How to Hire a PHP Programmer?

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How to Hire a PHP Programmer

PHP is a widely-used programming language found in various web applications, websites, and apps. In fact, it is the most commonly used server-side programming language, powering over 80% of today’s websites. One reason for its popularity is its ease of use, making it accessible to those with minimal programming experience.

However, the low barrier to entry of PHP (it’s the 4th easiest programming language) has resulted in a large pool of PHP programmers, making it difficult to find highly-skilled developers who are true experts in the language and capable of producing high-quality software.

In this article, we lay out everything you need to know to hire a freelance PHP programmer:

What is a PHP developer?

A PHP developer is a back-end web developer who specializes in using the PHP programming language to build and maintain web applications. They are responsible for implementing server-side logic, connecting the application to a database, and integrating the front-end elements built by front-end developers.

PHP developers work on the server side of web development and are responsible for writing code that runs on a web server. They typically focus on creating dynamic web pages and integrating various back-end systems and databases. They also work closely with front-end developers to create a functional and user-friendly final product.

In addition to writing code, freelance PHP developers may also be responsible for testing and debugging their code, as well as maintaining and updating existing applications. Overall, their role is critical in the development and success of web-based projects.

Benefits of hiring a PHP developer

Hiring a PHP developer can bring several benefits to a business. One advantage is the ability to customize solutions to meet specific needs, rather than using off-the-shelf products that may not fully fit the requirements. PHP developers can also help optimize websites or applications for better performance, resulting in increased efficiency.

Additionally, PHP is an open-source language, meaning there are no licensing fees involved in its use, making it a cost-effective option for development. The PHP community is large and active, providing support and resources to users. The language is versatile enough to be used in developing applications of all sizes, making it scalable for businesses anticipating future growth.

How to Find PHP Developers

Tips for shortlisting candidates

Hiring a capable PHP developer is a nightmare if you’re unfamiliar with PHP. Here are some tips for shortlisting PHP development professionals:

  1. Technology fit: The candidate should be familiar with your technology stack’s libraries and PHP frameworks.
  2. Developer workflow: The candidate should be familiar with any project management tools, test suites, or version control systems you use.
  3. Feedback: Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular PHP developer.

Write a Detailed Job Description

Writing a job post is crucial for attracting top PHP development talent to your project. Here are some tips for crafting a job post that will attract the right PHP web developers:

  1. Clearly outline the scope of work: List all deliverables you’ll need, such as unit tests and new features.
  2. Specify the project length: Let candidates know whether this is a smaller or larger project, as this will affect the amount of time and resources they need to commit.
  3. Provide background information: If you prefer experience working with certain industries, software, or technologies, mention this in your job post.
  4. Set a budget: Clearly state your budget and preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.

Interview Questions to Ask

General questions to ask

When interviewing PHP development candidates, it’s important to ask the right questions to assess their soft skills and whether they’re fit for your project. Here are some sample interview questions to consider:

  • Can you describe your experience with PHP development?
    Why ask: level of experience and the types of projects they have worked on.
  • How do you stay updated with the latest trends and best practices in PHP development?
    Why ask: commitment to continuous learning and staying current in their field.
  • Can you provide an example of a project where you had to troubleshoot and debug code?
    Why ask: problem-solving skills and ability to troubleshoot issues that may arise during the development process.
  • How do you typically approach a new development project?
    Why ask: workflow and development process.
  • Can you provide examples of projects where you had to work with a team or collaborate with other developers?
    Why ask: the ability to work well with others and contribute to a team environment.

PHP-specific Questions to Ask 

It’s important to note that these questions are just a guide, and not all “A” candidates will be able to answer them all, nor does answering them all guarantee an “A” candidate. Ultimately, hiring is both an art and a science. The questions in this guide focus on modern PHP versions 5.3 and above and cover concepts and functions that any qualified and experienced PHP developer should be familiar with.

Question 1: What is a closure in PHP, and how do you use it?

Answer: A closure in PHP, also known as an anonymous function, is a function without a name that can be stored as a variable, passed as an argument to a function, or returned as a value from a function. They can be used to create callback functions and to pass variables into functions without using the global scope.

$plusTwo = function($x) {
return $x + 2;
echo $plusTwo(3); // Outputs 5

Question 2: How do you connect to a database in PHP?

