10 Most Popular Programming Languages to Learn in 2021

There’s no straightforward answer to the question: “Which programming language should I learn?”. Before you make a choice, have a set of preliminary criteria (e.g., your career goals – high salary job security, etc., type of computing you are interested in, and previous coding experience you might have).

In this post, we will take a look at 10 programming languages with the highest growth potential for the future. We will base the review on the following criteria:

Based on this rundown, developers will be able to make an informed career planning decision.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript
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Number of job openings

JavaScript is one of the most requested technologies on the market. On Indeed, there are over 75,000 job openings for all-level developers. Freelance developers are not short of gigs either – there are over 8,900 JS job listings on Upwork.

Average developer salary

JavaScript developers are on the higher-payed side of the salary spectrum. On average, a JS coder makes $111,400 a year. Juniors earn over $55,000 per annum, while seniors can ask for as much as  $152,000 in salary.

Popularity according to Stack Overflow Developer Survey

JavaScript consistently ranks first on Stack Overflow for seven consecutive years. The language is loved by developers for many reasons: a low learning curve, a wide array of tools, and an active community.

Applications and top companies using the language

Its flexibility and the ability to fit all project scopes are huge selling points for JavaScript. It’s a popular choice for website development as the language responds to user behavior and enables progressive loading. Other than that, JS is the backbone for popular web apps like Google Maps. You can deploy the language for other innovative use cases – make presentations with Reveal.js or smartwatch apps with Pebble.js.

The wide range of JS applications contributes to its widespread adoption among leading tech companies: PayPal, Netflix, Uber, Google, and many others.

2. Python

Python Programming Language

Python is one of the most beginner-friendly programming languages, with a readable syntax, engaged community, and a wide range of libraries and frameworks that streamline development.

Number of job openings

At the time of writing, there are over 72,000 Python developer job openings on Indeed. A lot of them come from GAFA companies (e.g., Amazon Web Services, for one, is looking for a research scientist skilled in Python).

If you prefer freelancing over full-time projects, learning Python is a gateway to many exciting opportunities. At Upwork, there are currently over 3,900 job openings targeting Python coders.

Average developer salary

On average, Python developers make over $108,000 per year. According to Indeed, most job openings are full of incentives, luring candidates in with stock options, gym memberships, and full health insurance.

Junior Python programmers can expect a starting salary of $65,000/yr. Seniors are well-set as well, making over $142,000/year on average.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Salary

In 2020, Python came third on the list of most loved languages. Among the most used technologies, the language ranked fourth.

Use cases and top companies using the language

Python is on the frontline of AI development and machine learning, widely used in academia, and reigns as one of the most popular back-end technologies.

The programming language is commonly used in web application development thanks to the high development efficiency ensured by Django and Flask. It’s one of the most popular IoT development technologies, primarily for its ability to run high-level computation tasks.

Despite its low-performance speed compared to compiled languages, Python is widely used in the tech stack of large-scale projects – Instagram, for one, is a self-proclaimed largest deployment of Django, written entirely in Python.

3. Java

Java Development Programming

As one of the older programming languages, Java has been a CS education standard for years. Right now, AP CS certification programs feature coding questions in Java and it is still the leading technology for CS programs among American universities.

“As for real-world uses, most enterprise software and platforms are built in Java. The language makes its way into tech stacks thanks to the robust API ecosystem, a wide range of IDEs and learning tools Java tutorial for beginners, easy-to-grasp syntax, and platform independence.” – in a recent interview as explained by Dmytro Vezhnin, the CEO and co-founder at CodeGym.

Number of job openings

By talent demand, Java leads the market, leaving even Python and JS behind. On Indeed, there are over 90,000 job openings for SMEs and enterprise projects.

On Upwork, the technology is not as popular as its rivals listed above – however, developers still get by pretty well, with over 3,000 available job openings.

Average Java developer salary

On average, Java programmers make $102,800 per year. Junior Java developers make $68,000/yr. Senior’s average $123,000 per year. NYC and Washington D.C. are the highest-paying destinations for Java developers.

Popularity according to Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020

Java ranks fourth among programming languages by popularity – over 44% of respondents claim to use it. The programming language is in the top-10 on the list of most in-demand technologies.

Use cases and top companies using Java

Java is still a major player in the mobile app market. While it’s being substituted by Kotlin, a lot of tech team leaders still vote in the favor of Java for cross-platform availability together with a wide range of app development tools and libraries.

Java is a backbone for two popular big data ecosystems – Apache Hadoop and Apache Kafka.

As for the companies using Java, LinkedIn PayPal, and Pinterest use it as the backbone for the big data infrastructure. Other than that, Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Slack all have Java in their tech stack.

