Let’s face it – there are so many programming languages floating around the IT world. So, it’s pretty easy to get lost trying to decide what to study first.
One of the main criteria for choosing a programming language is to check its relevance. It may also be a good idea to check the median salary for a specialist with such skills. But there are more factors to pay attention to. Below are our picks for the top nine best programming languages to add to your repertoire in 2023.
What is a programming language?
First off, let’s revisit the basics. A programming language is a system of grammatical rules for a computer to understand and execute tasks. Same as any language, it has its syntax and structure. (Hint: They are important to follow.)
Unlike natural language, where mistakes and typos don’t dramatically affect our understanding of things, computers are consistent in reading and performing tasks. Sometimes a mere space symbol or a missing closed parenthesis may prevent the code from executing.
Generally, all programming languages can be broken down into high-level and low-level.
- Low-level languages are tailored for computers, run fast, and are primarily written in a binary form. Just like in Sci-Fi movies, computers can execute very complex programs if presented just as a combination of 0 and 1. Low-level languages are Assembly or machine code.
Most prospective programming languages
As promised, we’ve compiled a list of the most prospective programming languages for 2023. These recommendations are based on a successful, above 80% hire rate of our graduates and our knowledge of the tech industry.
Python is universal, readable, and intuitive, which makes it the most popular language in the TIOBE Index, the independent programming community index of the popularity of languages. It can be used in many fields, from solving calculus to complex software. Python has a syntax close to natural language, so it’s one of the easiest to start programming in.
The popularity of the language contributes to many sources available online. You can find tutorials, forums, and integrations with software and programs. Not only software engineering is done with the help of Python. It is used for gaming development and data science, which are currently in high demand. Extensive libraries for machine learning and deep learning make Python a part of nearly every artificial intelligence project.
Python developers earn an average of $103,000 per year in the U.S., according to Glassdoor.
Are you passionate about keeping things in order? Meet SQL, the standard database query language. Few engineers use SQL as a stand-alone language, but a rare engineer can get along without the basics of SQL.
SQL helps create queries to convert data from any source to structured databases (DBs). So most data analytics projects happen with the help of SQL. It may help you in many use cases, where data science and data analytics are just the most obvious ones. The most popular databases used in software engineering, like Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, are SQL-based DBs.
Go, or Golang, is a programming language created by Google in 2007. With the resources and brilliant minds of the company, Golang was explicitly designed to support large projects, like the Google Search Engine itself or other services, such as Gmail and YouTube. Whenever big data and heavy server loads are involved, Go is the fastest and most accessible language to maintain.
Not only Google uses Golang: Uber, Dropbox, Soundcloud, and many other companies are known to prefer this young language to older frameworks. The median salary for a Go developer in the U.S. is $94,500 per year.
Rust is a fast and efficient language mostly known for its security strengths. It’s a low-level language that is harder for a human to learn, but easier for a machine to understand. Rust is also a corporate-created language: it was developed in 2010 by Mozilla, the non-profit corporation known for its Firefox browser.
One of the most common purposes of Rust is system programming, i.e. creating operating systems and software. It’s one of the most sought-after skills for developers that work with blockchain technologies, thanks to its security. But it’s not the easiest language even for experienced engineers.
Rust developers earn between $110,000 and $173,000 in the U.S.
Java is a general-purpose programming language owned by Oracle Corporation. It’s a cross-platform language, making it popular for software companies that want their product to work on various operating systems like Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android. It has proved its efficiency through the years for programs and software that need to do heavy computations and show stability. A lot of software for avionics - technology for airplanes, airports, and aviation in general, is built on Java.
According to the TIOBE index, Java’s popularity is in decline. Nevertheless, many solutions in the tech market still need Java developers to maintain and improve their existing Java projects. Examples of companies that use Java in their stack are Spotify, Airbnb, eBay, Intel, and many more. The median salary for a Java developer is $100,000.
Java has a “baby brother”, Kotlin, which was released in 2016 to surpass it in performance. Kotlin is mostly used for Android app development and web and desktop applications.
Companies like Coursera, Google, and Pinterest use Kotlin for its speed and functionality. Kotlin developers earn $105,300 per year.
C and C++
C is one of the oldest and most widely used programming languages that also formed the foundation for C# and Java. C++ is a more advanced version of C. Both of these languages are fundamental for software engineering.
C and C++ are high-performance languages used for complex software solutions that care about performance and security. Many video games are developed with C++. Products like Firefox and Adobe are built with these languages.
Although neither C nor C++ is a simple language, once you’ve mastered it, you can rely on a median salary of $108,500 per year.
C# (read like C-Sharp) is a programming language developed by Microsoft in 1998-2001 exclusively for their framework .NET. It is very common to see C# as the main language for gaming, desktop applications for Windows, and mobile apps that run on Android.
C# also uses a human-like syntax making it popular and suitable for many purposes, from software engineering to web development. If you plan to work for a company that uses Microsoft-based infrastructure (operational system, Azure Cloud services, etc.), consider learning C# and the .NET Framework.
The median salary for a C# engineer in the U.S. is $135,600 annually.
Swift was a language invented by Apple to create Linux and MacOS applications in 2014. Although it’s relatively young, its popularity is explained by the fact that most iOS apps are written in Swift. It’s a great language to start with if mobile development and gaming are your thing.
One of the downsides of Swift is that this language is created solely for one purpose and needs to be more scalable. For cross-platform projects, you must learn other languages that do not lack universality. Swift engineers earn $94,700 per year.
How to choose a programming language
When starting your journey as a software engineer, developer, or data scientist, you must decide which primary language you plan on using. This simple checklist will help you calibrate your compass:
What is the use case? As a rule, all languages correspond with the purpose of programming. For instance, Swift is a native iOS language not used elsewhere, so it would be the choice of those planning to create apps for the iPhone and iPad. There are also general-purpose languages like Python that are adaptable to many grounds, from game development to data analytics.
How popular is it? The language’s popularity corresponds to the number of job offers you should expect to find, but may also affect the median pay range. Your research can consist of the TIOBE Index that gives a real-time rating of languages, checking with Stack Overflow Developer Survey charts, and comparing it with the median salary for a “fill in your language” developer and the number of open job postings on Glassdoor!
Is it ascending or descending? The consequence of the two above is that some languages tend to fall in demand while others skyrocket. PHP might be a popular language for web development, but it’s not as popular as it was ten years ago, meaning that most technology will shift to a modern stack in the next few years. Indexes of popularity like TIOBE will help you understand if the language is ascending or descending in popularity.
Who will guide you? As an experienced developer, you will notice that growing knowledge comes naturally. But a tutor or a mentor is essential when you’re new to software engineering. Learning to code on your own is like reading a book in a foreign language without knowing one. If you’re motivated to succeed, always have a person, be it your friend, family member, or bootcamp mentor, to review your code and help you when you’re stuck.
Do I need to know more than one language?
A reasonable question for all software engineering students should be: is it enough to learn one language, or should I know more than one?
Start with one language, learn more frameworks that allow you to work in different roles within one team, and then you will be tempted to progress even more!
Learning a programming language: where to start
Enrolling in TripleTen’s Software Engineering Bootcamp will allow you to combine studies with work and other responsibilities, and make a smooth transition to a new profession. With our award-winning program, you will master the basics of software engineering in less than a year. This experience will help you get to know the tech world, even if you have never coded before.