The Most In-Demand Programming Languages
By Leanne Bull
To the uninitiated, these words might evoke images of gems, snakes or coffee. But for programmers, these are distinct languages – and having knowledge of these languages can open up a world of possibilities.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to programming. In fact, there are hundreds of programming languages in existence, with new languages continuously being developed. With so many options, you might wonder: what language – or languages – should you focus on? If you have mastered one or two, are there any new languages you should try to learn?
Whether you’ve formally studied programming, or have a casual interest that you’re looking to parlay into a career, it is important to know which languages are the most in-demand. Below are some considerations to keep in mind as you determine if you need to bulk up your skills.
Fluency is key
Programmers rely on their knowledge of specific languages in order to write and test code, which enables software and applications to operate. If an error occurs, a programmer needs to be able to look at the code, identify the problem and apply a fix to ensure everything operates smoothly.
So what does a programmer do that requires the knowledge of these languages? Simply put, programmers both write and test code that enables software programs and applications to operate. The programming language is what provides instructions to the computer that the computer can then follow. If an error occurs, programmers can look at and fix the code to ensure smooth sailing.
None of this can be easily accomplished without being fluent in the programming language involved. However, because a universal language isn’t used in every instance, this is where it becomes important to be strategic about which ones you may want to master or add to your knowledge bank.
What makes one language differ from another?
Given the sheer amount of programming languages in existence, there can be a learning curve with each language you decide to pick up. While having knowledge of one language may make it easier for you to pick up a second, similar language, another language may be vastly different and require a larger investment of your time.
Some popular, in-demand options to consider include:
- Python. A widely-used open-source programming language. Created in the early 1990s, Python is interactive and works well across multiple platforms. It is also known for being easy to learn and use.
- Ruby. Another open-source option known for being easy to use, practical and intuitive. It was also used to create Ruby on Rails, a web application framework that gave rise to thousands of popular applications – including Airbnb, Shopify, Square and Hulu.
- C. One of the originals. Invented in the early 1970s, it continues to be among the most-used languages worldwide, popular for its efficiency and the control afforded to programmers.
- C++. A newer take on the original C language, C++ emerged in the 1980s and continues to be a commonly-cited requirement for many employers. It has more features than its predecessor and is better able to support large-scale programming.
- C#. Pronounced “C-sharp”, C# is yet another variation on the original C language and was developed by Microsoft. It is considered to be a simple, modern and powerful option.
- Java. Also developed in the 1990s, Java is an incredibly popular programming language. A secure option, it uses English-based commands, making it easy to read and understand.
Building your qualifications
While some positions may require completion of a degree in computer science, this is not necessarily mandated across the board. Do some research into job postings that may be of interest and see what has been outlined as a required qualification. You may only need a college diploma, and/or demonstrated skills in programming. And don’t forget to tap into your network – see if you can speak with an expert in the field who can give you a sense of the skills that will be the most valued on the job.
The good news is that if you have a desire to learn and build your skillset, programming can be self-taught. There are online resources and learning modules out there to help you learn – even very basic ones. If you’re committed to practicing, you can develop an aptitude if you set your mind to it.
Stay ahead of the curve
Mastering an in-demand programming language can help you to market your skillset to prospective employers, but don’t be tempted to rest on your laurels.
Even if you land your ideal role, keep an eye out to track what employers are asking for – is there an up-and-coming programming language being cited in job postings? If so, consider setting your sights on learning this new language. This can help you keep up with the latest trends in this constantly-evolving field.