Career Development

The 7 Best Programming Languages To Learn in 2022

October 18, 2021

Programming languages exist to accomplish many different business purposes, so it’s important to make an informed decision about the best programming language to learn. Choosing a language that’s in demand may make your job search easier and your career as a software developer more fulfilling. In this article, we provide insight into seven high-demand programming languages and offer advice for learning a new coding language.

What is a programming language?

Much like people, computers use different languages to communicate objectives. The term “programming language” refers to the suite of existing languages software developers use to program applications, scripts, queries and more.

Programming languages have their own syntax, rules and structure. Some are proprietary and only work within specific applications, and others have more widespread use. Once a developer learns the technical specifications of a language, they can write source code in a text editor and either compile it for execution or execute it with an interpreter.

Top programming languages to learn

The best programming languages to learn are those currently in high demand. The following programming languages were determined using several qualifiers. They often offer high salary opportunities, are versatile for several positions and are likely to remain in demand for a long time.

Here are seven programming languages to consider learning:

Please note that no entity or company mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

1. C/C++

C is a "low-level" language, meaning that programming in it requires knowledge of the underlying computer hardware. The other languages on this list are classified as "high-level" languages where the details of the computer have been abstracted away.

While this makes other languages much easier to learn, it comes at the cost of performance. This might not have much impact on a social media app, but it is extremely important in applications such as games, movie special effects software and even portions of operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Linux. It's also vital on the other end of the computing spectrum. Embedded devices such as car computers have limited computational power and need to get the most out of it.

C++ was derived from C to slightly simplify programming and it is still classified as a low-level language. C is somewhat of a subset of C++, meaning that C programs can often be translated to C++ with relative ease. However, given the conveniences provided, C++ is much more attuned to application development, while C is largely leveraged in embedded systems or key sections of applications.

C was created in 1972 and C++ in 1985. While high-level languages come in and out of popularity and use due to being removed from the hardware, C and C++ have stood the test of time. Their longevity ensures that this is a skill that will always be in demand.

2. Java

Java is a popular language for web application back- ends or general service application programming interfaces (APIs) enabled by frameworks such as Spring and Dropwizard. Though Java has a similar name to JavaScript, the languages have very little in common. Unlike JavaScript, Java is a strongly typed language, a feature that can mean a steeper learning curve. However, the trade in complexity offers much higher performance, particularly with the ability to multi-thread work or break work up into smaller tasks that can run simultaneously. JavaScript, however, only uses a single thread.

Though more complex, Java still avoids many things that must be managed in some other languages. This balance of performance and complexity makes Java a great option for web application back- ends, particularly when heavy data manipulation or math is required. For those aspiring to create mobile apps, Java is used to create applications for Android.

Java runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) which allows it to be run on many platforms. Though Java was the first language to operate on the JVM, many others are now available, such as Scala or Kotlin. Not only this, but the languages are compatible, allowing Java developers to leverage libraries written in any of these languages. For those aspiring to develop mobile apps, Android applications are written using JVM-compatible languages.

Related: Top Java Programming Interview Questions

3. JavaScript

Website interactivity and richness have dramatically increased in recent years. HTML and CSS are the foundation upon which these are built, but the driver of these user interfaces is JavaScript. Programming in JavaScript has become easier with industry-standard tools such as the powerful, beginner-friendly VueJS or the more advanced ReactJS and Angular, formerly AngularJS.

Developers with an eye for visual flair or intuition for user experience will thrive as web developers or front-end engineers. However, JavaScript isn't limited to front-ends. Thanks to the NodeJS platform, JavaScript also empowers developers to create back- ends that can power web applications, mobile apps or even act as a stand-alone API to allow integration with other services and companies. This broadens career potential as those looking for organizational flexibility can leverage a single language to become highly sought full-stack engineers.

Read more: Learn About Being a Web Designer

4. Python

Python is a popular coding language known for clean code that’s easy to read and write. Its versatility makes it an effective tool for needs ranging from web application development to video games. More recently, it has seen a growing popularity in the fields of data science and machine learning. This is due to scientific tools such as Pandas, NumPy and Jupyter.

5. SQL

Unlike the other languages on this list that are used to write programs, SQL—“Structured Query Language” and often pronounced “sequel”—is used for querying data, as the name implies. SQL data queries are submitted to a server that then returns the requested information. While standardized, there are many variants such as PostgreSQL and Microsoft’s SQL Server. Due to their similarities, learning one variant makes it significantly easier to learn others.

SQL database servers power many websites and apps, storing information such as user profiles and posts. However, since SQL is strictly focused on data, career opportunities go beyond web or mobile app engineering. High-paying, in-demand career paths such as business intelligence analyst or data scientist require SQL knowledge for their day-to-day tasks.

Related: Common SQL Joins Interview Questions

6. Swift

Swift is the language exclusively used by the Apple ecosystem of products including the iPhone and iPad. While this might initially appear limiting, Apple’s AppStore platform accounts for almost 70% of all mobile consumers’ spending.

The original language Apple used was its own C-inspired language, Objective-C. In 2014, Swift was introduced to lower the development barrier to entry for the platform with a modern language that is significantly easier to learn.

7. TypeScript

Unlike the other languages on this list, TypeScript is a language that gets converted to another language: JavaScript.

Here is an example:

Examples of Typescript

On the left, you see a TypeScript function and on the right is the resulting JavaScript. In this simple case, the only change that was made when the code was translated—or “transpiled”—to JavaScript was the removal of the “number” annotation.

At first glance, it might appear to raise the learning curve to the level of a language like Java. However, TypeScript was designed to retain the flexibility of JavaScript. Developers have complete control over where to apply types for additional structure. This means that they may even be excluded entirely, making Javascript completely valid TypeScript code.

How to learn a programming language

There are three broad steps you can take if you’ve decided to learn a programming language:

1. Choose the best language for your goals and skills

Choosing the right programming language depends on what you want to develop and how you learn. For example, if you’re going to build a mobile application, you might start with Swift or Java. For those who want to develop for the web, JavaScript is essential. In all likelihood, if you become a software developer, you’ll need to learn multiple languages. That said, narrowing down what you want to do is a good way to choose your first one.

Also, consider how you learn. If you learn by doing, it may be best to start with something simple like Ruby or Python. If you’re someone who likes to learn everything upfront and develop a strong foundation in coding, C might be more appropriate.

2. Understand computational thinking

Computational thinking refers to how a computer applies logic. There’s a disconnect between how people think and computers think and getting comfortable with that space may make you a better programmer.

Starting your programming language journey by focusing on abstractions, pattern recognition and algorithms might work better than launching into a new language. Once you understand the programming jargon and computer logic, it can make learning a language more intuitive.

3. Enroll in online resources

After considering your goals, learning style and your knowledge of computer logic, look for resources that can teach you the language you want to learn. These resources exist online and in your local community.

Some programmers prefer to be self-taught. They tend to gravitate toward online classes, resources and web applications that make learning a new programming language more accessible. Others may prefer to learn in a more formal setting, such as at a local community college or university. Either learning path is widely accepted within the information technology community.

Related: 50 Types of Programming Languages and What They Do

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