I'm a 19 year old student who really REALLY enjoys programming, and I'm hoping to glean from your years of experience here. At present, I'm studying PHP every chance I get, and have been for about 3 years, although I've never taken any formal classes. I'd love to some day be a programmer full time, and make a good career of it.
My question to you is this: What do you consider to be the hallmarks or traits of a professional programmer? Mainly in the field of PHP, but other, more generalized qualifications are also more than welcome, as I think PHP is more of a hobbyist language and may not be the language of choice in the eyes of potential employers. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Above all, I don't want to waste time on something that isn't worth while.
I'm currently feeling pretty confident in my knowledge of PHP as a language, and I know that I could build just about anything I need and have it "work", but I feel sorely lacking in design concepts and code structure. I can even write object oriented code, but in my personal opinion, that isn't worth a hill of beans if it isn't organized well. For this reason, I bought Matt Zandstra's book "PHP Objects, Patterns, and Practice" and have been reading that a little every day.
Anyway, I'm starting to digress a little here, so back to the original question. What advice would you give to an aspiring programmer who wants to make an impact in this field?
Also, on a side note, I've been working on a project with a friend of mine that would give a fairly good idea of where I'm at coding wise. I'm gonna give a link, I don't want anyone to feel as though I'm pushing or spamming here, so don't click it if you don't want to. But if you are interested on giving some feedback there as well, you can see the code on github. I'm known as The Craw there.