5 Most In-Demand Programming Languages in Finance IT, Banking

These days, it’s extremely rare for developers to be armed with a sole programming language; most mid- to senior-level engineers at investment banks now know how to write code in more than one. Nonetheless, the gatekeepers in human resources need to check the right boxes in order to pass a résumé on to hiring managers, and oftentimes they’re limited to listing one or two languages. With that in mind, which programming language (or languages) should you highlight in order to get your foot in the proverbial door?

For the fourth consecutive year, we combed through our database to identify the programming languages that are included in the most job postings on our site, as well as those that appear on the greatest number of résumés. The results reveal the most in-demand tech skills in banking, along with the level of competition engineers can expect to face in today’s finance job market.

Java: 11.7 Candidates for Every Available Job

Appearing in over 2,000 current financial job postings globally, Java is still the golden-child programming language of investment banks, despite recently losing some ground to Python. What’s more, there are less than a dozen résumés in our database that contain the word Java for every opening that lists the programming language as a required or desired skill. While Java is popular at all U.S. firms, Bank of America appears to be pushing the language in 2019 more than it did in previous years.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the ratio of Java-laden résumés to current openings. Last June, there were nearly 30 CVs that mentioned Java for every related posting. Perhaps the growing popularity of Python has made Java a bit more of a rare skill in banking, as odd as that sounds. However, the more likely scenario is that banks are advertising for more tech vacancies than they did a year ago. 

C#: 13.9 Candidates for Every Available Job

C# experience has seen a drop in demand due to new requirements in the current trading landscape. “It is still in use but now pretty much only for quanty, low-latency projects,” said Christian Glover Wilson, vice president of technology and strategy at Tigerspike.

The one positive is that the market isn’t flooded with C# experts. The downside is there are still 2.5 open positions that mention Java for every one that includes C#. Less competition in the context of this programming language, in other words, yet fewer available jobs.

Python: 14.6 Candidates for Every Available Job

As one would probably expect, Python appears in the second-largest number of tech postings, though roughly 5,000 more CVs in our database feature the word ‘Python’ than ‘Java.’ Once used primarily for pricing, risk management and trade management platforms, Python has progressively become more popular at every large U.S. investment bank over the last year. Part of the uptick can be partially attributed to the fact that non-developers have recently begun utilizing Python due to its unique modeling capabilities and relative ease of use; traders, analysts and researchers now use the programming language in their own work. Citi even offers a class in Python for non-engineers.

While it doesn’t appear to provide quite the same leverage as Java, Python experience may lead to bigger paychecks, at least in the New York area. Lesser-paying offices across the river in Jersey City tend to be home to more Java developers, according to our analysis.

C++: 24.5 Candidates for Every Available Job

The backbone for many banks’ legacy systems, C++ is progressively losing its popularity among younger programmers. That said, the programming language has enjoyed a small renaissance of sorts due to the need for processing large swaths of data for high-frequency trading. As with C#, there are almost three open positions that mention Java and Python for every one that lists C++ as a required or desired skill. In short, its popularity is waning at banks and hedge funds… yet C++ is still an extremely common skill among programmers, leaving specialists with little leverage. 

COBOL: 58.3 Candidates for Every Available Job

Once referred to as a “nuisance” and “something everyone wants to get rid of” by French software engineer Bertrand Besnard, COBOL has seemingly been on the brink of extinction for 30 years. Developed in 1959, COBOL has nonetheless hung around for decades because some banks continue to resist the expensive process of overhauling their legacy transaction processing systems for retail services.

The ratio may be a bit of a misnomer, though, due to the fact that the majority of candidates are unlikely to be active COBOL specialists. Those who are can expect to earn around 20 percent more than those who specialize in Java, according to Bill Hinshaw, founder of COBOL Cowboys, a staffing and consulting firm that specializes in the programming language. The ratio is so large because our database only contains 39 job openings that even mention COBOL. It’s undoubtedly a specialty programming language, at best.

In short, our latest analysis confirms that Java and Python are the present and future at investment banks. 

This article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.