How to Hire a PHP Developer in 2023: Tips, Trends, and Best Practices
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IevgeniiSenior PHP developer
Are there any nuances that should be considered when hiring PHP developers to avoid tricky situations? Explore the market overview and our compelling arguments to know the answer.
What expertise and skills should a PHP web developer have? Get valuable tips from our senior developer who leads the PHP direction at Aimprosoft.
The hiring process can be rather bumpy and end not with the desired outcome if you don’t follow the necessary procedures. We know how to make it risk-free. Explore our step-by-step guide to get all the answers.
Check out our tips on how to find a reliable software vendor where you can hire an experienced team of PHP web app developers who are ready to apply their expertise in web development. Learn also why Aimprosoft is the right place to collaborate with.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have decided to go fishing to catch some top haul and enjoy it later during dinner. You think a bit and decide that a good old but not that greatly working rod will do, and poorly prepared bait will also be sufficient to catch that great fish that you fantasize about. Moreover, you may think that little to no research regarding your local ponds, the type of fish that resides there, and other nuances will work out as well, and no plan is needed. Undoubtedly, the only thing that you may catch is the flu since it wasn’t even a proper time of the year to go fishing.
Well, to catch a great fish, and in your case, top talent, you need all the components to be well-thought-out. It’s important to plan the entire process, conduct research, set a clear goal, and arm yourself with best practices. Hence, if you decided that PHP, a universally recognized programming language for web development, is the one for your product creation but have little to no technical knowledge of it or don’t know how to hire a PHP developer, this guide is for you. We will explain what skills a specialist should have, where to find experienced PHP developers, and how to build a hiring process to catch the expert who will contribute to the successful creation of your solution.
Why should you still hire PHP programmers?
There is an opinion that PHP is slowly but surely losing its firm position among other popular technologies. But is it really true? Well, we can sign praises of this programming language for hours, highlighting its efficiency, scalability, robustness, and omnipresent nature. But let’s examine dry but rather convincing facts instead. They will help you dispel your doubts, if there are still any, and start recruiting process with a piece of mind, knowing that you are about to engage the right type of programmer.
Versatility. It has a truly versatile nature and can be used for the development of large-scale solutions for enterprises and less complex solutions for startups. It’s often used for the creation of document management systems, CRMs, HRM systems, eCommerce websites, and many others.
Accelerated development. It has a vibrant dev community, so if you hire a PHP coder, you may be sure that the development time can be decreased since the specialists will always be able to find the solution to the problem, you will easily find the replacement for the current coder if necessary, and you won’t have to change the technology and rewrite your product since the community is actively growing.
Cost efficiency. By hiring a PHP developer, you gain the opportunity to reduce development costs. How so? Well, the reason is PHP is an open-source technology that results in constant contributions from the dev community. It means that there are numerous plug-ins, add-ons, frameworks, and other ready-made solutions that can be leveraged to implement certain features of your product without the necessity to develop them from scratch, which is time and budget efficient.
As an example, let’s briefly review one of our projects — an LMS (learning management system) for healthcare organizations. To cut the development time and, as a result, save the client’s budget, our team used Moodle’s OOTB capabilities and built the core of the system. Obviously, certain customizations were added in the course of the development; however, the usage of this PHP-based open-source platform allowed us to decrease the client’s expenditures almost by 25%.
In addition to the arguments above, let’s also see what developers actually think about the current state of PHP and its future. We gathered several interesting opinions that specialists share while answering the question: “Is PHP still alive?”
If the developers are so optimistic, why shouldn’t you be? PHP is not planning to escape from the IT market any time soon. On the contrary, it’s strengthening its position, and its community is expanding by leaps and bounds. Explore our overview of the most popular PHP trends and figure out why it’s important to know them when looking for a PHP coder for hire.
