The 10 Best Programming Languages to Learn Today

The 10 Best Programming Languages to Learn Today

Nearly every industry depends on people who know how to write code. And the world's growing reliance on technology is making developers more vital than ever. By 2020, 10 million developers will be needed just to power the internet of things.

Whether you're just getting into programming or want to learn a more advanced skill, the number of programming languages out there can seem overwhelming. How do you choose the right language to complement your career goals?

In this blog, we'll dive into the 10 best programming languages for developers at every skill level, including:

How to Choose the Best Programming Language for Your Career

There are a few important questions you should ask yourself before choosing a new programming language to learn:

Many programming languages share similar syntaxes and qualities – so if you learn one, it'll be easier to learn others. The more languages you know, the more agile you can be in your career and development projects.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is the most popular language across the web, and it's a great first programming language to learn. According to Stack Overflow's 2018 Annual Developer Survey, almost 70 percent of developers use JavaScript.

JavaScript is essential to front-end web development. It's used to create interactive web pages and dynamically display content to users. It's popular because it has a forgiving, flexible syntax and works across all major browsers.

JavaScript skills are always in high demand – most of the world's top websites and apps rely on JavaScript in one way or another. Plus, JavaScript is a great springboard for learning more complex programming languages.

Best Used For: Front-end and back-end web development

Related Technologies Include: CSS, HTML, PHP, Node.js, React, AngularJS, TypeScript

Experience Level: Entry level

2. SQL

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a domain-specific language used to manage relational databases and manipulate the data stored inside them. Developers use SQL statements to perform tasks in SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Access, MariaDB and PostgreSQL and other popular databases.

Tons of organizations and apps rely on SQL, and 57 percent of developers use SQL in their professional careers.

SQL doesn't require prior programming skills, but many SQL developers benefit from having experience with JavaScript, PHP and C#.

Best Used For: Relational database management

Related Technologies Include: SQL Server, MySQL, HTML, CSS

Experience Level: Entry level

3. Swift

If you're interested in Apple products and mobile app development, you'll need to get familiar with Apple's programming language, Swift.

Apple released Swift in 2014, and it's been growing ever since. It's used to develop powerful, high-performance iOS, macOS and Linux applications. Many developers love Swift for its performance, speed and safety.

With the growing popularity of Apple operating systems and applications, having Swift programming skills under your belt is a wise investment. Swift shares some similar characteristics with programming languages Ruby and Python.

Best Used For: Mobile development

Related Technologies Include: XCode, Objective-C, macOS, watchOS, tvOS

Experience Level: Intermediate

4. Python

Python is a popular general-purpose language found in web apps, desktop apps, network servers, machine learning, media tools and more.

As one of the most user-friendly programming languages, Python has a clear, intuitive and high-level syntax, making it a popular choice for beginners.

Python's variety of applications make it a powerful and versatile language for different use cases. Python-based web development frameworks like Django and Flask are gaining popularity fast. It's also equipped with quality machine learning and data analysis tools like Scikit-learn and Pandas.

Becoming an expert in Python is a lucrative career decision. Python is one of the highest paying programming languages, with an average yearly salary of more than $100,000.

Best Used For: Back-end web development, desktop applications, data analysis

Related Technologies Include: Django, PyCharm, Bash/Shell, Linux, Vim, IPython/Jupyter

Experience Level: Entry level

5. Java

Java is a general-purpose language that has been a staple in computer programming for more than 20 years. Many Fortune 500 companies use Java to build applications and back-end systems. It's also the basis for many Android apps.

If you want to build your career in IoT or big data, Java is arguably the best programming language to learn. Java is cross-platform compatible and offers portability and versatility to almost any type of device, making it ideal for IoT applications. The Apache Hadoop big data processing system is also written in Java.

Best Used For: Back-end web development, mobile development, desktop applications

Related Technologies Include: IntelliJ IDEA, Spring, Eclipse, Android, Android Studio

Experience Level: Entry level

6. C/C++

C is a flexible, efficient old-school program that has been around for decades. C++ is a direct successor of C that offers object-oriented features, making it better for developing higher-level applications.

C++ is a popular choice for building specialized high-performance applications. It's also the basis for the Linux operating system. A career with C++ typically involves developing desktop applications, computer graphics, video games or virtual reality.

Dozens of languages have been derived from or heavily influenced by C, including Java and C#.

Best Used For: Game development, desktop applications, systems programming

Related Technologies Include: Assembly

Experience Level: Intermediate

7. C#

Pronounced “C Sharp,” C# is another general-purpose, object-oriented language built on the foundation of C. It's widely considered the best programming language for building applications native to Microsoft platforms.

If mobile app development or virtual reality is your thing, consider learning C#. Many mobile developers use C# to build cross-platform apps on the Xamarin platform. It's also a popular choice for building 3D and 2D video games using the Unity game engine.

Although it's not the most beginner-friendly programming language, C# is easy to pick up if you already know another language in the C family, such as C++.

Best Used For: Mobile and game development

Related Technologies Include: Azure, Visual Studio, SQL Server, .NET Core, VB.NET

Experience Level: Intermediate

8. Rust

Rust is a relatively new language developed by Mozilla. It's intended for low-level systems programming. It emphasizes writing “safe code” by preventing programs from accessing parts of memory they shouldn't, which can cause unexpected behavior and system crashes.

The Stack Overflow survey found that Rust was the most loved programming language among developers, with 78 percent saying they want to continue working on it.

Rust is a fairly advanced language, so you'll want to master another language or two before learning Rust. But you'll find that learning Rust pays off generously. The average salary for a Rust developer in the U.S. is $105,000 per year.

Best Used For: Systems programming

Related Technologies Include: C/C++

Experience Level: Advanced

9. Ruby

Ruby is another high-level language that's good for beginners interested in web development. It's easy to pick up and is known for having one of the friendliest and most helpful user communities.

Major tech businesses like Airbnb and Shopify have built their websites using Ruby. It has one of the highest salaries of the top programming languages, paying around $100,000 per year on average in the U.S.

Best Used For: Back-end web development

Related Technologies Include: CoffeeScript, RubyMine

Experience Level: Entry level

10. PHP

If you want to become a freelance web developer or work with WordPress sites, mastering PHP is a must.

PHP is a popular server-side scripting language that powers websites including Facebook and Wikipedia. It's popular for WordPress and can be embedded in web template systems or used to make HTML webpages more functional.

More than 75 million websites are running WordPress, so there will always be a need for PHP developers.

Best Used For: Back-end web development

Related Technologies Include: WordPress, PhpStorm, MariaDB, MySQL, CSS, HTML

Experience Level: Intermediate

Learn a New Programming Language Today with New Horizons!

New Horizons is the largest independent IT training company in the world. Whether you're looking to learn your first programming language or enhance your experienced résumé, New Horizons offers expert-led training courses for many of the most popular programming languages.

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