Wordpress and PHP - worth learning?

RE applying for developer jobs.

My job search has had little success so far (only been applying for a couple of months though) and has mainly comprised of phone conversations with employment agencies (waste of time)

A question though, I’m seeing quite a few jobs in my area asking for PHP and Wordpress (which i haven’t tried to learn thinking PHP is outdated and wordpress isn’t really ‘proper’ development - that may be wrong but is my current perception - correct me if i’m wrong).

Is it worth learning PHP and WP and applying for jobs asking for these skills (as a way of getting my foot in the door) or should i just continue as i have been and just focus on HTML, CSS, Vanilla JavaScript/React?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Php certainly isn’t dead or gone.

Wordpress development includes theme making and plugin making. There is a huge market for both. And as a web dev, I’ve set up wordpress for clients of all types (blogs, financial, self help, ecomm) because it’s easy for them to update content after my contract ends.

If you check out php and like it, it can be a good way to go. I currently run 4 wp sites that are not blogs at all, but club sites where the users all use the backend to share files, post updates and approve applications.

You don’t need to know PHP to set up or maintain wordpress, but knowing it means to you can customize wordpress sites, edit plugins, create your own. I know quite a few people who make a living off offering premium themes, and plugins.

So it can be, if you like that kind of thing. HTML, CSS and Javascript/react are (or can be) used in WP dev.


Ok, cool. thanks for responding, so doing these as a role wouldn’t necessarily pigeon hole you then as long as you could show an employer you have used WP/PHP with other things?

it hasn’t for me. As a developer, you should always be evolving, learning new technologies. As long as I do that, I haven’t been stuck in one kind of job.

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I’ll add my 2 cents. I do WordPress 100 percent of the time, so I do have an opinion here, lol…

PHP is alive and well, and has improved enormously as a language in the last few years. It is fully an Object Oriented language with all that that implies.

Jobs are bountiful, there is always someone looking to have their website functionality added to or modified, and that means programming. If it is a WordPress website the programming is in PHP and javascript/jQuery and sometimes using the associated frameworks.

Here is the thing. Programming is programming. Learn some language well and you will be able to apply a lot of it to other languages down the road. I started out learning Java in university and never used it really, but that learning most surely did help me to learn OOP PHP.

So get some work, get experience, add skills and languages as you go along. If that means PHP and WordPress in your local market, go for it!


If there are quite a few jobs in your area asking for PHP and Wordpress, then I advise you to learn PHP and Wordpress. I wouldn’t worry too much about what is considered “proper” development. I think the important thing is that you work on something that makes you generally happy and pays. There is a company called WP Engine that does nothing but host WordPress sites. I think you will do fine if you learn PHP and Wordpress. Good luck!

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Learn whatever it is that will give you a higher chance to get you a job. Lots of people complain about PHP and claim it’s a dead language. Hard truth is, PHP is still used by the vast majority of websites and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

As for “proper” development, I don’t think clients care one bit about that, they just want the job done, and many employers probably think the same way.

I have no doubt as a beginner knowing JS and PHP can probably land you a job faster than the MERN stack, I found out about this way too late.


Sounds like good advice rickstewart, thanks for your 2 cents :+1:

Thanks for your helpful response enriquejp

Thanks Gilbert1391, helpful insight

@char502, There is some good advice in the comments above. Wordpress has a commanding share of web sites on the internet, in spite of the fact (in my personal opinion) that it is not as easy to use as many make out.

The by line for Wordpress is just install it on your host server and start adding content. However most people want to change a layout, or a header image etc, and these things are not as easy as they should be.

So small business folks need to get someone to help them. Thats where developers, i.e. you, come in.

So understanding Wordpress code, child themes, hooks, custom taxonomies etc are important to take advantage of its capabilities. Does this mean knowing how to program in PHP, well not really. Of course you need the basics but you don’t need to be an expert programmer in PHP to help folks with Wordpress.

Now the other thing to remember is even the folks at Automattic (the people who build Wordpress) acknowledge it was getting dated and needed an upgrade. Those upgrades came recently in the form of 2 major changes.

Before I comment on those changes however it is important to recognize that Wordpress is a Content Management System (CMS), i.e. it stores user content in a data repository. This is an important distinction from the earliest days when Wordpress was just a blogging platform. Over top of that CMS Wordpress has used PHP as a programming language for users to manage and render that content.

Now for the changes:

  1. The folks at Automatic have created an API interface to the CMS, which means you can write your frontend app in any language you like and still access the content which is stored in the database. Users can still use the Wordpress editor to add and delete content, but a completely different frontend layer to render it.

