With modern web development, it’s easier than ever to teach yourself whatever you wanna learn. But with so many learning tools you may have no idea where to begin.
I recently covered a huge list of web development books on both frontend + backend coding. These are massively valuable for anyone seriously interested in making websites. But not everyone likes learning from books and that’s why online courses are oftentimes a better choice.
In this post I’ve curated my top picks for the best PHP learning courses. These range from the absolute basics up to more advanced concepts including frameworks like Zend and Laravel.
If you’re hoping to learn PHP on your own then this list offers everything you need.
Once you get through some of these courses you’ll have a newfound appreciation for everything PHP including the work that goes into powerful CMS’ like WordPress.
1. Tuts+ PHP Fundamentals
Just getting into PHP with no idea where to begin? Unsure of what a variable is or even how it works?
You’ll definitely have a long journey ahead… but fret not! There’s plenty of content out there to help you advance. This Tuts+ course is one of the best on the fundamentals of PHP. It spans a lengthy 7 hours long with dozens of custom videos and exercise files included.
Throughout each chapter you’ll pick up new lessons in PHP and learn how to build upon them for real world webapps. This is by far one of the better courses for actually understanding the PHP syntax.
Note this isn’t so much about building complex apps or using PHP in action, but rather learning how the language works and how you might structure your code for the best performance.
Tuts+ works on a premium library model where you pay a monthly fee to get access to a huge library of courses. This is superb because you won’t just have access to this one PHP course. You’ll have access to all courses including beginner-to-advanced PHP and a whole bunch of other webdev stuff.
My favorite online resources follow this premium format so if you’re interested be sure to check out the Tuts+ premium setup and see what you think.
2. Pluralsight PHP Fundamentals
Another massive online learning library is Pluralsight. They offer a wide variety of courses and their content focuses a lot on IT, programming, and general technology.
That’s why Pluralsight’s PHP Fundamentals course can go neck-in-neck with TutsPlus.
The total runtime is a bit shorter(only 5 hours) but the lessons feel very similar. I’ve followed exercises in both and I personally prefer the Tuts+ video series only because the explanations feel a bit “simpler” for beginners.
However you can follow both at any level of knowledge and pick up a lot along the way.
Plus when you access this course in Pluralsight you get full access to the entire library of courses with all sorts of PHP & webdev content.
3. Building Dynamic Websites with PHP and MySQL
Looking to push your skills into more dynamic practical work? Then check out Building Dynamic Websites with PHP and MySQL.
The PHP/MySQL combo is decades old and it’s still a favorite for modern developers. MySQL databases are super easy to run and they’re practically a staple for every PHP application.
This video course teaches you the fundamentals of pairing the PHP language with the database. You’ll learn how to write SQL commands in PHP and how to execute those safely in your code.
You should try getting into this course once you’re beyond the basics and want to start coding your own PHP webapps from scratch.
4. What’s New in PHP 7
The newest edition of PHP 7 comes with massive performance enhancements along with some new functions. This means some of the info you’ll read about PHP 5.x may be outdated by now.
What’s New in PHP 7 aims to fix that. You can follow along with instructor Christian Wenz to learn all about the newest functions, backend changes, and coding techniques in PHP 7.
This is a hot language for the web and it’s not going away anytime soon. But this course is not really for complete newbies because it doesn’t hold your hand through everything.
Instead this is great for someone with knowledge of PHP, maybe intermediate-level experience. You’ll learn about the newest techniques for building PHP scripts and the newest functions adopted into PHP 7.
Great for advancing your knowledge and keeping up with the latest trends in the PHP world.
5. Object-Oriented PHP
Every major programming language supports OOP. The idea of Object-oriented programming works on classes and functions that run as objects in your code.
If you’ve never done this before then you may be surprised how easy it is! Well, it’s easy once you know what you’re doing.
And the video course Object-Oriented PHP is here to help you figure out the whole process.
It’s a 2 hour video course with exercise files aimed to help every developer learn object-oriented coding. The videos are super easy to follow and they’ll teach you about class names, constructor functions, variable scope, and a whole lot more.
If you ever build a PHP app from scratch you’ll need to understand OOP. It’s mandatory in the modern job market and especially so with PHP frameworks like Laravel.
The course was first released in 2015 but the information is still just as valid today with plenty of references you can search in Google for more info.
6. High Performance PHP
One of the biggest reasons developers move to Python or Ruby is one simple word: performance.
PHP is known for its ease of use and accessible syntax, but not for its speed. If you need performant PHP webapps then you need to code them with performance in mind.
To learn how you might do that check out High Performance PHP also hosted in Pluralsight’s video library. This course totals about 2 hours long so it’s also a fairly short series, but the information is invaluable.
You’ll learn about macro optimizations that can save memory and total runtime in your scripts. Plus you’ll pick up some cool PHP tools like Xhprof to improve your PHP profiling workflow.
