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Everything You Need to Know Before Starting Your TYPO3 Career

TYPO3 is the ultimate CMS. It’s no surprise then, that you may be interested in building a career in TYPO3. There are lots of career opportunities for those who want to work with TYPO3 CMS. In fact, TYPO3 can be a very lucrative area within the web, application, and software development industries.

In general, TYPO3 is seen as a highly specialist area, and TYPO3 developers are in short supply.

There’s actually a common misconception within the web development industry, which I’d like to politely debunk. It’s the assumption that developers are the only talent within the industry who are capable of making good money. As it happens, there are a plethora of roles and vastly different job descriptions for talent within the TYPO3 ecosystem.

As a platform, TYPO3 is extremely specialist, I admit. TYPO3 CMS is capable of developing solutions that are simply impossible with competing content management platforms. TYPO3 is also used by some of the largest and most influential organizations in the world. These organizations serve millions of consumers, internationally.

In this guide, I’m going to break down the entire process, and explain every step you’ll have to take, with the pros and cons, of building a successful career in TYPO3.

Why should you trust me? Because I’m a TYPO3 professional with over a decade worth of experience working with TYPO3 CMS. So let’s start!

The Shortage of TYPO3 Talent

There is currently a huge shortage of TYPO3-proficient professionals, and that’s likely fueled by a few different triggers.

Reason #1: The TYPO3 community has matured over time, and those who haven’t remained dedicated to the CMS will have fallen out of interest working with it, likely migrating their work (or that of their clients) to alternative solutions. Some of the popular alternatives to TYPO3 include WordPress (for less functionality), and Laravel (for a more generic framework-based approach). However, we’re only talking developers here.

Reason #2: TYPO3 takes time to learn, though it isn’t inherently difficult to learn. One of the reasons for this is that it often doesn’t conform to the typically rigid content creation process that so many other CMSs fall into. This inadvertently puts off a lot of people from jumping into the TYPO3 ecosystem head-first, so to speak, as it’s just not feasible for everybody to devote the time and demand TYPO3 education will take.

Reason #3: Many companies that employ TYPO3 specialists are keen to hold onto them. The framework is highly specialized, and sourcing proficient consultants aren’t as readily accessible as it is in competing areas. As the volume of TYPO3-powered solutions grows, the talent doesn’t. At least, not quite as quickly.

Most businesses that successfully hire experts in TYPO3 are keen to keep them around. As such, the jobs tend to be extremely well-paid, with attractive benefits and other provisions made by employers.

Reason #4: Because such a large proportion of TYPO3 experts are competitively held-on by employers who are cautious of losing them, the gap between demand and supply of readily available TYPO3 professionals continues to grow. Quite simply, there is a lot less availability of TYPO3 professionals than the industry requires.

Reason #5: TYPO3 is arguably the single most common enterprise-level content management system within Germany, and quite often around the rest of the world. And we all know what enterprise means. Big teams, big projects, and big demand.

Single organizations that are running websites, applications, or other projects using TYPO3 are hiring many professionals in the field at any one time. Particularly for enterprise-level use cases, TYPO3 solutions often cannot be deployed, developed, extended, and maintained by a single individual or small team. Again, this results in a shortage of talent because of the sheer volume of TYPO3 experts who are needed by corporations at an enterprise level.

Reason #6: With TYPO3, you won’t get far unless you are brilliant.

Being okay at TYPO3, regardless of your area of specialism, is simply not enough. As a software, TYPO3 is positioned most well to serve enterprise-level clients. This includes:

  • Medium to large commercial organizations
  • Governments
  • Charities and non-profit organizations
  • Educational establishments

Outside of this audience, the demand for competent, well-paid TYPO3 talent is slightly rarer. In order to set yourself up to secure great positions during your TYPO3 career, you have to be amazing.

