What is a Drupal developer?
A Drupal developer is a technical professional who uses the Drupal content management system (CMS) to design and develop websites and applications that meet the needs of their clients or business. Drupal, an open-source platform, offers flexibility and a robust framework for developers to create custom solutions. These developers are relied upon by businesses, charities, or government organizations that need to build a reliable and user-friendly online presence.
Drupal developers contribute unique value by translating user and business needs into functional, attractive digital forms. They enable organizations to interact with their audience more effectively and efficiently through a digital channel. Their role is significant in enhancing brand visibility and improving user experience, directly influencing customer satisfaction and business success.
Duties and responsibilities
A Drupal developer has several key responsibilities. First and foremost, they build and support websites and applications using Drupal. This involves activities such as setting up the CMS, designing and implementing new features and functionality, and carrying out tests to ensure the solutions work as planned.
They are also responsible for managing all technical aspects of the CMS. This includes ensuring the site’s optimal performance and maintaining its security. Their role also involves creating custom modules and themes, integrating third-party applications, and providing technical support and training to end users.
Drupal developers often work in an office alongside a team other developers, designers, and digital marketing professionals. Given the nature of their work, they have an extensively digital workplace, primarily using computers and specific software tools to perform their tasks. They regularly interface with various stakeholders within the business, such as project managers, clients, or other team members, to ensure the development of an effective online presence.
However, thanks to technological advancements and evolving business culture, remote work or telecommuting is also quite common in this profession. Drupal developers can perform their tasks from nearly anywhere if they have a stable internet connection and the necessary equipment to facilitate their work.
Typical work hours
Most work full-time, 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. However, the hours can extend beyond this during intense project development or when trying to resolve complex issues. Developers may need to work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines or deal with website emergencies.
The profession often offers some flexibility regarding work hours, especially for those who work remotely. In these cases, developers may set their own schedules as long as their projects are completed on time and they can attend necessary meetings or interactions with their team or clients.
How to become a Drupal developer
This career guide section outlines the steps to become a Drupal developer. It provides a roadmap from acquiring the necessary education and technical skills to gaining practical experience and certification where applicable.
Step 1: Attain a bachelor’s degree
Begin by acquiring a degree in a computer science-related field, such as computer science, information systems, or software engineering. These fields provide foundational knowledge in programming languages, database management, and web development which are essential for a career as a Drupal developer.
Step 2: Learn Drupal and related technologies
Step 3: Develop a strong understanding of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
An understanding of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) methodology is crucial because Drupal is written in PHP, which uses OOP principles. Strengthen your knowledge of OOP concepts such as classes, objects, inheritance, and polymorphism. This will not only lighten your workload but also enhance your problem-solving capabilities.
Step 4: Gain practical experience
Start building with Drupal. This hands-on practice will reinforce your understanding of the concepts learned and improve your development skills. Internships, cooperative education, and projects are all good ways to gain practical experience. Start with simple websites and gradually move to more complex projects.
Step 5: Contribute to the Drupal community
Being an active part of the Drupal community is a great way to enhance your understanding of it, discover new modules or themes, and contribute to the improvement of Drupal. You can contribute by developing modules, fixing bugs, improving documentation, or writing tutorials.
Step 6: Seek relevant certification
While certification is not necessary, it does set you apart from the competition. It validates your skills and knowledge and provides recognition from your peers. Consider obtaining Drupal developer certification from Acquia, a leading provider of products, services, and technical support.
Step 7: Networking
Network in person with other developers at meetups, conventions, seminars, and online through platforms like LinkedIn, GitHub, and Drupal.org. Networking helps you to stay updated with the latest industry trends, opens up new job opportunities, and provides you with a platform for sharing ideas.
Step 8: Apply for jobs
Once you’ve acquired the necessary skills, experience, and possibly certification, begin applying for Drupal developer positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your specific skills and experiences related to the job. Prepare for technical interviews by reviewing your projects and practicing technical questions related to Drupal development.
How much do Drupal developers make?
Compensation for Drupal developers varies by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size.
Highest paying industries
- Software Publishers – $105,760
- Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services – $99,320
- Management of Companies and Enterprises – $93,860
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services – $88,890
- Insurance Carriers – $84,470
Highest paying states
- California – $118,370
- Washington – $116,240
- New Jersey – $114,520
- Virginia – $113,190
- Massachusetts – $111,780
Types of Drupal developers
Below, we explore common career types and areas of specialization for Drupal developers. This field comprises a wide array of roles, as Drupal is a highly versatile and extensively used content management platform. Jobs will vary based on factors such as the level of expertise, the nature of the work, and specific project needs.