Later chapters get into web server performance with assets like php-fpm and the nginx server setup. No doubt a great video series for developers who need to up their game and increase their site speed without changing backend languages.
7. Getting Started with Laravel
If you’re brand new to PHP then you’ve probably never heard of Laravel. But it’s easily the most popular framework for coding your own PHP webapps from scratch.
These days there’s no good reason to reinvent the wheel. So why bother?
The Getting Started with Laravel course from Pluralsight is an excellent place to pick up the fundamentals of this awesome coding library.
It follows very strict syntax for building URLs, functions, sessions, and even page templates, so you have to learn the internals of Laravel before you can build anything. Thankfully this course is super accessible and you don’t need a whole lot of experience to get started.
So long as you know how to build a few simple PHP apps like sign in forms and database tables, you can work with Laravel. It’ll take some Googling to solve problems but if you put in the hours of study I guarantee you’ll learn this library fast.
8. Building PHP Applications with Zend Framework
Another really popular PHP framework is the Zend Framework. Although it doesn’t have the same community or level of support as Laravel, it’s still a very popular choice and you’ll find plenty of Zend PHP jobs out there.
Anyone looking to diversify their PHP knowledge should look into Zend. it’s a lot easier to learn than you might think, especially if you already have some Laravel experience under your belt.
Building PHP Applications with Zend Framework is by far the best course you can follow. It teaches you everything about building custom PHP webapps from scratch with proper standards in the Zend environment.
Just note this course was released in early 2014 so it’s quite a few years old. The newest version of Zend runs on PHP 7 so a lot has changed since then.
If you’re getting into PHP then learning Zend can only prove valuable for landing side jobs or making this a career.
9. PHP Web Application Security
Earlier I mentioned the importance of site speed & performance, but there’s another very important factor in web development: security.
PHP Web Application Security is a much newer course being released in September 2016. The exercises are fantastic for PHP developers and they span a whopping 5+ hours with generous walkthroughs of tools, best practices, and techniques for building safe websites.
You really need to worry about PHP when you’re building from scratch. That’s where the most common errors can happen including dreaded SQL injection scripts.
But even if you work on a framework or build on a CMS like WordPress it still helps to understand security.
I recommend this course for anyone slightly new to the PHP world. It’ll cover a lot of basic security concerns that you absolutely need to worry about, and once you know how they work you’ll be a lot more cautious to avoid those mistakes.
10. Learn PHP Programming From Scratch
I don’t always recommend Udemy courses because they just don’t work for everyone. But there is one course frequently recommended for beginners: Learn PHP Programming From Scratch.
It’s something you should consider if you’re trying to learn PHP and just cannot grasp the fundamentals.
This course is absolutely massive with a total of 50 hours of runtime across all videos. That’s longer than almost all the other video courses in this entire list combined!
You’ll also get exercise files and worksheets you can use as a sort of quiz/test for your knowledge. As you work through the course you’ll build different applications, and while building those apps you’ll run into ideas you won’t fully understand.
Use these exercises as a way to help you memorize the dev process. Unsure of how PHP sessions work? Review that part of the course and follow it ‘till it’s second nature.
I always say that anyone interested in Udemy should wait for sales. They often slash prices on their courses so you can get this for a fraction of the price if you keep an eye out.
11. PHP for Beginners
Here’s another great learning course from Udemy, although a bit smaller and more technical in building a CMS engine.
PHP for Beginners actually teaches you PHP through the process of creating a full CMS engine from scratch. You probably wouldn’t want to use this yourself but it’s an amazing way to practice PHP and force yourself to learn the basics.
Along the way you’ll pick up everything discussed in earlier courses: MySQL databases, OOP programming, Ajax calls, sessions, security, and so much more.
Only trouble is that you’ll probably need to do some research yourself to stay on top of the game. It’s not a perfect course and a lot of topics are not explained in great detail(but many are!). Researching skills help a lot.
So long as you’re comfortable searching the web to solve your own problems through Q&A sites and community forums or subreddits for coding, this course will prove super useful.
12. PHP OOP: Object Oriented Programming for Beginners
Last but certainly not least is this fantastic course on OOP fundamentals for PHP. It’s also sold on Udemy so you can likely get this thing for real cheap if you wait for a sale.
PHP OOP: Object Oriented Programming for Beginners is the shortest course from Udemy with a total of 18 hours. Still, that’s longer than most other OOP courses!
The instructor Edwin Diaz takes you through everything about OOP and how it relates to real-world PHP. You’ll learn how to setup your own applications running with proper OOP syntax and common pitfalls you need to avoid for successful & secure projects.
Every video in this course is fully updated for PHP 7 making it one of the best ways to pick up a modern OOP workflow.
Keep this series in mind once you’re beyond the basics and wanna push yourself a little further. It’s certainly not perfect but this course is super affordable and worth grabbing if you need a crystal-clear way to learn object oriented concepts for PHP.