When you’re a non-tech-savvy professional, such as a talent acquisition manager, looking for the right candidate for your position, you may think that the knowledge of all the nuances of PHP and related technologies isn’t that necessary. It may be partly true since you’re not required to know even the basics of coding, but you’re required to know the terminology, PHP-related technologies, its most used frameworks, and those trends that are currently booming. It will help you be almost on the same page with a candidate and check whether the specialist keeps up with the changes in the tech landscape.
PHP is entering a higher league. For many years, PHP has been perceived as a technology perfect for small-scale projects and not for those kinds of products that require scalability and great performance. However, with all the enhancements that happened in the last years, it has clearly gotten into a higher business league and become a part of the enterprise ecosystem. According to the conducted survey, more than half (59%) of respondents claim they use PHP for business-critical applications.
Growing number and popularity of PHP-based solutions. The availability of various PHP frameworks, like Symfony, Zend Framework, Laravel, Yii, and many others that can meet different business needs strikes. The growth of their number and popularity signifies the correlation between demand and their ability to satisfy it. Needless to say that the relevance and stability in terms of the market position of such popular PHP-powered CMS systems as WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla stay strong as well.
Headless development. One of the most notable recent PHP web development trends is headless development. For instance, according to the survey, the interest in headless CMS development increased by 67% over the past years. By separating the front-end and back-end, this approach offers a flexible foundation that can be used to reinforce underperforming areas, obtain more freedom in choosing the necessary design, increase the website’s scalability, and great flexibility for possible future redesigns.
Developer’s profile: hard and soft skills of a PHP programmer
When looking for a PHP developer for hire, it’s important to choose a technology stack for your project and form a clear profile of the specialist you are looking for. We’ll address in detail the major points of how to create one in one of the sections below. Meanwhile, let’s consider what skill set should such a programmer have depending on the qualification level.
N.B. We consulted our senior PHP developer, who also leads the Aimprosoft PHP department, regarding relevant technologies that PHP developers should have. He said that due to the current state of affairs in the IT market (i.e., higher competition, the emergence of new technologies), the growing number of PHP developers no longer limit themselves to the knowledge of pure PHP and related technologies (such as PHP frameworks).
Long gone are the days when such specialists are capable of solely backend development. You can now hire PHP developers who can implement both the client and server sides of your product which basically means you are hiring a full-stack specialist, saving time and cost on the development. Hence, mind this market change when you aim to hire a PHP expert specialist for your project. Hence, we’ve decided to add skills necessary for the implementation of the front-end as well in the table below, which you can now see quite often in PHP developers’ CVs.
Basic PHP knowledge, knowledge of OOP, APIs, experience working with at least one of frameworks and CMSs
Basic HTML, CSS, JS knowledge
MySQL or any other DB
Git, basic knowledge of web servers (e.g., Apache, Nginx), understanding of security principles
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, good PHP knowledge, good knowledge of REST API and OOP, understanding of SOLID, TDD, KISS patterns, usage of modern frameworks and CMSs, deep knowledge of at least one of them
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, responsive, JS frameworks (e.g., Angular, Vue.js)
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, Postgres, NoSQL databases, understanding of the optimization processes, tables design
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, web servers setting, AWS services usage, ability to build/deploy systems usage, caching systems
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, deep knowledge of PHP architectures and principles. Deep knowledge of modern frameworks and CMS
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, a good practical knowledge of front-end frameworks
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, any database usage, database architectures, and deep performance optimizations skills
In addition to the above-mentioned skills, ability to design and build project infrastructure, knowledge of how to maintain and scale existing apps
You will need a skilled PHP specialist to identify which type of developer your project requires.
Contact us if you don’t have one. We’ll evaluate your project requirements and provide the best-fit developer based on your needs.
The roles and responsibilities of the developer depend on one major factor — qualification level. In the previous section, we explored how the skill set varies depending on the developer’s expertise, and now it’s time to figure out what the developer should be capable of depending on the qualification.
Junior PHP developer responsibilities: complete the set tasks strictly according to the requirements, work under supervision, conduct alpha testing of the implemented functionality, and participate in code review.
