So you want to be a developer? Now’s a great time to learn programming. The salaries are high, the job demand is growing, and a new and exciting coding language tops the popularity rankings every year.
But which is the best programming language to learn? If you’re new to this, there are many choices to pick from, making it difficult to know where to start.
Programming languages are continually evolving—while one dies, it gets replaced by the new big thing. If you time it well, you stand to earn a lot of money. Or you can go with the tried and tested languages that have stood the test of time.
All of it is enough to make your head spin. Which programming language is best to learn? Which give the highest salaries? Are they easier to start learning? This list will guide you through everything you need to know about picking the best programming language to learn.
1) HTML et CSS
5) C ++
HTML and CSS
Though HTML and CSS aren’t technically programming languages, HTML5 and CSS3 are the ideal places to start if you want to be a front-end web developer. This duo makes up the building blocks of any webpage, with HTML structuring a page’s content, and CSS styling and modifying that structure.
HTML and CSS are a great jumping-off point for any young developer. While HTML is an easy-to-learn markup language, CSS will challenge you a bit more, but it’s not incredibly difficult to pick up either.
Platform : Frontend web development.
Difficulty : HTML is straightforward to learn; CSS is also reasonably easy to learn.
Popularity : #12 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 54% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary : $64k/year, according to PayScale. Also, check out the average web designer’s salary.
Advantages: It is practically required to be a frontend web developer. Very easy to learn, even for people with no programming experience. Its high popularity makes finding free resources easy. Well-supported on all devices.
Disadvantages: It doesn’t net you an exceptionally high salary because it’s a requirement for all frontend web development jobs. Cross-browser issues are always a concern.
Platform: Frontend scripting. Rarely used for mobile/software development.
Popularity: Very popular, often going hand in hand with HTML and CSS. #3 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #7 in TIOBE Index for Feb. 2021. #6 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 58% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary: $83k/year, according to PayScale.
Advantages: The fastest and easiest way to code client-side scripts that run in the browser. A highly popular programming language. Broad support across various applications. It practically powers most of the modern websites, including this.
Disadvantages: It may be overwhelming to learn for those who only know markup languages. Has issues with security and cross-browser stability.
PHP is the language of choice for massive projects, most notably WordPress itself. It once divided the developer community due to being outdated and slow, and many still hold onto the belief that it isn’t worth the time to learn.
However, PHP has come back into style since PHP 5.x with a swath of improvements to speed and structure. According to W3Techs, 79% of the websites they surveyed use PHP.
One thing is clear—it’s a powerful way to code server-side applications, and compared to other scripting languages, it’s effortless to learn. Its popularity among new programmers and the plethora of open source projects like WordPress means there’s plenty of learning resources too.
Dozens of popular PHP frameworks such as Laravel exist, which can make your job coding with PHP even easier. With the launch of PHP 8.0, PHP is trying to break away from being just a backend scripting language to being a general-purpose programming language.
Platform: Backend web scripting.
Difficulty: Easy to learn, especially for beginners.
Popularity: #6 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #8 in TIOBE Index for Feb. 2021. #13 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 37% of StackExchange developers in 2020 (but dreaded by 63%!).
Average Salary: $65k/year according to PayScale.
Advantages: Very easy to learn. Well-established in web development and commonly found on websites. Modern versions are reasonably fast. Easy to find a job as a PHP developer.
Disadvantages: Popularity is declining compared to hot new languages like Python. Many developers don’t consider it viable.
SQL’s primary purpose is to interface with a website’s database. A variety of database management systems like MySQL, MariaDB, SQLite, and PostgreSQL exist to help you deal with it, but all of them use the SQL language.
Platform: Backend database management.
Difficulty: Moderately easy to learn for those with programming knowledge. It can get highly complicated if used for advanced functions.
Popularity: #9 in TIOBE Index for Feb. 2021. #15 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 57% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary: $74k/year, according to PayScale.
Advantages: Powerful and can handle large amounts of data. High in demand, database management is required for almost every website.
Disadvantages: It can be challenging to master. Dealing with stored data can be tedious.
The original C language is still used today, but most modern developers have switched to C++. The general-purpose programming language is best known for being versatile; you can use it to make applications of all sorts.
Computer programs, mobile apps, video games, operating systems, entire browsers, even web development to some extent–if you can think of something, C++ can make it. And it will run it fast.
Platform: Mostly software development; can be used in a variety of situations.
Difficulty: Relatively difficult to learn, especially for beginners.
Popularity: #5 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #4 in TIOBE Index for Feb. 2021. #4 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 43% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary: $70k/year according to PayScale.
Advantages: Pure versatility. You can use it for truly anything. Skills translate well to other languages. Fast and powerful.
Disadvantages: Not the right first language for total beginners. Incredibly complex due to being old and so universal in application. Not ideal for web development.
if Swift is the language of choice for iOS development, then Kotlin is the primary language for Android. It doesn’t aim to be unique or groundbreaking, but instead draws inspiration from the languages you already know—that’s what makes it so loved by developers.
It’s also totally interoperable with Java, which makes it a direct replacement. But unlike Java, which is falling in popularity somewhat, Kotlin is only growing, and it’s a competitive language to learn.
Platform: Primarily Android development, but also web and software development.
Difficulty: Relatively easy to learn.
Popularity: #12 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #24 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 63% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary: $100k/year according to PayScale.
Advantages: An excellent language for Android development as well as general purposes. An easy to learn and growing language. Interoperability with Java.
Disadvantages: Newer and less popular than Java, so fewer resources available online.
Rust is an almost universally loved programming language. In many ways, it’s similar to C++. It’s designed to be robust and fast, and you can use it in various projects.
Designed by Graydon Hoare at Mozilla Research, Rust was explicitly made to solve many problems that come with other languages. So if you’re struggling with older technologies like Java and C++, Rust might be the perfect successor.
Platform: Mostly software and application development, but you can use it for anything.
Difficulty: Considered challenging to learn.
Popularity: #16 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #17 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 86% (!) of StackExchange developers in 2020 (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019). Dreaded the least of any language.
Average Salary: $115k/year according to PayScale.
Advantages: Powerful, fast, and efficient. Able to be used in a wide variety of situations. Loved by programmers.
Disadvantages: Stricter than many other languages, so difficult to code in as well as challenging to learn.
Much like Kotlin, Scala was created to replace Java and its many issues. It’s a powerful, multi-purpose language, but it’s much more concise. Though you can use it for the same systems as Java, it’s mostly used for big data processing and machine learning.
While it’s not exploding with the same popularity as other languages, there’s a lot of potential in this one.
Platform: Mostly software/application development.
Difficulty: Complex and difficult to learn.
Popularity: #18 in PYPL Popularity Index of Feb. 2021. #18 on IEEE’s top languages of 2019. Loved by 53% of StackExchange developers in 2020.
Average Salary: $117k/year, according to PayScale.
Advantages: Less verbose and more concise than Java. Very powerful and can be used anywhere.
Disadvantages: Just as difficult to learn as Java. Not the right language for first-time programmers.
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