Is PHP Worth Learning? Everything You Need To Know

Written By: Grant Darling
March 13, 2022

So, you’re wondering if PHP is worth learning in 2022? Honestly, it’s a valid question to be asking. There are certainly reasons why you should be learning PHP today. However, there are also many reasons why you should not be learning PHP!

In this article, I hope to share with you why PHP is still a viable language to learn and for what reasons. I then want to share with you the reasons why learning PHP might just be a waste of your time.

Why Is PHP Worth Learning In 2022?

1. PHP Is Still Widely Used On The Web

One of the main reasons to learn PHP is because it still powers most of the web. In fact, according to W3Techs, 78.9% of websites on the web are run on PHP. Even thecodebytes is built on PHP! That’s right, I can code in PHP and actively decided to build my site with it two years ago. Painful, I know.

The thing is, the reason most of the world is run on PHP is that the majority of the web is built on WordPress. The great thing about this platform is that you can get a website up and running very quickly. I also personally chose it because WordPress was created as a blogging platform and has many SEO benefits that other platforms don’t.

2. Great To Get Your Foot In The Door

However, since WordPress is so easy to get started with, it has also created an opportunity for developers. We now have a ridiculous amount of website owners that have no idea how to tweak or improve their sites or afford a full-time developer.

This makes it incredibly easy for a freelance developer like yourself to offer up your expertise and solve problems on these websites.

In fact, this is how I first got into programming. I found small businesses that needed help, negotiated a deal, and figured out how to solve their problems. I then used those projects as proof that I could code to land my first job.

If you want to learn more about freelance coding, you can read this article I wrote here. However, let me tell you that these small business websites are horrible to work on. Most are built with page builders by someone on the design or marketing team that has no idea how to code. This leads to a bloated website with numerous unnecessary plugins and spaghetti code. So have fun!

Regardless of how terrible it is to work on these sites, and even worse to work with PHP, it’s a great way to become a web developer without a degree.

Why Is PHP Not Worth Learning In 2022?

Hopefully, I did a great job of convincing you why PHP is a great language to learn. Now I am going to talk about the numerous reasons why it’s not.

1. PHP Developers Hate Their Lives

Okay, maybe “hate their lives” is a bit harsh. However, a 2020 StackOverflow survey shows that PHP was ranked 6th in a list of most dreaded languages. In this survey, 62.7% of developers who work with the language have expressed a desire to no longer do so. Falling just behind Assembly and the C programming language. If you have ever worked with PHP, you would understand.

2. It Is A Poorly Design Language

While the language is not nearly as hard to learn as lower-level languages like C or C++, PHP comes with a lot of quirks that are frustrating for developers.

While the language can certainly hold its own for small-scale business sites or WordPress sites, it certainly isn’t a language I would want to build complex applications with.

PHP started off as a templating language for HTML, then introduced a functional programming paradigm, and then finally object-oriented programming. Throughout its transformation, it hasn’t been able to improve its core implementation and language design issues, leading to a poor quality language.

3. Doesn’t Have A Bright Future In Web Development

Although the language was originally created for web development, it seems the direction of this industry has advanced past the original concepts behind PHP. While the language is obviously still maintained, improved upon, and used throughout the industry, it simply does not have the following it once had.

Is PHP worth learning as a freelancer?

So, long story short. If you are, or want to be a freelance web developer without a degree, learn PHP. It will give you an opportunity to break into the industry and get a bit of work experience under your belt.

Although it isn’t a great language to work with, there is tons of work out there from small business owners that need a decent developer to help them. If you can rally up enough work, you should be able to put together a half-decent portfolio to help get you that first real developer job.

Is PHP Worth Learning Outside Of College/University?

If you are a college or university student thinking about learning PHP to give yourself an edge in the job market, then your time is likely better spent elsewhere. Like learning C, React, or TypeScript. If you already have a degree, you should have a fairly easy time getting a junior developer role. Not to mention that PHP is becoming less popular every year and companies aren’t normally looking for it.

Summary: Is PHP Worth Learning

So, is PHP worth learning? While PHP still powers most of the web, especially small-scale websites, I wouldn’t suggest learning it. It is a poorly designed language and even the programmers currently developing in it want to move on to something else.

While it can be a good starter language to break into the industry. It honestly isn’t worth your time or frustration if you already hold a computer science or related degree.

If you still want to learn PHP, you can check out some great courses here. Alternatively, if you want to learn about web development, I have plenty of free resources outlined here.

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