Home / Career Guides / Drupal Developer

Drupal Developer Career Guide

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. Drupal, an open-source platform, offers flexibility and a robust framework for developers to create custom solutions. Businesses, charities, or government organizations rely on these professionals 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 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.

Work environment

Drupal developers often work in an office alongside a team of 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. These professionals 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 Drupal developers 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. They 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, they may set their own schedules as long as their projects are completed on time and 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 becoming 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: Obtain 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.

Step 2: Learn Drupal and related technologies

While pursuing your degree, start learning Drupal in a hands-on manner. Familiarize yourself with its platform specifics, module system, and theme layer. Additionally, learn related technologies that Drupal heavily relies on, such as PHP, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. It would also be beneficial to understand MySQL as it is the primary database system used by Drupal.

Step 3: Develop a strong understanding of 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 unnecessary, it sets 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?

There are many variables that go into determining how much a Drupal developer makes, from company size to experience to education, just to name a few. 

Highest paying industries

  • Software Publishers – $125,760
  • Data Processing and Hosting – $119,320
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises – $113,860
  • Computer Systems Design – $108,890
  • Insurance Carriers – $104,470

Highest paying states

  • California – $138,370
  • Washington – $136,240
  • New Jersey – $134,520
  • Virginia – $133,190
  • Massachusetts – $131,780

Browse Drupal developer salary data by market

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

In this role, developers will utilize their comprehensive knowledge of Drupal’s theme layer to create visually appealing and user-friendly websites. Front-end developers primarily focus on the site’s appearance, user interface, and overall user experience. They are accomplished in utilizing website designing tools and have a strong understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

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.

Drupal themer

Theme developers specialize in creating custom themes to control the look and feel of a Drupal site. They’re proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Drupal’s theme layer. They use these skills to create unique, aesthetically pleasing site designs that align with the site’s objective and meet user expectations.

Top skills for Drupal developers

To succeed as a Drupal developer, one has to possess a diverse array of technical and intrinsic skills that help them overcome the challenges of this profession.

Knowledge of Drupal and other CMSs

As the title suggests, the most crucial skill is extensive knowledge of Drupal itself, including 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.

Proficiency in PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Since Drupal is written in PHP, having a solid understanding of this programming language is critical. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are also necessary for nearly all web development tasks. HTML sets the structure of websites, CSS adds style to HTML elements, and JavaScript allows for interactive elements on the webpage. Knowledge of these languages provides a strong foundation for developing effective and responsive websites.

Strong problem-solving skills

An essential trait 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.

Effective communication

These developers 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 manage project timelines, track budgets, allocate resources, and meet deadlines. Understanding project management principles can greatly contribute to their efficiency and effectiveness and can keep a project moving smoothly toward completion.

Drupal developer career path

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, they can progress to a senior role, managing other developers and overseeing 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.

A senior developer or team leader may eventually become a software architect or Drupal consultant. 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 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.

Trends are leaning toward 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, making the latest versions more secure and reliable.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for web developers, including Drupal developers, is projected to grow 23 percent through 2031, 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. 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
  • DrupalCon

Pursue ongoing learning and certifications

The Drupal landscape continually evolves, so it’s beneficial to continue broadening your knowledge base and skills, keeping them up-to-date and aligned with industry standards. Consider pursuing a Drupal certification – an official stamp of approval on your expertise can enhance your credibility and employability. Apart from Drupal-specific learnings, don’t forget to keep polishing your foundational skills in PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and relational databases.

  • 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 Drupal developer jobs are

Top employers

  • Acquia
  • Pantheon
  • Phase2
  • Capgemini
  • Tesla Motors

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Washington

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Drupal Jobs
  • Monster


What is Drupal and why is it important for a Drupal developer to be proficient in it?

Drupal is a powerful, open-source 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?

PrimarilyPHP as Drupal is built on this server-side scripting language. They should also have knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for front-end development. Familiarity with SQL for managing databases is beneficial, too. Lastly, being comfortable with other technologies, such as XML and jQuery, is an added advantage.

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 like 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 contribute to finding 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 SEO?

They 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 the 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 sometimes with the client. Beyond coding, a developer also contributes to planning, designing, testing, and debugging. They set timelines and ensure that project goals are understood and met. Effective communication and teamwork are essential in these interactive environments.