Toptal is a marketplace for top PHP experts, engineers, programmers, coders, architects, and consultants. Top companies and startups choose Toptal PHP development services for their mission-critical PHP web development projects.
United StatesFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since November 26, 2013
KosovoFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since October 22, 2014
BrazilFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since October 20, 2013
Igor is a web developer focused on modern PHP and JS, always striving for new technologies. When he wears his back-end hat, he's focused on performant and DRY code, working on API servers or consumers. When he gets his front-end hat on, he works heavily on maintaining the best UX he can make for his users.
SpainFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since July 2, 2015
ThailandFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since June 20, 2016
Alexey is an experienced full-stack developer with extensive knowledge of OOP and design patterns. He specializes in creating complex web services using modern tech stacks like Node.js and PHP/Laravel. He has over nine years of experience and a bachelor's degree in computer science and certifications in PHP and MySQL from Zend and Oracle, respectively.
NorwayFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since June 14, 2019
Branislav is a highly-skilled, enthusiastic developer. He is hard-working, possesses extensive problem-solving skills, and loves implementing a general algorithmic approach. A team player with a can-do attitude, Branislav is interested in eCommerce and PHP in further connection with other services. He’s worked the full development lifecycle from identifying the client’s real needs to designing the systems architecture as well as implementation.
SerbiaFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since November 3, 2014
Milorad has over ten years of experience on IT projects involving Microsoft, Cisco, virtual systems, networking, VoIP, and other technologies. He is very self-motivated and professional QA leader and is always willing to introduce improvements into the work process. He is a strong team player, able to give support and guidance to other staff members. Milorad works well in a variety of environments.
United StatesFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since April 15, 2019
Alex has over ten years of experience developing software, especially web and mobile apps. He’s led the development of interactive projects for companies including AT&T, EMC, Legendary Pictures, Hewlett Packard, Foundation Capital, UCLA, Anaheim Ducks, and LA18 Television. Apps he’s developed have been featured in TechCrunch and iPod commercials. Alex graduated with a degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.
United StatesFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since August 3, 2018
CanadaFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since December 19, 2019
Benjamin is a solid developer with career highlights of working as a senior full-stack developer for a big data analytics startup, a payment processor, and a user testing service. He's worked across the entire development lifecycle and specializes in the front end. Benjamin is meticulous with implementation details while always considering and balancing broader stakeholder concerns. Communication wise, he is prompt, relevant, and professional.
RomaniaFreelance PHP Developer at Toptal Since December 9, 2019
With over a decade of programming experience and over eight years as a business owner, Lorand knows the importance of excellent communication and understanding with a client. He's obsessed with high quality and attention to detail, and he strives to find the best solutions possible. He currently focuses on using Magento or TYPO3 in his projects.
PHP developers specialize in one of the most popular programming languages in the world. They can create websites, web applications, microservices, APIs and more. This guide to hiring PHP developers highlights how to create a suitable job description and pose effective interview questions to help you identify the best candidates for your company.
... allows corporations to quickly assemble teams that have the right skills for specific projects.
Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Creating an app for the game
Leading a digital transformation
What our clients think
Clients Rate Toptal PHP Developers4.3 / 5.0on average across 2,766 reviews as of Aug 5, 2023
Tripcents wouldn't exist without Toptal. Toptal Projects enabled us to rapidly develop our foundation with a product manager, lead developer, and senior designer. In just over 60 days we went from concept to Alpha. The speed, knowledge, expertise, and flexibility is second to none. The Toptal team were as part of tripcents as any in-house team member of tripcents. They contributed and took ownership of the development just like everyone else. We will continue to use Toptal. As a start up, they are our secret weapon.
Brantley Pace, CEO & Co-Founder
I am more than pleased with our experience with Toptal. The professional I got to work with was on the phone with me within a couple of hours. I knew after discussing my project with him that he was the candidate I wanted. I hired him immediately and he wasted no time in getting to my project, even going the extra mile by adding some great design elements that enhanced our overall look.
Paul Fenley, Director
K Dunn & Associates
The developers I was paired with were incredible -- smart, driven, and responsive. It used to be hard to find quality engineers and consultants. Now it isn't.
Ryan Rockefeller, CEO
Toptal understood our project needs immediately. We were matched with an exceptional freelancer from Argentina who, from Day 1, immersed himself in our industry, blended seamlessly with our team, understood our vision, and produced top-notch results. Toptal makes connecting with superior developers and programmers very easy.
