Demystifying the Role of a Drupal Developer
Demystifying the Role of a Drupal Developer

If you’ve ever wondered about the responsibilities and skill set of a Drupal developer, you’re not alone. The job title “Drupal developer” can be somewhat ambiguous, often conjuring thoughts of someone who just needs to know how to use Drupal or manage a website. However, the reality is more complex. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of Drupal development, exploring the various roles, skills, and pathways to becoming a successful Drupal developer.

Understanding the Diverse Roles of a Drupal Developer

Before delving into specific roles, it’s essential to grasp the three primary areas of expertise within the Drupal development landscape:

  1. Website Building

    Site Builder: Drupal’s unique feature empowers non-developers to actively contribute to web projects. A Drupal site builder primarily focuses on configuring the Drupal framework. Their responsibilities include setting up a Drupal website, installing and configuring contributed modules, and creating content architecture, which involves handling navigation, content types, and image presets. Coding expertise is not mandatory for this role.

  2. Theming

    Themer/Frontend Drupal Developer: These individuals specialize in creating visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces. They are proficient in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript and excel in working with Drupal’s theme layer, ensuring responsive design implementation. Their core task is to transform design concepts into functional Drupal themes.

  3. Module Development/Backend

    Module Developer/Backend Drupal Developer: This role revolves around coding and maintaining the backend of a Drupal website. Responsibilities include database management, automated testing setup, custom Drupal module development, and integrating various applications and data. Occasionally, module developers may also contribute to aspects of theming.

  4. Drupal Generalist

    A Drupal generalist is a versatile team member who can adapt to various stages of a project, from setup to maintenance. While they may favor one area of expertise, they possess the skills necessary to contribute to all three major domains, thereby enhancing team collaboration and productivity.

Additional Roles Within a Drupal Team

In addition to the core development roles mentioned above, several other critical positions make up a well-rounded Drupal team:

  • Sysadmin/Devops: Responsible for managing server infrastructure, handling performance issues, configuring Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), and overseeing the deployment of websites from test to live environments.
  • Project Manager/Scrum Master: The driving force behind project progress, project managers or Scrum Masters manage time, budget constraints, and problem-solving, ensuring teams meet deadlines and deliver high-quality projects.
  • QA Engineer: QA engineers focus on setting up automated tests and ensuring that all changes made to the Drupal website align with predetermined requirements. They play a pivotal role in quality assurance.
  • Designer/UX Specialist: User experience (UX) designers craft designs with user-centric principles in mind, ensuring a seamless user experience throughout the project. In some cases, they create prototypes for Drupal themes.
  • Product Owner: The product owner collaborates with the team, providing specific requirements that influence project decisions. They work closely with project managers to prioritize tasks and approve or disapprove changes.

Becoming a Drupal Developer

To embark on the journey to becoming a Drupal developer, whether you’re a seasoned developer or a newcomer, follow these steps:

  1. Build a Drupal Site: Start by building a basic Drupal site to familiarize yourself with the framework’s fundamentals. This step lays the foundation for your Drupal development journey.
  2. Develop Drupal Modules: Progress to the next level by learning to develop Drupal modules. This phase involves mastering PHP basics, understanding API integration, and using Drupal functions effectively. While this learning curve may be steep, it’s a crucial step toward becoming a proficient Drupal developer.

Whether you choose formal education or self-guided learning, remember that gaining expertise in Drupal development takes time and dedication.

Improving as a Drupal Developer

Once you’ve established yourself as a Drupal developer, you can enhance your skills based on your specific role:

  • Site Builder: To expand your responsibilities, consider learning about Drupal’s APIs and the Drupal way. If you lack programming experience, start with the basics of PHP and gradually advance your coding skills.
  • Themer: Keep honing your theming/frontend development skills. Stay updated with CSS and JavaScript advancements to create visually appealing and user-friendly Drupal themes. You can also venture into module development to diversify your skill set.
  • Module Developer: If you’re already a module developer, explore opportunities to become a solutions architect, delve into theming, or master other PHP frameworks. Broadening your expertise will make you a valuable asset to your Drupal team.


The world of Drupal development is multifaceted, with diverse roles and responsibilities catering to various skill sets. Whether you’re a site builder, themer, module developer, or a Drupal generalist, your contributions are essential to the success of Drupal web projects.

Becoming a Drupal developer is a journey that begins with building a Drupal site and progresses to module development. While the learning curve may be steep, your dedication and continuous improvement will lead to success in the Drupal development community.

As you advance in your Drupal career, remember that growth never stops. Whether you’re expanding your skills within your existing role or exploring new avenues, the Drupal ecosystem offers a wealth of opportunities for those passionate about web development. Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences as a Drupal developer in the comments below and be a part of the thriving Drupal community!

Post On September 29, 2023 | By Geneva Obrien

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