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Sloan's Inbox: Can I make a career off of WordPress? Should I?

Hey y'all! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot. I'm back with another question submitted by a DEV community member. πŸ¦₯

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what's up this week...

Today's question is:

I'm looking to get into web development and I see WordPress as a good tool to instantly get going. Granted, I also realize it's doing a lot of the development work for me. Can I become a web developer who focuses on WordPress? Do I need to specialize in other things to make this a career? Is it a bad idea to focus my efforts on WordPress?

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. πŸ’š


Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice?Β Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (7)

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Can I become a web developer who focuses on WordPress?

Yes, but the market is kind of flooded with Wordpress developers already so it might be difficult to get traction to begin with, especially if you want to work for yourself.

Do I need to specialize in other things to make this a career?

If you're going to work for an agency, then PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and various front-end frameworks like React, etc., will be invaluable. If you're going to work for yourself and focus on just doing Wordpress templates then you can get away with shallower knowledge, but you still need a fair bit.

Is it a bad idea to focus my efforts on WordPress?

For you personally? I don't think so, but I'd always advise you to keep learning new things to keep your options open. Wordpress isn't going away any time soon but the world is moving on and you don't want to paint yourself into a corner.

For the rest of the world? There are better things than Wordpress. Modern Wordpress is a mess, to be honest, and I think its nature holds developers back. As a knock-on effect, focusing on Wordpress means there's more Wordpress in the world and less... modern stuff. You might be a drop in the ocean of developers, but I reckon the more people who move on to "better" technologies the better the web becomes for everyone.

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rudolfolah profile image
Rudolf Olah

This is a great answer.

Wordpress isn't going away any time soon but the world is moving on and you don't want to paint yourself into a corner.

It can be seen as a maintenance job or a job that needs to be done quickly, spending only the necessary amount of effort.

This is why working at an agency on WordPress sites, themes and plugins makes a lot of sense. You move from project to project and the sites have to be done within a specific scope and timeframe. Solo freelancing on WordPress is oversaturated and it's much better to spend time on newer technologies.

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webbureaucrat profile image
webbureaucrat

Yes, you can definitely make a career out of WordPress development.

Personally, I would not want to go into WordPress, but not suiting my preferences doesn't mean something is objectively a bad career choice.

Some things to consider:

  • I think you'll probably end up in very small shops outside the tech industry if you go with WordPress. There are pros and cons to this. There's a lot of meaningful, important work out there in small nonprofits who've adopted WP, for example, and in a small shop you could be a "big fish" with a lot of ownership and control over your projects.
  • On the other hand, not a lot of very big, exciting, innovative projects start in WordPress, which is largely a platform for blogging and informational websites. You may find the work to be repetitive.
  • WordPress could easily be seen as a stepping stone to other technologies, like PHP and Drupal, both of which are also strong career paths, or you could go the JavaScript route, which is obviously an enormous field, if you wanted to broaden your options.
  • Without looking it up, I'd be kind of surprised if WordPress was a relatively highly paid path. Money certainly isn't everything, but it's probably worth studying the figures and considering.
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khangnd profile image
Khang

There's nothing wrong with specializing and focusing solely on a specific tech, but that also means you're restricting your growth and career opportunities. As many others have advised, start with the fundamentals, in this case, the foundation of WordPress, which are HTML, CSS, and JS, and you will have no issues growing your career as a "WordPress developer", or expanding your horizon and becoming a "web developer".

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offirmo profile image
Offirmo

Hi, are you at the beginning or at the end of your career?

If you're at the beginning, you should strive to learn as wide as possible and find what you like. This can branch to whatever direction: language, frontend, backend, embedded, even management or design, product....

Once you're older and finishing your career (tired of corporate world, not as much youth enthusiasm) you may want to settle on a solid niche where you're a super expert.

"becoming a dev who focus on Wordpress" sounds like this kind of niche to me.

That's why I'd recommend first trying to go in the software area you like the most, try to join the best tech company you can (lots of things to learn + build your CV), change company every 3 years and figure out things.

Good luck!

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wordpressure profile image
TricaExMachina

I've been working making WP sites since 2007 version 1.5ish. You can definitely make a career out of it as long as you eventually learn the languages it's built with. PHP and, if you want, React. Being able to competently write a theme from scratch, or starting from a base like underscores.me really propels your career and instantly increases the amount you're able to charge for. Get comfortable with writing plugins that extend WP and being able to get your templates to make full use of its under the hood power. Elementor and other page builders definitely do the job for many but more "serious" customers will always demand bespoke solutions.

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phalkmin profile image
Paulo Henrique

Considering that WordPress is used by 45% of all websites in the internet (data from 2023) : yes you can, yes you should.

Things that you need to specialize or at least have a good knowledge of if you want to be a good WordPress dev: PHP, CSS, technical SEO, Pagespeed Optimization