Jason Kulik, Co-Founder
As a small company with limited resources we can't afford to make expensive mistakes. Toptal provided us with an experienced programmer who was able to hit the ground running and begin contributing immediately. It has been a great experience and one we'd repeat again in a heartbeat.
Stuart Pocknee , Principal
Site Specific Software Solutions
We used Toptal to hire a developer with extensive Amazon Web Services experience. We interviewed four candidates, one of which turned out to be a great fit for our requirements. The process was quick and effective.
Abner Guzmán Rivera, CTO and Chief Scientist
Sergio was an awesome developer to work with. Top notch, responsive, and got the work done efficiently.
Dennis Baldwin, Chief Technologist and Co-Founder
Working with Marcin is a joy. He is competent, professional, flexible, and extremely quick to understand what is required and how to implement it.
André Fischer, CTO
We needed a expert engineer who could start on our project immediately. Simanas exceeded our expectations with his work. Not having to interview and chase down an expert developer was an excellent time-saver and made everyone feel more comfortable with our choice to switch platforms to utilize a more robust language. Toptal made the process easy and convenient. Toptal is now the first place we look for expert-level help.
Derek Minor, Senior VP of Web Development
Networld Media Group
Toptal's developers and architects have been both very professional and easy to work with. The solution they produced was fairly priced and top quality, reducing our time to launch. Thanks again, Toptal.
Jeremy Wessels, CEO
We had a great experience with Toptal. They paired us with the perfect developer for our application and made the process very easy. It was also easy to extend beyond the initial time frame, and we were able to keep the same contractor throughout our project. We definitely recommend Toptal for finding high quality talent quickly and seamlessly.
Ryan Morrissey, CTO
Applied Business Technologies, LLC
I'm incredibly impressed with Toptal. Our developer communicates with me every day, and is a very powerful coder. He's a true professional and his work is just excellent. 5 stars for Toptal.
Pietro Casoar, CEO
Ronin Play Pty Ltd
Working with Toptal has been a great experience. Prior to using them, I had spent quite some time interviewing other freelancers and wasn't finding what I needed. After engaging with Toptal, they matched me up with the perfect developer in a matter of days. The developer I'm working with not only delivers quality code, but he also makes suggestions on things that I hadn't thought of. It's clear to me that Amaury knows what he is doing. Highly recommended!
George Cheng, CEO
As a Toptal qualified front-end developer, I also run my own consulting practice. When clients come to me for help filling key roles on their team, Toptal is the only place I feel comfortable recommending. Toptal's entire candidate pool is the best of the best. Toptal is the best value for money I've found in nearly half a decade of professional online work.
Ethan Brooks, CTO
Langlotz Patent & Trademark Works, Inc.
In Higgle's early days, we needed the best-in-class developers, at affordable rates, in a timely fashion. Toptal delivered!
Lara Aldag, CEO
Toptal makes finding a candidate extremely easy and gives you peace-of-mind that they have the skills to deliver. I would definitely recommend their services to anyone looking for highly-skilled developers.
Michael Gluckman, Data Manager
Toptal’s ability to rapidly match our project with the best developers was just superb. The developers have become part of our team, and I’m amazed at the level of professional commitment each of them has demonstrated. For those looking to work remotely with the best engineers, look no further than Toptal.
Laurent Alis, Founder
Toptal makes finding qualified engineers a breeze. We needed an experienced ASP.NET MVC architect to guide the development of our start-up app, and Toptal had three great candidates for us in less than a week. After making our selection, the engineer was online immediately and hit the ground running. It was so much faster and easier than having to discover and vet candidates ourselves.
Jeff Kelly, Co-Founder
We needed some short-term work in Scala, and Toptal found us a great developer within 24 hours. This simply would not have been possible via any other platform.
Franco Arda, Co-Founder
Toptal offers a no-compromise solution to businesses undergoing rapid development and scale. Every engineer we've contracted through Toptal has quickly integrated into our team and held their work to the highest standard of quality while maintaining blazing development speed.
The cost to hire a PHP developer varies considerably by framework specialization, experience, and region, but the yearly cost can be significant, as with any back-end or full-stack developer role. As a point of reference, Glassdoor lists the average total pay for a PHP developer in the United States to be $108,178 as of July 12, 2023.
