Laravel has grown in popularity worldwide since 2011. Today, over 1.3 million websites use the Laravel framework, including 284,000+ websites hosted in the United States.
Laravel is an excellent framework for web applications, as it helps developers build projects quickly and easily. So naturally, the demand for Laravel developers is only expected to grow over the next few years.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become an expert Laravel developer. That includes what Laravel development is, how it works, and the skills you’ll need when working as a developer.
We’ll also cover what to look for when hiring a Laravel developer to bring this skill in-house.
Check Out Our Video Guide to Becoming a Laravel Developer
What Is Laravel?
Before you explore Laravel development as a career, you need to understand the basics of Laravel.
Laravel is a development framework used to create websites and web applications. Laravel’s creator Taylor Otwell released its Beta version on June 9, 2011. Since then, there have been eight major versions of Laravel, including:
- Laravel 2 = released in September 2011
- Laravel 3 = released in 2012
- Laravel 4 = released in May 2013 (people also call Laravel 4 ‘Illuminate’)
- Laravel 5 = released in February 2015
- Laravel 6 = released in September 2019
- Laravel 7 = released in March 2020
- Laravel 8 = released in September 2020
- Laravel 9 = released in January 2022
- Laravel 10 = released in February 2023
Laravel 11 is scheduled to be released in February 2024.
You don’t need to understand the differences between the different Laravel versions to become a good Laravel developer. However, you’ll need to understand Laravel 8’s features, which we’ll cover in the ‘Laravel Features’ section.
How Does Laravel Work?
Laravel is an open-source PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) framework developers use to build websites. A PHP framework provides developers with a library of pre-programmed modules that they can use to create web applications quickly.
While many people have accused PHP of being “dead,” developers worldwide still use it. Statistics show that almost 78.9% of all websites with a known server-side programming language use PHP.
You need to know two basic facts to understand how Laravel works.
First, it’s essential to note that Laravel uses PHP, a scripting language, not a general-purpose programming language (typically referred to as just “programming language”).
While scripting and programming languages are similar, scripting languages are platform-specific and compile at runtime, while programming languages aren’t platform-specific and compile during compilation.
While every developer has unique work habits, many find frameworks like Laravel faster to use.
Second, you need to know that Laravel uses MVC (Model View Controller) Architecture. MVC is an architectural pattern that uses three components.
- Model: The central component that defines the data and rules in a project
- View: The expression of the data and logic defined by the model
- Controller: The part that controls the functions, converts them to usable formats, and passes data to the view and model components.
You can see the interaction between the model, view, and controller in the image below.
Next, we need to cover Laravel’s features.
Laravel’s most popular features include its:
- Complete authentication system: Helps developers work securely
- Object-relational mapping (ORM): Helps developers use tables more efficiently
- Library of modules: Developers use it to build apps without writing code
- Command-line interface (CLI) with pre-built commands: Developers use it for building, fixing, and testing their applications
- Automatic testing: Helps developers speed up the testing process
- Virtual development environment: Provides developers with a homestead and all the tools they need to build applications
Why Develop With Laravel?
In 2023, there are plenty of popular PHP frameworks available. So what makes people choose Laravel? Laravel offers both businesses and developers many benefits, the best of which we’ve listed below.
- Laravel is responsive and straightforward to use.
- Laravel provides developers with an inbuilt library of tools that reduce the amount of coding they need to do.
- Laravel is easy to learn.
- Laravel allows the developer to focus on their web application’s design, architecture, and functionality.
- Laravel has inbuilt testing and security features.
- Laravel applications go from design to launch quickly.
- Laravel integrates with mail services.
- Laravel integrates with cache backend tools like Redis and Memcached.
- Laravel has inbuilt security features that protect Laravel websites from SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and forgery.
Naturally, learning to use Laravel is a fantastic investment for your career.
What Is a Laravel Developer?
A Laravel developer specializes in developing projects using the Laravel framework. If that sounds interesting to you, read on. This section will outline everything you need to be a Laravel programmer.
But first, let’s start with a question every new developer asks.
What does a Laravel developer do at work?
What Does a Laravel Developer Do?
Laravel developers spend their workdays building new web applications and maintaining them using Laravel.
Laravel developers work both individually and in a team environment.
When you work alone, you’ll spend your time fixing errors, building your apps piece-by-piece, implementing security measures, conducting testing, and writing code.
When you work in a team, you’ll spend your time designing your application’s architecture, consulting with users, and assessing each other’s work.
Naturally, the responsibilities of a Laravel developer are very diverse.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Laravel Developer?
As a Laravel developer, you will perform various job functions that require different skills. Those responsibilities include:
Building New Web Applications Using Laravel
Laravel developers use the framework to build new web applications for their companies or clients. As a Laravel programmer, you’ll build various applications, including static, single-page (SPA), multi-page (MPA), dynamic, and portal web applications.
