If you know JavaScript, Learn PHP (Career Advice for Software Developers)

Lego robot next to orange soda on the balcony in Cancun
PHP and JavaScript go together like Alleybot and Orange Soda in Cancun.

Disclaimer: I work for Alley.co and I’m completely biased because knowing both JavaScript and PHP is a requirement for most of the development work we do. We’re hiring software developers.

After your first programming language

JavaScript is a popular first programming language. It is the language taught in frontend web development courses. JavaScript frameworks like React are very popular. With HTML & CSS & JavaScript, you have the perfect skillset to create a really awesome website. You can also build mobile apps with JavaScript. And that’s just the tip of the JavaScript world. JavaScript is a great programming language to know, and a popular first one to learn.

If you are good at HTML, CSS & JavaScript, you can get a job as a frontend software developer. You don’t need a college degree. Just create some cool projects to show off your skills. Chances are that you can land a job.

However, if you want to expand your employability, learn PHP. PHP is the backend programming language that WordPress is written in. WordPress is the software that powers 1/3 of the web. It’s more than a blogging platform. It is a content management system used by some of the largest sites on the web.

If you already know JavaScript, I’m sure you can learn PHP too.

I am biased because I am more a backend developer than a frontend one, but I think PHP is an easier language than JavaScript. It certainly isn’t any harder. If you find it harder, then I’d recommend finding a different book or course to learn from.

If you get stuck, buy another book

When I was a high schooler, I tried to learn to program C++, but I got stuck. I couldn’t get the exercises in the first chapter of the book to run. Instead of buying another programming book or trying a different language, I gave up. Don’t give up. That’s the advice I would give to my 15 year old self, if I could go back in time.

Learn PHP

PHP is a language that was built for the web, so there are lots of handy functions. It stands for “Personal Home Page.” PHP isn’t a “hip” language — I hear more about Python these days than PHP — but its widespread popularity for building websites has made it a very in demand skill to have.

While I mention WordPress software, it’s not ONLY WordPress. There are many other kinds of websites out there that run on PHP. These include big ones like Facebook and e-commerce websites. Some run on PHP frameworks like Laravel or Magento. There’s also unique frameworks (“home grown” systems) that were built in PHP when the web was booming. All of these sites have to be maintained, and the demand for software developers who know PHP is here for the long term.

Where to start learning

3 comments

  1. Hi, I read your blog and I could use some guidance. I had learned the fundamentals with Python and also, I learned about SQL using MySQL to create databases, tables and how to make basic queries. But switched to JavaScript to become a web developer. For 6 to 7 months, I had been learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I got a really good understanding of JavaScript fundamentals, so I have a basic understanding of how to manipulate the DOM. Now I switched to learning Php and Php is so easy to learn I wish I picked up Php before JavaScript because JavaScript is very hard to learn especially when learning how to use the DOM.
    I am writing because I have a question? There are so many paths to take when you’re on the Php path. There is WordPress, Shopify, and so many other paths you can take including freelance work. There are so many paths you can take learning Php alongside JavaScript. Could you please help and provide the best options when learning Php alongside JavaScript? Thank you so much for reading my long message.

    • I recommend building something that challenges your skills. Build a website or web app, or perhaps a WordPress theme or plugin. Write blog posts about the challenges you encounter and share your project with the world! WordPress is widely used so that’s definitely worthwhile to learn. Alternatively, you could try learning the Laravel framework which some people find easier. Check out Laravel and other frameworks at https://laracasts.com/browse/frameworks Any of those frameworks would be valuable to know!

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