4. C++

C-CPP-C++ Programming Language

While C++ is not as intuitive for beginners as Java or Python are, if you are after app speed and performance, it’s the right technology to master. C++ has a huge legacy, as it’s been around for almost 40 years. There are a lot of learning tools, frameworks, and libraries that promote efficiency and reduce time to market.

Number of job openings

On Indeed, there are over 49,000 available job openings for C++ developers. Plenty of those is in high-level positions at high-grossing companies: Senior Software Engineer at SpaceX or Senior C++ Developer at the Bank of America.

There’s lower demand for freelance C++ developers – at the time of writing, there are a little over 850 openings on Upwork.

Average developer salary

On average, C++ developers get paid over $114,000 per year. The highest-grossing positions are located in San Francisco, New York City, and Boston.

Junior C++ programmers have relatively high salaries – over $75,000/yr. Seniors make a staggering $169,000 per year.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020

Since it’s one of the harder languages on the programming technology spectrum, C++ is not universally loved by developers.

However, its rich functionality and high-performance speed put the language 10th by popularity and 8th among most wanted technologies.

Use cases and top companies

Its ability to manipulate hardware resources and high-performance speed makes C++ a popular technology for game dev. It’s a popular choice for GUI applications. Also, the language provides the backbone for operating systems like Windows or Apple OS.

The development teams that used C++ to develop high-traffic platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, as well as Wall Street, and the majority of the financial industry.

5. C#

C#-csharp Programming Language

Unlike C++, C# is a high-level language, meaning it abstracts machine code and has a readable syntax. As a result, it’s one of the most beginner-friendly technologies. C# was created over 20 years ago by Microsoft – being endorsed by a tech giant supplies the language with a robust infrastructure and high market penetration.

C# developer job openings

At the time of writing, there are over 42,800 available job openings for C# developers on Indeed. A lot of those are remote, there are high-level offers from Microsoft and Facebook. On Upwork, there are over 1,100 openings targeting C# developers.

C# developer salary

On average, C# developers make $81,000/yr. Entry-level salaries average $59,000 per year while senior developers make up to $110,000/yr.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey

In 2020, C# ranked 7th among the list of popular technologies. It placed 8th on the list of most loved programming languages (higher than JS and Java). As for demand, fewer employees are looking for C# talent compared to mainstream OOP languages – the technology ranked 10th among most wanted skills by employers.

Applications and top companies using C#

Since it’s backed by Microsoft, C# is a flagship technology for Windows application developers. The sprouting growth of ASP.NET pushed the adoption of C# in web application projects.

Aside from Microsoft, top-tier projects built on C# include Salesforce, Stack Overflow, and many others.

You may like: What Is PyCharm? Why It’s Become Mandatory for Python Programmer?

6. Ruby

Ruby Programming Language

Ruby is another high-level language that’s known for its straightforward and fun-to-work with syntax. The language empowers Ruby on Rails, a powerful web development framework that facilitates prototyping and speeds up development.

Number of Ruby job openings

Ruby is one of the most in-demand programming languages out there. At the time of writing, there are over 20,500 openings on Indeed, including those for large-scale companies like Amazon or Starbucks.

On Upwork, Ruby falls short on the number of available jobs, with only about 500 relevant gigs.

Average developer salary

On average, Ruby developers make $116,000/yr. For juniors, the paycheck starts at $64,000, an average salary of a senior Ruby programmer is $123,000/yr.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey

According to last year’s survey data, over 7% of respondents use Ruby to build their projects. 42.9% put the technology among “loved” programming languages. On the flip side, 57.1% aren’t fond of Ruby ranking it among “dreaded” programming languages.

Applications and top companies using Ruby

Ruby is a popular choice among web application developers, thanks to Ruby on Rails and a robust library (gem) ecosystem. The language is often used to empower e-commerce projects and content management systems, as well as databases and prototypes.

The language is widely used as a backbone for high-traffic websites and applications: its most popular implementations include Shopify, Airbnb, GitHub, and other large-scale projects.

7. Go

golang-logo

Go is an open-source programming language developed by the Google development team. While it has a limited (yet) range of applications, developers are fond of the technology for its readability and no shortage of built-in functions.

Golang developer job openings

In terms of job security and availability, Go might not be a top option – on Indeed, there are only around 5,000 available openings as of June 2021. Upwork follows a similar trend, with only 196 job offers.

Golang developer salary

Regardless of a narrow job market, Golang developer salaries are quite lucrative. On average, Golang developers make $107,000 per year. Junior programmers start at $73,000 per year and seniors take home over $158,000 in yearly salaries.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Survey

Go is a universal favorite among developers, ranking as the 5th most loved technology. However, the adoption is still lagging behind – with only about 9% of developers using Golang in day-to-day tasks.

