4 Ways To Improve Your PHP Developer Salary

If you’re a PHP developer, then this article will be useful to you. We’ve researched the average PHP developer salary and included a few tips for you to earn more than the average.

What is the Average PHP Developer Salary?

This article is a part of my salary improvement series, which has covered a few roles already.

So, let’s start with the figures.

The average PHP developer salary in the US is $98,754.


Let’s have a look at how this compares to related roles:

Junior Software Engineer$52,000
Lead Software Engineer$103,000
Python Developer$92,000
C# Developer$91,000
Junior Net Developer$59,000
Lead Net Developer$102,000
Senior Net Developer$97,000

As you can see in the table above, there are several related roles and there is quite a range in salary too:

  • Junior Software Engineer/Lead Software Engineer: These roles are more advanced and generally have more responsibility than a PHP developer, as they include the design of the software and some architecture components. Software engineers can make some good money.
  • Python Developer: Python seems to be quite popular at the moment, and has a much higher salary than a PHP developer as well. There may be other factors that cause this, however.
  • C# Developer: This role has a similar salary to the Python developer, which is also much higher than the PHP developer
  • Junior .NET Developer/Senior .NET Developer/Lead .NET Developer: This range of roles covers .NET development and the advancement that comes with experience. The Junior level is similar to the PHP Developer salary, but moves up from there.

Alright, so we’ve seen some comparable roles and how they relate salary-wise to PHP developers. It seems that compared to other developers, PHP developers are paid quite a bit less.

Why Are PHP Devs Paid Less Than Other Roles?

There are a few reasons why the average PHP developer is paid less than developers in other roles. Some of these reasons are:

  • More developers. There seems to be a lot more PHP developers in the industry than other technologies, such as Java and .NET
  • Low barrier to entry. To get started as a PHP developer is pretty easy and does not cost anything. You need to pay to develop in .NET and both .NET and Java are a little harder to learn.
  • Self-taught. Many PHP developers are self taught, younger, and may not realise the value of themselves and feel the need to reduce their salary to compete with other developers in other languages.

Now that we’ve covered some of these reasons, let’s have a look into the positives. How can we earn more as a PHP developer?

PHP is a web development language, as it is used to create pages and scripts for web sites. As a result, there are many related languages and technologies that can be learnt and used along with it. If you can learn these, you can demand a higher PHP developer salary.

Some of these skills are:

  • Linux – Learning the Linux operating system and associated technologies can help your salary by approximately 25%, according to Payscale.com.
  • SQL (Structured Query Language) – The database querying language can be helpful, and is almost essential, for PHP developers. It has a 14% impact on salaries according to Payscale.
  • jQuery – This JavaScript library is popular with PHP developers and can also impact your salary in a good way.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Learning CSS is almost essential for web developers.
  • JavaScript – Like CSS, learning JavaScript is a good idea for web developers.
  • WordPress – A popular (link) content management system that runs a lot of news websites, blogs, and similar sites.

The concern with WordPress that I’ll mention is that it is a popular skill that is outsourced. It runs on many sites and blogs, and is often outsourced by these business owners to other countries. That being said, it’s probably the case for many web development skills. Learning WordPress can help your PHP developer salary, but according to Payscale, not by much.

2. Showcase Your Experience

Due to the low barrier of entry for PHP developers, there are lot of developers out there with minimal training and experience. It’s easy to read a tutorial, as there are so many low quality PHP tutorials on the Internet (there are some good ones too, though). This means there are many PHP developers out there who know the language, can write web pages in PHP, but don’t have the experience doing so for other companies.

This is where you come in. If you have the experience writing PHP for other companies and getting paid for it, you should highlight it. Mention it to your HR manager when going for a raise to your current PHP developer salary, or when finding a new job. Mention that you have actual, commercial experience, rather than just writing it at home for your own studies.

I actually learnt PHP myself many years ago as well. I learnt it before I went into university, and I think I learnt it using an online tutorial. I wrote up a few web pages for myself over the years and linked the pages to a database. However, I have no actual client experience. I’ve never done any web pages for a client and gotten paid for it. If I went for a job as a PHP developer, I doubt I would get one, and if I did, it would not pay very well. This is because I have no commercial experience, and I actually haven’t done PHP development for some time.

My point is, if you, as someone with experience, was competing with me for the same job, you would get the job every time. Even if we both know PHP to the same level, experience really helps.

3. Get A Full Time Position

If you’re a freelancer or contractor, you may be able to earn a high salary by moving into a full time position. Due to the popularity of PHP as a language, and the number of PHP developers, there are a lot of freelance PHP developers. These freelancers would charge and hourly rate and be on shorter term contracts. If you’re one of these, moving to full time can help.

Have a look on your favourite job website (Dice, Monster, Indeed, for example) to find some PHP developer jobs. Look at those that have a salary listed and see if it is better than what you’re getting now. Even if the salary isn’t better at an hourly rate than what you’re getting as a freelancer, you may be able to earn more in the long run due to promotions and the fact that it would include full-time benefits.

4. Improve Your Non-Development Skills

As there are a lot of PHP developers, you need to stand out from the crowd somehow. Another way to do this is to improve your non-development skills. These could include skills such as:

  • Communication (both written and verbal)
  • Negotiation
  • Software testing
  • Requirements analysis
  • Project management

Getting some knowledge in these areas can help your job and help you be more efficient. It will show your employer that you’re better than the average PHP developer, and therefore should be paid more than the average!

Well, there are a few ways to improve your PHP developer salary. What do you think improves a salary as a PHP developer? Share your thoughts in the section below!