“What is the best programming language to learn” is probably the most common question we get asked at CodingNomads. Unsurprisingly, the answer is not always simple. It often depends on the type of coding you would enjoy, and what you want to do with your skills.
Aside from personal interests and preferences, at the end of the day most people want to learn coding to improve their job opportunities and income.
That’s why every year we analyze the most in-demand programming languages and their respective salaries. While the majority of these job postings are for software engineering roles, they also include postings for engineering-adjacent roles that also require engineering knowledge and skills (and pay well too!).
Keep reading to learn about the best programming languages to learn based on job demand, and the average salaries for these languages.
Table of Contents
- The 10 Most In-Demand Programming Languages
- Average Salaries for the Most In-Demand Programming Languages
- Best Programming Languages to Learn: The Leaders
- Best Programming Languages to Learn: Honorable Mentions
- Best Programming Languages to Learn: The Rest of the Pack
- Advice for new coders
- Start learning for free
The 10 Most In-Demand Programming Languages
Our research for the most in-demand programming languages focuses on job postings in the United States and Europe. The demand is assessed by the total number of job postings that solicit each language on LinkedIn Jobs (US and Europe) and Indeed.com (US only). Because LinkedIn displays higher numbers of job postings for each language, we use LinkedIn’s numbers in our findings.
Average Salaries for the Most In-Demand Programming Languages
For beginner coders it’s important to note that these are average salaries, and not to be expected at your first job. However, successful engineers can expect to meet or exceed the salaries listed below within a couple of years.
Best Programming Languages to Learn: The Leaders
Python takes the top spot as the most in-demand language for 2022, and is one of the best programming languages to learn for many reasons.
A general-purpose, server-side programming language, Python can be used for many things from simple scripts and automations, all the way to complex web applications and artificial intelligence.
Ryan Desmond, the Cofounder and Lead Instructor at CodingNomads commented that, “While Python has been around for decades, the demand for Python skills will continue growing exponentially thanks to its use in the booming industries of data science, machine learning and AI. In addition, Python is considered one of the easiest, most powerful, and most versatile languages to learn, making it popular amongst companies, developers, and aspiring developers.
“For the first time in 2021, Python became the #1 most in-demand programming language for jobs in the United States (surpassing Java), and the #1 most popular language on the TIOBE Index (surpassing Java and C). It’s clear that Python is an extremely useful and beloved language, and is here to stay for decades more to come.”
If you are interested in breaking into data science or machine learning, or you’d like an easier barrier to entry into general software development and web development, Python is the best programming language to learn for you.
Want to see if Python is the language for you? Start learning Python for free on CodingNomads’ online learning platform.
TIOBE Index Most Popular Programming Language by Search Queries
Image source: TIOBE
READ MORE: 6 Reasons Why Python is so hot right now.
A veteran to the list of all-time best programming languages to learn, Java was the reigning champion for global job demand since we started collecting this data in 2017. By 2020 – 2021 Python started to eclipse Java, but that doesn’t change the immense demand that this language still commands.
There are so many good reasons to learn Java. A battle-tested and highly respected language, most of the world’s largest and most sophisticated companies run on Java. Java is also the preferred language for the Internet of Things, or IoT, which refers to the billions of physical devices that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that allow them to collect and exchange data over the Internet.
Java is also the main language behind Android OS, which is used in 85% of smartphones worldwide. The demand for US-based Android developers would rank it as #11 on this list, if our list went to 11 🙂 Additionally, our salary research shows that US-based Android developers earn an average of $107,870 per year – beating every other top 10 in-demand language except for Ruby.
In terms of learning, Java is considered more difficult to learn than Python, yet easier to learn than C or C++. This is generally because Java improved upon C, and Python improved upon Java. Despite the learning curve, Java enforces strong computer science fundamentals that make it one of the best programming languages to learn first. After you learn Java, learning languages like Python will be a breeze.
If you enjoy a good challenge and want to guarantee a successful career as a general software engineer or mobile developer, Java is the best programming language to learn for you.
Want to try your hand at Java? Start learning Java for free on CodingNomads’ online learning platform.
READ MORE: Python vs. Java: The Ultimate Guide.
Programming Skills Desired by Hiring Managers Globally
Image source: HackerRank
Best Programming Languages to Learn: Honorable Mentions
TypeScript came in 7th on the list for 2022, and deserves an honorable mention because it is a new addition to this year’s list, as well as the youngest programming language on the list.
Most popular programming languages on GitHub by repository contributors
Image source: GitHub
Now here’s a curveball. SQL was not included on the most in-demand programming languages list, because SQL is technically a querying language.
However SQL deserves an honorable mention as it has more job postings than all of the other languages on the list in both the United States and Europe. This is because no matter which language you specialize in, you will also generally use SQL to interact with databases as a crucial function of your job. The ability to comfortably interface with modern databases using SQL is a critical skill that all software developers must have.
SQL is used across software engineering, data science, marketing, operations, finance and more, making it a highly valuable skill to know. We’re such big proponents of learning SQL that we offer a free online SQL course that gets you working with this versatile and powerful querying language like a pro.
FREE COURSE: How to use SQL & Databases
Best Programming Languages to Learn: The Rest of the Pack
Below are the other programming languages that round out the top 10 list. Although these are not as sought after as the above languages, there is still a great deal of demand for C, C++ and C#, as well as PHP, Perl and Ruby.