Applications and top companies that use Go

Golang is a solid fit for cloud development – it’s the technology behind Docker and Kubernetes. Also, it’s widely deployed to build distributed network software.

As for top-tier companies using Go, Google, Uber, Twitch, and SendGrid are excellent cases in point.

8. Kotlin

Kotlin

Koltin has been taking mobile app development by storm for years now, threatening Java’s unrivaled leadership as a lead technology for Android development. Let’s take a closer look at what the job market for the language is like.

Kotlin developer job openings

At the time of writing, there are over 2,000 Kotlin job openings on Indeed (besides, GAFA are hiring: Google and Amazon are now looking for Kotlin programmers). On Upwork, there are 720 available Kotlin developer jobs.

Kotlin developer salary

The average salary for Kotlin developers in the US is $127,500/yr. Juniors have much lower paychecks – $49,000 while seniors can make up to $170,000 per year.

Popularity according to Stack Overflow Developer Salary

Kotlin ranked 13th in last year’s list of top programming technologies – 7.8% of all respondents use the language in their projects. The community sentiment about Kotlin is overwhelmingly positive – the technology came 4th among most loved programming languages.

Applications and top companies that use Kotlin

While the most common Kotlin use case is Android app development, you can deploy the language to build desktop apps, data science tools, back-end code, and cross-platform applications.

The adoption rate for Kotlin is increasing steadily – it’s used by Netflix, Google, Uber, Amazon, and other industry leaders.

9. PHP

Ideal PHP Web Development Environment for Beginners

While PHP is on a downward trend in terms of implementation, it’s still used by millions of websites and empowers Facebook, WordPress, and other major market players. Hence, if you want to have a wider range of job openings, committing to PHP makes sense.

PHP developer job openings

PHP is not a widely requested technology among full-time employers – there were only 7,530 job openings at the time of writing. On the other hand, freelance developers won’t fall short of PHP gigs – on Upwork, there were over 5,000 available jobs (more than for other languages on the list).

PHP developer salary

According to Indeed, PHP developers have an average salary of $90,000/yr – considerably lower than for other popular technologies. Juniors could expect to enter the market with a starting salary of $51,000/yr while seniors average $119k in yearly income.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey

The survey data shows that PHP is still relevant – it’s used by over 26% of developers. Few are fond of it through – the technology ranks 6th among the most dreaded languages.

Applications and top companies

Web development is the key use case for PHP. Specifically, the language is the backbone of top CMS like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.

A lot of high-traffic websites have PHP in their tech stack: Facebook, Wikipedia, Etsy, WordPress, and others.

10. Swift

swift-programming

Swift might not be the most obvious choice for programming beginners – what’s the point in learning a programming language you can’t use for anything but iOS? However, the truth is, Swift has many more exciting applications and some of its use cases extend to Linux and Windows as well.

Let’s explore the job market and applications for the technology to see why it is worth learning.

Swift job openings

At the moment, the job market for Swift is rather narrow – Indeed, there are only about 2,500 available job openings. Freelance developers can apply to over 800 Swift developer gigs.

In the future, the number of Swift development job openings will likely grow seeing how quickly Swift substitutes Objective-C and the aim of the team to expand the range of applications beyond iOS.

Swift developer salary

On average, Swift developers make over $117,000/yr. The starting salary for junior programmers is at $61,000/yr whereas senior developers get about $156,000 per year on average.

Popularity according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020

Swift is a fairly in-demand language – 6.6% of employers are looking for skilled Swift developers. Due to its readability and low-maintenance nature, the technology has a lot of fans among developers, ending up 9th on the list of most loved programming languages.

In the general popularity index, Swift ranks rather low due to a narrow range of applications – however, the language far outmatches its rival – Objective-C.

Use cases and top companies

While Swift is mainly used to empower high-speed iOS applications, developers use the language to develop server applications and server applications. To broaden the range of applications, the development team behind Swift has already ported the technology to Linux and is working on enabling availability on other platforms.

As for top apps built using Swift, the list is fairly extensive: Lyft, Slack, Accenture, Khan Academy, and many other large-scale projects use the technology to appeal to Apple users.

You may also like: Best Programming Language for iOS App Development.

Final thoughts

conclusion

Choosing a programming language to learn is heavily personal. Above, we provided a data-driven comparison of top technologies – of course, there are many more factors into play. Before you commit to technology, make sure it fits your goals and the amount of time you have for studying.

Also, it’s better to start your journey in programming by choosing languages that have a lot of learning tools – this way, you won’t struggle to find practice problems and will make fast progress.

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Article Published by Souvik

SouvikWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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