Answer: To connect to a database in PHP, you can use the PDO (PHP Data Objects) extension or the MySQLi extension. Both extensions provide an object-oriented interface for connecting to a database and executing queries.

try {
$pdo = new PDO("mysql:host=localhost;dbname=test", "username", "password");
} catch(PDOException $e) {
echo $e->getMessage();

Question 3: Can you explain the difference between include and require in PHP?

Answer: Both include and require are used to include a file into a PHP script, but they differ in how they handle failures. If an error occurs when using include, the script will continue to execute, whereas if an error occurs with require, the script will stop execution.

// This will output the text "File included" even if the file does not exist
include "non-existent-file.php";
echo "File included";

// This will generate a fatal error and stop the script execution
require "non-existent-file.php";
echo "This line will not be reached";

Question 4: How do you use namespaces in PHP?

Answer: Namespaces in PHP are used to avoid naming collisions between class, function, and constant names. They are defined using the namespace keyword and are used to specify the full name of a class, function, or constant, including the namespace it belongs to.

namespace MyApp\Controllers;

class UserController {
// ...

Question 5: Can you explain the difference between GET and POST in HTTP requests?

Answer: GET and POST are two types of HTTP requests that can be used to send data to a server. GET requests are used to retrieve data from a server and are visible in the URL, whereas POST requests are used to send data to a server and are not visible in the URL. POST requests are generally used for sensitive data, as they are more secure than GET requests.

// Sending a GET request
$url = "";
$response = file_get_contents($url);

// Sending a POST request
$url = "";
$data = array("key" => "value");
$options = array(
'http' => array(
'header' =>

Costs of Hiring a PHP Developer

Basic back-end developers have a foundational knowledge of back-end technologies, including RESTful APIs and databases such as MySQL, and charge $15–80 per hour. Intermediate-advanced developers have specialized knowledge in back-end server environments like AWS and specific PHP frameworks and charge $30–110 per hour. Full-stack developers who have expertise in both front-end and back-end technologies charge $45–150 per hour.

Hourly rates vs. fixed price contracts

When hiring a PHP developer, one of the key considerations is the cost of their services. Two main pricing models are to consider: hourly rates and fixed price contracts. Here’s a breakdown of each:

Hourly rates: With this pricing model, the PHP developer charges an hourly rate for their time and expertise. The rate is typically based on their experience and the project’s complexity. Hourly rates can be a good option if your project has a flexible scope or needs a developer for ongoing work.

Hourly rates of PHP developers depend on the project complexity and the required skills:

Type of PHP DeveloperDescriptionAverage Hourly Rate
Basic Back-end PHPBack-end fundamentals (RESTful APIs, Lambda functions). Databases like MySQL. Content Management Systems like WordPress. Technology stack like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).$15–$80
Intermediate – AdvancedBeyond fundamentals, specialization in a back-end server environment like AWS (Amazon Web Services), also skilled in one or more chosen PHP frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, or Cake.$30–$110
Full Stack DeveloperA mix of front-end and back-end technology expertise. Expertise working with Twig, Blade, and ReactPHP.$45–$150

Fixed price contracts: With this pricing model, the PHP developer provides a quote for the entire project based on a set scope of work. This quote typically includes a fixed price for the project as well as any additional expenses, such as hosting or software licenses. Fixed price contracts can be a good option if you have a clear idea of the scope of work and timeline for your project.

Factors that affect the cost of hiring a PHP developer

Several factors can affect the cost of hiring a PHP developer. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Project scope

Project scope is one of the biggest signs of your project’s cost. Developing an accurate project description is key in order to determining the scope of the project. Regarding scope, the nature of the work is the most important variable; you cannot assume all PHP projects are the same. For instance, coding a custom WordPress site requires much less overall scope than developing a social media app, complete with APIs and databases. Doing your research beforehand can help you better determine the scope of your project’s scope and the cost that comes with it.

PHP developer experience

When considering the cost factor of hiring a PHP developer, paying attention to the developer’s experience and background is essential. Since PHP is one of the most popular web development languages, there is a wide selection of available talent. Therefore, it is important to put extra effort into the interview and vetting process to ensure you’re getting the expertise you need. It is also important to recognize the scope of your project when deciding the caliber of developer you’ll need. Although more simple and time-consuming projects require dedication, they do not often require a senior-level PHP developer.

