Which Programming Languages Have Junior Technologists Mastered?

Given the demand for tech talent, many software-development teams are refocusing their hiring efforts on junior developers and engineers who recently graduated school. Managers figure these younger, relatively inexperienced team members can quickly learn the nuances of the job. But do these new technologists have the right programming-language skills to plunge right in?

A recent study by HackerRank suggests that students are much stronger in some programming languages than others. That study evaluated student certification success rates in popular languages; as you can see from the chart below, a majority tended to ace languages such as Python and Java, while others (JavaScript, Go) presented a bit more difficulty:

Python is developers’ most preferred language in which to earn certifications, and the second most in-demand by companies,” added the note accompanying the data. “Its versatility means it’s loved by beginner developers and those working on heavy industrial applications alike. SQL skills are crucial for budding data scientists—a role that’s seeing steady growth in demand—and most companies still need these skills to access data stored in a relational database.”

HackerRank also thinks other languages’ lower popularity impacts their certification success rates. “Despite its widespread use by companies like Netflix, PayPal and Instagram, there is a palpable dislike of JavaScript in the developer community, and its certification success rate hovers at just 27 percent,” the note added. “Still, it’s the top skill companies are seeking. Meanwhile, companies like Twitter and Slack moving away from REST means developers are less interested in learning it.”

Fortunately, all of these programming languages have robust communities, which means newer technologists have lots of places to go for learning and advice. In addition, GitHub Education released survey data in January showing that Python, HTML, and JavaScript were the languages most used by students. If you’re a manager or team leader, and your current projects utilize those languages, chances are good that junior developers will have the knowledge to help you implement. And if you’re a junior developer, knowing the world’s most popular programming languages will boost your chances of landing a position.