For companies hiring for their first PHP project, it’s worth bearing in mind other project costs, such as dedicated or virtual server resources to host a PHP project, software licensing fees, and future maintenance and security update costs. These additional costs make thorough evaluation of potential PHP developers for hire even more important in terms of protecting the project’s overall ROI.
How do you hire a PHP developer?
With a popular language like PHP, the challenge is to efficiently sort through the correspondingly massive pool of developer candidates:
Identify the skills gap for your project, paying close attention to specific subtechnologies (PHP frameworks, etc.) your new developer will need to have experience with.
Next, write a job description that’s both compelling and detailed. This force multiplier, will provide candidates and hiring managers with a quicker path to determine whether there’s a potential match. It also gives both parties an idea of which PHP subskills are harder requirements and which could be compensated for via mentorship or training.
Prepare savvy interview questions. In many cases, you’ll also need the appropriate technical staff to evaluate answers from interviewees.
How in demand is PHP?
With 80% of global websites being built using PHP, the ecosystem of the long-used back-end programming language continues to thrive. This means that PHP-based technologies continue to evolve in how they add value; companies, from startups to large enterprises, continue to leverage them; and new and experienced developers alike continue to choose it for their careers.
Why should you hire a PHP developer?
PHP can be used for the development of almost every type of software that can be found on the web, like custom-built websites of any size, WordPress websites, APIs, back-end microservices, and performance-critical services. If you need to develop products like these, PHP experts should be considered.
PHP coders often benefit a business by tapping into the power of one of PHP’s many well-supported development frameworks, like Laravel, Symfony, or Laminas (formerly Zend Framework). Frameworks provide PHP developers a common structure so they don’t have to spend time building and organizing basic features like routing, database connections, and configuration from scratch. If your project already uses a PHP framework, hiring PHP specialists is a natural fit because they will be able to efficiently leverage your current development environment to start creating new capabilities.
How quickly can you hire with Toptal?
Typically, you can hire a PHP developer with Toptal in about 48 hours. Our talent matchers are experts in the same fields they’re matching in—they’re not recruiters or HR reps. They’ll work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics, and match you with ideal candidates from our vetted global talent network.
Once you select your PHP developer, you’ll have a no-risk trial period to ensure they’re the perfect fit. Our matching process has a 98% trial-to-hire rate, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best fit every time.
What are PHP’s main strengths?
PHP is a simple and fast scripting language with a very large community. With PHP’s huge popularity, it’s easy and inexpensive to find hosting to run PHP applications. With frameworks like Laravel, Phalcon, CakePHP, Yii, and CodeIgniter, PHP has become a very suitable language to build large web applications as well. Whether your company is building a simple website, a large monolithic app, or a microservice, PHP and its many frameworks can be a very good choice.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that popular PHP-based software like WordPress, Laravel, Drupal, and MediaWiki, makes it extremely cost-effective and fast to build specific applications like CMS systems, blog platforms, or e-commerce websites, among others.
Mladen is a CTO, co-founder, and full-stack developer who has launched embedded and web apps using Laravel, Laminas (formerly Zend Framework), and other PHP frameworks. He has worked at multiple successful startups on a range of projects, including SaaS, streaming, news, and booking platforms. Mladen specializes in building resilient technical infrastructure, leading product and feature development, and migrating legacy codebases.
PHP Web Developer Demand Continues to Grow As Fast As the Internet
Nearly a fifth of professional developers surveyed in 2023 used PHP, placing it among the top 10 programming languages. And PHP programmers are prolific: Statistically, nearly 80% of web sites use PHP-based back ends, bolstered in no small part by the massive popularity of private installations of WordPress—whose core and customizations are written using PHP.
Demand for PHP developers for hire remains steady as the language continues to evolve: Codebases using PHP need to be maintained in order to work with currently supported and secure PHP versions. With such a large submarket, it can be difficult for companies to attract top-notch developers, and even more difficult to efficiently assess a large number of candidates. This guide will help you do both, by outlining subskills to watch for, interview questions to ask, and points to cover in a winning job description.
What attributes distinguish quality PHP Developers from others?