Due to its complexity, and the delicate process of TYPO3 deployment, development, and subsequently, maintenance, there is a range of areas of specialism within the TYPO3 ecosystem alone. TYPO3 is made up of a lot more than code, and this is where the software differs from its competitors.

For the sake of ease, we’ll use the term ‘TYPO3 development’ to refer to the entire process of building, delivering, and maintaining a TYPO3 site or TYPO3-based solution.

This makes sense since the development of TYPO3 really starts at the beginning. Very rare is it that a TYPO3 site delivers as needed using the bare-bones provided immediately upon installation. In fact, it’s far more common that at least a few modules or extendable code modifications (in the form of a theme or module) are made right at the beginning of a project before any deep coding or development has begun.

TYPO3 Career Roles & Job Positions

There are lots of different positions and job roles within TYPO3 development, each of which entails a range of different tasks and responsibilities. They also demand various levels of experience. With TYPO3, a professional who might be skilled in one area may not possess the skill to manage or develop another area of the CMS. And that’s just how vast the framework is.

In fact, since TYPO3 is so beautifully intricate and complex, it’s usually the case that TYPO3 professionals aren’t fluent in every single area of its development. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s one of the key reasons that so many role possibilities exist within the ecosystem.

Some of the most common job roles in TYPO3 development and delivery are:

  • TYPO3 Developer
  • TYPO3 Designer
  • TYPO3 Content Manager
  • TYPO3 Editor
  • TYPO3 Integrator
  • TYPO3 Consultant
  • TYPO3 DevOps
  • TYPO3 Project Manager

Of course, then you have the proficiency level, too. Often, companies who are happy to hire intermediate professionals are able to offer substantial training on-the-job, which opens further doors in terms of building your career. Skill levels:

  • Novice/Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Proficient
  • Expert/Advanced

TYPO3 Certifications

Do you know TYPO3 is one of the very few communities to have a certification program available? There are 4 possible certifications you can aim for, depending on your requirements. They are listed below in the order of difficulty of their relevant tests.

What all junior TYPO3 developers should know?

Anyone calling themselves a junior TYPO3 developer should know HTML and CSS, some basic PHP, and how TYPO3 works. That’s a given, and people who apply to our Junior vacancies already know these things.

In addition to the basics above, there are more things they need to know about TYPO3 Fundamentals

TYPO3 Fundamentals

Following are a must very basic skills to be able to start building a custom TYPO3 project from design files.

  • PHP
  • AJAX
  • JavaScript knowledge
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • The Loop
  • TYPO3 terminology (Template, Pages, Storage folder, Plugin, flex form, etc...)
  • TYPO3 template hierarchy
  • TYPO3 functions
  • TYPO3 Admin navigation etc
  • TYPO3 default features/functions
  • TYPO3 default elements & default extensions
  • TYPO3 Custom Content Element
  • Default User Roles & Responsibilities

TYPO3 Frameworks, TYPO3 Extensions, & Libraries

Technically, if a developer has a good understanding of TYPO3 Fundamentals they can work on a custom TYPO3 project entirely from scratch. And it is recommended that all developers try that for at least one simple site in order to get a complete understanding of how TYPO3 works. 

TYPO3 Frameworks 

Frameworks are the base that TYPO3 themes are built on and range from very light to feature-packed. We use popular frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, Materialize, etc for most projects. Having proper knowledge and experience of frameworks is a must.

Moreover, to initiate learning about TYPO3 templating methods as TYPO3 fluid, TYPO3 Flux, TemplaVoila, Auto-Parser is also important.

TYPO3 Extensions

TYPO3 extensions extend the functionality of the TYPO3 website. Each agency will have its own set of TYPO3 extensions that they typically use site to site, but the common TYPO3 extensions knowledge must be there. We teach and expect our junior developers to master popular TER extensions,

Code Libraries

Yes, especially JavaScript libraries, can be very useful for junior web developers to achieve animations and other effects on websites. JavaScript is a much more advanced topic so it is important that a junior developer is aware of the possibilities but not spend too much time during this initial education period diving into JavaScript details.

