How to Become a Magento Developer:
The Ultimate Guide
Magento is a leading eCommerce platform for launching online stores. It stands tall among the competition thanks to its flexibility and power, allowing store owners to create unique websites in line with their needs. However, the platform is most popular among large enterprises or rapidly growing businesses aiming to expand to global markets and audiences.
Why do small store owners avoid this platform? The reason lies in its complexity. It requires solid coding skills, eCommerce web development experience, and money to support daring endeavors. As a result, the demand for professional Magento developers never decreases.
The more online stores appear, the more businesses need dedicated experts. With software engineering being the fastest-growing occupation in the U.S., Magento developers will always find a job.
But how do you start a career in Magento web development? You need to not only understand the technical side of the platform. You need to be committed to continuous learning and hone your life skills – from critical thinking to effective collaboration.
In this guide, we share tips on making the learning process more manageable. We introduce you to Magento, the needed skills, learning resources, certifications, and strategies for building a portfolio.
Understanding Magento: Overview and the Role of a Magento Developer
Let’s build some groundwork before you start taking the first steps as a Magento developer. Do you understand what Magento is all about? Magento is an open-source platform supported by an international community of developers. Open-source means its underlying code is freely available. It’s free to install and use. Plus, you can contribute, tweak, and refine the platform functionalities. That’s why it’s so adjustable.
Magento isn’t the best option for the mere selling of products. But if your clients want to provide users with a reliable and enriching online shopping experience, Magento is the ideal option.
Here, we need to mention two facts:
Magento comes in two generations: Magento 1 and Magento 2. While some existing stores were developed on the first version, nowadays, they switch to M2. New online businesses launch websites on M2 right from the get-go. Compared to M1, Magento 2 receives security updates, extensions, and support from the community.
Magento is now owned by Adobe and has three versions on the same common core:
- Magento Open Source (free);
- Adobe Commerce (paid);
- Adobe Commerce Cloud (paid and hosted on the cloud).
While the first one is the most widespread, Adobe Commerce offers more powerful functionality. Adobe Commerce Cloud eliminates the need to look for hosting services, storing the website assets on the company’s servers.
What does a Magento developer do? Simply put, a Magento developer provides professional Magento services, i.e., builds, customizes, and maintains online stores on the Magento platform. But this role involves more than coding. You’ll need to understand consumer behavior to conceptualize eCommerce solutions, integrate new applications, and innovate functionalities.
Technical Foundations and Life Skills for a Magento Developer
The Magento backend is written in PHP. So, you need to learn the latest PHP versions, such as 8.1 or 8.2, including their syntax, functions, and best practices. For example, one of the everyday tasks would be debugging Magento modules. That’s where you’ll need to know PHP’s error-handling techniques.
Object-oriented programming is the basis for Magento’s coding structure. Here, concepts like encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism come to the stage. For example, Magento utilizes dependency injection, a design pattern, to manage its object creation.
The next section to dive deep into revolves around databases, MySQL, and Version Control Systems. Grasp the basics of relational databases, writing MySQL queries to fetch data, and optimizing existing ones for performance. Tools like Git are also essential to comprehend. There, you’ll be able to maintain different versions of your codebase and collaborate with other developers. For instance, if a module breaks after some changes, use Git to trace back to the problematic change.
Life skills for success include:
- Effective communication
You need to speak clearly and translate technical jargon into plain English for non-technical clients and stakeholders. It comes in handy when a person wants you to add a new feature without understanding the consequences. Your task would be to explain the technical challenges and propose alternative solutions.
- Problem-solving skills
It’s crucial to have an organized strategy when dealing with problems such as bugs or errors. Analyze the issue in detail, replicate it, pinpoint potential causes, and put proposed solutions to systematic testing. For example, if the checkout process fails, you need to inspect each step, from adding goods to the cart to payment processing, to identify the error.
- Self-reflection and continuous improvement
This skill comes into play when the project is completed, and you review the problems faced during its implementation. Document lessons learned, for example, that a certain module takes longer than initially expected. Think of the possible reasons for that and how this knowledge will help you next time.
- Time management
Most developers are familiar with tools like Trello or Jira, where they can break tasks into sub-tasks, prioritize them, and track their progress. As for boosting productivity, consider the Pomodoro Technique. It entails working hard for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.
As the tech world is ever-evolving, you need to constantly stay updated on new functionality, versions, and capabilities appearing. Read Magento official forums, join developer communities, and regularly check in with authoritative tech blogs.
For instance, agencies specializing in Magento web development regularly post new articles, casting light on Magento, progressive web apps, headless commerce, UI/UX design, and even marketing. Subscribing to these resources will let you be among the first to know when and what Magento releases and what it implies.
Learning Resources and Opportunities
Where can you find essential information about Magento? Here are some places:
Official Adobe Commerce documentation and tutorials: Start here. Adobe provides a collection of step-by-step guides, such as GraphQL reference documentation, Admin Style Guide, PHP Developer Guide, and more.
Online courses: Platforms like Udemy or M.academy offer comprehensive Magento courses. Check whether the information is updated according to the recent Magento 2.4 specifics.
Community: From Magento Community to forums like Magento Expert Forum, Magento Stack Exchange, and Reddit, you can search for answers on various websites. Chances are your colleagues have already discussed the issue you’re struggling with. Or you can start your conversation and create a new post.