Front-end Drupal developer
Back-end Drupal developer
Back-end Drupal developers emphasize the functionality and performance of the site. They are primarily involved in server-side programming and database management. Their proficiency in PHP (the coding language Drupal is based on), SQL, and integration techniques equip them to ensure that the site operates smoothly and efficiently. They may also develop custom modules to cater to the specific requirements of a project.
Full-stack Drupal developer
As the name suggests, a full-stack Drupal developer has competency in both front-end and back-end development. Equipped with a comprehensive set of skills, these developers can manage and deliver projects independently, from initial concept to final output. Their knowledge extends to different aspects of Drupal development, making them a versatile choice for varied project needs.
Drupal module developer
Drupal module developers specialize in creating custom modules to extend the Drupal core’s capabilities. These professionals are skilled in PHP and have in-depth knowledge of Drupal’s architecture and APIs. They build modules per the project requirements, providing tailored functionality and features to websites. Their work significantly contributes to Drupal’s flexibility and customizability.
Top skills for Drupal developers
To succeed as a Drupal developer, one has to possess a diverse array of technical skills and intrinsic skills that help them overcome the challenges that come with this profession.
Knowledge of Drupal and other content management systems (CMS)
As the title suggests, the most crucial skill for a Drupal developer is extensive knowledge of Drupal itself. This includes understanding the core and contributed modules and being able to modify and expand them as necessary. Knowledge of similar content management systems is also beneficial, as it gives a contextual understanding of the mechanics behind web development and widens the horizons of programming capabilities.
Strong problem-solving skills
An essential trait for Drupal developers is the ability to troubleshoot issues as they arise, which could be anything from fixing bugs, addressing system errors, or figuring out how to implement a client’s unique requirement into the website’s structure. Identifying issues quickly and devising efficient solutions is critical in keeping development projects on track.
A Drupal developer must communicate effectively with stakeholders like clients, team members, and managers. They need to explain their work process, discuss project requirements, and provide updates comprehensively and clearly. Good communication aids smooth project bearing and ensures everyone involved has a clear understanding of the project status and goals.
Project management skills
While Drupal developers are primarily tasked with coding, they sometimes also manage project timelines, track budgets, allocate resources, and meet deadlines. Understanding project management principles can greatly contribute to a developer’s efficiency and effectiveness and can keep a project moving smoothly toward completion.
Career Progression for Drupal Developers
As a Drupal developer, vast opportunities are present for career progression. Many choose to specialize further in their field, becoming experts at building and maintaining complex systems for larger corporations. Over time and with experience, a developer can progress to a senior Drupal developer role, where they manage other developers and oversee large projects.
Beyond technical skills, enhancing leadership and project management abilities can lead to roles such as Drupal project manager or technical team lead. Here, the emphasis shifts from coding to managing timelines, resources, and teams of developers.
Eventually, a senior developer or team leader may move into a software architect or Drupal consultant role. These high-level positions involve designing system frameworks or offering expert advice to organizations about their Drupal infrastructure.
To diversify, there are opportunities to transition into roles focused on other Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress or Joomla, or use the experience to move into broader fields like user experience design or data analysis.
Finally, those with an entrepreneurial spirit could start their own Drupal development company, offering services to businesses globally, thus leveraging their technical and industry knowledge into a potentially lucrative business.
Similar job titles
- Software Developer
- Web Developer
- Database Developer
- Python Developer
- C++ Developer
- .Net Developer
- PHP Developer
- Database Architect
- Front End Developer
Position trends and outlook
Trends are leaning towards including AI and machine learning within Drupal platforms. Advanced technologies add immense value to Drupal’s user-friendliness, making it an advantageous choice for businesses seeking digitization.
Additionally, Drupal developers are exploring the possibilities in headless or decoupled Drupal, where Drupal serves as a back-end content management system, but an entirely different technology powers the front end. This stems from the need to deliver dynamic and personalized content faster across multiple channels.
Importantly, since Drupal 9 was launched in 2020, development has been centered around upgrading from older versions to 8 or 9. This is due to Drupal’s new policy of introducing new features and improvements in minor releases, which makes the latest versions more secure and reliable.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for web developers, including Drupal developers, is projected to grow 23 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Drupal developer career tips
Understand the Drupal ecosystem thoroughly
Become immersed in the Drupal ecosystem. To understand the philosophy, workflows, and best practices, it’s beneficial to know the unique way Drupal categorizes content and the best ways to organize and build complex Drupal sites. Drupal’s rich ecosystem includes various modules and themes, and being familiar with the most popular and useful ones will go a long way in expediting your work.
