PHP is one of the most popular languages with very good demand in the market. At the same time there is supply glut of PHP coders in the market which makes it difficult to command a premium pricing in the market. “How Do I stand out?” is a recurring question on an aspirational PHP developer’s mind. While there isn’t a straight forward answer to this, there are various ways one can move a notch above the peer group by developing abilities and skills which are not commonplace.
The objective should be to become a complete programmer by developing good expertise across engineering (coding standards, design patterns, unit testing, algorithms etc.), managing (application life cycle, version control etc.) and environment (databases, operating system, networks, protocols etc.). Companies look for people who are capable of delivering complete solution. Here is a list of skill/expertise which you need to excel in to command a premium in the PHP job market:
OOPS: PHP is an object-oriented programming language, which means that you can create objects, which can contain variables and functions. These objects are essential when dealing with PHP, as almost everything is an object: for example, functions or arrays are objects, too! Major concept of the object oriented programming in PHP was introduced from php5.You need to have good understanding of OOPS for which you can refer to this popular book: “PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice ”
PHP Frameworks: You must be good with at least one framework. But if you are good with more than one framework, it won’t hurt your chances. Use of a framework helps in speedy development, provides well-organized, reusable and maintainable code, allows MVC pattern to separate presentation and logic and help in adoption of modern web development practices such as object-oriented programming tools.
Some of the popular PHP frameworks are Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Yii 2, Phalcon, CakePHP, Zend etc.
You may even want to add ‘Composer’ in your arsenal to make life easier for you. Composer is a dependency manager for PHP. Composer will manage the dependencies you require on a project by project basis. This means that Composer will pull in all the required libraries, dependencies and manage them all in one place.
One should also know how to communicate with the back-end via AJAX or WebSockets.
Web Servers: One should be well versed with Apache , Nginx or any other web server. A Senor PHP developer will be expected to have good knowledge of how to set up these applications and serve the contents of his website.
Database: You should have good hands on command of creating and managing relational Databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL. You should ideally know the differences between relational and non-relational databases along with knowing the syntax of XML / JSON.
System Admin & Network: Linux and .NET power most of the Internet and knowledge of wither of both is a must. One should be hands-on with Installation and configuration of LAMP environment.
In addition, a modern PHP developer should know how cloud hosting works and should have fair working idea about Amazon Web Services, Rackspace or other providers and its APIs.
A good developer also needs to understand computer networks like HTTP protocol, TCP/IP and programming sockets.
Search: Search is an integral part of most websites – a developer should know how to set up and use search servers such as Sphinx or Elasticsearch.
Caching & Monitoring: Caching is also important to know, Varnish, reverse proxy, Redis, Memcached and opcode caching are popular tools. One needs to know what each of these is and how to use it. For monitoring, Nagios has emerged as the most popular tool. Nagios monitors the entire IT infrastructure to ensure systems, applications, services, and business processes are functioning properly.
Virtualisation: These days it’s expected that one has a good knowledge of version control. As a PHP developer who wants to differentiate oneself in the market must be familiar with at least one of these version control tools like Git, Mercurial, SVN etc.
Virtualisation: Virtualization provides a fast, easy way to define, reproduce, and share virtual machine configurations among developers. It makes it easy for a developer .With virtualisation tools, having separated development environments on a per project basis is really nice to have, and easy to set up with VirtualBox , Vagrant etc.
PS: The article originally appeared on learnunbound.com