9 Programming Languages That Employers Want and Pay High Salaries

Which programming languages are most in-demand among employers, and how much do they pay? Those are two vital questions as technologists and developers everywhere decide which skills to learn next.

For data on these trends, we turn to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. The programming languages listed below are some of the most popular among employers for the period from January 1 to March 30, based on appearances in job postings. We also used Burning Glass data to break down the median salary for those who specialize in developing with those languages, as well as the languages’ projected 10-year growth.

What can we conclude from this? All of these languages are immensely popular among companies and developer teams; mastering any of them could potentially land you a developer, QA, or project-management job. With languages this ubiquitous, there’s not only a need to constantly build new apps and services, but also maintain mountains of legacy code. That translates into significant job security.

It’s worth calling out TypeScript here. Technically, it’s a superset of the ultra-popular and well-established JavaScript, which means that whatever you code in it is transpiled to JavaScript. That being said, many programming-language rankings (such as RedMonk) treat it as a full programming language. However you define it, it’s clear that the language is on a strong growth trajectory, paired with a solid median salary. If you’re looking for a new programming language to learn, keep an eye on it.

Python also remains in intense demand. Long a popular “generalist” language, Python has lately become the language of choice for highly specialized subindustries such as data science. Its ease of use makes it a favorite of beginner developers; if you’re just getting started on your Python journey, there are lots of educational resources to help you learn. Start by visiting Python.org, which offers a handy beginner’s guide to programming and Python. 

The good news is that the most in-demand programming languages among employers tend to have high median salaries. However, your experience, specialized skill-sets, and the actual role itself all determine how much you’re actually paid; even if you’ve masted one (or several!) of these languages, make sure you’re ready to put your best foot forward during the application and interview process

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11 Responses to “9 Programming Languages That Employers Want and Pay High Salaries”

  1. Charles F Sona

    Once again these surveys ignore mainframe technologies. Even though mainframe technologies aren’t sexy, the salaries are creeping up fast for people who know DB2, COBOL, JCL and CICS. The number of people who know mainframe tech decreases daily due to retirement. I had a recruiter call me the other day telling me they were offering $86 an hour for a mainframe programmer. While that was a bit of an outlier, most mainframe jobs are paying at least as well as any of the languages you listed above.

    If anyone reading this wants a job with a good salary and job security, they should give mainframe tech a serious look.

  2. UberDave

    HTML5 is not a programming language, it is a markup language. That said, I’ve programmed in everything here except Ruby and can say, with no hesitation, that C# is the best of the lot. Python is cool, but it encourages sloppy coding & it’s interpreted (though it can be compiled, it’s not really designed that way). It’s use in AI and compatibility with all platforms make it special.
    Javascript (ECMAScript) is still necessary for client side browser work, but using it on the server side is just plain dumb (and it also promotes sloppy coding, is not true OOP – thus still “hacky”, and is, interpreted – a.k.a. slow). With WebAssembly (& MS’s Blazor) coming onto the scene, I expect a lot of JavaScript framework usage to diminish (what really kept JS going was frameworks that are easier to program against). That said, since C# is the language of choice for Blazor, it’s certainly not going to go away (the negative projected growth is not something I’d bank on).
    C++ is always a good bet for pretty much anything, and while considered general purpose, it’s not going away.
    SQL is funny, but, with companies finding that their usage of No-SQL databases, while fast on the entry side, are a nightmare when it comes to querying (relational databases were invented a long time ago to combat the inefficiencies of flat databases in the first place). SQL is being done on the client side now (Entity Framework, on the MS side, for example), so I’d expect SQL usage to decrease on the DB end. However, stuff like data mining/analysis/ETL, is best handled on the database side for throughput.

  3. Did anyone notice that the sorter doesn’t work correctly? Sort by median salary descending. Seems like general analytical skills should be the highest paid (and maybe they are!)

  4. Michael

    It’s like bell-bottoms, 38 years in IT and I’ve seen lots of languages come and go, and you might think it’s like a popularity contest. Mr Kolakowski is correct, these are the most popular languages “Today”. However, a good tech writer would also consider functionality and the ever changing technology. Around 2005 most languages hit a brick wall called concurrency, due to multi-core processors, multi-CPU machines, and the requirement of network socket services, all requiring multi-threaded processes, to do multiple things simultaneously and asynchronously. Not one of the languages in this list can easily take advantage of multiple multi-core processors, nor can they handle multiple network sockets on multiple ports servicing thousands of request simultaneously. Now someone might point out that they can do this with C#, C++, or Python, and that’s fair, but they can’t do it very well. This is why in 2007, Google and Mozilla both set out to create a new language that would address this problem. That was 13 years ago, you should read about it. Both these new languages are gaining momentum, and are nipping at the heels of every language in this list. My crystal ball tells me that one of them will displace all the languages in this list. The question is not “if”, but “when”, and will it be Golang or Rust?

  5. Robert

    Can somebody tell me what language I should learn/use to write apps for iPhones and iPads? Natively, they use Swift, which isn’t even on the top ten list. My strongest language is C++, followed by C#.