Maintaining Current Web Applications With Laravel
Laravel developers don’t just create new applications; they maintain old ones too. As web applications require frequent maintenance, Laravel developers spend their workdays creating security updates, fixing bugs, and updating the application’s features to suit users’ needs better.
Debugging and Fixing Code Issues
Laravel developers frequently fix issues logged by users, other developers, and management. As a Laravel developer, your employer will expect you to locate these problems, diagnose the underlying issue, and create a solution that solves the problem.
Performing UI Testing
Laravel developers conduct user-interface testing when launching new applications or redesigning old apps. While many developers use UI testing tools like Parasoft Selenic, Katalon, Mabl, and TestCraft to test their apps, you’ll also need to perform manual testing as part of your duties.
Laravel developers create documentation to help users install, use, and navigate their applications. They also produce software development documentation to help other developers work with their applications.
Mapping Out the Architecture of Each Web App
Laravel developers map out the architecture of their app before and during the development process.
Although developers build web applications using Laravel’s pre-designed modules, they also need to supplement these modules with code. Naturally, you’ll spend some of your time scripting, testing, and executing code as a developer.
Laravel developers need to design, build, and maintain their applications’ databases. While you don’t need to be a database expert, you will occasionally work with SQL as a Laravel developer.
How Much Do Laravel Developers Make?
As Laravel developers need to wear many hats at work, becoming a Laravel developer can be very lucrative. According to Salary.com, the average Laravel developer in the United States makes $78,584 per year (June 28, 2021).
As that figure is only an average, employers may offer you a different salary. When interviewing for Laravel jobs, keep in mind that the typical salary range for a full-time Laravel developer is between $71,230 to $87,189.
The deviation in Laravel salaries is due to a few factors. These include the developer’s education, years of experience, size (and profitability) of their employer, whether they receive bonuses, management responsibilities, overtime, and location.
If you want to know the full range of Laravel salaries in the United States, you can see them in the bell curve graph.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Laravel Developer?
While the demands of each Laravel job are different, every Laravel developer will need to master some essential skills. These include:
Web Development Skills
Laravel developers need to have the knowledge and experience to create web applications. While you may exclusively code in Laravel, you will also need to understand and use:
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): Laravel developers use CSS to control the displays of the HTML elements in their web applications — you need CSS for good design.
- HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): Laravel developers use HTML to differentiate between parts of their website (like headings, body text, subheadings, etc.) — you need HTML to build a website.
Database Management Skills
Laravel developers need to know how to build and manage databases. You’ll also need to understand using database systems like MySQL, Microsoft SQL, and Oracle 12c.
Project Management Framework Skills
Laravel developers need to understand the website development process thoroughly. That includes understanding how to run both an Agile and Waterfall development project. Even if you don’t work as a project manager, understanding the process will help you manage your workload and work toward goals with your team.
As Laravel uses the PHP framework, you will need to understand how to use PHP to become a good Laravel framework. Ideally, you should also know how to work with different PHP versions as many projects run on older versions.
For example, of the WordPress websites hosted with Kinsta on January 27, 2021, 72.1% ran on PHP 7.3, 27.8% ran on PHP 7.4, and under 0.1% ran on PHP 8.0.
Website Design Skills
Laravel developers spend their workdays building websites and web-based applications.
Naturally, you need to understand the principles of good web design, including:
- How to use visual hierarchy to highlight important parts of your website
- How to proportion your website to keep it visually appealing (hint: you’ll need to understand the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence and how to use them in web design)
- How to make your website easy to navigate
- How to use white space effectively
Web Security Knowledge
Laravel developers need to know how to build web applications resistant to cyber-attacks. That means you will need to understand how attacks like DoS (Denial of Service), SQL Injection attacks, cross-site scripting attacks, malware attacks, and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks work. While you don’t need to become a cybersecurity expert, you will need to know how to design your web app to minimize the risk of these attacks.
MVC Architecture Knowledge
As Laravel is based on MVC architecture, you will need to understand how MVC works and use it to build web applications.
How to Become a Laravel Developer
Suppose you’re an experienced developer looking for a career change. In that case, you may already have many of the skills covered in the “what skills are needed to be a Laravel developer” section.
However, if you’re new to the development world, you’ll need to build your skills from scratch.
With that in mind, let’s cover how to become a Laravel expert.
Step 1. Learn PHP
First, you’re going to need to learn how to build web applications with PHP. To learn PHP, we recommend starting with a PHP tutorial. Tutorials are a fantastic way to learn PHP, as they’ll give you a complete overview of PHP and how it works.
Once you’ve completed a PHP tutorial, you’ll need to read the official documentation written by PHP’s creators. This documentation will help you install PHP and master its basic syntax.
The manual also covers PHP security, features, and many frequently asked questions, so it’s a resource you’ll want to keep on hand throughout your career.
Finally, you’ll need to download a PHP editor so you can create your PHP projects.
