Ask which programming languages pay the best, and they’ll probably list the same ones, which makes sense: By definition, popular languages are in high demand from employers, which can translate into hefty salaries and perks for developers.
But what about the little-known languages and skill sets, which don’t leap to mind but nonetheless support some vital IT infrastructure? As detailed by last month’s Dice Report, there’s a lengthy list of well-paying skills that you’ve probably never heard of; or if you did, you didn’t pay them much mind. Take Ansible, for instance: this open-source tool, which system administrators use to configure and manage PCs, pays an average of $124,860 per year. Or OnCue, a video-streaming platform currently owned by Verizon, and a core requirement of jobs that pay as much as $125,067 annually.
Other (relatively) obscure languages and skill sets that have climbed the Dice rankings over the past few years include Object Pascal (a derivative of Pascal), Apache Kafka (an open-source tool for maintaining real-time data feeds), and Lavavel (an open-source PHP Web application framework).
So is it worth learning a relatively obscure language or skill set, on the hope that you can score one of a handful of well-paying jobs that require it? The answer is a qualified yes—so long as the language or skill set in question is clearly on the rise. Go, Swift, Rust, Julia and CoffeeScript have all enjoyed rising popularity, for example, which increases the odds that they’ll remain relevant for at least the next few years. But a language without momentum behind it probably isn’t worth your time.