Stay up-to-date on Drupal updates and trends
Drupal issues regular updates and upgrades for functionality and security. As a Drupal Developer, you should be aware of these updates and how they can impact your projects. Follow community resources such as blogs, forums, and social media to stay informed of the latest developments in the Drupal world.
Focus on client requirements and business processes
A successful developer not only writes code but also understands the business requirements and implements them effectively, which includes asking the right questions to fully understand the client’s business, suggesting best use cases for Drupal, and effectively communicating technical information to non-technical stakeholders.
Build a professional network
Active participation in the Drupal community, such as attending Drupal conferences, meetups, and seminars, can open up opportunities for work, knowledge sharing, and partnership. Being a part of relevant organizations can also enhance your reputation as a trusted professional in your field.
- Drupal Association
- Drupal Groups
Pursue ongoing learning and certifications
- Acquia Certified Developer – Drupal 8 or 9
- Acquia Certified Back End Specialist – Drupal 8 or 9
- Acquia Certified Front End Specialist – Drupal 8 or 9
Where the jobs are
- Tesla Motors
- New York
- Drupal Jobs
What is Drupal and why is it important for a Drupal developer to be proficient in it?
Drupal is a powerful, open-source content management system (CMS) used for creating websites and applications. Built using PHP, it provides a flexible and versatile platform for highly customizable, feature-rich development. For a Drupal developer, proficiency in Drupal means being able to easily design and maintain complex websites, ensuring they are secure, scalable, and user-friendly.
What programming languages should a Drupal developer know?
Are there specific software or tools that a Drupal developer should be familiar with?
Yes, they should ideally be familiar with Drupal-specific development tools such as Drush and Drupal Console. Knowledge of version control systems like Git and deployment tools such as Docker or Jenkins can be beneficial. Additionally, understanding how to use integrated development environments (IDEs) like PHPStorm is advantageous for effective Drupal development.
What does a typical day look like for a Drupal developer?
Their day is often divided between coding, problem-solving, meeting with team members, and learning about new technologies. They spend significant time creating modules, integrations or configurations in Drupal, doing code reviews, and debugging issues. Communication with project managers, designers, and other developers is also frequent to ensure projects are progressing as envisioned. Continual learning is a part of the job due to the constantly evolving nature of web technologies.
Can Drupal developers work remotely, or is it a job that requires being in an office?
The job can be performed remotely, thanks to tools like version control systems, collaborative project management software, and virtual meeting platforms. However, the work environment largely depends on the employer’s policy. Some organizations may prefer their developers to be on-site for better collaboration, while others are comfortable with a fully remote or hybrid model.
What is the importance of Drupal certifications for a Drupal developer?
While not mandatory, certifications can enhance credibility by validating skills and knowledge in Drupal development. They demonstrate to potential employers a commitment to professional development and mastery of best practices. Different certifications exist for developers at different stages, from beginners to experts, and cover various Drupal aspects from site building to back-end development.
How does a Drupal developer ensure the security of a website built with Drupal?
They can implement several measures to ensure website security. These include performing regular updates of Drupal core and contributed modules, using trusted modules, ensuring proper input sanitization to prevent injections, setting correct file permissions, and using two-factor authentication. Developers can also utilize Drupal’s extensive security reporting and contributes to find out about potential vulnerabilities and appropriate solutions.
What is involved in migrating Joomla or WordPress to Drupal?
Migration from Joomla or WordPress involves several steps. The first step is understanding the content structure of the existing site and mapping it to a Drupal structure. Next, the data is extracted from the source CMS, which might involve creating custom scripts or using migration tools. Then, the data is transformed into a format suitable for Drupal. Finally, the data is loaded into Drupal. Additionally, the templates and design elements of the site may need to be re-created in Drupal. The process can be complex and requires careful planning to ensure data integrity and minimal downtime.
What is the role of a Drupal developer in search engine optimization (SEO)?
The can contribute to SEO efforts by ensuring the site is properly structured and coded for search engine readability, which includes implementing clean URLs, optimizing page load times, and ensuring correct use of meta tags. Developers can make good use of Drupal’s SEO-friendly modules, like Pathauto, Metatag, and XML Sitemap, to manage various SEO aspects. Additionally, they can ensure that the site’s content is easily accessible to search engine crawlers, further optimizing visibility in search rankings.
What is the role of a Drupal developer in a team setting?
Collaboration with other developers, UI/UX designers, project managers, and by times with the client. Beyond coding, a developer also contributes to planning, designing, testing, and debugging. They partake in setting timelines and are instrumental in ensuring that project goals are understood and met. Effective communication and teamwork are essential in these interactive environments.