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November 2, 2023

Finding the Best Online PHP Course

PHP Development

Thanks to an abundance of online PHP courses, learning PHP programming has never been more accessible. However, with so many options, it can be challenging to identify the best online PHP course for your team and needs.

This blog post guides you through the process of evaluating your options for online PHP training courses, considering factors such as budget, time, expertise, and reputability. We also discuss other crucial criteria, compare paid versus free courses, and recommend the best PHP online training options for your unique situation.

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Evaluating Your Options for Online PHP Training Courses

The best online PHP course for your team will vary depending on a number of critical factors. Budget, time, and program reputability immediately come to mind. We also have a look at other criteria to note, such as course content, learning support, and the availability of certificates of attendance.


Your budget is perhaps the most significant aspect in identifying the best online PHP training for your organization. While there are many free resources available, some paid courses provide a more comprehensive learning experiences than others. You want to get the “most bang for your buck” as the saying goes.

Not all courses are created equal, and the price of a course often reflects its quality, depth of content, and the reputation of the institution or individual offering it. If you have a strict budget in place, this might limit the selection of courses available to you, potentially excluding some top-rated courses. 

On the other hand, budget constraints can also act as a catalyst for finding high-quality, cost-effective learning resources. Many free or affordable courses offer in-depth PHP training without compromising on the quality of education. Additionally, paid courses are not necessarily superior. The main goal should be to find a course that offers value for money, aligns with your specific goals and learning style, and provides a solid foundation in PHP, all within the set budget.


Time is another vital consideration -- you should choose a course that fits into your schedule and learning pace. For example, if you're working on a project with a fast-approaching deadline, you'll need a course that can help you and your team learn PHP skills quickly. 

Some courses might have lengthy all-inclusive modules that require a considerable time commitment, while others might provide concise lessons designed for quick learning. For those of you who are juggling work, studies, or personal commitments, finding a flexible course that fits into your schedule might be a prime consideration. 

It’s well documented that online courses often suffer from high dropout rates, mainly when learners can't allocate sufficient time for the program. Therefore, understanding your time availability can help you identify the best online PHP training course to fit your schedule and keep you engaged until completion.

Expertise / Reputability

The expertise and reputability of the course provider play a crucial role in the quality of the online PHP training. A reputable provider with a proven track record of successful course completions and positive student feedback assures you that the course content will be current, thorough, and applicable in the real world.

Additionally, the expertise of the course provider often translates into knowledgeable instructors, well-curated syllabuses, and robust learning resources. Overlooking these elements can lead to a subpar learning experience, which might not equip you with the necessary skills required to advance your PHP programming career.

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Other Criteria to Note

While budget, time, and the expertise/reputability of the course provider are significant considerations in choosing an online PHP training course, there are other key criteria to note. The evaluation of course content is extremely important. Always ensure:

  • The course has broad coverage and is up-to-date and relevant so that you gain the necessary skills and knowledge in PHP. 

  • Learning support is available, such as checking that the availability of instructors, mentors, tutors or community support will enhance your learning experience and provide assistance when you encounter difficulties. 

  • Certificate availability upon completion, as these certificates can serve as proof of your newly acquired skills and can boost your professional profile in the competitive tech industry.

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Are paid or free courses the best online PHP training for your team? Ever since the advent of the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) movement, there’s been an ongoing debate over the merits of free vs. paid software. You only need to look at the dramatic difference between Windows (paid) and Linux (free) to understand that having to pay for something doesn’t necessarily equate to quality.

This debate has spilled over into other areas, including training. The table shown here summarizes the pros and cons of free vs. paid online PHP training.


Free Online PHP Courses

Paid Online PHP Courses


  • Availability of high quality tutorials at no cost
  • Flexibility to learn at your own pace without financial obligations
  • Great for beginners who want to test the waters before investing
  • Often offer structured curriculum and comprehensive content
  • Potential for personal guidance and feedback from instructors 
  • Course attendance certification is usually available, which can enhance your professional profile


  • May lack structured learning path, which can be confusing for beginners
  • Limited or no access to instructor support or feedback
  • No official certification upon completion
  • Can be expensive, not suitable for learners on a tight budget
  • Some courses may not offer flexibility in terms of time
  • Quality can vary; not all paid courses guarantee superior learning experience
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The Best Online PHP Course Options Available for Free

The number of free PHP learning options is truly staggering. This shouldn’t be a surprise, however, given the maturity of the language. Let’s have a look at some of the expected outlets as well as a few you may not have previously considered.

Option 1: YouTube

YouTube videos can offer numerous benefits for online PHP training. They provide a more personal and interactive learning experience, enabling you to directly focus on specific topics. These videos can simplify complex PHP concepts, enhancing your understanding and engagement. They also offer the flexibility to revisit the content, pause, rewind, and fast-forward, allowing you to learn at your own pace.

