How much does it cost to hire a PHP developer

To create a dynamic interactive website, one of the best choices of programming language is PHP. Growing and developing since 1995, PHP powers literally millions of websites. Its flexibility provides countless options to meet today’s web development needs and create a customized product. To turn your idea into a competitive, functional and dynamic website you’d want to hire a PHP developer. So, let’s see how to do that and share few helpful tips and considerations.

PHP is the fastest growing server-side programming language with 235 new sites created daily.

Why PHP

PHP (formerly Personal Home Page), which now stands for “hypertext preprocessor”, is a server-side scripting language to develop both static and dynamic websites. It is also one of the oldest (over 20 years on the market) and widespread (80% of websites are powered by PHP) scripting languages.

The share of PHP as server side language, March, 2018. Image source: W3Techs

Among the most popular websites on PHP, you definitely visit some of them every day: Facebook, Wikipedia, Aliexpress, WordPress, Flickr, Yahoo, Tumblr, Mailchimp, etc. Biggest benefits to use PHP are the following:

  1. Open source. Free to use and no need to buy additional software. Also, community of PHP developers is large, constantly sharing upgrades, code libraries, etc.  
  2. Cost efficient. Besides being an open source, PHP is also equipped with a wide range of integrated solutions, has no licenses, restrictions, or fees. Clearly helps to reduce the cost of website development.
  3. Scalability – PHP is adaptive to growing traffic.
  4. Integration. Running on leading platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux, UNIX, RISC OS and others), supporting major web servers (Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Personal Web Server), servers like Netscape, iPlanet, Caudium,  etc., and web browsers.
  5. Speed. PHP is one of the fastest scripting languages due to own memory, aimed at decreasing loading times and data processing time.
  6. Security. Despite a misperception about low-security level, PHP shares the same  vulnerabilities as any other programming and scripting language.
  7. Customized development. A wide range of possibilities and features at hand.
  8. Control over websites with no effort.  

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Use of PHP

It is all about web development, and here are three main areas of its use:

  • Websites and web applications (server-side scripting)
  • Command line scripting
  • Desktop applications (GUI)

Among the most handy features of PHP are:

  • reading, collecting and processing form data;
  • sending and receiving cookies;
  • creating graphics;
  • working with popular databases like MySQL, dBase, Oracle;
  • working with HTML;
  • producing dynamic page content;
  • operating with files on the server (create, open, read, write, etc);
  • managing user-access;
  • encrypting data.

Who is a PHP developer

The main assignment of a PHP developer is to write, test and maintain the code for web pages. PHP developer will be responsible for creating and implementing programs, applications, and websites. (S)He will work with frameworks such as Laravel, Yii, Codeigniter, Zend, Symfony, Kohana, CakePHP, Joomla etc. In simple terms, a PHP developer is a web developer.  

Today’s bunch of PHP developers can work on projects of various levels of complexity and solve related tasks. When you plan to hire a PHP developer, pay the attention to the skills claimed by an applicant. If the list is smaller than below you, probably, would want to find someone more qualified:

  1. Knowledge of PHP programming language;
  2. Working with SQL / MySQL databases;
  3. Knowledge of HTML and CSS;
  4. Good understanding of JavaScript;
  5. Knowledge of control systems (SVN / Git);
  6. Experience with frameworks like Laravel, Symphony, YII2;
  7. Familiar with CMS like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress;
  8. Knowledge of OOP (object-oriented programming).

Hiring process

The hiring process, apparently, is similar to hiring any kind of a software engineer or designer, though with some specifics in mind. It requires time, scrupulousness and even certain technical knowledge. To break it down to stages and to optimize time and effort, hiring PHP developers, will typically go in order of:

  • HR preview. First selection among candidates who have shown interest in your vacancy, based on their CV and references.
  • Interview. Personal acquaintance to find out how a candidate would fit the team,  corporate ethics, ideas and goals.
  • Technical test. Crucial stage to check up the technical skills of a candidate, preferably a task similar to day-to-day actual routine.
  • Decision-making. After verifying technical skills and/or past projects from a portfolio, you whether hire or not. When in doubt, you may offer additional tasks or ask to apply later.