Before exploring distinguishing attributes, it helps to first answer the question, “What does a PHP developer do?” The responsibilities of a PHP developer include the writing, testing, and maintenance of the source code for server-side web applications. These applications can be developed using either pure PHP or by leveraging various PHP frameworks, like Laravel, Symfony, and CodeIgniter or content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Deep skills with a particular PHP framework allow a programmer to multiply their productivity by avoiding the reinvention of the wheel. But familiarity with multiple frameworks allows PHP experts to make better-informed choices in the case of greenfield projects.
The best PHP programmers ensure applications are performant and secure, avoidmistakes, and write code that follows well-thought-out software development principles. They will have experience with common back-end tasks like connecting to databases and be capable of handling basic DevOps responsibilities like creating and configuring environments. They will also know how to meet prudent levels of security standards to avoid unnecessary business risks.
Factors to ensure that your potential hire produces high-quality code
Some of the aforementioned areas can be evaluated based on a candidate’s résumé and follow-up discussions. However, many companies elect to assess programming ability directly, either with a live coding interview or a take-home assessment.
Both of these strategies add to time requirements on both sides of the table, although companies can outsource these evaluations, particularly live coding interviews. But without some kind of code quality evaluation, companies cannot judge for themselves the quality of PHP code they can expect the candidate to produce once hired. One alternative for candidates who happen to be open-source contributors is for companies to directly evaluate their code contributions, but it’s much harder to produce consistent metrics with this tactic.
The consequences of missing this step may involve additional training expenses or a lost onboarding investment—assuming a company has a functioning quality assurance system that would catch newcomers’ mistakes before they did any serious harm to the product.
How can you identify the ideal PHP Developer for you?
Hiring managers who understand the most common types of PHP projects are better positioned to spot appropriate candidates and match them to their business needs. Whether it’s within the scope of customizing a CMS system or other type of website, PHP experts are most commonly sought to:
Build a dynamic site or add dynamic components such as product listings, search, user registration, authentication, a shopping cart, and more.
Integrate an existing site with other systems such as third-party payment processing APIs.
Troubleshoot and optimize poorly performing websites.
Implement advanced security mechanisms like multifactor authentication (MFA), thorough input sanitization, secure session management, and industry-standard encryption protocols.
Assess code for adherence to industry standards, proper structure, and security requirements.
Test code across browsers, devices, and operating systems to ensure seamless functionality.
Optimize code for different platforms to deliver a consistent user experience.
A preexisting project built upon a PHP framework or platform like WordPress could leverage the skills of a PHP specialist. In particular, experience with Symfony and Laravel are helpful because Symfony is the basis for other popular PHP-based technologies like Drupal, while Laravel has established itself as a fundamental framework for numerous existing products. In addition, Laravel is excellent for rapid prototyping, whereas Symfony provides a more stable foundation for longer-term scalability. But each PHP-based system has its nuances, so it’s worth checking a candidate’s specific experience levels if you want them to hit the ground running.
Beyond frameworks and platforms, there are several related technologies that are strongly relevant when examining the experience of PHP developers for hire:
Additional complementary PHP developer skills
Relational (SQL) databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL – While not the only approach to storing data on the back end, SQL is a well-established standard and still wholly appropriate for a litany of use cases. Unless your tech stack specifically uses a NoSQL database like MongoDB, strong SQL skills are a must when hiring a PHP expert. It’s especially helpful if their experience aligns with the particular database your project uses.
REST APIs and web servers – Your project may not implement its own REST API—perhaps using a GraphQL-based API instead—but chances are your project’s back end will eventually need to integrate with a third-party REST API. To that end, it’s worth hiring a PHP engineer who knows a few tricks about optimizing async calls to REST APIs and handling their errors appropriately.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) and model-view-controller (MVC) architecture – These widely used approaches to coding result in more readable, modular, and maintainable code. PHP developers not well-versed in them may take longer to familiarize themselves with your project’s codebase and may struggle to create code others can collaborate on efficiently, lowering your ROI. This is crucial not only on large-scale projects, but also for smaller ones because they can only evolve substantially if they have a cohesive architectural approach.
Unit testing – Even the most basic software benefits from this automated testing technique. Having a suite of unit tests means that specific modules of code can be counted on to continue working correctly, even when seemingly unrelated code is changed. Insist on PHP experts who are serious about unit testing: Without it, it’s all too easy for developers to waste time in a vicious circle, fixing an urgent bug in a way that causes another one to resurface.
