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PHP Developer Salary: Global Guide and Trends in 2021

PHP Developer Salary: Global Guide and Trends in 2021

8 out of 10  websites use PHP in some capacity.

There are nearly 12k job openings on Glassdoor for PHP developers.

Salaries for PHP devs average $85k per year in the US (our own stat based on four job sites).

The tech talent shortage that we’ve been hearing about is as strained as ever. The demand for talent is growing, and so is salary, as companies fight for the most qualified engineers. And now that we know remote work works, more and more companies (startups, SMBs and SMEs) are looking abroad for talent. So much so that companies that never considered hiring outside the US are looking for talent in places like Europe and Latin America.

We scoured job listings and surveys to show what PHP developers make worldwide. When you can find talent in a different country, you still have to pay a fair rate. This guide will take a deep dive into the average PHP developer salary worldwide and break it down by experience and location.

First, let’s look at why PHP is as popular as it is, and the trends we’ve seen in 2020-2021.

 

Why Is PHP so Popular?

Like we mentioned in the introduction, PHP is very far from being forgotten. According to GitHub, it still holds a strong #6 spot in the world’s most popular programming languages.

PHP Language Popularity 2021

PHP is popular because you can build anything with it. The main uses include server-side scripting, command-line scripting, and writing desktop applications. Plus, dozens of frameworks and platforms are powered by PHP. For example, giants like WordPress and Magento, along with Symfony, Laravel, CakePHP, Joomla, and Drupal, are used to create powerful websites and applications. In addition, Yahoo, Facebook, and Wikipedia are heavy into PHP, which means the language still holds an important place among web technologies.

The point is — PHP is used by small websites and businesses all the way up to corporations and global tech giants. And as we will see in the next section, the job market is growing.

A note for accuracy’s sake — some sources on the Internet will have you think that PHP is super easy to pick up and start coding with. But, realistically, you’ll need at least five years of practical experience to make the big bucks.

 

PHP Developer Job Market Trends

One trend emerged in 2020 that no one expected. Instead of engineers being laid off in massive droves, the opposite happened. Oh, and average software developer salaries didn’t go down either.

Hired.com released their State of Software Engineers Report 2021, which showed that demand for engineering roles for 2020 compared to the previous year was virtually unchanged (see chart below).

Software engineer developer demand report

In addition, average salaries for Senior engineering roles went up by 7% in Toronto, 6% in London, 5% in the Bay Area, and 3% in New York. So from the looks of it, despite the initial drop in hiring demand during the most acute phase of the pandemic, salaries and demand for talent are growing. However, when it comes to freelance PHP developer salary, the numbers aren’t as impressive. In fact, they’re mostly unchanged.

According to the CompTIA Tech Jobs Report, the unemployment rate in December 2020 was only 3% in the tech sector compared to 6.7% for the US economy on the whole. This can be explained by the increase in digitalization and how the pandemic forced businesses to supercharge their digital roadmap. Moreover, it wasn’t just about increasing time to market, but embracing new tech — in 2020, AR/VR engineers in the Bay Area saw a 13% salary increase, and machine learning engineer salaries went up by 10% in New York.

 

PHP Developer Salary Global Guide

Let’s define a few things before we get started.

First, there’s no difference between a developer and an engineer — these terms are used interchangeably. In job listings and resumes, you can see variations like PHP Software Engineer, PHP Engineer, and PHP Developer. Second, most average PHP developer salary US and global figures are self-reported, meaning that individuals working in the software industry who specialize in PHP filled in a form with their salary, location and experience level.

And it just so happens that location and experience have a lot of influence on salaries. We’ll first look at PHP dev salaries in the US, then branch out to other hot tech hubs like Canada, Europe, Latin America, and beyond.

Average PHP Developer Salary USA

To get a more objective view of the US job market, we looked at data from Glassdoor, SalaryExpert, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter. Here are the numbers:

If we take the average number across the different websites, we get $84.299/year. Not too shabby, and that doesn’t include bonuses.

Let’s break down this number to get a better understanding of what affects the number. PHP is used in various frameworks, platforms, and backend applications, some of which are infinitely more complex than others. For example, a PHP WordPress developer salary or Laravel PHP developer salary would likely be lower than someone working on a custom backend application that requires deep engineering knowledge and architecture expertise.

