Continuing Professional Education for Web Developers/PHP Programmers

One of the greatest challenges in the field of Information Technology is keeping your skill set up to date in a rapidly changing environment. In no other field is this more true than Web Development and PHP Programming. The internet is a living, evolving organism that changes by the minute, and a web developer or PHP programmer must adapt with these changes to remain competitive.

There are multiple ways to remain current in the face of these constant changes, and it can be daunting to try and keep up with everything that is changing in the world of web development and PHP programming. One of the best ways to remain up to date with PHP is to join the PHP mailing list. These lists are where new features are discussed and designed before being released, and will allow you to remain on top of changes.

In fact, it is not a bad idea to subscribe to mailing lists for any web technologies you use on a regular basis. If you are primarily focusing on WordPress site development, following the WordPress development mailing lists and forums will allow you to stay on top of the changes that directly impact your productivity.

That being said, there are times when you will need to learn about a new technology quickly, either for a new project that utilizes that technology or simply because you wish to expand your skills to improve your standing in the extremely competitive market that is web development and PHP programming. In these situations you will most likely wish to focus on either in-house courses or training programs, or the open source community.

In-house training programs are a great way to learn new technologies or to brush up on ones that you may not use very frequently. In most cases, the company you work for will be more than willing to provide these training opportunities to you at little or no cost. The downside to this is most companies are not willing to provide additional time off for these courses, so you may end up spending holiday time learning new skills, or working additional hours.

Another great way to learn a new skill is to talk with a co-worker who may be more familiar with the technology than you are. Most programmers love to explain how things work, and would be more than happy to share their hard earned experience with you. This method has similar pitfalls to in-house training programs, in that you generally do not want to use company time to expand your skills.

In lieu of learning these skills at work, you may wish to consider volunteering your time on an open-source project that has caught your attention. Open-source programming is a unique environment that can rapidly and tremendously expand your knowledge in a particular area, while having the advantages of being done on your own time and on projects that interest you personally. In most cases, it is significantly easier to dedicate your free time to a project you are personally invested in.

In general, there are a few factors you will want to consider when looking at expanding your knowledge in web development and PHP programming. You will want to consider how much time you have available to dedicate to learning. If you've got a large amount of spare time, or if your supervisor is willing to give you the time, then more formal learning such as in-house training or learning from a co-worker is more likely to give you good results.

On the other hand, if your time is limited participating in an open source project or simply tinkering with code on your own time may be the best way to learn a new technology or process. While nobody likes giving up what time they have at home, in the current tough economic climate this is one of the best ways to stay ahead.

Should all else fail, there are always classes available both online and in a more traditional classroom setting. While this has the advantage of being one of the most thorough methods of learning, the trade off is a significant time investment and in most cases a non-trivial financial investment. The important thing is simply to never stop learning.