How long does it take to learn PHP? Well, how long is a piece of string?
Actually, the answer isn’t as vague as that. There are a few variables that will determine the speed at which you might learn this programming language, previous coding experience with other languages being the main one.
However, assuming you are a complete beginner, the good news is that PHP is actually one of the easiest ways to enter the world of backend coding.
In fact, I would say a novice coder could learn to operate in the language within 6 months. Someone with prior experience may hope to reduce that time frame by half.
The principle aim of PHP is to connect the user with the backend database. The database cannot be accessed by frontend users (for obvious reasons such as security issues), however, a user’s actions still need to be connected to the database.
PHP safely bridges that gap, enabling the user to send or retrieve data from the server database.
Is PHP Easy to learn?
As we briefly mentioned above, PHP is a great gateway into server-side programming and is easier than other server-side languages (such as node.js, Ruby, Python, and Django).
Furthermore, PHP is so widely used it means there is a lot of excellent resources and support available to the new coder.
There is a large community of developers and if you find yourself stuck on a certain principle, nine times out of ten, you will find a guide online that will cover it well.
What is the best way to learn PHP?
A dedicated course is the best way to learn PHP. Udemy has a great number of quality courses, (some of which we have reviewed here), that we highly recommend.
CodeAcademy is another high-quality resource.
You can also find free PHP courses on YouTube, however, these lack the supporting resources and test projects that the paid courses offer.
There are also college and university degrees in PHP. These are normally part of a larger degree course that covers multiple programming languages are obviously a huge commitment.
It is clearly a good idea to learn the basics of PHP, (and other languages for that matter) on a low-cost online course, before dedicating the expense and several years of your life to a college degree on the subject.
“Testing the waters” will give you a better idea of whether PHP is right for you.
What about MySQL? Should I learn this too?
There is a very good reason to learn SQL alongside learning PHP.
The two languages are related in terms of application and work in unison if you aim to develop a complete project.
MySQL is used to connect PHP to the database. Without an understanding of MySQL, you will not be able to interact with the database.
Essentially, PHP allows you to take to the server, SQL takes those instructions and talks to the database.
Beginners will often learn the fundamentals of PHP and then will learn the relevant MySQL (or look for assistance) for the project to work.
This does mean that in order to be able to see a project through from start to finish independently, both languages need to be learned.
So how long does it take to learn MySQL?
MySQL is faster to learn than PHP as there are far fewer functions to get to grips with. This makes it possible to learn alongside PHP as the need for certain functions arises.
That being said, there is a handy MySQL acronym that you should prioritize and that is CRUD.
CRUD stands for the following SQL functions:
- and Delete
As these are the four major functions you will need to act upon the database (using MySQL), many of the low-cost PHP courses on Udemy actually cover these too.
(You could also complete a dedicated MySQL course on the same platform).
Essentially, learning sufficient SQL in order to beginner program in PHP could be done in a matter of days.
What about Laravel and Codeigniter? Do I need to learn these too?
Both Laravel and Codeigniter are frameworks of PHP, (the latter working on the architecture of MVC). You will learn these as your PHP skills develop.
In other words, it is not necessary to spend time learning these frameworks at the very start of your PHP journey.
This will only serve to confuse you. PHP and MySQL are all you need to complete those initial, beginner projects.
Laravel and Codeigniter can be tackled afterward.
Should I learn Cake PHP?
The same applies to Cake PHP. This is another framework of PHP, that although considered easier than Laravel or Codeigniter, does not need to be learned straight away.
A beginner coder can learn PHP in around 6 months (or less if they take a dedicated online course and put the hours in to complete it in good time).
This will include the basics of MySQL in order to get a project off the ground.
Various Frameworks can be learned as you progress and can also be learned in a matter of months with the right dedication.