7 Programming Languages Popular at Apple That Could Land You a Job

This year presented Apple with some unusual challenges for a technology company. Unlike Google, its arch-frenemy, Apple’s corporate strategy depends on selling lots of hardware via brick-and-mortar stores—virtually all of which have been shut down at one point or another due to the pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, the company continues to compete with other tech titans, including Amazon and Facebook, for game-changing talent in arenas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.).

With all of that in mind, it’s worth examining the skills and programming languages that Apple desires from its technologists; if you know those, you have a better-than-average chance of landing a job there. (A job as a software engineer or developer at Apple, we hasten to remind you, can also prove quite lucrative, even in comparison to what the other tech titans pay.) 

In order to dig up this data, we turned to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job postings from across the country. By focusing on Apple’s hiring from January 2020 until now, we obtain a relatively holistic view of what the company wants with regard to technologist skills. (Also, it’s important to keep in mind that some of Apple’s super-specialized hiring, such as specific machine-learning and A.I. experts, won’t necessarily show up in public-facing job postings.)

What conclusions can we draw from this list? The top programming languages at Apple (by job volume) are topped by Python by a significant margin, followed by C++, Java, Objective-C, Swift, Perl (!), and JavaScript. 

If you pay attention to the relative popularity of various programming languages, you know that Python—already an immensely popular “generalist” language—has been making significant inroads within specialized segments such as machine learning. If you’re interested in learning Python yourself, begin with Python.org, which offers a handy beginner’s guide. If you’re the kind of learner who gravitates toward video lessons, there’s also “Python for Beginners,” with dozens of lessons (most under five minutes in length; none longer than 13 minutes). And that’s in addition to a variety of Python tutorials and books (some of which will cost a monthly fee) that will teach you the nuances of the language (and don’t forget your IDEs).

The presence of Swift and Objective-C, Apple’s in-house languages, is likewise no surprise; you can’t expect to work for a company as an engineer or developer unless you know the language it builds its apps and services in. Objective-C is rapidly becoming a language for maintaining for legacy code, while Swift (which is up to version 5.3) is evolving rapidly, with lots of improvements and core features to ease your programming load. 

The presence of Perl on the list, though, comes as a bit of a shock, given its age and the frequent claims that its future is in serious doubt. Perhaps Apple has quite a bit of Perl codebase to maintain, and/or a hefty number of Apple’s technologists are determined to keep coding in what’s affectionately known as the “Swiss Army chainsaw.” 

JavaScript, Java, and C++ are likewise popular languages, and mastering them can help you land a job anywhere, not just Apple. Whatever your specialization or interest, working for Apple offers some potentially fun (and interesting) challenges, whether figuring out how to modify the App Store so it better serves developers or determining how to best build for a new generation of custom silicon. Also, give the other skills on Burning Glass’s list a hard look; they’re just as critical to know as programming languages.  

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