Understanding TYPO3 Web Designing

Well, here we have focused on custom TYPO3 development from design files, like Adobe XD, Photoshop, or Sketch files.

An experienced developer will most often understand the project by looking at the design files. For junior developers, however, there are several things they need to learn to read the web designs correctly. For example:

  • Finding typography settings

Font family, font size, line height, paragraph spacing, bullet-list design, etc. all need to be set up correctly.

  • Understanding heading hierarchy

Text isn’t only about styles, it’s also important to set headings to H1, H2, etc.

  • Measuring the padding between elements.
  • Proper exporting of assets from design programs to be used in the build.
  • Identifying and working with layers to be able to distinguish images versus image effects.

Clients usually explain all design elements to the junior TYPO3 developer for the first few websites, but that is not always possible. This is why it is important that the developer write down any questions or clarifications regarding the design and clear them before the project planning stage.

Project Building fundamentals (the fun part!)

After all design files and requirements are clear then the developer needs to actually sit down and code the website. For our developers the following knowledge is required to do so:

  • Setup of an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) – 

We have used PHPStorm from the beginning with all our developers, but they can also use Sublime Text, Notepad++, or any basic text editor.

  • Access and familiarity with the server the site is to be hosted – 

a local environment can also be used for the initial build. The junior developer must know the step-by-step instructions for setting up a local environment.

  • Familiar with FTP/SFTP clients – 

in order to install TYPO3 and the required assets.

  • MySQL 

for database management.

  • Ability to implement TYPO3 fundamentals – 

to set up all the template files, register post types, adjust plugin settings and code The Loop to pull it all together in the right order to match the provided designs.

  • CSS adjustments with correct media breakpoints – 

to ensure correct responsive behavior.

  • Basic UNIX commands

To support multitasking and multi-user functionality. Knowledge of UNIX commands should be there. One should know the Unix commands for cases where a GUI is not available.

Overall quality self-check

Being a developer it is important to double-check their work to make sure all requirements are covered with the best quality before delivery. The main areas that a junior developer should focus on are:

  • Design/Layout review – 

does the website look the same as the design files?

  • Functional recheck – 

reading all requirements and making sure that code updates in one place did not break something in another place.

  • Responsive views are correct – 

Check with both browser development tools and real mobile devices when possible.

  • Cross-browser check –

 any adjustments needed for Safari, Chrome, or the dreaded Internet Explorer?

  • Code formatted and commented in a clean way that others can review and understand.

Where to learn TYPO3?

TYPO3 Books

  1. The TYPO3 Guidebook
  2. TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrator
  3. TYPO3 CMS Certified Developer
  4. TYPO3 Extbase Book
  5. TYPO3: Enterprise Content Management
  6. How I Passed My TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrator Exam
  7. How I Passed My TYPO3 CMS Certified Developer Exam
  8. TYPO3 Extbase: Extension Development for TYPO3 CMS
  9. TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrator
  10. TYPO3 CMS Certified Developer
  11. TYPO3 Extension Development
  12. TYPO3 4.2 E-Commerce
  13. TYPO3 Templates
  14. Building Websites with TYPO3

TYPO3 Videos

There are abundant TYPO3 videos are available on the official Youtube channel and thanks to Wolfgang Wagner for contributing more,

TYPO3 Blogs

There are many TYPO3 blogging channels available for amazing TYPO3 community updates, new learnings, TYPO3 tips and tricks, and whatnot! There are many TYPO3 blogs available but hereby I’m listing some of my favorites,

  1. Official TYPO3 Blogs
  2. TYPO3worx
  3. Use TYPO3
  4. TYPO3 Manual
  5. T3Terminal
  7. Reelworx
  8. Daniel Siepmann
  9. Doc Core Insight
  10. Scripting Base
  11. Blogs by Torben Hansen
  12. Blogs by Richard Haeser
  13. Blogs by Sebastian Klein

TYPO3 Social Media

Fortunately, the TYPO3 community is also very active on famous social media platforms as below.