Working with PHP developers

Effective collaboration and communication is key to the success of any project, and this is especially true when working with dedicated PHP developers. Here are some tips for collaborating and communicating effectively:

  1. Establish clear goals and expectations: Before working with a PHP developer, it’s important to establish clear goals and expectations for the project. This includes outlining the scope of work, timeline, deliverables, and any specific requirements or preferences you have. Tools such as Trello or Asana can help organize and track project tasks and progress.
  2. Use a project management tool: A project management tool such as Asana or Jira can help you keep track of tasks, deadlines, and project progress. It can also provide a central location for communication, document sharing, and collaboration.
  3. Set up regular check-ins: Regular check-ins with your PHP developer can help ensure that the project is on track and help identify any potential issues early on. These check-ins can be in-person meetings, phone calls, or video conferences via platforms such as Zoom or Skype, depending on your preference and project needs.
  4. Communicate clearly and promptly: Clear and timely communication is essential for the success of any project. Be sure to provide any necessary feedback or updates in a timely manner, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you have any questions. Communication can be done through project management tools, email, or real-time messaging platforms like Slack.

Best practices for managing projects and payments

When working with PHP developers, it’s important to have a clear process in place for managing projects and payments. Here are some best practices to consider:

One stop solution for PHP developers

If you don’t want the time-consuming hassle of establishing communication routes, payment gateways, and collaboration tools, use Toptal. Toptal will handle everything, from hiring to the end for you.

Use a contract

One of the most important decisions you can make when working with PHP developers is to use a contract. A written contract provides both the client and the developer with clear expectations and legal protection when creating a web project. A contract can help ensure that the project goes as smoothly as possible, and both parties are satisfied with the results.

Before signing any contract, it’s essential to read and understand the entire document. The contract should include the scope of work, timeline, and payment terms that were discussed and agreed upon. For example, a typical contract will include details such as the developer’s payment amounts, milestones, deliverables, and other project expectations. Confirm that the contract accurately reflects the services that the developer is providing, and addresses any concerns that you have.

The contract should also include the details of any responsibility or liability in the event the terms of the contract are not met. Developing a project can be a lengthy process, and any unforeseen issues might arise along the way. Ensure that the contract addresses any issues related to the project’s completion, such as missed deadlines or unsatisfactory results. If the contract does not include such clauses, you may negotiate for their inclusion.

Use a payment gateway

A payment gateway provides an ideal solution for processing payments and invoices in a secure and convenient way. This ensures that payments are received promptly and securely.

A payment gateway works by providing a secure payment gateway service that interacts between the merchant and the customer. The merchant creates an account with the payment gateway and then embeds the gateway into their website or app. Once this is done, customers can submit payment details via secure online forms and the payment gateway processes the information. The customer’s payment details are never stored on the merchant’s website or app, which helps ensure secure payments.

The three most popular solutions include:

  • PayPal
  • Payoneer
  • Stripe

Set up milestones

Milestones provide a clear roadmap for progress and help to break up the project into more manageable chunks. A timeline with actionable deadlines and progress markers can be used to track the milestones and provide both parties with visibility on the project’s progress.

Milestones also allow for regular checkpoints to review results, make modifications, and identify and address any issues. It is important to agree on a timeline that works for both parties and to give the PHP developer input and feedback to anticipate challenges and optimize the workflow.

Monitor project progress

When working with PHP developers, monitoring progress is critical to ensuring a successful project. For the project to run smoothly and for any issues to be addressed as quickly as possible, regular check-ins and updates are necessary. To keep track of progress and assign tasks, schedule regular check-ins with the development team and use a project management tool.

A quality assurance and quality control testing process ensures that the software meets project specifications and is error-free. Create detailed documentation of progress, including changes, bugs, or issues you encounter, which will make the project easier to complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to hire a PHP developer?

The cost of hiring a PHP developer can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the developer’s experience, location, and the specific project requirements. The hourly rate of a PHP developer can range from $25 to $150 per hour, or even higher for more experienced developers or specialized projects. For example, a junior developer in a low-cost location may charge around $25-$50 per hour, while a senior developer in a high-cost location may charge $100-$150 or more per hour.

What is the best place to hire a freelance PHP developer?

Toptal is a platform that connects businesses with top-tier freelancers, including PHP developers. The platform has a stringent vetting process that only allows the top 3% of freelancers to join, which means that the freelancers on Toptal are consistently high-quality and reliable.


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