Step 2. Learn the Basics of Laravel With Online Tutorials
Next, you’ll want to learn more about Laravel through online tutorials. As Laravel is a popular framework, there are plenty of websites, videos, and podcasts you can learn from.
You’ll also need to read through the official Laravel documentation guide during this stage of your learning.
This guide will walk you through installing Laravel on your computer and how to configure it. Like with the PHP manual, you should bookmark the Laravel guide to refer to it later.
Step 3. Join the Laravel Community to Learn From Your Peers
Once you’ve started learning about PHP and Laravel, you’ll want to join the Laravel community. Engaging with other users within the community will help build your skills and knowledge by reading posts from other community members.
The Laravel community is also a great place to learn to think like a developer. Watching how other developers approach issues will help build your problem-solving skills.
There are many ways to get involved in the Laravel community. You can follow gurus like Taylor Otwell on social media or join the most popular Laravel forums and subreddits.
- The Laracasts forums, which are full of questions from Laravel developers
- Laravel.io, which helps developers solve problems and share knowledge
- The ‘Laravel’ tag on StackOverflow, which allows developers to solve problems
- r/laravel, which includes Laravel news, questions, discussions, and tutorials
Step 4. Practice Your Skills Through Building Web Applications
Next, you’ll want to start building your Laravel development skills by creating small-scale Laravel applications. While you can learn a lot of great information by watching tutorials, trial-and-error is the best way to hone your development skills.
It would help if you also started a portfolio during this stage. Portfolios are a fantastic investment of your time, as you can use the portfolio to demonstrate your Laravel skills to potential employers.
The best developer portfolios are straightforward and contain an “about me” section, a list of your skills, and up to three of your best projects.
For each project you include, make sure you add a description of it, some screenshots of the development process, and a live link to the project. This will help your future employer see your development process.
Step 5. Build Your Resume and Apply to Become a Laravel Developer
Once you’ve developed your Laravel skills and built a portfolio, you’re ready to look for work as a Laravel developer. You’ll need to redesign your resume to reflect your new skills during this stage.
As we covered in the ‘what skills are needed to be a Laravel developer’ section, you’ll want to include the following skills:
- Web development
- Database management
- Project Management
- PHP experience
- Website design
- Laravel application development knowledge
- Web security knowledge
- MVC architecture knowledge
You should also add any soft skills you have to your resume.
Soft skills are intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that help you fit in at work. Many Laravel developers have soft skills like communication, good time management, teamwork, and problem-solving.
After building your resume, it’s time to apply for jobs. Companies looking for Laravel developers use job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Monster, and Laravel-specific job boards like LaraJobs.
Step 6. Focus on Continuously Improving Your Laravel Skills
Finally, don’t forget to continuously build your skills throughout your time as a dedicated Laravel developer. To keep your skills growing, make sure to always ask for feedback from your peers, take on new and challenging projects, and stay up-to-date with new versions of Laravel.
What to Look for When Hiring a Laravel Developer
So far, this article has focused on Laravel developers. But what about employers? If you’re looking to hire a dedicated Laravel developer, there are some key attributes you should look for. Let’s cover those now.
1. Someone Who Can Work in a Team
Laravel development requires teamwork, so the best developers are masters in sharing their thoughts, brainstorming as a group, giving feedback, and managing a project with colleagues. When hiring a developer, look for someone with prior experience working in a close team environment.
2. Someone With Technical Expertise
As Laravel development is an IT job, you need strong technical expertise. When hiring a developer, look for someone who knows PHP, MVC, web security, Laravel, how to build and manage databases, and how to manage projects with Agile and Waterfall methods.
3. Someone Who Can Manage Themselves
As Laravel developers complete many of their daily tasks individually, Laravel development requires good self-management skills. When hiring a Laravel developer, look for experienced professionals who can manage their time efficiently with little oversight.
4. Someone Who Is a Problem Solver
Laravel developers don’t just build new web applications. They fix, update, redesign and debug old applications. When hiring a Laravel developer, you’ll want to look for someone who can demonstrate problem-solving skills and the ability to use feedback to inform their design decisions.
5. Someone Who Will Continue to Learn
Since Laravel’s initial Beta release in 2011, its developers have released new versions of Laravel roughly every 6 to 12 months. When hiring a new developer, look for someone who can adapt to the latest versions of Laravel. Ideally, you’ll also want someone with a drive to challenge themselves and improve their Laravel skills so that they continue growing in their role long-term.
Laravel development is an excellent career choice for anyone who loves building web applications and wants to work with a robust framework.
If you have a background in PHP or currently work as a developer, you can transfer into a Laravel role by learning to use Laravel and spicing up your resume with a new portfolio.
If you’re new to development, make sure you learn PHP and build your Laravel skills through tutorials and test projects.
Ultimately, you’ll need to grow your PHP, database management, teamwork, and development skills to succeed as an experienced Laravel developer.