Discussion at TYPO3 Forum

There are many TYPO3 forums available for both English and German language. Here is the list.

TYPO3 Slack

If you wish to connect and directly chat with the TYPO3 core team and top TYPO3 experts? The whole TYPO3 community is connected in one place - TYPO3 Slack. You can join many TYPO3 slack channels as well as feel free to communicate with any TYPO3 person.

Join TYPO3 Slack

TYPO3 Difficult to Learn - The Myth

Wrong. Allow me to explain...

It’s a common belief amongst the wider web development community, with plentiful developers tarnishing TYPO3 as “difficult to learn”.

I personally think that this is a mistaken belief. I propose that the reason so many web development professionals complain of TYPO3’s difficulty is down to the fact that what they are expecting of TYPO3 turns out to be completely different from reality.

The features and functionality they’re looking for most often are shipped with the CMS, and this takes many by surprise since they’re expecting to have to build on the software with a combination of commercial extensions.

I personally believe that developers who are new to the software, those who brand TYPO3 ‘difficult to learn’, do so simply because they have approached the CMS with the wrong mindset.

Yes, I really do believe that the mindset of a person can contribute largely to how they encounter the process of learning.

TYPO3’s most prominent competitors, WordPress and Joomla, are very rigid in the way that they operate; demanding complex overrides from developers. TYPO3 manages content differently, in a way that usually puts the power of content creation and displays in the developer’s hands, without requiring overrides, but rather a knowledge of TYPO3’s core features:

  • Content Types
  • Nodes
  • Grids
  • Views
  • Blocks

To understand TYPO3, you need to understand its logic. And I don’t believe it’s hard unless you skimp on education.

The Benefits of Learning TYPO3

You can count on the fact that if you’re using TYPO3, and particularly if you’re an expert in the field, you’ll have developed ample skill to work with similar logic-driven software and content management systems.

TYPO3 itself is now powered using the Symfony framework, and in learning TYPO3’s how to work with TYPO3’s codebase, you’re simultaneously learning aspects of the Symfony framework itself.

This quickly opens other areas of potential career development which you might choose to explore in the future.

As you work with TYPO3, especially if you’re involved directly in its development and architecture, your skills in PHP, server administration (LAMP, for example), and even front-end development improve. All of these skills are widely transferable.

Furthermore, learning aspects of the Symfony framework opens further avenues for working with the framework in capacities other than TYPO3. Similar frameworks like Laravel become subsequently easier to learn, too, due to your developing experiences.

Where to begin a career with TYPO3

As with any profession, it’s all about dedication and personal growth. Personal growth results in a honed skill set, which creates the opportunity for an increase in income. And as for dedication, the amount of time and effort you put in can’t be replaced by anything else.

TYPO3 career opportunities aren’t hard to come by; they aren’t in short supply. Some of the best places to begin your job search are:

  • TYPO3 agencies
  • TYPO3 forums
  • TYPO3 Jobs
  • TYPO3 Community
  • Freelancer (look for long-term roles)
  • Upwork (look for long-term roles)
  • Fiverr
  • Glassdoor
  • Indeed

There’s a big market for freelance TYPO3 experts. You can take advantage of this whether you want to freelance full-time or as a supplement to your day job.

There is a healthy demand for TYPO3 experts in all areas, but as far as freelancing goes, you may find that backend developer have the best chance of bagging a decent gig. Freelancing is less common for other roles, though still exists.

Wrap Up!

We've covered a lot. And I hope it's been helpful, whichever point you are at in building your TYPO3 career.

Remember: TYPO3 is not as hard as it's advertised, and there are lots of resources to receive education, practice your skills, and seek employment.

TYPO3 has a thriving ecosystem and is only getting better with time.

Good luck!

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