Another important thing to consider is location. We won’t go too deep into which state has the highest salaries because the numbers are very inconsistent.

PHP Salary in the US by Experience Level

If you’re new to hiring software developers, it can be frustrating trying to figure out who you’re hiring — a junior, mid-tier, or senior developer.

Reddit user fensizor  put it best when he described the difference between these three levels like this:

Junior: Doesn’t know how to do the task
Middle: Knows how to do the task
Senior: Knows how not to do the task”

In other words, Juniors need support and mentorship, Middles are considered experts who have yet to take on a leadership or mentorship role. And Seniors are looked up to and can make decisions and solve problems.

The problem is that some companies, especially outsourcing companies, use titles too freely. So a Middle dev could be considered a Senior by the agency’s definitions. That’s why we recommend you have a technical expert on board or a consultant who can gauge experience and tech knowledge.

At Bridge, our pre-selection process includes tech interview questions and a soft skills assessment to create a shortlist of the top candidates. Since 99% of our clients are looking for Senior engineers, we chose recruiting partners that specialize in finding Senior-level talent.

From what we’ve seen on job boards and heard from clients, Senior developers are the most sought after. Yes, they cost more money, but the benefits you get are worth every penny. For example, you’ll spend much less time on rework, you’ll have a stable, scalable solution, and your customers will thank you for it.

Let’s look at the difference between Junior and Senior PHP developer salary figures.

Junior Senior
Glassdoor$51k$119k
SalaryExpert$58k$103k
Talent$77k$121k

You could say a rough estimate would be that Seniors make twice what Juniors make. But do two Juniors make one Senior? It’s a definite no. While their theoretical knowledge may be equal, practical skills make a huge difference in the real world. Plus, as we already mentioned, Juniors can’t function without a lot of oversight and support, unlike Seniors, who can take charge and own the product.

PHP Developer Salaries in Canada, Europe, and Australia

With remote work being in vogue and the search for local talent as stressful as ever, hiring abroad makes a lot of sense. And whether your company prefers hiring in a close time zone like Canada, Mexico, or Latin America, or you’re fine with something more asynchronous like Europe and Australia, you can hire faster for less money.

Let’s look at PHP developer salaries by country/region. We took the figures below from Glassdoor as it’s the best source for international salaries.

PHP developer salary in Australia

  • Junior: $45k ($61k AUD)
  • Senior: $94k ($127k AUD)
  • Average salary: $74k ($100k AUD)

PHP developer salary in Canada

  • Junior: $34k ($43k CAD)
  • Senior: $74k ($93k CAD)
  • Average salary: $50k ($63k CAD)

PHP developer salary in Europe

Germany

  • Junior PHP developer’s salary in Germany: 45k (€53k)
  • Senior: $79k (€67k)
  • Average: $62k (€53k)

Portugal

  • Junior: $15k (13k EUR)
  • Senior: $69k (53k EUR)
  • Average: $20k (17k EUR)

UK

  • Junior PHP developer’s salary in the UK: $38k (28k GBP)
  • Senior: $76k (55k GBP)
  • Average: $52k (38k GBP)

Ukraine

  • Junior: $10k
  • Senior: $45k
  • Average:$24k
Bridge Teams Budget Calculator
Source: Bridge Teams Budget Calculator (Figures based on salaries in Ukraine)

 

To hire the world’s top-1% of talented PHP experts, you’ll have to be flexible with payroll. The market outside the US is growing by the day, and hiring a Senior PHP developer or a team of Senior developers in places like Ukraine and Latin America is within any company’s reach.


Key takeaways

At Bridge Teams, we help businesses tap into the global talent pool to speed up time to market, new feature rollout, reduce tech debt, and most importantly, hire great team members. We’re not an outsourcing company because we feel that by hiring software engineers directly and transparently you’re setting yourself up for success rather than failure (which often happens with outsourcing,

The Bridge approach begins with getting requirements from your side. Then, we source talent in Ukraine, Argentina, and Mexico, and run through a selection process. After that, we present you a shortlist of the top candidates, which you then interview (on your own or with our help), hire your top choice, and go from there.

To give you an idea of what to expect, run the numbers on our Budget Calculator.

We also cover a range of additional services like making sure you’re compliant in whichever country you’re hiring in, and our all-in-one platform allows you to manage your remote team (HR, payroll, and so on).

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