So if you are proficient in HTML, CSS and Javascript write you own front end in these languages. Search the web and see how many folks are using React (Facebook’s component based view layer) to write modern apps that interface to the Wordpress CMS database.

You now have the opportunity to use whatever skills you have to develop a frontend that suits your clients needs, it doesn’t have to be PHP if you are not proficient in that.

  1. The folks at Automattic have delivered a new content editor (Gutenberg) based on a drag and drop block technology, which they hope will make it easier for users to add content. Whats interesting about that editor, well its written in Javascript and uses the API I mentioned in point 1 to manage the content in the database.

So, should you learn PHP. I think just enough to help clients manage existing Wordpress sites, but in my opinion even the folks at Automatic have signaled what the future looks like and it is not necessarily PHP as the language of the front end to their CMS.

I hope that helps.


thanks bgrantcooper, some great information here, i wasn’t aware of any of that, thanks for taking the time to respond so comprehensively, much appreciated! :+1:

I originally was supposed to learn PHP and MySQL (database) in college but that turned into using a content system called JOOMLA, then I got a book that had way too many errors for teaching either that I completely abandoned it. Back then it was in vogue, still is when you think about Wordpress sites - don’t knock it it’s a viable area to develop skill and earn.

At the moment I wish I had switched to other resources and continued learning Wordpress and PHP. I’ve set up my own wordpress site on my domain and started customizing it and made my old child theme (using mostly things learned from FCC and other HTML/CSS bits, as well there’s javascript hooks in Wordpress as well. I’ve recently move my domain to a different hosting company and had to move my posts over and had some unexpected issues arise so i’m trying to fix and learn at the same time; originally I wanted to build out the child theme I created. (creating wordpress themes in itself is a lucractive business - you could create 2-3 and it can just be set up on the market and create a revenue stream in itself).

I started back on Wordpress/PHP using several resources, one of which was https://codecollege.ca/ (not sure what the courses are at the moment, I used a free one on it for PHP but the facebook page for it has a good group to ask questions and ask answers.

Sorry for the incoherent answer, long day with work and part-time college but hopefully you can add PHP and wordpress to your belt alongside what you’re currently learning.

Thanks donyd, some useful info :+1:

I’m a fairly new programmer working remotely for a dev shop that specializes in making websites for non-profits. We make custom websites whose backend is handled by either WordPress or Drupal (another CMS, more oriented to enterprise). The designers come up with pretty designs and then I get to help turn that into an actual site :slight_smile:
We’re doing neat stuff :smile: Both WP (with the Timber plugin) and Drupal (8 and up) use the Twig templating language, so we’re most of the way through putting together a custom component-based pattern library to expedite writing our custom themes. (Take a look at pattern based development – it’s awesome!)
We’re writing custom connector code in PHP so that the data that both WP and Drupal produce will properly hook up with our Twig templates.
I’m having tons of fun with it :grin:

I just wanted you to hear from somebody who’s working with WP and PHP – a lot of the people “writing webpages” in this space are just applying premium themes and plugins, with minimal customization, so there’s room to get started. Once you get into it though, you can absolutely do “real” programming and there are exciting things happening :slight_smile:

Great, that’s useful insight thanks, it does seem like this would be a good place to start!

FWIW, I’ve noticed that in my area the LAMP stack is still viable however everyone is migrating towards Mongodb and angular/reactjs. I just attended a meetup that talked about using Mongodb, angular, .net and id identifier and people were lost at Mongodb.

My advice and take this with a grain of salt, is if you want immediate local viability and aren’t fussy about salary, learn native js, enough php, and focus on creating a plugin in wordpress. Then when hired, learn more php on the job and consider angular (defintiely go udemy as angular is not basic).

However, if you want modernity and viability where you don’t need to compete with those who have over 10 years of experience in these stacks, be open to relocate, go to a hub and go all out with the MERN stack.

The latter is the path I’m taking and while it sucks to relocate I now know first hand from my friends and my new networks that MERN is truly the way to go in my case.

It’s hard to stay focused, but I’m determined to go all the way.

Do it 100%. Or don’t do it at all.

The worst thing you can do is learn a whole bunch of tools but not get good at any of them. PHP / Wordpress is a separate ecosystem, and to get really good at both PHP and JavaScript will be very tough (two years hard work).

If you have already made decent progress with front end JavaScript, then double down. And learn the back end (Node).

However, if you have been coding for less than 3 months, then you could switch to PHP easily enough. But only do that if you enjoy PHP more than JavaScript (most people don’t).

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