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How to Become a WordPress Developer

How to Become a WordPress Developer: 7 Steps with Complete Roadmap

As the most popular content management system, being a WordPress developer is definitely worth it. But without a proper roadmap, it’s highly possible that you may get lost in the vast world of WordPress.

So, if you are motivated to become a WordPress developer but do not know where to start, we have a complete WordPress developer roadmap for you.

In this article, we will be discussing how to become a WordPress developer in 7 simple steps. 

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that is used to create and maintain websites. It is one of the most popular CMS platforms in the world, written in PHP, and uses a MySQL database, powering over 43% of all websites on the internet.

For those who don’t know, an open-source content management system means that you can look up its source code and modify it however you like it, and you won’t even have to pay anything to do so. 

At first, people mainly used WordPress for building blogs. But now, thanks to updates and a bunch of add-ons called plugins and themes, you can make all sorts of websites with it. For example-

  • Business websites
  • Online stores 
  • Portfolios 
  • Forums 
  • Social networks 
  • Membership sites, and more. 

What Do WordPress Developers Do?

WordPress developers are responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining WordPress websites, creating custom themes and plugins, and translating client requirements into technical solutions, among other tasks.

At a glance, it seems like WordPress developers would build websites using WordPress. While this is somehow correct, it doesn’t paint the whole picture.

WordPress developers have diverse responsibilities, which are not limited to building websites with WordPress. In fact, if you only know how to use WordPress to make websites without any coding, you are not really a WordPress developer.

An expert WordPress developer has a number of responsibilities, such as,

Types of WordPress Developers

As we have discussed before, WordPress developers have an array of different roles, it would be a handful for a single developer to handle all of those. To streamline the responsibilities of WordPress developers, their roles are categorized into three distinct types.

  • WordPress Core Developer: Core developers focus on back-end operations, improving and maintaining the central WordPress platform. They write code to enhance the platform’s functionality, ensuring it remains robust, efficient, and user-friendly.
  • WordPress Theme Developer: Theme developers craft custom WordPress themes tailored to individual clients or for broader audiences. They might release these themes on third-party marketplaces, such as, or offer them for free in the WordPress Theme Directory. Their work ensures websites are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • WordPress Plugin Developer: Plugin developers design and code plugins that add specific features or functionalities to a website. These plugins can be tailor-made for individual clients, sold on third-party platforms, or shared freely in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Their work allows for endless customization and enhancement of WordPress websites.

How to Become A WordPress Developer

As of this point, you should have a basic understanding of what WordPress is and what a WordPress developer does. With these basics out of the way, now we can start our WordPress developer roadmap.

Familiarize yourself with WordPress

From our article so far, you have a surface knowledge of WordPress, which is obviously not enough if you are aiming to become a WordPress developer. To start your WordPress development journey, you will need to have a deeper knowledge of WordPress.

Explore WordPress Core

WordPress Core is the foundational layer of the WordPress Content Management System (CMS). It consists of the primary files and folders required to run a WordPress website. These files execute basic operations like rendering the content, managing the database, and handling user requests.

If you’re familiar with the core files and database schema, you’ll be able to manipulate, extend, or enhance WordPress to meet your specific needs.

WordPress Core is primarily written in PHP and uses MySQL databases, so you’ll need a solid grasp of PHP syntax, database architecture, and perhaps even server-side technologies like Apache and Nginx.

Learn About Themes and Templates

A WordPress theme sets the visual tone and layout of a site, similar to the user interface of an app. A template is a PHP file that contains a mixture of HTML, template tags, and PHP code which determines how a section of the site is displayed.

Custom themes allow developers to create different user experiences without altering the underlying Core. You can build custom themes from scratch or modify existing ones.

Fortunately, WordPress has a vast collection of resources about themes and templates that are just right for you to get started.  

Learn the Concept of Plugins and their Functionality  

WordPress plugins enhance the platform’s core functionality by adding modular add-ons. These self-contained pieces of software can be installed within a WordPress environment to perform specific tasks, extend features, or introduce entirely new functionalities. 

In order to develop a plugin, you must have a thorough understanding of WordPress hooks, filters, and actions, which are events that allow you to integrate your own functions into WordPress.

Hooks in WordPress are points in the code where you can insert your own code. This allows you to customize WordPress without having to modify the core code.

Actions are functions that are triggered by hooks. When an action hook is triggered, all of the functions that are hooked to that hook will be executed.

Filters are functions that are used to modify data. When a filter hook is triggered, all of the functions that are hooked to that hook will be passed the data that is being filtered. These functions can then modify the data and return it.

Choose your focus area

Once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of core WordPress functionality, themes, and plugins, it’s a good idea to choose one to specialize in. While the programming languages and frameworks may share similarities, each of these areas has its unique goals and roles, and investing in any of them can significantly enhance your career.

Install WordPress and Set Up a Local Development Environment

Before you start coding,  you will need to set up a local development environment on your computer. 

A Local WordPress Development Environment or LDE in short, is a software tool that will allow you to create and manage a self-contained, offline environment for developing and testing WordPress websites on your local computer. This environment includes a web server, a database, and the WordPress software itself.

Step 1: Install XAMPP

  • Download XAMPP from the official website. Choose the version compatible with your operating system.
  • Run the installer, and during installation, ensure that Apache, MySQL, and PHP are selected for installation.
  • Complete the installation and start the XAMPP control panel.
  • Open the XAMPP control panel and start Apache and MySQL.

