Top programming languages: Java takes an unexpected leap forwards

Python, Java and SQL could be your hot ticket to developer jobs in 2022.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor

These top programming languages will get you hired.

Image: Deagreez/GETTY

There's no shortage of software developer jobs right now and employers are on the lookout for Python, Java and SQL coders in particular, hiring data indicates – with Go also catching the eye of recruiters.

Developer training platform CodingDojo scoured job ads on careers website Indeed to find out which programming languages are in highest demand in 2022.

It found that Python, Java, SQL and JavaScript appeared the most frequently in developer job ads, each appearing in more than 50,000 listings on Indeed. All four saw a significant jump in demand compared to 2020-2021, said CodingDojo: "This makes plenty of sense considering the U.S. economy alone has seen more jobs created in 2021 than any other year on record. While recovery from the events of March 2020 took some time – and in many respects is still happening – computer programming jobs have come back and then some."

The programming language in most demand, according to the data analysed by Coding Dojo, is Java. Widely used in Android mobile apps, desktop applications, smart TVs and elsewhere, the Java programming language was found in more than 80,000 active jobs listings on Indeed.

The findings indicate that Java – a legacy technology by all accounts – is making something of a comeback after its popularity waned slightly in 2020 and 2021, pushed down the rankings by Python, which has seen steady growth in popularity in recent years.

SEE: Developer jobs and programming languages: What's hot and what's next

CodingDojo found that the tables had turned in 2022. In 2020 and 2021, Python was the programming language that appeared most frequently on Indeed, but the sharp growth of Java over the past year had pushed Python into second place.

In fact: "Python was the only popular programming language to only see a small dip falling from around 74,000 jobs to 70,500," said Coding Dojo.

That said, Python is still an incredibly valuable language for software developers to learn, particularly with the growth of data science applications and machine learning – both of which are attracting a lot of interest from modern businesses. As such, demand for Python is still increasing, with CodingDojo pointing out that it only fell to the number two spot because demand for programmers who know Java increased so much.

It's worth noting that analyses of the popularity of different programming languages vary in their methodologies, meaning rankings of this type are not an exact science and tend to vary.

That said, they can give us a general idea of what skills and programming languages employers are looking for when hiring developers.

One of the most notable changes to the 2022 rankings was the demand for Go, the open-source programming language created by Google that shares similarities with C.

Coding Dojo's top 10 programming languages of 2022:

  1. Java
  2. Python
  3. SQL
  4. Javascript
  5. C++
  6. C#
  7. C
  8. Go
  9. Ruby
  10. Assembly

Created in 2009 (a relative newcomer by programming language standards), Go has seen a quick rise in popularity due to its function within platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes – which themselves have seen increased uptake in recent years with the growth of microservices. Go is also used by popular consumer services including Netflix, Twitch and Uber, as well as blockchain technology, Ethereum.

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While Go ranked eight of 10 languages on CodingDojo's list, it's significant in that it was nowhere to be seen on the 2021 list – which means employers are suddenly paying attention to this programming language and looking for coders who are familiar with it. "With so many important and growing companies using the language, you can expect Go to have staying power, especially as generations who grow up on the internet begin to dominate online culture," said CodingDojo.

"It's important to note which companies are using Go. If you're hoping to work at a large, but growing tech company offering fun or important products, knowledge of Go is great to have."

But as some programming languages have risen over the past year, others have fallen.

For instance, neither PHP or Perl made CodingDojo's top 10 this year, despite being two of the biggest risers in 2021 when other languages stagnated. Likewise, Visual Basic and R took up higher spots last year after seeing a growth in demand; this year, demand amongst recruiters has fallen drastically, CodingDojo found.

"In 2021, both languages had over 50,000 listings at the time of the search compared to 7,000 for R and 4,800 for Visual Basic, respectively. Perhaps the main reason for this steep drop off is that once the jobs of 2021 were filled, demand for both dried up."

SEE: How to be a successful developer: 5 tips to help your hiring prospects

A key takeaway from all this analysis is that knowledge of more than one programming language will greatly increase your employment options as a developer, not to mention do great favours to the kind of salary you can demand. One option would be to get proficient in a commonly used programming language – such as Java or JavaScript – and then learn something more specialised, like Go, Python or Rust.

Regardless of what you learn, there is no shortage of developer jobs right now, and demand for software skills is only going to grow from here on out. "The drop in demand for programmers caused by the pandemic is now gone," said CodingDojo.

"Even then, the drop in demand wasn't that significant compared to other industries, so it's no surprise to see things pick up again. More importantly, demand should only increase from here."

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