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PHP Developer Duties and Responsibilities

A PHP developer's duties can depend on their organization and the types of web applications they program, but many of the core responsibilities carry over:

Write and Edit PHP Code The primary duty of a PHP developer is writing and editing PHP code on the back end of web applications and dynamic sites. The PHP developer considers the web application's intended function and works to integrate PHP code with existing HTML code. In this aspect of the role, the PHP developer also works with the application's data structure to ensure reliable performance.

Develop and Implement PHP Modules PHP developers also work on PHP modules, which are blocks of code that can increase a web application's functionality and performance for specific tasks. In many cases, PHP developers design these modules to be both reusable and portable so that they can be used for a variety of server-side tasks and be incorporated into future development projects. The PHP developer ensures that these modules work independently and are successfully integrated into the application.

Test and Troubleshoot Applications Another important duty of PHP developers is testing and troubleshooting applications both before and after deployment. They tend to work with frontend developers to assess whether the server-side elements of the application are working in tandem with the user interface, ensure that the application is receiving, parsing, and storing data correctly, and verify that all code elements are working independently and together.

Coordinate with Frontend Developers and Project Managers Throughout the development process, PHP developers collaborate with other programmers and project managers to ensure that deliverables are completed according to schedule following a development road map. This process can involve both initial meetings to determine the project's scope and needs and coordination throughout the implementation and testing processes to resolve server-side issues by updating or reworking PHP code and modules.

Integrate Server-Side Code with Third-Party Modules The PHP developer also ensures that server-side and backend code elements work in tandem with third-party services. PHP developers work with third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) to access data between servers and applications. For example, if an application uses content from Twitter, the PHP developer writes code using Twitter's API and ensures that it is successfully integrated into the web application's code base.

Meet Directly with Clients In many cases, PHP developers work directly with internal and external clients throughout the development process. In an initial meeting, the PHP developer asks questions to learn how the client expects the web application to perform and develops functional specifications used by the entire project team. The PHP developer may also make suggestions about server-side architecture and data management tasks to improve the application's overall performance.


PHP Developer Skills and Qualifications

PHP developers need excellent technical skills and extensive familiarity with the coding language. Companies tend to hire developers with several years of coding experience, a bachelor's degree, and the following skills:
  • PHP coding - the most important skill for a PHP developer is the ability to write and modify PHP code that is clean, functional, and successfully integrated into web applications
  • Troubleshooting and debugging - PHP developers use excellent troubleshooting and testing skills to eliminate bugs and server-side issues with web applications
  • Team collaboration - in this role, PHP developers tend to work closely with frontend developers and other programmers, so they need strong team collaboration and coordination skills
  • Technical writing - throughout the development process, PHP developers create and update documents related to their code, so they should know best practices for documentation and technical writing
  • Data management - PHP developers create and modify systems that access application data, so they need some familiarity with database architecture and access

PHP Developer Education and Training

PHP developers tend to have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer science or programming. Some PHP developers also complete a master's degree in one of these fields to expand their career opportunities and knowledge. Companies usually prefer to hire PHP developers who have prior coding experience and familiarity with several programming languages in addition to PHP.

PHP Developer Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that web programmers (including both backend and frontend programmers) earn a median annual salary of $66,130. The highest-paid 10 percent of developers earn over $119,550 per year, while the lowest-paid developers earn less than $35,390 annually. The BLS estimates that this field will grow at a rapid pace through 2026, with employment for web developers increasing by 15 percent.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found several resources if you're interested in starting a career as a PHP developer:

W3Schools: PHP - this guide provides an overview of PHP basics and principles, along with hands-on exercises to help learn the language

PHP 7 Programming Cookbook - Doug Bierer provides advice and examples for developers who have a basic grasp of PHP and want to learn more about programming with the latest version

"What is an API? In English, please." - read this blog post to learn more about APIs and how PHP developers integrate them into server-side development projects and web applications

PHP: 20 Lessons to Successful Web Development - check out this book for a complete course in PHP development and coding, with examples and exercises to hone your PHP skills

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