Many legacy systems are built using these languages, so the need for engineers to maintain and improve upon those systems remains high. Additionally, the dwindling talent pool for some of these languages can cause salaries to rise as companies compete to find the few – and best – engineers.
C++ was developed to improve upon the C programming language and add object-oriented programming capabilities. C++ is useful for applications that require high-performance image processing and real-time physical simulations. Therefore it is very popular for game development, internet browsers, and advanced computation and graphics such as flight simulators and radar processing. C++ is also the backbone for the two most popular databases – MySQL and Postgres. You’ll also find C++ in enterprise software applications as well as in banking and trading applications.
Based on our salary research, C++ developers still command some of the highest salaries in the industry, earning an average of $103,818 per year. Because of its high demand, usability and salary potential, we recommend C++ as one of the best programming languages to learn.
If you’re just getting started learning to code, you might find it easier to learn C, followed by C++. However, if you already have some coding experience with object-oriented languages, you could likely jump straight into the more modern and better paid C++ language.
Similar to C++, C# (pronounced C sharp) is an object-oriented programming language that was built by Microsoft as an extension of C. C# is one of the more modern languages on this list, which adopts the best features of Java and C++.
Because Microsoft created C#, it is commonly used for building Microsoft Windows desktop applications, as well as web applications and web services. It is also popular for game development. C# is found in client and server development in the .NET framework.
If you’re looking to get into .NET and web-based development, C# would be a great programming language to learn for you.
Despite falling below C++ and C# just since earlier this year, C is one of the oldest programming languages that is still used widely today. C is a low-level, general-purpose programming language commonly used in operating systems, enterprise applications, games, graphics, hardware drivers, and applications that need to work with older code.
While C is far from the cutting edge of coding, it remains a stronghold for job demand because of the legacy systems built on it, as well as it’s reliability and speed. In terms of learning, some computer science purists would recommend learning C as your first language, because many other languages use syntax and concepts introduced by C. You’ll certainly find it easier to learn other languages after learning C, and you’ll also get some street cred with older programmers at work!
PHP is a server-side scripting language that is typically embedded within HTML. It is used to manage dynamic content like websites and web applications, and is used in nearly 80% of all websites.
While PHP is generally no longer the first choice for building new applications, it is a tried-and-true language that continues to persist based on legacy code. It is considered easier to learn than most other programming languages, and also has a large and loyal community base to support it. While we wouldn’t recommend it as your first language to learn or primary focus, chances are that in your software career you’ll run into PHP more than once.
Perl is a general-purpose programming and scripting language with similar syntax to C. It was originally created for processing and manipulating text files. Nowadays Perl can be used for almost anything that other general-purpose programming languages can do: web development, network programming, system administration, GUI development, log management, speech recognition and transcription, and more.
While Perl may have already had its day in the sun, its legacy systems keep the language alive and well in the job market. Generally however, we would recommend learning one of the higher ranking languages before learning Perl.
Ruby is another general-purpose scripting language that can be used for both server-side and client-side web development. Ruby is especially useful with the Ruby on Rails web framework built on top of it, which enables you to quickly build robust web applications with relative ease. Ruby is also considered an easy language to learn, so has been favored by start-ups for prototyping.
On the flipside, Ruby operates much slower than languages like Java, Python or C. Therefore as companies scale, they generally migrate over to systems running on these other languages.
All that said, despite being #10 for job demand, Ruby developers command an average US salary of $111,994 – the highest salary on the most in-demand languages list.
Therefore if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a quick prototype, or want to have some lucrative skills in your back pocket, Ruby would be the best programming language to learn for you.
Advice for new coders
While several of the languages on this list would be great programming languages to learn, one of the most important and impactful things you can do while learning to code is to learn one language really well before attempting to learn another.
If you try to split your time learning multiple languages at once, it will take you a very long time to get proficient at any of them. Whereas if you focus and get really good at one language, it will be easier to pick up additional languages in the future.
Truth be told, our graduates at CodingNomads don’t always end up working in the language they studied with us. That’s because employers know that if someone is proficient at one language, they can pick up another on the job. So even though we recommend choosing one language to learn first, you don’t need to see it as your one and only forever. Chances are you will use several of the languages on this list throughout your career – and many others too!
Deciding on the best programming language to learn depends on a variety of factors. In addition to considering the demand for jobs and salaries, it’s important to understand what type of coding you might enjoy. For example:
- For the data and logic side of coding, you should learn a server-side language like Python, Java, C/C++/C#.
- For mobile apps, you should learn Java for Android, and Swift / Objective-C for Apple iOS.
If you want to choose a language based on job demand, here are the top 10 most in demand languages based on LinkedIn job postings:
- Ruby: $111,994
- C++: $103,818
- Python: $103,540
- Java: $96,786
- C#: $89,203
- PHP: $85,435
- Perl: $83,159
- C: $82,924
Start learning for free
Now that you have a better idea of the best programming language for you, the next step is to start learning! We always recommend you start for free to see if you enjoy coding before making a financial investment. That’s why all of our courses are free to get started, and you can see the entire outline of the course so you know what you’re getting into.
Click below to learn about our courses in the most in-demand languages, or you can log into our platform to start for free.
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