Programming
Article

PHP Job Trends (?)

By Harry Fuecks

[Warning / Disclaimer] Dubious statistical “analysis” ahead (pinches of salt not included)…

Have to confess I’m an avid watcher of Jobserve.com, a job search listing primarily focused on the UK but with a growing number of blips from Eurupe, the States and OZ.

Jobserve is old (going back somewhere to 1994 if I remember right) and was originally focused purely on IT jobs. From the start, had the same principle as Google – keep it simple and, thankfully, hasn’t lost it. Those advertising on it tend to be “headhunters” / agencies, which means they’re generally tuned into the right keywords (even if they don’t know what they mean) which helps keeps searches focused while reflecting the going rate salary-wise. Listings tend to clear within a week so it’s a pretty good “snapshot” of the IT job market (at least in the UK) at any given time.

Anyway – PHPwise, Jobserve is telling nothing but good news…

Back in November 2002 logged the number of results returned for a search for “PHP” at 79. Two years later the result is consistently twice that – right now 155 matches for PHP. And things haven’t exactly been rosy for web developers the last couple of years…

Another interesting phenomenon is the growing number of “pure PHP” jobs. Back in 2002 you’d mainly see either designer jobs like “Flash with PHP” or techie jobs along the lines of “Java + PHP nice-to-have” or “Perl and a touch of PHP”. The picture in 2004 is more employers demanding specialized PHP developers (+ web standards and some DB of course) and more interesting, seems they understand exactly what PHP is (vs. “Excellent Javascript + PHP nice-to-have” two years ago). Take this listing for example (NOTE: the link probably won’t work in a couple of days);

PHP Developer (PHP V5 or PHP V4) with strong Object Orientated experience. In addition you will ideally have a good understanding of DHTML, XHTML, CSS and MYSQL. This is an ideal opportunity to join a leading interactive TV company offering excellent career prospects.

PHP version 5 hasn’t exactly appeared on the front cover of IT Directory Weekly but here’s a company asking for it.

The third “trend” I’ve observed over the last couple of years is PHP salaries on the rise. In the UK a guess a “decent” or “average” IT salary is about 30k UK Pounds a year (about 55,000 USD / 45,000 Euro). Going a couple of years back PHP salaries (typically for web designer-type jobs) were hovering around the 20k mark – above 25k was rare while 15k at “will hack PHP for food” end of the scale wasn’t so rare.

Right now the average wage for PHP seems to be around the 30k mark (normalized with other IT jobs) with 25k seemly the bottom bracket and blips like this paying a PHP developer 40k-47k pa (73 – 85k USD) … and it’s basically a pure PHP job.

Other interesting searches include “php oracle”, which suggests at least a few organisations with deep pockets hiring PHP developers and “php soap” – was surprised to find anything.

Also Python note: last time I looked (about a year ago) was less that 5 jobs matching – today we’re hitting 34.

Anyway perhaps those are optimistic “indicators”. Perhaps it’s worth hacking some screen shaping tools to automate? Or perhaps just an indicator of where my mind is right now… ;)

  • http://www.modulemedia.com zakruvalcaba

    Interesting, 541 ASP.NET jobs. That’s over 3 times more.

  • pmaster

    Interesting, 809 PERL jobs. zakruvalcaba, what point were you trying to make?

  • Atealtha

    Keep in mind while job offers are not at a “for food” level, there are lots of “coders” out there that offer much lower prices. That is what management likes to see, they don’t know enough PHP to see that the code isn’t scalable.

  • http://www.village-eaters.com/ Darcy

    I saw an add for dice.com the other day, and just took a quick look. At the moment, 257 matches to a ‘php’ search. Thought this might be useful for anyone looking for US jobs.

  • http://www.phppatterns.com HarryF

    Interesting, 541 ASP.NET jobs. That’s over 3 times more.

    That’s always been the case. ASP is older and the MS stamp brings it to the office. PHP, despite it’s popularity, has only recently (I think) come a technology you could have a normal office job with. That figure I think is about the same as it was two years ago.

    That is what management likes to see, they don’t know enough PHP to see that the code isn’t scalable.

    Very true. To an extent it helps when they ask for other skills (e.g. Linux/Apache knowhow or Java/Perl)

  • http://www.physicsforums.com dethfire

    I think php jobs are fairly easy to find. For good money that is a different story.

  • http://www.modulemedia.com zakruvalcaba

    Interesting, 809 PERL jobs. zakruvalcaba, what point were you trying to make?

    Hmm, last time I checked PHP and ASP.NET were technologies, PERL on the other hand is a language. Do a search for CGI and you get a grim 36. Since you bring up languages, VB returns 1529 and C# returns 984. I don’t really have a point I just wanted to stir things up a bit.

  • http://www.phppatterns.com HarryF

    Hmm, last time I checked PHP and ASP.NET were technologies, PERL on the other hand is a language.

    For ASP.NET definately. For PHP the definition is more blurred. Yes and no I guess. Perhaps “special purpose programming language” is right?

    I don’t really have a point I just wanted to stir things up a bit.