Step 2: Create a Database

  • Open a web browser and go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin.
  • Click “New” to create a new database.
  • Name it (e.g., WordPress_db) and click “Create.”

Step 3: Download and Install WordPress

  • Download the latest version of WordPress from the official site.
  • Extract the ZIP file.
  • Cut or copy the extracted WordPress folder.
  • Navigate to the C:\xampp\htdocs directory and paste the folder.
  • Rename the folder if desired (e.g., my_wordpress_site).
  • In a web browser, go to http://localhost/my_wordpress_site.
  • Follow the on-screen installation wizard.
  • When prompted, input the database details as you wish. 
  • Run the installation.

Developing WordPress Skills

In your journey to becoming a proficient WordPress developer, it’s mandatory to lay a solid foundation by mastering some programming languages. Here are the languages you should focus on:

HTML5: Understanding HTML is fundamental because it forms the backbone of web content. It ensures your website’s structure is sound, accessible across browsers, and responsive to different devices. Valid HTML is essential for a smooth user experience.

CSS3: CSS enables you to style your website and make it visually appealing. It’s indispensable for creating responsive designs that adapt to various screen sizes, improving user experience and engagement.

PHP: As WordPress core is built on PHP, having PHP skills is essential for customizing and extending WordPress functionality. It enables you to create custom themes, plugins, and add advanced features to your WordPress site.

MySQL: Understanding MySQL is crucial for managing and interacting with the WordPress database. It allows you to retrieve and manipulate data efficiently, ensuring your website’s content is displayed correctly.

JavaScript: JavaScript is essential for adding interactivity to your WordPress site. It allows you to create dynamic content, enhance user interactions, and implement features like form validation, pop-ups, and real-time updates.

As a WordPress developer, we strongly recommend taking online courses from reputable educational platforms like Udemy and Coursera to establish your credibility and enhance your skills. You can significantly increase your chances of attracting high-profile clients and standing out in a competitive field by taking these courses.

Develop Soft Skills

Building websites with WordPress is not just about knowing the technical stuff; soft skills play a huge role in your success. Let’s dive into some essential soft skills you’ll need to master:

  • Problem-solving skills: Be prepared to tackle all sorts of issues, from code errors to client requests. The ability to dissect a problem, identify its root causes, and come up with effective solutions is crucial. 
  • Critical thinking: WordPress is incredibly flexible, which means you’ll often need to make decisions about the best approach for a particular project. Critical thinking helps you evaluate options, weigh pros and cons, and choose the most suitable solution.
  • Communication skills: Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is a must. You’ll need to understand your client’s needs, explain your ideas and solutions, and collaborate with designers, content creators, and other team members. Remember, not everyone speaks “tech,” so being able to translate complex concepts into plain language is golden.
  • Self-learning: The tech world is constantly evolving, and WordPress is no exception. Updates are constant and frequent in the WordPress core. Being a self-learner means you can adapt to these changes on your own. Online courses, forums, and tutorials are your best friends. 
  • Time management: Time is money in the web development game. Projects often have tight deadlines, and you’ll probably be juggling multiple tasks. Develop solid time management skills to stay organized, meet deadlines, and avoid being burnt out.
  • Attention to detail: Even the tiniest error in your code or design can lead to big problems down the line. Being meticulous and paying attention to every detail is vital. A missing semicolon could break an entire website!
  • Teamwork: Whether you choose an on-site job or an off-site job, you will be collaborating with others. Collaboration with designers, content creators, or fellow developers is common in web development. If you are a team player, the workflow will run more smoothly and the results will be better.

Build Your WordPress Site, Theme, or Custom Plugins

Now that you have all the necessary skills and knowledge to be a full-fledged WordPress developer, it’s time you sit on your computer and grind. Based on which path you choose, do your best and build your custom website, themes, or plugins.

To build a WordPress website, you will need a domain and hosting, a WordPress theme and plugins, etc. Using the WordPress theme and your creativity, you can build a unique WordPress website that stands out from the rest.

To build a WordPress theme, you will need a starter theme upon which your theme will be based. You can then improve the functionality of the starter theme using hooks and give it a new look with CSS coding.

For creating a WordPress plugin, you will need to create a main file for the plugin, where all of the functionalities of the plugin will be coded. You will also need to create a header file which will contain information about the plugin name and the author. 

Use hooks, actions, and filters to code your plugin and then test it thoroughly before deploying it.

It would be best for you if you could bring something new and unique to the market. Building something truly unique could boost your WordPress development career in the right direction. 

Build Your Portfolio

Now that you’ve developed your WordPress skills and created some impressive websites, themes, or plugins, it’s time to flaunt your expertise and attract potential clients. Building a standout portfolio is your ticket to landing exciting projects and showcasing your talents.

As a WordPress developer, crafting your portfolio website should be a breeze, given your creativity and critical thinking skills.

Apply for Job or Freelance Opportunities

As a WordPress developer, you’re in a position to secure rewarding job opportunities, whether it’s on-site, remote, or a hybrid work setup. WordPress developers are in demand, and this demand extends not only locally but also globally. It’s common for WordPress developers to find well-paying positions both in their home countries and abroad.

However, if you’re the entrepreneurial type and prefer to be your own boss, there’s an exciting path for you as well. You can leverage your skills to create and sell your own projects in various online marketplaces. If you become proficient at developing complex themes and plugins, you can explore prominent platforms like CodeCanyon, Elegant Themes, and others to showcase and sell your products.


So, in summary, to become a WordPress developer, you will need to be hardworking and have a persistent mindset. The journey itself is long and hard but if you keep at it you will surely succeed. 

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