When employing skilled PHP developers, it is important that they have the right mix of technical and soft skills. The latter are important because PHP experts usually work on complex core system features where the interaction with other team members is essential. Furthermore, organizational skills—including fluency in indispensable collaboration and source control tools such as Git—should be considered a given for any PHP development role.
How to Write a PHP Developer Job Description for Your Project
Before looking to hire PHP developers, it is best to define the scope of your project. Writing down the specifics of your project will provide clarity on the skills gap you face, the gaps you anticipate down the road, and whether it would be better to focus on hiring a full-time employee or opt for the flexibility of a freelancer.
After defining your project and any skills gap, you next task is to create a job post. It’s helpful to use a template for this, and include the most relevant and attractive details about your organization, team, and project.
What are the most important PHP Developer interview questions?
When interviewing PHP engineers, open-ended questions can be used to spark further discussion:
What PHP frameworks have you worked with, and what has your experience with each been like?
Can you provide an example of a recent PHP project you have contributed to that makes you proud?
How would you use PHP template engines to create dynamic content? Which template engines have you used, which do you prefer, and why?
How would you go about using PHP to interact with a database to retrieve data?
What is the difference between the isset and empty functions in PHP?
The isset function is used to determine if a variable exists and has a non-null value, returning true in that case. In contrast, the empty function checks if a variable is considered empty, returning true if the variable is empty (i.e., not set, false, 0, an empty string, an empty array, or null). While isset checks for existence and a non-null value, empty specifically focuses on emptiness, including null values.
How can you prevent SQL injection vulnerabilities in PHP?
Prepared statements or parameterized queries are used to prevent SQL injection vulnerabilities. Prepared statements separate the SQL code from the user input, eliminating the possibility of injecting malicious code. By binding the input values to placeholders in the SQL statement, the database engine can distinguish between the actual SQL code and user-supplied data, effectively preventing any unauthorized SQL operations.
How do you handle errors in PHP?
In PHP, errors and exceptions can be handled using error-handling mechanisms. One common approach is to use the try-catch block to catch exceptions and gracefully handle errors. By wrapping the code that may generate an exception or error inside the try block, you can catch the specific exception or error type and provide appropriate error handling or recovery logic in the corresponding catch blocks.
What is the difference between include and require in PHP?
Both include and require are used to include and evaluate external PHP files. The main difference between them is how they handle errors. The include statement includes a file and continues the script execution even if the file is not found or fails to include, resulting in a warning. In contrast, the require statement includes a file and stops the script execution with a fatal error if the file is not found or fails to include. In situations where the included file is essential for the script’s functionality, require is often preferred to ensure that the script doesn’t proceed without it.
How does PHP handle sessions? Explain the process of initializing and using sessions in PHP.
PHP provides built-in support for handling sessions, which allow developers to persist data across multiple requests for the same user. The process of initializing and using sessions involves the following steps:
Session Initialization – To start a session in PHP, a developer needs to call the session_start function. This function creates a unique session ID and initializes a session file on the server to store session data.
Storing and Retrieving Session Data – After starting a session, data can be read and written using the $_SESSION superglobal array. For example, a developer can set a session variable like $_SESSION['username'] = 'John'; to store the username.
Using Session Data – Throughout the user’s session, a developer can access the stored session data by referencing the corresponding session variable. For instance, they can display the username by echoing $_SESSION['username'];.
Session Destruction – When the session is no longer needed or when the user logs out, a developer can call session_destroy. This clears all session data and deletes the session file on the server.
Understanding how sessions work in PHP is essential for managing user authentication, personalizing output, and maintaining state across multiple requests.
Why do companies hire PHP Developers?
PHP’s continued dominance of back-end web projects keeps its ecosystem thriving. Because PHP and its popular frameworks are not likely to die out any time soon, it often makes good business sense to hire a PHP specialist to maintain an existing PHP codebase.
Companies continue to hire PHP developers for greenfield projects too. The productivity boost and endless developer resources that come with choosing a PHP technology like WordPress, Drupal, Laravel, or Symfony are advantages that are hard to ignore. This not only makes PHP coders for hire more numerous, but also makes specializations worth paying attention to if your project is on a tight timeline.
For any use case, there’s at least one PHP-based framework or platform that will help a PHP expert expedite your project. Now that you know which secondary skills to seek, you’re in a much better position to match PHP engineer candidates to your business needs.
The technical content presented in this article was reviewed by Florin Cabuz.