Top Programming Languages to Learn: Developers vs. Employers

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Top Programming Languages to Learn: Developers vs. Employers

Cobol, right? No, wait, Basic! It's got to be Basic... Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but neither Basic nor Cobol made the list. Read on to find out what did!

· Agile Zone ·
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There's certainly no shortage of articles floating around about the best programming language to learn, but most of them make their recommendations based on a single criterion: what's most likely to get you hired. As a result, they tend to all say the same basic things in slightly different ways. Learn Java! Learn Python! Learn JavaScript! Recently, however, TechRepublic released studies not only on what employers look for, but also on what developers actually use. Ideally, the lists would match, but they diverge just enough to make a difference when it comes to choosing the language you want to learn.

Top Programming Languages According to Employers

According to the job search site Indeed.com, the most sought-after programming languages are: 1. Java; 2. JavaScript; 3. HTML; 4. Python; 5. C#; 6. C++; 7. XML; 8. Ruby; 9. PHP; 10. Perl.

Java's position at the top comes as no surprise, given its omnipresence, and the same goes for JavaScript which, along with its many libraries, frameworks, runtimes, and supersets (TypeScript, CoffeeScript, etc.), has taken over the world of web development. HTML, too, is one of the more ubiquitous technologies in web development, with an estimated 83% of web pages using HTML for their markup. 

The last two languages on the list, XML and Perl, may seem out place, as neither possesses the multi-faced nature of a Java or the ubiquity of an HTML. XML, however, has proven a great language for data transfer as well as markup — an interesting combination in a single language. According to Coding Dojo, Perl's popularity is due in large part to its usefulness "for system and network administrators and as a glue language."

Top Programming Languages According to Developers

So those are the languages you need to know if you're looking for a job, but they're not quite what you should know if you already have the job.

Python came in at number one on the developer list due to its easy to learn syntax and wide applicability: it can be used to create backend web apps, AI and machine learning applications/algorithms, and run analyses of big data sets. Not only that, Python is often the first language taught to aspiring software engineers and is the language that gets them hooked on coding. 

JavaScript proved fairly popular among developers, as well. Presumably, this is due in large part to the benefits of JavaScript highlighted above: with the JavaScript ecosystem, developers can now create full-stack applications using only JS or a superset of the language.  

C#'s strength and popularity among developers lies in its ability to create full-stack applications. Much like JavaScript, when developers use C# with the proper frameworks and/or libraries, they can create both the backed and front-end of a web app in one language. The same goes for Ruby and PHP, which both power famous applications (WordPress, for example, is built on PHP). 

What languages that employers look for didn't make the cut according to developers? Most notably: Perl and XML. As noted in our 2018 DZone Guide to API Management, JSON has all but overtaken XML as a data exchange format, due its easier to learn syntax and readability.  


What does all this mean for the developer interested in learning a new language? Despite the allure of newer technologies like Go and Rust, the next language you add to your toolbox should be one that fits into both of these lists. Employers want to hire developers who know Language X, meaning it will help you find a job; and Language X is also highly popular among developers, meaning it's nice to work with. Why not learn Language X?

Based on this research, Python, JavaScript, and Java would all be great choices for your next programming language to learn.

What do you think of these findings? Based on what you've seen in the industry, what are the top programming languages to learn right now? 

agile, java, learning and development, programming languages to learn, python

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