Whether you’re new to coding or looking for a new addition to your tech stack, PHP is a great choice. Not only is it one of the most popular programming languages among developers — ranking 10th in Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey — but it’s also in high demand in the industry. Reports show that 77.5% of websites use PHP in their server-side code.
Need more convincing? Ahead, we’ll take a closer look at PHP and what it’s used for. Then, we’ll show you how to build your skills and launch your career as a PHP Developer.
What is PHP?
PHP is a general-purpose programming language that was designed mainly for web development. When it was released in 1994, its name stood for “Personal Home Page,” but it now stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.”
PHP code is usually processed on a web server like Apache using a PHP interpreter that has been implemented as a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) executable, a daemon, or module. The most common implementation is a module in Apache or Nginx web server.
PHP began as a set of CGI scripts written in C that made it easier to handle web forms and communicate with databases. In 1994, web development was just beginning, and there wasn’t much that was “easy” about it. PHP was one of the first languages created specifically to simplify web development.
By 1998, version 3 of PHP was released to the public, and the most recent release was version 8.1 in 2021. Today, PHP has everything you would expect in a modern programming language, including object-oriented features, a vast selection of third-party libraries, and cross-platform support.
What is PHP used for?
Before you decide on whether you should learn PHP, it helps to know what it’s used for. Here are a few of the types of applications where PHP is used:
Custom website development
Many Web Developers who use other programming languages started with PHP because it’s available on just about any web hosting provider with no extra configuration, even on shared hosting. This means you can start coding a PHP website right away.
And you don’t even need to use a framework — especially if you’re creating a lightweight site and don’t need any of the features that a framework can add. To build a website with PHP, all you need is PHP.
Website development with PHP frameworks
Still, PHP frameworks are useful when you do want those additional features. A PHP web development framework provides libraries for commonly used functionality, like routing, authentication, and authorization.
Frameworks cut down on the amount of code it takes to build a website from scratch and can speed up and standardize the development process. Some popular PHP web development frameworks include Laravel, Symfony, Zend, Slim, and Phalcon.
Website development with a PHP-based platform
Many companies use a pre-built platform like WordPress or Magento for their website, and guess what? These two platforms and many others are written in PHP. Developers on these platforms customize them by building plugins and themes that interact with their APIs.
Getting a PHP Developer job
As you can see, PHP Developers can take their career in many directions because PHP has been used for just about every type of web development project you can think of. Now that you understand the language’s background and utility, here’s a breakdown of the path toward becoming a PHP Developer.
Build your PHP skills
The first step toward becoming a PHP Developer is building the skills you’ll need for the job — and we’ll show you how in our Learn PHP course, which covers the fundamentals of programming and the language’s syntax.
After you’ve gotten a handle on the basics, you can put your skills to the test by building projects. Projects allow you to utilize the knowledge you gained from your courses, honing your problem-solving ability and teaching you how to think like a programmer. Here’s a list of 10 PHP coding challenges to help you get started.
Create a resume
Once your skills are up to par, the next step is to showcase them in a resume. Your resume will serve as your first impression to recruiters and hiring managers when you’re applying to jobs, so you’ll want to ensure it illustrates why you’re the best person for the role.
We’ve put together a guide on how to create a technical resume, but in short, you’ll want to include:
- Your contact details
- Your work experience
- Your technical skills
- Projects you’ve worked on
- Any other details related to the job you want
When you’re applying to jobs, consider tailoring your resume for every position you apply for. Many companies rely on software that looks for relevant keywords to rank potential candidates, so you’ll want to ensure your resume aligns with the job posting as much as possible. Read our article on how to read a tech job description to learn more.
Create a portfolio
Along with your resume, you’ll also need a web developer portfolio. Keywords can only go so far, and while your resume contains details about your skills and experience, your portfolio will allow recruiters to see your skills in action.
They can also share it with the other people involved in the hiring process, like the development team who might want to test and review the source code of your projects. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a strong portfolio is one of the best ways to show the full extent of what you can do.
Create a personal brand
Networking can open the door to many opportunities, and creating a personal brand can help you connect with other PHP Developers and professionals in the industry. It’ll also help illustrate your passion and enthusiasm for your work, which goes a long way with potential employers. And it doesn’t have to require much effort. Building a personal brand can be easier than you’d expect.
Consider creating profiles on all of your favorite social platforms, like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. Dedicate them entirely to your coding journey — share tips and insights, your PHP repos and projects, and helpful blog posts.
You’ll also want to create a LinkedIn profile, because recruiters often turn to the platform to find candidates for programming jobs. Including terms like “PHP Developer” and links to your PHP projects will help ensure you show up in their search. Plus, you can ask your peers and other developers you worked with to endorse your skills on LinkedIn.
Lastly, you’ll also want to have a GitHub account and include links to it on your other profiles. Using GitHub shows recruiters that you know how to read and write code, collaborate with others, and use Git — a version control system used by developers around the world.
Apply for a PHP job
If you have a strong LinkedIn profile and you already have professional experience, you may not even have to look for a job. Recruiters could find you and contact you before you even start searching. If not, there are always openings for PHP development jobs. You just have to find them.
The first place you can start your search is on LinkedIn. Connect with recruiters who handle PHP development jobs and search for job listings. You can also try searching for “PHP Developer” on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor.
Ace the interview
The next step toward your first job as a PHP Developer is the interview process. A PHP Developer interview might include multiple phases that test different areas of your skill set and expertise, and you’ll want to be prepared if you want to stand out from other candidates.
You may face questions that test your technical knowledge, whether about the web development process or the language itself. Here are a couple of links that will help you prepare:
You may also face a technical interview, in which you’ll be asked to solve a coding problem to showcase your programming and problem-solving skills.
Many developers find technical interviews to be the most challenging part of the interview process, but it helps to know that you don’t always have to have the right answer. Your interviewer is more interested in the thought-process behind your solution, which is why explaining your approach during technical interviews is essential. Check out our breakdown of the tech industry interview process to learn more.
Learn more about PHP
PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages in web development. As a PHP Developer, you could build custom websites from scratch, use a framework like Laravel to build large web apps, or create plugins and themes for one of the many CMS and eCommerce platforms that use PHP. There’s no shortage of work for PHP Developers, and your skills will always be in demand.
To get started today, try our Learn PHP course. Then, continue building your skills with PHP projects and use them to build a portfolio. If you need help with your interviews, you can find helpful tips and resources on our Interview Prep page. And for more information on how to land a job in tech, check out our Career Center.