Despite being around for almost three decades, PHP is still one of the most popular server-side development languages in the UK and throughout the world. According to W3Techs, PHP powers over three-quarters of all websites on the planet.
If you’re fresh out of school or college and you have a knack for programming and problem-solving, you may find a career in software development extremely rewarding. But, does it make sense to become a PHP Developer?
Let’s take an in-depth look at what skills and qualifications you might need to become a PHP Developer. And let’s also gain some insight into what you’d be doing on a day-to-day basis as a fully-fledged Junior PHP Developer.
Skills, Qualifications, and Past Experience Required to Become a PHP Developer
Most people that have just left school or college won’t have had much or even any commercial PHP development work experience. Even considering that, it’s still possible to get junior and trainee PHP Developer jobs.
Employers look favourably on candidates who have experimented with PHP in their spare time as a hobby. Furthermore, having an online portfolio which demonstrates their personal project code would help them succeed at interviews. Hiring managers also prefer candidates who have experience in HTML and CSS coding.
When it comes to qualifications, some employers don’t mind if people applying for junior or trainee roles haven’t got a Computer Science degree. It’s possible to get certified in online courses such as one of CompTIA’s ‘core’ certifications.
It also helps if you’ve had some experience of working with databases such as MySQL or Microsoft SQL. Again, that could be through dabbling on projects at home, or it could be through work experience.
A Day in the Life of a PHP Developer
So far, you know about the kinds of skills and qualifications that employers like to see in people that wish to forge a career in PHP Development. But, what does a PHP Developer do on a typical day at work?
Let’s introduce Mike. He’s not long finished his college education and has a Level 2 First Extended Certificate in IT. Part of his coursework involved doing some web development work, and he’s had a lot of exposure to coding in PHP, HTML, and CSS.
Mike has now got a job with a leading digital agency as a Junior PHP Developer, and primarily works on projects with Front-End Developers. Here’s what Mike has to say about his first full-time exposure to PHP Development work:
An Average day as a Junior PHP Developer
A typical “day at the office” is usually 9 am to 5 pm. Mike usually finds himself at his desk for around 8:30 to catch up on his emails, set up his workstation, and brew a hot beverage for himself and his teammates.
Just after 9:00, Mike has a quick daily catch-up meeting with everyone involved in his current project. Everyone discusses where they’re at in the project and anything that they are finding challenging.
One of the great things about Mike’s team is they all pitch in to help each other out with any problems. Mike will happily confirm that no two days are the same at work, and he learns something new virtually every day!
Apart from his lunch break and a few five-minute breaks away from his screen, Mike spends most of the time creating PHP code for his section of the group’s project. As a junior, he works closely with Steve, the Senior PHP Developer who also acts as his mentor.
When Mike isn’t working on any projects, Steve teaches him about PHP frameworks such as CodeIgniter, Zend, and Laravel. Mike also learns more about MySQL database console commands and how to use them within PHP.
Sometimes, especially when a deadline is looming, Mike might find himself working until around 6 pm. If he has to work late, his employer lets him have time off in lieu or do some of his work at home from his company-supplied laptop.
What Mike likes the most
At first, Mike wasn’t too sure what life would be like in his first full-time job. But, he adjusted well to his new environment and has already made some great friends in his team. They often go to lunch together and sometimes meet socially for an evening out in town.
Another thing Mike enjoys is how he can put into practice the skills he’s learnt at college. Plus, all the projects Mike works on are never the same. One month he could be working on an e-commerce site, and another he could be creating a database-driven web app.
What Mike doesn’t like that much
Mike never realised how commonplace it is for people to work long hours sometimes, especially when there are looming deadlines. That can sometimes affect what he can do socially in an evening.
And lastly, Mike sometimes feels there is a lot of pressure on him to complete his work to a particular schedule. Still, his colleagues are great, and his boss (Steve, the senior PHP developer) will help him out if he feels out of his depth in certain aspects of his work.
What can Mike hope to Achieve in his Future Career?
At the moment Mike is a junior PHP Developer. When he’s had a few years of experience in this role, he hopes to progress to a more senior role. Doing so will mean more responsibilities, but he’ll also get rewarded more financially.
In the long-term future, Mike would like to diversify into other programming languages such as Java and get involved in mobile app development.
To find out where your future might lead as a PHP Developer, check out our latest jobs.