What Is a WordPress Developer + How to Become One

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Explore the role, salary, and responsibilities of a WordPress developer with the following article.

[Featured Image] A wordpress developer works on a website design on their computer.

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) used to build websites. A 2022 study by W3 Techs indicates that 43 percent of all websites on the internet use WordPress [1]. Although the software is free, many people hire professional WordPress developers for high-quality website design and development. The following article explores the role of a WordPress developer and how you can become one in just three steps. 

What is a WordPress developer?

A WordPress developer is a type of web developer. They specialize in building websites with WordPress. They are also full-stack developers, meaning they can develop the front-end and back-end of a website. A WordPress developer may be hired to enhance the WordPress software or build a custom website for a client. 

Read more: What Does a Web Developer Do (and How Do I Become One)?

Where do WordPress developers work?

A WordPress developer can be employed by a company or choose to be a freelance developer. For those seeking freelance opportunities, several job-seeking platforms exist to connect WordPress developers and potential clients—for example, WordPress Jobs (the official WordPress jobs listing platform) and Codeable.io. You also have options if you are an aspiring WordPress developer who is not interested in freelancing. Examples of organizations that employ WordPress developers include software development companies, digital marketing agencies, and software as a service (SaaS) management businesses. 

WordPress developer job outlook

As the fastest-growing CMS for 12 years, WordPress has secured its place in the market [1]. The job market WordPress developers belong to is also experiencing rapid growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of web developers and digital designers is expected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030. That statistic represents an average of 17,900 job openings yearly [2]. 

Did you know? All WordPress developers are web developers and designers. The skills you gain in becoming a WordPress developer can also help you succeed in other web development roles.

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What does a WordPress developer do?

Typical responsibilities of a WordPress developer include:

  • Designing and developing new features and functions

  • Translating client requirements into technical specifications

  • Implementing and maintaining the architecture of a website

  • Writing, testing, and debugging code

How much does a WordPress developer make?

As of June 2022, Glassdoor reports the average WordPress developer salary to be $64,245 per year. Additional pay such as commissions and profit sharing is estimated to be $23,504 per year. Combining the median salary with the average additional pay brings the estimated total wage for WordPress developers to $87,749 per year [3]. 

Related roles

WordPress developers are web developers who specialize in WordPress infrastructure and tools. Many roles exist that are similar to WordPress developers. A few examples of related roles include:

  • Software developers. Like web developers, software developers are programmers. Instead of (or in addition to) web development, they create computer software and applications.

  • User experience (UX) designers. UX design refers to the process of curating the interaction between users and websites or other software products. UX designers are software developers that focus on the UX of a website or application.

  • Full-stack developers. Any programmer, regardless of specialization, is considered a full-stack developer if they can create a minimum viable product on their own. Full-stack developers can identify errors between the front and back end and resolve them using both disciplines. 

  • User interface (UI) developers. UI developers combine creative design and technical skills to craft the visual elements of a website or application. 

Read more: 5 Entry-Level Programming Jobs + How to Get One

How to become a WordPress developer in 3 steps

1. Familiarize yourself with WordPress.

You can start using WordPress before you've mastered front-end and back-end development. WordPress is accessible for beginners, making it a popular choice for those who want to make a website themselves but don't have any coding experience. It's similar to how an aspiring photographer is likely to purchase a camera before graduating from a photography class. You can learn about the basics and build a foundational knowledge of the software while learning how to manage more advanced development. 

2. Gain the essential skills.

WordPress is popular, in part, because it requires users minimal technical proficiency. In contrast, professional WordPress developers must possess both web development and web design skills. The list below outlines a few of the most important disciplines for a WordPress developer to master.

Programming languages. As a WordPress developer, there are four primary languages you will need to learn. 

  • First, hypertext markup language (HTML) will enable you to structure a website by organizing content like headers, footers, and sidebars. 

  • Next, cascading style sheets (CSS) allow you to apply stylistic elements like text color, border thickness, and image alignment to your HTML structure. 

  • PHP: hypertext preprocessor (PHP) is the next language you should learn if you want to become a WordPress developer. It is the back-end scripting language for WordPress and 77.9 percent of all websites (where the language is known) [4]. 

  • JavaScript is not only a crucial skill for WordPress developers but also the most popular programming language used by developers worldwide [5]. It is used extensively in WordPress development to create dynamic functionalities. 

You can learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript all at once by earning a certificate from John Hopkins University:

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Plugin development. Plugins are packaged extensions of code that enhance the features and functionality of WordPress. WordPress developers create custom plugins based on client requirements. 

Database management. Database management enables users to store, maintain, and control access to pertinent data. WordPress uses a database management system called MySQL.

Digital marketing. WordPress developers often utilize search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing techniques to increase site traffic and quality.

Web design and development. Since WordPress developers work extensively on UX and UI, they need excellent web design and development skills. A WordPress developer's responsibility is to ensure the website they build is functional, responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and accessible to all users. 

Familiarity with popular development tools. Familiarizing yourself with popular development tools is helpful regardless of the type of developer you want to become. A few of the tools most commonly used by developers worldwide are Git, Bitbucket, and Jira [6]. 

3. Enhance your resume.

It's necessary to establish your competitiveness as a job candidate regardless of the demand for your desired occupation. Educational backgrounds for those working in WordPress development roles range from a high school diploma to a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Higher education is a great way to gain the skills to excel in an entry-level role. However, it isn't the only way to build expertise and showcase your abilities to employers. 

Earn a Professional Certificate.

Another way to demonstrate professional experience to employers is with relevant certifications. If you’re unsure where to begin, try browsing job listings to discover in-demand qualifications. For example, a WordPress developer who wants to enhance their UX skills may pursue a Professional Certificate from an industry expert like Google:

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Build a portfolio.

A portfolio is a collection of your best work. If you have experience with WordPress or web development, consider compiling the projects that best communicate your technical ability. You can then send your portfolio along with your resume to prospective employers. It's okay if you have yet to create anything for your professional portfolio. You can get started with an online course like Introduction to Accessible Web Development, a Guided Project that navigates you through the process of creating an accessible custom component with ARIA. 

Start today with Coursera

Take your first step toward becoming a WordPress developer and earn a web development and design certificate from the University of Michigan or Meta:

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Related articles

Article sources

1. W3 Techs Web Technology Surveys. “Usage statistics and market share of WordPress, https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/cm-wordpress.” Accessed June 28, 2022.

2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Web Developers and Digital Designers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#:~:text=in%20May%202020.-,Job%20Outlook,on%20average%2C%20over%20the%20decade.” Accessed June 3, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “How much does a WordPress developer make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/wordpress-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,19.htm#:~:text=The%20estimated%20total%20pay%20for,salaries%20collected%20from%20our%20users.” Accessed June 3, 2022.

4. W3 Techs Web Technology Surveys. “Usage statistics of PHP for websites, https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/pl-php.” Accessed June 3, 2022.

5. Statista. “Programming languages used by software developers worldwide as of 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/869092/worldwide-software-developer-survey-languages-used/#:~:text=The%20most%20popular%20programming%20language,of%20the%20software%20developers%20surveyed.” Accessed June 3, 2022.

6. Statista. “Programming/development tools used by software developers worldwide 2018 to 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/869106/worldwide-software-developer-survey-tools-in-use/#:~:text=According%20to%2085%20percent%20of,software%20developers%20as%20of%202021.” Accessed June 3, 2021.

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