How to Become a WordPress Developer [What You Need to Know]

Become a WordPress developer

WordPress is the most popular open-source content management system (CMS) in the world. According to W3Techs, 37.8% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. Millions of individuals and businesses use WordPress for blogging, eCommerce, portfolio sites, and much more. 

Users do not need coding skills to build a WordPress website. It is a very user-friendly system, and users have full customization freedom thanks to the various plugins, themes, and settings available. 

But who makes those themes and plugins? That is where WordPress developers come in. Most people are not familiar with the in-depth technical aspects and often seek assistance from developers for their websites. Backup issues, securing their site, redesigning and customizing their website – these are just some of the users’ common difficulties that developers can help with. 

WordPress development is an attractive career path for the technologically-minded, as developers are in demand around the world. 


What Does A WordPress Developer Do?

A WordPress developer generally manages the front and backend development of WordPress websites. Their tasks might include creating custom themes and plugins, building wireframes or sitemaps, and coding in different programming skills such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They may also review and debug the official WordPress codebase to keep the software upgraded and consistent. 

For a more comprehensive overview of what WordPress developers do, check out the example below to see just some of the services offered by a WordPress agency:

WordPress development services


As you can see, it’s an exciting and varied field. 

How To Become A WordPress Developer

Website owners are always on the lookout for WordPress developers to help them customize and optimize their webpages. That means there’s always a market for good developers. 

To become a WordPress developer, you need to start by learning the fundamentals of WordPress, if you haven’t already. There are several technical aspects of WordPress, and developers need to take their time to learn them so they can overcome the challenges of creating a functional WordPress website. 

To master WordPress development and start your career as a WordPress developer, you need to follow the steps listed below:


Learn The Basics of Coding

You need to understand the technology if you want to start your career as a WordPress developer. As a developer, you will need to know the basics of HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript at a minimum. This will allow you to conduct essential debugging and troubleshooting, and to work with the principal functionality of the platform. 

For example, you will need PHP when you set up WordPress error logs on websites and JavaScript for when you want the external links to open automatically in new tabs. Knowing CSS and HTML will allow you to customize WordPress themes. 


Dedicate Time to Reading & Learning

There is an abundance of reading material and online courses available for WordPress development. After you have got the basics down, start reading up on WordPress-specific resources to grow your knowledge base.

Listed below are a few select resources that can help you understand and navigate the different stages of becoming a WordPress Developer:

  • WordPress Codex: Written by developers of WordPress, this online manual covers almost everything you could ever want to know about WordPress. Begin with the basics of creating a website and then move on to the advanced and more technical aspects. You will be able to master the WordPress interface from an end user’s perspective. 
  • Know The Code: This site offers online training videos on how to build themes and plugins from scratch, which is an essential factor in WordPress development. 
  • WordPress Developer Resources: A list of official developer resources, such as handbooks of application programming interfaces (APIs) curated and compiled by WordPress. It is built to help developers find relevant resources and tools needed for WordPress development. 

WordPress codex

Source WordPress Codex

Learning is a lifelong journey, and you will need to make continual efforts to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. Things move fast in the technical world, so do not neglect your professional development at any stage.

It is always better to leave a slot in your work schedule for learning new stuff and staying updated with the WordPress world.


Join Communities and Make Right Connections

WordPress has one of the largest global communities dedicated to improving the platform and making new connections. Joining them and actively participating will help you troubleshoot software or any other website issues as well as learn new skills and improve your knowledge. 

Spend some time reading successful developers’ blogs, follow them on social media, share your thoughts and feedback, attend (physical or virtual) events, and listen to talks. You can stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends, announcements, and new releases by networking with other developers. 

There’s a huge and supportive global community out there, so make the most of it! 


Narrow Down Your Area of Focus Within WordPress

WordPress is a multifaceted platform that requires a great deal of technical knowledge. Instead of being average in many different aspects, your career will be better served by becoming a specialist in one element of WordPress. 

Here are a few areas of specialism you might wish to consider: 

  • Plugin Development: These developers are in charge of creating custom plugins. Plugins can be made available to users for free or at a cost. Sometimes they are also purchased by a third party such as a company. 
  • Core Software Development: If you want to contribute to the WordPress platform itself, then you can become a developer in this area. This means you can create and edit the WordPress core code. Check out the Core Contributor Handbook for guidance. You can fix bugs, collaborate with other developers, and work your way up.
  • Theme Development: Developers in this area create custom themes for individual clients or release them (for free or at a charge) via the WordPress theme directory. Themes can also be sold via a third-party website.

While learning, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with every aspect, but eventually, you should plan to become an expert in one area of specialism. 


Take Projects Voluntarily For Practice

Practice makes perfect. After you have become proficient in an aspect of WordPress development, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. You can build your portfolio by taking on a few projects voluntarily at the beginning of your career. 

But know your worth, and don’t work for free for longer than you have to. You’ll soon develop a client base as your knowledge, skills, and experience develop. 


Take Your First Client

If you are starting out, don’t panic. There are plenty of tricks you can use to get your first client, from asking for referrals to teaching a free workshop. By working with clients, you will face new challenges that you might not have dealt with independently. 

The more experience you have, the more clients you will get. Once you have a few happy clients, they’ll start referring you to their friends and others in their network. 

Once you start taking up more work and clients, it’s crucial to keep track of everything and manage your time and workload properly. 


Keep Learning!

The work of a WordPress developer requires a lot of different skills, from hard skills like languages to softer skills like negotiating with clients and marketing your services. You can, and should, always strive to learn more. Books, webinars, online courses and tutorials, and informal peer learning with other developers are just some of the ways you can keep upskilling. 

You can even choose to go for a college degree in computer science to become a developer. Many people go this route, though it’s not usually essential. The more you know, the more prestigious projects and clients you can attract. 


Wrapping up 

Working as a WordPress developer is interesting and can be lucrative. It can be daunting at first and even seem out of reach, but WordPress is one of the best places to learn development because of its supportive and vast community (not to mention the incredible demand for services). 

There is no one route into a career in WordPress development, but following these points will help you navigate in the right direction: 

  • Start by learning web development languages like HTML, CSS, and Java.
  • Read up on the material, do plenty of research, and watch online courses and tutorials.
  • Decide which field you want to focus on and jump in. 
  • Check WordPress developer jobs available and see what they require

Here’s to launching your career as a WordPress developer – good luck!


David Campbell
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David Campbell is a digital marketing specialist at Ramp Ventures. He helps manage the content marketing team at Voila Norbert. When he's not working, he enjoys traveling and trying to learn Spanish.