When it comes to earning money with your programming prowess, sometimes it’s better to master the more esoteric languages. At least, that’s the conclusion you could draw from the most recent Stack Overflow Developer Survey, which breaks down the median salaries earned by developers who focus on particular programming languages.
If there’s sufficient demand for a programming language that’s not in widespread use, those who’ve mastered it can earn sizable compensation. Many governments and financial institutions are always on the lookout for the relatively few developers who know COBOL, for example, which powers these organizations’ aging mainframes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for COBOL developers grew so dire that New Jersey governor Phil Murphy asked for volunteers who knew the language.
It’s a similar story with languages such as Perl that have dropped substantially over the past decade in usage and popularity, but nonetheless constitute a significant portion of many companies’ legacy code; although few new projects are spun up in these languages, developers with the right knowledge can often find high-paying jobs maintaining an older codebase.