Mid-level PHP developer responsibilities: everything from the previous category. Additionally, the ability to evaluate the set tasks, participate in the optimization and configuration of the application, participate in the design and creation of the product’s structure, cover the product with tests, use and configure infrastructure and third-party services, supervise less-experienced specialists, and create documentation.
Senior PHP developer responsibilities: everything from the previous categories. Additionally, the ability to enable the stable performance of the application, design, and implementation of advanced functionality, and implementation of development instructions and guidelines.
N.B. When you need to hire a PHP programmer with particular expertise, you should know which responsibilities such specialists are capable of completing. Undoubtedly, the borders can often be quite vague, and specialists with fewer years of experience can be capable of completing more complex tasks. We have provided a, so to say, classic version of the responsibilities division.
Engagement models and places to find a good PHP coder: tips and best practices
There are multiple options that you can choose from to find PHP developers: freelance platforms, job boards, social networking sites for job seekers, talent marketplaces, outsourcing companies, and much more. You will definitely find the developer, whichever option you choose. But each option has nuances in terms of the time you will spend to find one, the money you will pay, and the outcome you will get. We advise considering the following aspects to choose which option matches your needs most:
scale of your project
Now, considering all these aspects, let’s actually examine which option has more benefits in terms of them.
Ways of hiring a PHP programmer
In which case you need this type of programmer
Developers are flexible in terms of time and workload, a huge talent pool available, and a wide range of rates to fit any budget.
Possible security issues, the discrepancy between the stated and actual expertise and skill set, the likelihood of writing code that is of poor quality, the lack of a thorough understanding of your project, and the potential for communication problems.
Typically, freelancers are ideal for finishing one-time tasks, small-scale projects, and projects with short deadlines.
Full-time availability, greater involvement in the project and business, prompt communication and problem-solving, and increased team engagement.
The need to monitor and maintain retention rate, numerous hidden costs, the length of time it takes to assemble the right team, and the level of responsibility for the team and product outcome make hiring in-house developers more expensive than other options.
In-house PHP developers are better suited for product companies or businesses that need on-site staff for ongoing product maintenance and monitoring.
Specialists hired from a software vendor
Whether you need to outsource product development or go with outstaffing, you will gain a plethora of benefits with either of these options. Better quality of the delivered product compared to freelancers, the ability to delegate the management of your project, the ability to scale up and down the team, and higher chances of better domain knowledge.
Can be less control over product development, chances to start cooperation with unreliable vendors, rates higher than for freelancers.
Option great for startups that may have vague requirements and zero software development expertise. Also, a perfect option for established businesses that need to easily grow their internal teams or ones with long-term, large-scale projects.
So, you have acquired a general understanding of how three major ways of how hiring PHP developers differ. Now let’s check the most popular and proven places where you can find PHP programmers depending on the choice of employment model described above:
Step-by-step recruiter guide on successful hiring of a PHP developer
Step 1: Define your requirements and objectives
Making some preparations in advance is essential to guaranteeing a smooth hiring process. You have to ask yourself the following questions and prepare precise responses before start looking for developers:
Do you actually need to expand your team in the first place?
What kind and how big is your project?
Choose how many developers you’ll need to recruit.
What time frame do you want the hiring process to be finished in?
Find out how much money you have to hire a PHP engineer, retain them, provide modern equipment, turn to a headhunting agency if necessary, etc.
Do you have a tech-savvy employee who can interview candidates, validate their skills, and choose the best ones?
You can get a clear idea of the PHP developer you need to recruit by formulating the answers to these questions. After all, you may not be sufficiently tech-savvy or have prior experience hiring such professionals and working with PHP, but you should have a clear grasp of what you are looking for and what tasks you want such programmers to do.
Step 2: Create the developer’s profile
In the previous sections, we provided some overview of what type of skill set and responsibilities PHP developers should have depending on their qualification level so that you can have a clear understanding of how each type of specialist differs. To hit the target and, in your case, hire the right specialist, we advise creating a clear developer’s profile determining the type of technologies they should have, years of experience, types of tasks they should be able to complete, and so on. The image below illustrates one of the possible options for how the developer profile should look like.