Interview questions

Should be related to technical aspects and working process awaiting a candidate, allowing you to check the readiness for the job. Here are some of the possible technical questions:

  • What are the functions of include() and require() commands?
  • What are the differences between unset() and unlink()?
  • What are the most common errors in PHP?
  • Which relational database do you typically use and why?
  • What is MVC? What does each component do?
  • How do SQL joins work? What are SQL injections and how do you prevent them?
  • How does a PHP session work?
  • Name PHP design patterns you have worked with?
  • What is the difference between PHP3, PHP4, PHP5, PHP7?

Other additional question may be in regard to HTTP, Ajax, REST, data structures, performance and testing basics, security concerns, etc. Also, to learn about a candidate’s experience ask about interesting projects he/she has worked on, biggest challenges and solutions, and overall personal view of PHP.

Coding task

Depending on skills and qualification level of a PHP developer candidate (junior, middle, senior), the coding assignment would be different, ideally. And don’t forget to stick to tasks close to your actual routines, so you could make a well-founded decision and point a person to what lies ahead for him/her.  

One good example of the coding task is provided by Devskiller, with a goal to test medium level PHP developer.

An auction platform, providing users the ability to submit and search auctions. You need to implement some privacy policy, to make personal data anonymous. Implement 3 content anonymizers for email addresses, skype username and phone number. You should implement methods marked with @todo annotation and make sure all anonymizers are valid.

A proper PHP code outcome would look something like this:

how to hire a PHP developer

Image source: DevskillerBesides the coding task, you may resort to additional options, including:

  • Whiteboard interview – solving a certain programming problem by writing it on the board by hand. While this task reduces the chances of plagiarism, it does not give a full idea of developer’s performance in real life.  
  • Multiple choice tests – easy to manage and evaluate, but only detecting theoretical knowledge, not practical skills.
  • Algorithmic test – a purely theoretical task, not representative of developer’s working process or problem-solving skills.

For more technical tasks to inspect skills in PHP, check online resources like Zend Test, Joomla Quiz, Laravel Online Test, CakePHP Test, SQL Quiz Online Test, Javascript Knowledge Test, HTML5 Online Quiz Test, CSS Test. For technical background – services such as Interview Mocha or Devskiller, where you may find hundreds of tasks to verify  candidates for your job.

Where to find PHP developers?

The classic way to find an employee, including a PHP developer, would be an ad on job sites and social networks. Another option is scrolling through numerous resumes on freelance websites: Indeed, Upwork, Toptal LinkedIn Jobs, StackOverflow.

Plunge into the PHP developers’ world by attending specialised conferences and events on PHP in 2018, for example:

Also, don’t forget about developers’ forums, such as PHP Developers Network, PHP Builder or PHP Freaks. Last but not least, a reliable and proven option is to go to IT-companies directories and online platforms, like Clutch and Goodfirms.

You may do a trimmed down specific search among companies and freelancers, study their profiles, rates or any  necessary information. ThinkMobiles has also recently joined as a public hub to search for software development services, and you can browse companies or post your project to get direct offers.

A glimpse of ThinkMobiles directory

Cost to hire a PHP developer

Developers’ salaries and hourly rates depend on qualification level, skills, experience, as well as on location and hiring format. The average salary of a PHP developer, for example, in the United States, is about $85,000 per year, according to Indeed.

Image source: Indeed.

How about other countries? According to Daxx, annual earnings of PHP developers are:

Country Annual salary
Switzerland $67,000
Denmark $70,000
Norway $68,000
United Kingdom $52,000
Israel $47,000
Germany $55,000
Netherlands $45,000
Finland $45,000

PayScale differentiates salaries of PHP developers by skills level as follows: junior developers around $50K, middle developers $60K to $70K, and seniors in range of $80K+. Similar trend applies for average hourly rates: junior – about $20, middle – $30, senior – $40-50.  

The key factor for setting the fixed salary/hourly rate is a range of the skills. PHP, JavaScript, MySQL, HTML and jQuery are considered as a basic knowledge base for productive PHP development. Every extra skill will mean the addition to the salary: Drupal +10%, Magento +3%, ASP +3%, AngularJS +3%, Symfony +3%, .NET + 3%, ColdFusion +3%, Ajax +3%,  DHTML +3%.  

Choosing between outsourcing companies and freelancers always depends on the specifics of your project and available budget. Thanks to popularity of PHP, there is a large amount of highly-skilled web developers. As well as special platforms and consultant services to assist you in hiring a PHP developer while saving time and money. 

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