PHP Development: The Complete Guide to Getting Started

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Often considered to be a fairly divisive language, PHP has established itself as one of the most-used server-side scripting languages out there today. 

Despite claims that it has been outclassed by newer alternatives like Javascript or Python, PHP still manages to grow in popularity every year.

Originally an offshoot of C, PHP is one of the oldest languages that is focused on a web development environment.

One of the most popular web hosting and development engines, WordPress, is run on PHP.

With over 30% of the websites in the world running on WordPress, it’s safe to say that PHP can be found in a lot of places if you go looking for it.

Let’s take a look at why PHP is so commonplace in today’s programming landscape.

What Is a PHP Developer?

A PHP developer is essentially a software developer that is proficient in using PHP and various technologies built using it. By default, a PHP developer can be seen as a backend developer as they most likely have experience using the following backend technologies.

  • Linux
  • Apache
  • MySQL

These are the basic components of the popular LAMP stack. In addition, because PHP is a language used mostly for dealing with business logic, PHP developers tend to branch out into other languages like JavaScript.

PHP Developer Roles and Responsibilities

  • Create, test and deploy new, innovative website applications with professionalism
  • Work with CSS, HTML, and JS
  • Test websites on various devices and browsers
  • Research and explore various architectural considerations
  • Communicate and work with other team members to solve conflicts, establish priorities, select the best solutions
  • Develop plans for keeping the website updated and current at all times
  • Recommend improvements for performance
  • Refactor the existing codebase to improve architecture
  • Provide detailed technical specifications such as product features, budget, programming languages, communication protocols, functionalities, structure, and deadlines
  • Keep up with the latest programming practices and web technologies

Why Use PHP?

PHP is considered to be highly approachable for web development for many reasons. It’s easy and cheap to set up, making running server-side applications simple to deploy.

PHP is also considered to be easy to work with, making finding talent proficient in it less hard than some other more niche programming languages.

Over the past few decades, a lot of PHP has been maintained and updated to ensure it is still highly functional and relevant. The PHP development team has even updated the language to use object-oriented programming, keeping it competitive with the likes of Javascript.

Out of the box, PHP is designed to seamlessly work with the most commonly used database languages such as MySQL. This allows your web development to run smoothly regardless of the amount of data you are dealing with.

Designed specifically to handle large amounts of data on the server-side, PHP fits nicely into the web-development landscape.

One of the advantages of being an older language is that PHP has a massive community of developers, and a wide range of documentation to help you get started using it.

There are countless guides and individual message boards to give you the guidance and tools you need to get the most out of PHP.

On top of this, there is a huge framework of established functions that can be relied on to build a diverse range of server-side modules and applications.

Advantages of Using PHP


PHP is an open-source programming language which means that developers can use it without paying for it. PHP frameworks are also free to use which makes building web applications faster and easier.

Platform independent

PHP works on all operating systems and does not require any special software for web applications to render on the web browser. Many web applications on the internet still use PHP as their backend technology.

Easy to learn

PHP was designed to be simple and easy to maintain. Developers who have experience working with other programming languages will find PHP a little different but still very easy to pick up.


PHP is used for the backend and can connect to the database very easily. This is because PHP is designed with specific capabilities to facilitate these connections in an efficient way. It’s no surprise the PHP is part of the widely popular LAMP stack.


PHP’s efficiency with dealing with databases makes it an optimal choice for creating performance web applications that might be accessed by users with a below-average internet connection. PHP is capable of loading websites fast.


PHP uses the MVC architecture to keep code clean and easily maintained.


PHP has built-in features and tools to protect web applications from security threats such as SQL injection, data tampering, and forgery.


PHP has been around for a long time and is extremely stable in comparison to other modern languages.


PHP has an extremely vibrant community across the internet and Stack Overflow where answers to many questions can be easily found and implemented into your code.

Companies Who Use PHP

  • Slack
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Mailchimp
  • Wikipedia
  • Etsy
  • WordPress

How to hire PHP developers

While PHP developers aren’t as common as JavaScript developers, they are still around and there are also plenty of systems that use PHP to serve websites and applications.