The PHP developer’s profile is basically a structured requirements list designed to clarify what type of programmer you need and why, simplify your search, and form the basis for your job posting.
Step 3: Choose a hiring model
The size of your project and budget are the primary factors to consider when determining which employment model you need to choose. In the section above, we explored the options where you can find a skilled PHP coder and examined the nuances, pros, and cons of each of them. Overall, freelancers are ideal for finishing one-time work and projects with short deadlines. For startups with long-term, large-scale projects that may have ambiguous criteria or for established businesses that need to easily grow their internal teams, outsourcing is a great option. Finally, businesses that need on-site staff for ongoing product maintenance and monitoring may consider hiring in-house PHP developers.
Step 4: Conduct screening properly
You should carry out the candidate screening to decide whether the developer is the correct fit for your project once you’ve chosen the employment model and started collecting the CVs. The benefit of screening is that it ensures that a candidate meets all of the requirements for the position of software engineer, including skills, years of experience, type of completed projects, certification, and English language proficiency.
You can safely reject a candidate at this point if they don’t match those fundamental criteria. You, your recruiters, and your team will all benefit from spotting the wrong candidate at such an early stage. However, if you come across a candidate who appeals to you, this is the time to set up an interview.
Step 5: Interview candidates
Soft skills interview, also known as HR interview
When hiring software developers, it’s imperative to consider their interpersonal abilities and capacity for teamwork. It is essential since PHP experts interact with stakeholders, non-tech specialists such as BA, PM, designers, and other team members in addition to tech experts. Therefore, it is crucial that the hired programmer can communicate clearly with others and cooperate without conflicts. We also advise taking into account the degree to which the following soft skills are developed: commitment, curiosity, problem-solving, and excellent time management.
The primary goal of the HR interview is to exclude applicants who obviously aren’t the best fit for the position in terms of soft skills. Their CV may potentially meet your requirements, but speaking to someone in person and hearing them respond to your recruiters’ non-tech questions are two very different things.
Tech skills interview: interview questions to ask when hiring a PHP programmer and check if their skills and knowledge aren’t outdated
In the course of the consultation with our senior PHP developer, we collected some helpful insights and tips that we recommend using when conducting a tech interview. Firstly, ask questions that are not just some memory test, but rather the exploration of how the specialist thinks and approaches task completion.
Secondly, try to ask questions from different categories. For instance, ask several basic, theoretical questions, add those that are more general ones and not just about PHP (e.g., questions about software design principles), and sprinkle them with questions that don’t have just one possible answer. A mixture of such questions we have provided in the list below.
Basic PHP questions: difference for last 2-3 versions, data types, arrays, session vs. cookies, how to work with arrays, how to work with strings.
Basic front-end questions: block vs. inline elements; how to make the design responsive, how to display a simple page with a header, footer, and sidebar.
Basic DB questions: data types, indexes, simple CRUD queries, Joins, prototype many-to-many relation tables.
Name OOP paradigms.
What is the SOLID principle?
Name and explain favorite/popular/recently-used patterns.
Name and explain favorite/popular/recently-used frameworks or CMSs.
Explain step by step: what needs to be done to launch a PHP application and make it available for the end user.
Explain step by step: what happens when the user types any url in the browser and hits enter.
Issue resolving question: explain possible ways and steps on how to resolve performance issues. For example, “front-end page, which uses calls to an API loads more than 10 seconds.”
N.B. Apart from tech questions, our PHP developer also recommends asking about the sources that the candidate uses to fulfill knowledge gaps. It’s important to determine whether the candidate is interested in the changes that are happening in the industry, whether such a specialist is curious about new updates and technologies, etc. Undoubtedly, each PHP programmer will have their own list of sources that can be either technology-specific (e.g., Laravel, Zend, WordPress, PHP) or general, IT industry-specific (e.g., TechCrunch, HackerNoon, GeekWire, Mashable). Hence, you may simply ask: “What was the last thing you read in terms of professional literature or documentation?” or “What sources do you check for new knowledge?”
