Top 8 Programming Languages That Will Get You Hired

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.

SQL

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.

Python

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.

Java

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. 

If you want to start learning Java, check out this list of handy tutorials. Also, keep an eye on Java’s Twitter account, which offers the latest updates.

JavaScript

Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 86,831
TIOBE Index Rank: 7

When it comes to web development, JavaScript is the engine that powers the web. If you’re interested in working with the language, keep in mind that its front- and back-end frameworks and libraries are just as important to learn. 

Just starting out with JavaScriptJavaScript.info offers an extensive walkthrough of fundamentals, including the ever-popular “Hello, world!” It’s also worth reviewing hackr.io (which lists a variety of courses and tutorials for various languages), and Mozilla’s site features a very nice rundown of the language’s basics

Microsoft C#

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.

C++

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. 

If you’re interested in learning C++, there are free tutorials and documentation online, including a comprehensive one available via w3schools. Hackr.io also has a list of online courses.  

TypeScript

Skill Postings (Past 60 Days): 17,178
TIOBE Index Rank: 38

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, meaning whatever you code in it is transpiled to JavaScript. That’s led to some highly entertaining arguments online over whether TypeScript is technically a “full” programming language. One thing’s for certain, though: Many developers find TypeScript useful when working with any kind of JavaScript codebase. Check out typescriptlang.org for all of your documentation and tutorial needs.

Swift

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 arrayssetsstringsstructs and classesfunctions, 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.

11 Responses to “Top 8 Programming Languages That Will Get You Hired”

  1. KIRK AUGUSTIN

    Please stop using the TIOBE index. That is based on “To determine its rankings, TIOBE leverages data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon”. And that is NOT a measure of usage, importance, or even a real programming language. For example, Python is actually just a scripting language since it needs a runtime interpreter to be installed first. Learning Python is trivial since it is limited to just scripting, and no one has ever sold a Python program. It is used a lot, but just for website macros. So rating Python high is very misleading. TIOBE hits on Python just show how many people do not know it and have to look up something about it, not how serious they are about a language they know so well they do not have to look it up all the time. Python is useless by itself, and you have to know more than that.

  2. Kirk, scripting languages are types of programming languages. I find it odd that you insult Python, yet you don’t insult JavaScript for being on the list, too. Both belong there, since whether they’re compiled or interpreted, they’re still used for programming tasks. I’m also surprised you didn’t mention SQL, since that’s not a programming language at all, so it’s the only language on here that doesn’t belong.

    “It is used a lot, but just for website macros.”
    By the way, I noticed you mentioned this. Are you thinking of JavaScript? As far as I know, Python isn’t normally used for websites. It’s used in the backend on the server, but not in the frontend. Plus, it’s obviously used for a lot more than that. Data science, machine learning, and AI obviously use it extensively. Games can be programmed in it. BitTorrent was originally programmed in it. It has many uses. https://www.codecademy.com/resources/blog/what-is-python-used-for/

    • KIRK AUGUSTIN

      No, scripting languages are not programming languages. For example, I can create a scripting language that translates between English and German. I could create a scripting language that was pretty much a programming language, but Python isn’t because it does not allow you to access Operating System calls or hardware.
      I did not bother insulting JavaScript because it uses the word “script” in its name, so is not being pretentious like Python is. And I would not really care except it is dangerous for people to falsely believe Python is a programming language, and people are wasting their time on it.
      SQL is so valuable that it in a catagory by itself, and the article said all that was needed on that.
      And you have websites wrong. A website is BOTH front end and back end. You can not have a website without both, and the most common backend for websites is either PHP or Python. I use them both.
      And getting back to Python, it is NOT good for data science, AI, or machine learning, AT ALL.
      It is way too slow, and does not do multi processor. All those applications require blinding speed because of their massive size, so Python is totally and completely impractical.
      Games can not be done in Python because it is not stand alone. And BitTorrent is just layers on top of FTP, for file sharing. That is not programming.

      • Python has had multiprocessing support since 2.6, not sure why somebody would say that it doesn’t.

        Also, Python is a back end language and yes you can have a web page without a back end language. JavaScript can provide some functionality and websites do exist that do little more than convey information… none of which requires backend processing.

        The speed might be a fair claim, but it is far more simple to work with, so coding speed has to account for something.

      • Oh and Java is an interpreted language as well, not sure why that wasn’t chastised with the same angst as Python and it is also very slow, yet less intuitive to work with.

  3. Brian Quinn

    I’m good with 6 of 8 of these. I had to drop supporting React. Never liked it. I’m good with Angular, TypeScript, Node and Express. I’ll even do Vue. I’ll keep busy with .NET and Java and even Python.

    • Saddened to see that my 3 favorite programming languages were not listed…Basic, RPG and COBOL. English is the most important language to help you get hired. While it may not be a programming language, I can’t imagine programming without it.

  4. I have to agree with these rankings.

    Python, Django, and MySQL/Mariah DB combo for small scale. Java, Springboot, BigQuery/Redshift DB (Data warehouse SQL), and BigTable/Dynamo DB (NoSQL) for large scale.

    For the all Javascript package: Javascript, React/Vue, HTML5, CSS, Node.js, Mariah DB (SQL), and MongoDB. All hosted on AWS with an Apple laptop.

  5. Being interpreted or compiled is not the differentiator of what is a programming language. A programming language is defined by a grammar, and can be either interpreted, compiled, or both. Using a limiting term like macro would also not necessarily result in the underlying language used to not be a language, i.e. programming language. There are all kinds of programming languages: procedural, scripting shell, object oriented, etc. SQL is indeed a bit different since it is structured query language, but still a language, and programming logic can be created in stored procedures. Python is definitely a programming language under all definitions presented – and as already mentioned here, it is used for big data analysis and AI as well as many other functions, not just web site “macros”…. Even machine language is a programming language, although a low level language and not the easiest to learn. Us computer scientist types that came up with all this tech learned on interpreted languages like BASIC, then moved on to compiled but procedural and structural languages like C and Pascal, but then also backed up and learned how to define our own programming langugages with grammar, interpreter, compiler (remember YACC?), and then even programmed in Assembler or translated code to hardware using PALs. Do not be so limited in your thinking of what a programming language is – they all end up machine language in the end anyway….

    • Tim Wright

      WS – Thank you for the reasonable, sensible, and nostalgia-inducing reply. 🙂 I first coded using BASIC on a TRS-80 in high school and AppleSoft BASIC on my best friend’s Apple II+. In college, it was mostly Pascal and FORTRAN (oops – showing my age), but I had some classes in machine language coding. All of those are legitimate languages, compiled or not. To restrict the term “language” to technologies that are compiled is naive and narrow-minded. Your straightforward logic and clear, unemotional analysis are appreciated.