Programming = future career suicide?

I work in sales for a big vendor in Australia, pays well and close to home but Id like to learn a skill that is both portable and somewhat futureproof. My effective life as a salesperson is limited to maybe another 15 years so need to skill up in something…

For me learning programming (say PHP/SQL) in a structured fashion makes some sense. Im good at maths and science. I have an interest in the web (I know HTML and CSS) and a couple of affiliate sites that do OK so getting some technical skills to build my own sites is also a bit of a no brainer.

However - I see some risks of going down this path based on research i have done on the web.


  • Heaps of low cost poor quality coders, predominantly O/S based - especially for php
  • Alot of younger people here want to start their own “facebook” and want to follow a similar career path, ignoring trades and other services jobs
  • Php may have a limited shelf life?
  • The web is getting somewhat mature in terms of idea exploration and competition is intense.

What are peoples thoughts in relation to learning php with a goal of mobility and job security? Is it a means to an end?

If Im going to invest 1000+ hours into learning it then I want to see my goals met, ie: work from anywhere, career stability, work on my own projects etc etc. Someone suggested I do law but Im hopeless at writing essays:)

What does everyone think?

Cheers, Tubs

I wouldn’t say so, I don’t write code professionally I do it as a hobby, but im pretty sure that if you are good at HTML, CSS, PHP and, SQL then you could definitely either build a website where you could bring in a lot of revenue or work for a company or freelance in such a way that you could make a good living, also I don’t think PHP is outdated especially if you start now because it is always changing.

P.S. I don’t think that this is the write place to post this question you should try the careers and education forum in the manage your site forums.

I had already posted it there too:)

Once you learn PHP it won’t be that difficult to pick up Ruby or Python or a lot of other languages for that matter. It depends whether or not you’re going for freelance or to work for a development agency, if you’re going to a development agency they like well rounded programmers, and knowing your way around popular platforms is a huge plus (Wordpress, Magento, Joomla, etc) all based in PHP.

So if you want to know if you can learn PHP and SQL and nothing else and have a job in 20 years? Probably not, but trust me, you’ll pick up other languages along the way. PHP is a great and not so great starting language, great in the sense that it’s quick to get into, setting up a LAMP stack is a cinch, and it’s loosely typed, which may end up angering you in the end if you ever deal with a more strict language, though if you get experienced, you will know the logic, and from then on you’ll be set mate!

Competition is increasing. More people do know how to code. Languages are advancing. You’re dead on on all those risks but that doesn’t make it a bad field, if anything, it just makes it normal.

Becoming a programmer is a career choice like most others. You’ll start by learning a language and in time may need to pick up another one, or another four, it depends on your specialization and the market you work in.

Your location also matters. Being a large machine operator in a mining town is great, being one in the middle of new york may not be as useful. For coders there are hubs – in Silicon Valley the competition to get developers is just about insane but I’m sure there are other places where it’s hard to find work.

Know your market. Know your goals. If the two align there’s no reason why coding is a bad career choice.

I don’t foresee PHP going away anytime soon. There are many PHP programmers out there but there area also many jobs. However, as I recommend to everyone just starting I would encourage beginning with Java or even C++ than moving to PHP. Learning a lower level language will provide a more fundamental understanding of everything that in-turn will not only make you a stronger PHP programmer but capable of using other languages when the need arises. The wonderful thing about the web is so long as your good at what you do its not all that difficult to find a job. In addition, many places seem open to accepting people that have backgrounds in languages other than the ones being used when they demonstrate a good understanding of the fundamentals. Just recently I have been hearing Ruby and Python are going yo big in the next few years but I just don’t see it. Ruby seemed to have its peak a few years back when rails was new but since then it seems like its been a steady peak down hill. That is my impression on that topic, the same for python. If you want to talk rivals I would say .NET is fast approaching, though that is a completely different ball game from PHP. The thing about PHP though is its really good at what it is meant to do and sucks at anything else. From a design aspect its perfect for the web, unlike C++, C#, etc where some type of framework is needed in between to make them viable for web development hence .NET. Learning something like .NET is comparable to learning PHP + Zend Framework – knowing the language and framework are equally important.

For me, the reason PHP hasn’t died is because it’s extremely easy to build a PHP application and simply run it. I’ve been trying to install Redmine (a RoR app) on a host of mine and I’ve spent the past few days talking to their tech support, and it still doesn’t work!

ASP.NET is primarily a Windows thing, and it runs beautifully. This is probably why C# is the second strongest programming language for job prospects, behind Java. Ruby and Python should be taking far more of that market share, but on the average Linux host it can be an absolute nightmare to get up and running.

As I started programming more than 30 years ago, believe me, it’s not a case of learning a single language i.e. PHP and then living off that until the end of your career.

As your question seems to imply that you are looking at a career of 15 plus years, be prepared to undergo fairly regular bouts of skills updating - if not continuous skills updating.

As a personal opinion, and speaking from experience, I do not think PHP will be that big in 15 years time. Indeed, I don’t think any language widely used now will be.

I have lived through the introduction of various program language introductions, and they always seem to be hyped up as being the next big thing - until, of course, the next big thing comes along.

  • Will PHP still be around in 15 years time? I guess so.
  • Will another newer language have superseded its position? I guess so.
  • Will the web look and operate the same in 15 years time? I guess not.

All personal opinions, of course.

thanks for the replies all, I guess there is no cut and dried answer… Im going to tackle as a hobby and see where that takes me…

Has anyone seen the new language for cloud called bloom?

It wouldn’t hurt you to have a fall back just in case your actual job will soon decline. Start educating yourself right now and don’t mind all the negative aspects of programming.

Today it is good to know PHP/MySQL, tomorrow you will probably need something else, because nothing on the web is futureproof.

Programmers/Web Designers - the field is always changing. I thought it was a given that you would need to constantly update your skills when new stuff is introduced. Staying up with the times, and disposing of old stuff to learn new.

Thats actually something that attracted me to the field…always changing, and always learning