Step 6: Sign the contract
It’s time to sign the contract once you’ve determined which candidate can fulfill your request and chosen the engagement model. Since Aimprosoft is a software development company, we would like to share a piece of advice from the IT vendor’s point of view. Thus, if you decide that hiring a developer from an IT vendor is the perfect option for you, make sure that the contract includes all NDA conditions, expected deliverables, failure-related penalties, payment requirements, termination terms, and other crucial elements that guarantee your requirements are well-defined, all anticipated outputs are well-documented, and you are safeguarded from the unexpected result.
The hiring process can be hassle-free and fruitful if you choose the right IT vendor.
Contact us to obtain access to expertise gained in the course of more than two decades of software development and start your PHP-based project creation.
The cost to hire PHP programmers mainly depends on the type of collaboration model you choose: freelance, in-house employment, or cooperation with a software development company. Other key factors that influence the developer’s cost are the coder’s expertise and skill set, the scope of your project, and, of course, location. Let’s look at examples of rates and salaries in different countries.
PHP developers rates and salaries
The range of salaries worldwide
Average hourly rates worldwide
Western Europe (e.g., Germany)
Eastern Europe (e.g., Ukraine)
From the table above, you can see that salaries and hourly rates tremendously differ depending on the location. Thus, it’s a common practice that companies from those countries where rates and taxes are quite high, like the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, and others, tend to hire developers from popular outsourcing destinations like Eastern Europe (e.g., Ukraine, Poland, Estonia) where they can get high quality of work for a lower rate.
What do you gain by hiring PHP developers at Aimprosoft?
Aimprosoft is a software development company with over 17 years of experience. Over the course of the company’s existence, we have established a reputation as a reliable and skilled software provider and have been successful in turning a sizable portion of our clients into devoted ones who have opted to continue working with us on an ongoing basis. You can look through our Clutch profile to see what our clients have to say about working with us. Also, take a look at the image below to grasp what collaboration with Aimprosoft can offer you.
Our expertise is one of the most compelling reasons to start a collaboration with our company. Thanks to being almost two decades on the market, we managed to collaborate with all types of businesses from different domains. It contributed to acquiring the type of domain knowledge necessary to deliver projects of different levels of complexity. We have profound expertise in providing PHP web development services for businesses from various industries, including healthcare, e-commerce, e-learning, marketing, finance, and others. In the table below, please explore some of our most prominent PHP products that we helped our clients to implement.
Ramtool: Magento-based online store for selling electronic tools and their spare parts
Our client was looking for a vendor to outsource PHP web development services in implementing a B2B2C e-commerce store with Magento 2 Community Edition from scratch with customization of a particular part of OOTB functionality.
Our team developed an online store that offers a seamless CX. We assisted our client in increasing income by adding to the existing chain one more eCommerce store.
TMI: analytics platform for the do-it-yourself investors
The client’s request was to revamp the current platform for internal users and redesign the main website for external users.
With our assistance, the client was able to transform an underwhelming service into a robust product that enables its users to easily manage investments, stay current on industry news, and organize personal activities, etc.
Learning Management System for healthcare organizations
The task was to create a learning management system to cover the training needs of healthcare organizations.
The OOTB capabilities of Moodle helped create core functionality, and various customizations were made to meet the industry’s requirements. With LMS, users obtain access to training courses, company updates, protocols, and regulatory documentation. We managed to create an efficient LMS that helps medical companies monitor employees’ learning processes and meet regulatory compliance.
Vast technology stack
The arsenal of technologies that our PHP developers have is another reason to consider us your IT vendor. We gathered the major ones in the image below for your convenience. If you don’t find the technology that your project requires, don’t hesitate to contact us to clarify this moment. It may not be on the list, but there is a high chance that we have specialists with the skills you are looking for.
