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Step-by-Step Guide For Learning PHP From Ground Zero To Expert Level

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Ultimate training guide to become a PHP developer and earn 80k-120k annual salary

By Editorial Team on 2017-05-20

There are lots of training materials and classes online or at colleges for learning PHP programming. However, there is a lack of step-by-step guide for someone with no coding background or even a novice developer on how to master PHP. Indeed, you can learn PHP in few weeks; however, such learning might not be enough to land you a six figure salary job. Thus, this article is to walk you through essentials training steps for mastering PHP as a professional developer.


PHP programming is mainly used by web developers, so it is a great coding language for those interested in pursuing web design career. Once you learn PHP very well, you can use in many different platforms for building template or custom websites. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to become a web developer, C++ is not a right coding language to learn. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning PHP and coding in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

The highlights of our 8 step training guide for PHP are: covering general concepts in coding, PHP procedural and Object-Oriented Programming or OOP, project-based exercises, Content Management System, PHP and MySQL database, and PHP certifications. Specifically, below are 8 steps that should be followed step-by-step.

  1. Logic of coding
    It is good to read books on the basic of computer hardware, software, and what is programming. Learn what common logics in all programming languages are. Also, learn what is an algorithm and how to design algorithms efficiently. Once you take away this step, you can proceed to the next step.

  2. Procedural coding
    In this step, you learn how to write your first PHP codes. It shows you how to apply logics of coding like a loop to a coding problem. It also allows you to build simple to advance algorithms.

  3. PHP and SQL database
    Since PHP is a server-side coding language, you need to how to use it in conjunction with a SQL database like MySQL. Indeed, all dynamic websites use PHP along with a SQL database. PHP comes with lots of handy functions for handling database queries. Here is a good article about database certifications and database job roles.

  4. Learn phpMyAdmin
    Although this step is not required, it is highly recommended for learning and understanding how SQL database design and coding work. phpMyAdmin is a free web-based platform for creating and managing MySQL databases. It comes with many features. It has both drag-and-drop as well as coding features for handling SQL queries like SELECT or CRUD (Create Retrieve Update Delete) statements.

  5. PHP OOP
    This step is a must if you wish to become a professional PHP developer as new versions of PHP only support OOP. OOP is used for making an application more maintainable. It takes time and lots of exercises to grasp OOP concepts.

  6. Project-based training
    Learning PHP can not be completed without lots of hands-on projects especially from real life problems like E-commerce, blogs, social sites, etc. Find PHP cookbooks or tutorials and try to practice and master them. There is difference between knowing a coding language like PHP and understand it. You can only understand coding concepts through in-depth project-based training.

  7. PHP Certifications
    You get to this step after successfully finishing the last 6 steps. Congratulation, now you can sit and take PHP  certification exam and prove to your next client or employers that you are competent in handling PHP-related jobs.  Zend is a well-established PHP framework for building large enterprise websites. Zend offers three certification exams; one for general developers, and the other two are only for Zend framework developers. So passing Zend general PHP developer certification exam would qualify you for many six figure jobs in the market.

  8. CMS- WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal
    Although this step is not required, it is only recommended if you wish to become a CMS developer. It is important to make a distinction between a drag-and-drop web designer and serious PHP developer who can customize CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal codes. To make changes to the core WordPress codes like adding a few feature or class, you must have good understanding of PHP OOP; in other words, to build a custom CMS site, you need to follow through all previous steps (except step 7).

Above 8 step-by-step guide is developed by survey of some of most successful PHP developers in the industry. This is a tried and test approach for mastering PHP. For next step, you need to develop a plan on when and how to learn it.

To conclude this article, it is good to mention that if you wish to specialize in database design and development, obtaining the following certifications would be rewarding: Oracle Database SQL Fundamentals, Oracle Database 11g, Microsoft SQL Server, and other db certifications. Lastly, as Linux operating systems are gaining more popularity, obtaining any of following certifications would be great asset to your CMS credentials: Linux+, Linux Professional Institute exam 101 and 102, Red Hat Certified System Admin, and Red Hat Certified Engineer.

Below blogs are related to this article:
Review of top 5 certifications for open source programming languages like Java or C++
Ultimate training guide to become a front-end developer and earn 60k-100k annual salary
Ultimate training guide to become a CMS specialist and earn 80k-120k annual salary
Review of top 5 JS frameworks for mobile App developers and web designers
Ultimate training guide to become a SQL programmer and earn 70k-130k annual salary

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