That being said, the quality of PHP developers is slightly more condensed due to the fact that PHP has fallen out of popularity to newer programming languages.

So it’s not that difficult to find an experienced PHP developer that knows what they’re doing. Otherwise, they wouldn’t still be working with it.

If you are looking for a PHP developer, the chances are that you are looking for a backend developer with a strong understanding of how to use it with the technologies that you are currently using, or building a system from scratch.

What to look for in a PHP developer

At a high level, PHP developers should be able to:

  • Work with Javascript, HTML and CSS
  • Be proficient in PHP 7x
  • Make use of Ajax, jQuery, and MySQL.
  • Work with APIs, Unix/Linux, and MVC Framework Architecture
  • Work with PHP Frameworks such as :
  • CakePHP
  • PHPUnit
  • Slim Framework
  • Laravel Framework

How much do PHP developers cost in the U.S?

The average salary for a senior PHP developer is $101,136 per year in the United States, according to data.

Here’s a chart that visualizes the salary ranges within the United States for a Senior Software Developer.

Bar graph illustrating the salary range for Senior PHP Developers in the United States as of March 2020, with a national average of $101,136, and salaries spanning from $42,500 to $136,000. The Trio logo is positioned in the top right corner.

How much do PHP Developers cost in South America?

Due to economic differences between the United States and South America as a whole, the cost of offshoring software development is significantly lower than hiring full-time with U.S talent. For PHP Developers in South America, the average salary is currently around $100,000 whereas a mid-level developer costs around $76,000.

How much do PHP Developers cost in Ukraine / Eastern Europe?

Eastern Europe shares very similar rates to South America, again due to the economic differences. When looking at salaries in Eastern Europe, data shows that a Senior PHP Developer costs around $100,000 on average.

Hourly rates for PHP Developers

Another way to look at developer costs is through hourly rates. While salaries are good to understand for hiring developers for full-time and long-term, you might just need a developer for a period of 3-6 months or 6-12 months. In these types of situations, it’s best to calculate your costs based on the hourly rates of a developer.

Below is a table that lists the various hourly rates of developers in different locations based on their job title.

Table comparing hourly rates for software development roles across regions: Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the United States. Positions range from Junior Developer to Software Architect with hourly rates between $18 to $94. The Trio logo appears in the upper right corner.

Why Hire a PHP Developer

Trio PHP developers are pre-vetted, interviewed and then trained further to become true software professionals, capable of adapting to situations that are both within and outside of the scope of their general expertise.

At Trio, we hold our developers to a higher standard. Much like how elite special forces units recruit only the best from main branches of the military, we recruit developers who either show amazing potential or demonstrate exceptional skill. We then take their talents and sharpen them even further.

Another benefit of hiring a Trio developer is that you won’t incur the costs of hiring, which can add up to be around 30% of a developer’s salary on average, as well as overhead costs associated with full-time employment.

By working with Trio, you can enjoy a highly experienced full-time developer for a fraction of the cost, along with the added project management assistance.

To learn more, hit us up and tell us about your project so that we can get you started.

Supporting Legacy Applications

A large amount of development in PHP is maintaining and supporting legacy applications built using it. Before such a huge variety of options was available for running your backend server-side development, a combination of PHP and MySQL did the job for most companies’ web services.

There isn’t anything wrong with maintaining old codebases built using PHP, it’s just important to prioritize the overall performance of your code.

Newer releases of PHP have allowed developers who are maintaining these legacy codebases to modernize them and speed up their performance using a range of tools and frameworks.

It’s important to ensure your code built using old versions of PHP are maintained and updated to support the latest versions. A lot of speed and stability can be obtained from this, as well as ensuring your web application prioritizes the security of your database.

Stop Waiting, Start Developing

Whether you are looking to power your website’s backend using PHP’s server-side capabilities, or you are maintaining an old web service to ensure it’s up-to-date, we have you covered for support.

You can call upon our full-time roster of experienced developers to help you with your PHP needs. We have developers with tons of experience using PHP, ready to take on your project requirements today.

Integrate them into your team on a contract basis easily, they are affordable and in a western timezone. Connect with us to get the conversation started today and see how we can help.

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Companies are growing their business faster with Trio.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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