In turn, the PHP services that we provide using the above-mentioned tech stack are:
PHP application development. Our specialists are skilled in creation secure, user-friendly, and high-performance solutions, both small and large scale ones. They have a profound understanding of the product’s lifecycle, capable of delivering the project from the start and up to its release.
PHP-based CMS development. Aimprosoft developers have expertise in leveraging the OOTB functionality of popular CMS systems (i.e., WordPress, Magento), customizing it to the needs of your project, as well as, implementing content management systems from scratch.
Product maintenance & upgrading. In case you have a legacy application, our team is here to help reanimate it. We’ve expertise in transforming outdated solutions by rewriting them with the help of modern tech stacks. We also provide maintenance services for already-existing product and their functionality expansion.
Finally, another key reason to hire PHP coders at Aimprosoft is the degree of flexibility that we provide. We really believe that you won’t be able to thrive in this fast-paced, harsh world if you aren’t adaptable. We like to adhere to this regulation because it may be applied to both businesses and individuals. The business and hiring models we provide to our clients are one of the key areas where we use flexibility. Since different product types require various business models, we can easily start working with startups, SMBs, and enterprises. Types of collaboration models we provide:
Business models: full-cycle development, dedicated dev team, and staff augmentation
Payment models: fixed price, times & material
Overall, hiring PHP developers at Aimprosoft gives you access to a vast talent pool, profound industry expertise, and guarantees fruitful, secure, and trustworthy cooperation.
Now that you have come to the end of our guide on hiring PHP coders, we hope you have all the necessary knowledge to make your “fishing” endeavor successful. But there is no need to go far away and search for a pond to catch the top haul. Aimprosoft is a reliable software partner with profound expertise in PHP development. Whether you are looking for modernization of your current software solution or PHP-based product development from scratch, our PHP developers for hire are here to help. Contact us, and we will examine your request precisely to offer just the right type of solution.
Where to find a PHP developer?
Job boards, freelance platforms, third-party IT vendors, and social media channels are the main places where you can find PHP programmers for hire. However, to decide which one you should choose, determine the employment model that suits your budget, objectives, and deadline. Freelance platforms (e.g., Upwork, Arc.dev) are perfect for hiring developers when you have one-time tasks and low-scale projects.
Long-term projects that require continuous development and constant support require in-house specialists whom you can hire via popular job boards (e.g., Indeed, Glassdoor) or social media channels (e.g., Linkedin). Finally, hiring PHP developers from IT vendors is preferable for startups with vague requirements, businesses that are looking for profound domain knowledge, and companies that want to go for outsourcing to lower development costs.
What does affect the cost of a PHP developer?
The cost to hire a PHP developer mainly depends on the type of collaboration model you choose: freelance, in-house employment, or cooperation with a software development company. Other key factors that influence the developer’s cost are the coder’s expertise and skill set, the scope of your project, and, of course, location. For instance, the average hourly rate of a developer from the USA is approximately $80, while one from Ukraine earns $40. Although, the quality of the provided services isn’t affected because of lower rates.
Is hiring PHP developers still relevant?
The statistics show that PHP has been holding a firm position in the market and remains stable despite all the discussions that surround it. Yes, it may not receive the spotlight it deserves due to the emergence of new technologies, yet it’s still one of the most widely-used and reliable technologies for web development. Moreover, the constant flow of new developers that start learning it and the continuous support of its tech community only proves the fact that looking for a PHP programmer for hire to implement new projects is still relevant.
Ievgenii IniakovSenior PHP developer
Ievgenii started his career path in 2008 as a Full Stack developer when he was a student at the National Technical University "Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute." Then he got interested in C# and PHP and got the hang frameworks and CMS related to Front-end technologies, including Laravel and Vue.js. Ievgenii has an engineering mindset and enjoys involving DevOps technologies and computer infrastructure related to delivery and software support. Ievgenii strives to get perfect results in his work, so he dives deeply into customer business goals solving product users' pains and preventing challenges before they occur.
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