Which programming languages are most in-demand among employers? The answer to that question can help you figure out what to learn next on your programming journey.
To compile a list of the programming languages most requested by organizations nationwide, we turned to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. For the purposes of this exercise, we looked at how often various programming languages popped up in job postings over the past 60 days.
In addition, we also looked at various programming languages’ rankings on the TIOBE Index. To determine its rankings, TIOBE leverages data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon. For a language to rank, it must be Turing complete, have its own Wikipedia entry, and earn more than 5,000 hits for +”<language> programming” on Google. While it’s not the most scientific way of determining languages’ actual usage, it’s a helpful way of judging languages’ “buzz” and popularity.
Based off this analysis, here are the top eight programming languages that employers want, along with their TIOBE rankings. Some of these languages (such as Swift and SQL) have very specific uses, such as working with datasets or building apps for a particular ecosystem; others, such as Python, are much more generalist. If you’re deciding which languages to study, first decide what you want to use a particular language for.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 154,538
TIOBE Index Rank: 10
Over the past several years, organizations everywhere have awakened to the critical importance of analyzing data for insights. And considering that SQL is the programming language for managing and querying relational databases, it’s the foundation of many organizations’ all-important data operations. If you’re interested in becoming a data scientist or data analyst, you must learn SQL.
If you’re unfamiliar with SQL and want to learn, Udemy offers a number of SQL courses that range in price from around $100 to $175, while Coursera lists numerous SQL courses in conjunction with major universities and colleges. If you want a super-fast overview/tutorial (for example, if you want to determine whether learning SQL is the right thing for you at this moment), check out this offering from w3schools, which breaks down the various elements of SQL in extensive detail.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 120,655
TIOBE Index Rank: 1
Python is regularly utilized by millions of developers all over the world for a wide variety of purposes. SlashDataestimates the Python community at 11.3 million users, and it’s growing thanks to the language’s increased use in some highly specialized fields: “The rise of data science and machine learning (ML) is a clear factor in Python’s popularity.”
If you want to learn the language, start at Python.org, where you’ll find a very handy beginner’s guide. If you’re a visual learner, Microsoft’s video series, “Python for Beginners,” features dozens of short lessons (most under five minutes in length; none longer than 13 minutes) in the various aspects of Python. There are also tutorials from Datacamp (whose Introduction to Python course includes 11 videos and 57 exercises), Udemy (which offers a variety of free introduction courses, including one for “absolute beginners”), and Codecademy.
As with any other language, if you have Python-related questions, don’t be afraid to swing by Stack Overflow to ask experts.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 115,286
TIOBE Index Rank: 3
Recently updated to Java 17 (with “thousands” of performance, stability, and security upgrades, reportedly), Java famously powers the backend of numerous projects, from Android apps to Big Data analytics. It’s also a pretty lucrative specialization; according to Emsi Burning Glass, the median Java developer salary is $102,000.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 86,831
TIOBE Index Rank: 7
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 50,760
TIOBE Index Rank: N/A
Microsoft C# can be used in conjunction with .NET to build applications for Windows and other platforms, which makes it key to many organizations, particularly Microsoft-heavy ones. Microsoft offers some handy tutorials.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 39,896
TIOBE Index Rank: 4
One of the most famous “generalist” programming languages, C++ is 37 years old, and remains in use among many organizations despite the rise of more user-friendly languages. The language’s creator, Bjarne Stroustrup, recently gave an interview in which he talked about ongoing work on C++ 20 and C++ 23, much of which was delayed by the pandemic.
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 17,178
TIOBE Index Rank: 38
Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 11,500
TIOBE Index Rank: 12
When Apple rolled out Swift in 2014, it positioned the language as a replacement for Objective-C, the programming language that powered the Apple ecosystem for decades. Although Objective-C has managed to hang on (no doubt due to a massive legacy codebase), Swift has also gained in popularity and new features.
If you’re new to Swift, it’s helpful to learn arrays, sets, strings, structs and classes, functions, and more. Swift Playgrounds is a good place to start for many budding technologists, as it attempts to make learning the language into a fun, interactive activity. Swift.org offers the latest updates.