting language used in tandem with HTML, making it simple for PHP developers to create dynamic web pages. It is open source and free to use.
PHP is one of the most widely used server-side programming languages for creating websites. It is the language of choice for Wikipedia, Facebook, WordPress, and more.
Is PHP still relevant today?
PHP has been around since 1995, which is a relatively long time for web technology. However, it has gone over many changes, making the version we use today almost indistinguishable from the early versions. Nonetheless, PHP is as popular as ever. It is a secure, performant, easy-to-use, and cost-efficient way to develop a website or web application.
Web development is a fast-moving discipline, and new languages will always come and go. PHP however, has been around for a long time and is as popular as ever. It is in active development and is constantly evolving to adapt to current needs.
What does a PHP developer do?
A PHP web developer is responsible for writing the web server code that supports the front end of a web application (although a full stack developer may also be a PHP developer). PHP developers develop code to connect to a database, call a third-party API, and other web services. They support the front-end developers by giving them a way to store data and interface with other server-side technologies.
In addition to coding, PHP developers can also enjoy other roles:
- Research existing packages to see if they can be leveraged instead of writing code from scratch.
- Database design and administration, particularly when related directly to the PHP application that’s under development.
- Automated testing of the PHP code using automated unit testing tools like PHPUnit.
- Web application performance analysis and optimizing an application for the best user experience.
Why should I become a PHP developer?
Being a scripting language, PHP doesn’t need to be processing or compiling before you can run it, and you don’t need any special software in order to use it. All you need is a code editor. Almost all cheap shared hosting packages already include PHP, so it’s easier and quicker than ever to get up and running.
Once you’ve learned PHP, there are many popular frameworks and applications built on top of it, such as Laravel and WordPress, that make building applications even faster and easier.
Top courses in PHP
What skills do I need to learn PHP?
In addition to the language itself, a good PHP developer needs several other skills in order to be a competent developer. For example:
- Knowledge of HTML. PHP is primarily used to generate HTML for viewing in a browser. Although the responsibility for rendering user interfaces could fall to front-end developers, often this can also be something the PHP developer deals with. So, knowing how a web interface gets developed in the browser is something most PHP developers are at least familiar with at a basic level.
- Web development frameworks. Developing in plain PHP is certainly possible, but in order to speed development, most PHP developers will be familiar with a web development framework. These frameworks help developers write code more quickly, resulting in more secure and more maintainable code.
- An understanding of databases. PHP and MySQL are frequently used together. While it’s not strictly required, a programmer should understand the basics of databases.
Here’s an example of how PHP can work with a very common use case: a contact form. In a contact form, you need to validate an email address to ensure it’s valid. There are several ways to do this in PHP, from simple validation of the format to interfacing with a third-party API to check if it actually exists.
How do I learn PHP?
You can pick up PHP rather quickly. It’s one of the easiest ways to learn software development. One of the best ways to learn it is to code with an instructor. With the PHP for Beginners course on Udemy, you’ll learn to create a simple content management system, all the time coding with the instructor.
It’s important to put what you learn into practice. As with most things, the more experience you get with something, the more comfortable you’ll be with it, and the better you’ll get as a PHP developer. PHP is so simple to start learning that you can begin coding anything you like. You could create a small personal project, then move on to more elaborate projects as your confidence increases.
There are also hundreds of thousands of open-source projects based on PHP, from one of the biggest, WordPress, to many popular projects in use worldwide. Check out the list of open-source repositories on GitHub that use PHP. With it, you can learn by example from experienced PHP developers all over the world. There are existing PHP web applications and packages for pretty much any application you can think of, many of these with clean, documented source code that you can get a lot from in terms of programming practices.
So start small, creating something in pure code, then work your way to more dynamic programming as you get more familiar with the language.
What job prospects will I have?
Working as a PHP developer can make you very sought after in the computer science job market. As PHP use is so widespread, PHP developers are in demand. There are a lot of opportunities for web developers with PHP skills. This only grows as you gain additional years of experience. In 2021, there were over 5,500,000 PHP developers worldwide.
In addition to permanent positions, there are also many opportunities available for freelance work. You only have to look at freelance sites like Upwork or Freelancer to see the myriad projects available. To ensure you’re fully prepped for these opportunities, review PHP Interview Questions.
There’s no better time to learn PHP. The PHP of today is a powerful but simple-to-use web development language that powers a significant proportion of the world’s websites. Becoming a PHP developer will give you the skills you need to develop performant web applications for whatever purpose you need.