    Fair enough ;)

  • http://www.phpcomplete.com/ jasonlotito

    As someone who hires PHP developer’s (currently 2 right now, and getting ready to hire a 3rd), I can sit here and say that getting a good PHP developer is not as easy as many people might think.

    Someone who knows PHP is different from someone who is good in the language. Mostly because those that are good with PHP know more than just PHP. They have a certain talent.

    So the first person I hired was a developer I had worked with for sometime, so he was easy. I knew his skill beforehand, and it was a no brainer.

    However, the second position was more difficult. We went through 2 guys before getting a third. Interestingly enough (though not really surprising), this third developer was the youngest of the bunch with the least amount of experience (in terms of years working with PHP), but yet he is the one who has been the most beneficial.

    The other two guys weren’t bad, mind you. He is just really good.

    And this is what I need, because frankly, I am not interested in babysitting developers all day long. I need someone who can actually pull a program together on his own.

    While the number of job offerings are going up, it’s not getting any easier to find qualified people. The Zend Certification might help that, but not for at least another year.

    However, as soon as the Zend Certification takes off, I will most likely use that as a “benchmark” before hiring people. Yeah, people hate certifications (well, some people do), but when you are hiring people, it’s not as easy as a resume and a interview.

  • http://www.theruss.com/ phptek

    [QUOTE]I think php jobs are fairly easy to find. For good money that is a different story[/QUOTE]

    I live/work in London doing a pure PHP job and I should say that I get decent sum…

  • http://www.lastcraft.com/ lastcraft

    Hi.

    PHP is not usually asked for by head hunters. PHP shops tend to be smaller home grown places with only a handful of developers at most. We always hire by word of mouth for example. That said I have had more offers of late for PHP (three by direct mail) than for C++ (none lately).

    One way to get good developers (long term), not just PHP ones, is to require two languages. Any two, not necessarily the one you want. It’s easy to learn them after the first two. We rarely hire to a specific langauge.

    yours, Marcus

  • http://www.ajohnstone.com Andrew-J2000

    Hi,

    [QUOTE=Marcus]
    One way to get good developers (long term), not just PHP ones, is to require two languages. Any two, not necessarily the one you want. It’s easy to learn them after the first two. We rarely hire to a specific langauge.
    [/QUOTE]
    I find that this is quite frustrating, have you taken a look at some of the job specs that some of these agents put out? Whilst it would be an advantage to have a second language, wouldn’t it be better to have a language that complimented the other, than some rediculous long list?

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, last time I checked PHP and ASP.NET were technologies, PERL on the other hand is a language.

    In what terms PHP is more “technology” then Perl? PHP is a language and technology in the same sense as Perl. Probably, mod_php and mod_perl can be considered technologies.

    Forget about CGI. Perl is not CGI, it is a language. Sooner then later Perl 6 and PHP 6 will run from the same Parrot interpreter and the difference will appear only in the syntax and particular languages features.

  • anon

    untill about a month ago I was on

  • Dorsey

    In the New York metro area, the highest paying jobs are for technical skills backed by the large companies (SAP, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft – not necessarily in that order). Here’s my take on that, based on 20+ years of professional experience, with a dose of cynicism thrown in.

    PHP(/MySQL) is just too simple and doesn’t cost enough to adopt, install, and maintain. The folks listed above make huge dollars on equally huge sales to mega-corporations, and their technologies are enormously complex, requiring hordes of consultants to plan and implement. Once implemented, maintenance requires as much, or more, effort and cost over a long period (years).

    The decision-makers in the executive suite brag about how much they spend on IT (enhances their prestige at the country club), while simultaneously groaning over the “necessity” of those costs. As the old saying goes: “nobody ever got fired for recommending IBM”.

    None of these mega-corp decision-makers pay attention to the simple solutions because they are not brought to their attention by the Big 8 consulting firms who prey on them. Why recommend implementing PHP/MySQL so you can place three people for a few months when you can place a dozen or more for a year with Oracle Xi.

    PHP has a good word-of-mouth reputation because it’s a good product, and has recently been getting some good press. But, until the biggies adopt it, as is happening with Linux, it will remain under the radar of the major corporations, and these are the ones who hire the most people, and pay the highest salaries.

  • http://www.sample.com Widow Maker

    [QUOTE]PHP, despite it’s popularity, has only recently (I think) come a technology you could have a normal office job with.[/QUOTE]

    :agree:

    There are a lot of amatuer PHP developers out there which kind of holds up the believe that PHP is popular.

    It is, though remember that the majority of PHP developers are far from a professional level, ie a lack of knowledgeable software layering.

    I’m not university educated, though I have learnt enough (thanks to sitepoint to a certain degree) to know the reasoning and benifits of layering an application.

    Harry,

    Thanks for bringing this subject up as I didn’t realise a service in the UK was actually there ;)

  • Justen

    im just about to start my final year of software engineering as part of my project im involved in developing a web site for one of the departments. Im hoping that after my degree has finished and my project has been finalised i will be employable based on my skills. web programming is something that has always interested me and im pleased to see that my skills are required by *most* employers, now the first step is getting the 1-2 years experience!

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