GitHub and open-source projects: To practice your knowledge and strengthen your resume, find a Magento project on GitHub, maybe one with a few open issues. Try to fix them. Such contributions represent real-world problem-solving, which is key for a beginner.
Magento events and conferences: Networking is always a good idea when stepping into a new career. Attend Magento-focused hackathons, conferences, and events. You can not only learn from seasoned developers there but also find career opportunities and projects.
Building Your Portfolio and Gaining Experience
The best way to cement one’s knowledge is to apply it as much as possible. The same is true for Magento web development. While you don’t have clients and projects at the time, design an online store or try revamping an existing one for your portfolio. Scrutinize each feature to understand its purpose and principles of working, and add each website page step-by-step:
- Product listings;
- Search functions;
- A checkout system.
Consider helping others in open-source projects as you gain experience. It positively impacts the community, your skills, and your career.
If you’re stuck, reach out to experienced developers and ask them to become your mentor. That’s how most professionals grow. Their advice can be priceless, helping you avoid pitfalls faced by them.
If you feel confident enough to work, register on Upwork or Freelancer to search for a job as a freelancer. For starters, small projects and easy tasks will be enough. Or look at Magento web dev companies with openings for entry-level positions.
The bigger the brand, the more refined and structured environment they have to grow. As a bonus, they have diverse clients, so you can start small and proceed to large-scale projects.
Becoming Certified and Credible
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd of Magento developers is to take a specialized exam called Adobe Magento certification (previously Magento 2 certification). Adobe conducts paid exams and awards badges. They testify that you have enough skills and knowledge to become a Magento developer, establishing your credibility in the eyes of employers and peers. What’s more, you can leverage them when asking for a pay rise.
These certifications have different levels:
Professional: Adobe Commerce Business Practitioner, Adobe Commerce Developer, Adobe Commerce Front End Developer.
Expert: The same as professional, but more advanced, requiring a deeper understanding of Magento.
Adobe Commerce Architect Master.
Explore dedicated exam study guides provided by Adobe. For example, Magento 2 Certified Professional Developer Exam Study Guide or Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Exam Study Guide. They’re a good starting point, allowing you to pair them with practical tasks. Utilize mock tests, seek advice from others to eliminate your doubts arising during the completion of tests, and try implementing knowledge in your personal projects.
Staying Updated and Engaged
Like any other software, Magento constantly evolves, so you need to stay updated on recent improvements. Here are some ways to keep abreast of Magento releases, news, and innovations:
Follow Magento official channels: You can find hundreds of tutorials, tips, and discussions on Magento/Adobe blogs, official channels, and YouTube.
Never stop learning: Look for various ways to update your skills, be it by participating in an innovative project or connecting with developers from the other side of the world.
Embrace change: Sticking to old-fashioned approaches won’t get you far. Stay adaptable and explore new solutions. Some examples are headless commerce and multiservices architecture. You can use Magento to create single-page applications, providing a new level of customization, agility, and development freedom. You can also deploy progressive web apps on Magento.
Beyond Codes: Developing a Holistic Skillset
In the world of web development, it’s easy to get lost in technical details. However, even specialized fields like Magento have often overlooked but equally crucial aspects apart from coding, debugging, and deploying. Let’s take a glance at some other skills that go beyond the IDE (Integrated Development Environment):
They include networking, communication, and empathy. As previously mentioned, attending Magento events helps you meet new people, from developers to potential employers. But it’s not only about building a career. During these events, you exchange stories, challenges, and solutions. Even a casual chat over coffee can lead to collaborative opportunities or solutions to persistent coding issues.
The Magento web developer’s role involves more than talking to machines. It’s also about communicating with clients and colleagues and articulating your needs and goals. That’s where you also need to comprehend what stands behind others’ actions, be it your boss or shoppers from whom you launch an online store. Put yourself in the shoes of end-users and fellow developers. An empathetic approach often results in more user-friendly and inclusive designs.
Balance and Self-Care
Despite the undeniable excitement of Magento development, remember to relax and take care of yourself. Creativity flows with a healthy work-life balance. Consider options outside coding as you advance in your profession, such as:
Establishing boundaries: If you don’t feel tired and want to burn the midnight oil with the project, remember that downtime is essential for subconscious problem-solving. So instead of working anytime, decide your productive hours and stick to them.
Stress management: Find what lets you relieve stress, such as a hobby, meditation, or short walks. Allow your mind to process the learned material. You’d be surprised to find that most solutions to coding problems arise during these breaks.
As you progress, you can open up new opportunities to employ your knowledge of Magento and interpersonal skills, including:
Leadership: You can become a team leader of several developers, guiding projects from conception to completion, checking deadlines and code quality.
Management: This role includes broader project elements than only development, such as timelines, client relations, and resource allocation.
Entrepreneurship: Start your own business, launch solutions, or consult clients on the Magento ecosystem.
Here is how the journey to becoming a Magento developer looks. While learning the basics may make you a good professional, it’s combining them with life skills that can set you apart from the rest.
About the Author
Art Malkovich is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Onilab, a full-service eCommerce agency. Being an experienced developer and project manager, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in headless commerce, online store development and migration, SaaS, and UX/UI design.