Another benefit is that YouTube's vast community can serve as a platform for you to ask questions and share insights, promoting a more collaborative learning environment. Since YouTube videos are free, they are a great alternative source of learning if you find yourself in a severe budget crunch.

While YouTube videos can serve as a valuable resource for PHP online training, they do come with certain downsides:

  • The content quality can be inconsistent, as videos are created by a range of users with varying levels of expertise in PHP.

  • There is a lack of structured learning, making it difficult for learners to progress in a systemic manner.

  • The absence of certification or proof of learning can be a drawback for those who need to demonstrate their competence in PHP.

  • Learning through YouTube often lacks personalized support or feedback, which means you might struggle to resolve queries or doubts.

  • Many YouTube tutorials may not be updated frequently, leading to the risk of learning outdated practices or techniques.

Quite a number of paid online learning platforms have sprung up over the years, especially since the Covid pandemic. The big names include Udemy, Coursera, edX, Codeacademy, LinkedIn Learning (formerly I’ve discussed the advantages of such platforms in previous blog posts so I won’t repeat that discussion here. However, what is of interest is that most, if not all, of these platforms offer free online courses as a way to entice you into signing up.

The free offerings for the paid platforms come in two primary forms. In some cases the free courses are exactly that: free with no strings attached. In other cases, and this depends on the training provider, you first need to sign up (with a credit card!) and are given a free trial period. But the quality of these free trainings varies considerably. Also, very often, the free courses are outdated, which means you risk learning techniques that are no longer viable in the real world.

Option 3: Zend

Seeing as this is a blog post on the Zend website, and given I am one of the Zend instructors, it behooves me to extol the virtues of our courses. So get ready for a shameless plug!

One of the perhaps not-so-obvious benefits of taking courses from Zend is that we are the among originators of the PHP language, so taking a Zend PHP course means you’re getting information right from the source! Our offerings are a mix of instructor led training (ILT) and on-demand video-based training. Our courses are kept up to date, with ILT courses updated after each scheduled live session and on-demand courses updated on a slower cycle.

In our catalog of courses, we include a number of free courses. These are designed to complement the paid ILT and on-demand courses. All Zend courses, even those that are free, feature a virtual environment and labs. Also, all the Zend courses are taught by an experienced instructor and show you plenty of code examples in action throughout the course.

Free Resources for PHP Teams

Zend allows your team to develop PHP skills at your own pace. Explore our library of resources—including on-demand webinars, expert blog posts, in-depth reports, and much more—to get started.

Expand Your PHP Knowledge Today

Other Options to Consider

While online courses are a popular method of learning PHP, there are several other viable options available for free. 

PHP User Groups

PHP user groups, for instance, are a treasure trove of knowledge. These are communities of PHP enthusiasts that meet regularly to discuss the language, share tips, and troubleshoot problems. They are excellent platforms for networking and learning from seasoned professionals. Here’s a list of upcoming PHP usergroup events.


Bootcamps are another alternative. Many organizations and communities offer free PHP bootcamps that are intensive, immersive, and hands-on. They usually involve learning through projects, coding challenges, and peer programming, which all contribute to a robust understanding of the language.


Tutorials are also a valuable resource for learning PHP. One example is the learn-php repository created Dan Opitz on GitHub. Our own Matthew Weier O’Phinney posts frequently on LinkedIn and Mastodon. One of my previous blog posts outlines a beginning PHP tutorial. And let us not forget that venerable institution W3Schools. They offer an extensive set of tutorials here.


Analyzing code on GitHub is another effective self-learning method. GitHub hosts numerous PHP projects, both open-source and proprietary. Exploring these projects and understanding the code can provide you with practical insights into how PHP is used in real-world applications.

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Final Thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for what the best online PHP course is for your team. No matter which type of online training you select, always remember that there’s no substitute for actually writing PHP code. The team at Zend is here to get you started. In a previous blog post I mentioned embarking on a starter project. The most important thing to remember is that the project must have personal meaning. This gives you the incentive to complete the project.

Our free training course Installing PHP gives you guidance on setting up your own development environment. The PHP Basics course will get you started if you don’t already have coding experience. There are now plenty of tools such as ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Code Pilot that can get you started. But please exercise caution with these tools and definitely do not assume they write the best code!

Good luck with your learning path. From experience I’ve learned that the more you know, the more you don’t know, so please do not get discouraged.

Explore Our PHP Course Listings

Zend has a variety of free, on-demand, and instructor-led PHP training courses available. Ready to take your skills to the next level?

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Additional Resources

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