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What Are PHP Developers?

PHP developers develop programs, applications, and web sites using the dynamic scripting language PHP. PHP is known for web development and business applications.

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Depending on job function, PHP developers may be classified as software developers or web developers. Because the language is so ubiquitous in web site development and business, PHP can be a good choice for self-employed or contract developers.

A PHP web developer may create user interfaces or work behind the scenes. The PHP language is frequently used in combination with SQL for databases. It is also used for basic website functions like accepting usernames and passwords and managing guest books. It can display photo or thumbnail galleries and various other types of dynamic content.

According to a 2012 Mashable article, PHP is one of the top languages for startups and small businesses.

A developer’s job duties can also include web site administration, software testing, and user training. Software developers sometimes create prototypes in PHP even when they will use another language later. An advantage of PHP is the speed with which development can take place; a disadvantage is that it is prone to security vulnerabilities.

According to a 2012 Mashable article, PHP is one of the top languages for startups and small businesses; the author cites the strong programming community as well as the potential for rapid prototyping. PHP is also noted as a top language for advertising and design.

Becoming a PHP Developer

Developers usually enter the field with a baccalaureate level education – the degree may be in information science, software engineering, computer science, or some other related field.

The requirements for a web developer are sometimes lower than for a software developer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an associate’s degree or even a high school diploma will suffice for some positions. Having additional skills, though, can help a developer get ahead. Those interested in web development may want some courses in design, for example.

TIOBE Programming Community programming language popularity index ranks PHP Programming #6.

Some developers pursue certifications to validate their knowledge of particular technologies. Zend offers certification in PHP. The exam includes the basics of PHP and object oriented programming, string patterns, and arrays. Candidates will need to be familiar with data types and databases. The exam also includes security -- a very important issue for those who code in PHP.

Ultimately, certifications are less important than real world experience. A developer can begin getting experience as a student through senior design projects, internships, and/ or participation in open source projects. [Check out PHP tutorials and more]

Job postings may cite a wide range of skills. Some web development positions favor those with graphics or SEO experience.

Employers may also look for industry-specific experience. Depending on the job, this could be anything from working with startups to experience playing games on social network sites.

It’s good to be adept at different stages of the life cycle, from extracting and documenting the requirements to providing post-deployment support; this increases the likelihood of moving up to a lead position. Project management experience can also be helpful.

Interview questions can get very technical. Developers can visit any of a number of sites to see samples. Learnthat includes a sampling of PHP questions as well as questions about other languages that are often used in conjunction with PHP.

PHP programmers can stay on top of their game by joining communities like PHPDevelopers.org.

Job Outlook and Salary

Salaries depend on job role, among other factors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for an application software developer as $92,080. Those at the 10th percentile earn $54,980 while those at the 90th percentile earn $136,490.

Web developers are classified in a separate category: Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects. Average earnings here are a little lower: $81,670. 80% earn between $42,770 and $124,860. 22% job growth is projected for the 2010 to 2020 decade.

PHP is considered a hot language for developers. The TIOBE Programming Community Index placed PHP at #6 in October of 2012; this does represent some decline year over year.

Developers don't generally get ahead because they know a particular language, though -- they know multiple languages and have a broad set of skills. Employers may want expertise with other dynamic languages like Perl. They may want familiarity with particular operating systems (Linux) or servers (Windows 2008 or Apache).

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