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The most popular programming languages and where to learn them

Looking to upskill? To help you find the best programming language to benefit your career, we break down the most in-demand options.
A Black individual works on a computer program at a desk in a dim room.
(Image: Shutterstock)

Figuring out the best programming language for you to learn can be complicated. Each programming language varies by complexity, efficiency, portability, and flexibility. 

Let's take a closer look at the most in-demand programming languages so you can decide which is right for you. The top programming languages used by tech professionals include general purpose, object-oriented, and multi-paradigm languages.  

Top 10 programming languages to boost your career: Our picks

The 10 programming languages here vary in difficulty level and applicability to different roles. 

To identify the best programming languages to learn, we considered two main factors. We evaluated programming languages that modern software professionals are expected to know when applying for roles, as well as expectations of their increased usage in the tech sector. 

You can learn and practice many of these languages through a programming degree, coding bootcamps, or websites for practicing programming problems.

Languages are presented in alphabetical order.

C#

Difficulty: Intermediate

Developed as a high-level language by Microsoft in 2001, C# is used in developing web, desktop, and mobile apps. A programming language within the C family, C# has a similar syntax to C, C++, and Java.

C# is general-purpose, multi-paradigm, and object-oriented. It runs on the .Net framework. Its origins mean it is a go-to programming language for integration with Microsoft. C#'s speed and efficiency make it a favorite among game developers. 

Courses to consider:

C++

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(Image: Shutterstock)

Difficulty: Beginner/intermediate

C++ is an intermediary between low- and high-level languages. It began as an extension of the C programming language during the late 1970s. It took its current moniker during the mid-1980s and has continued to expand in versatility. 

General-purpose and object-oriented, C++ is used across platforms, allows for control over system resources and memory, and is widely used to develop games and systems used in appliances, cars, and other devices. Web browsers, machine learning tools, and augmented and virtual reality tools and applications are often built using C++.

Courses to consider:

Go

A Black person works at a desk with multiple computer monitors.
Shutterstock

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Go, an open-source programming language, was designed at Google in the late 2000s. Its syntax is similar to C's. More concise and readable than C, Go is general-purpose and is often used in cloud-based and server-side applications. Its flexibility makes it useful for big data, machine learning, and replacing existing infrastructure.

Sometimes called Golang, Go is considered a higher-level language due to its abstractions. It's more user-friendly than its C counterparts but can be slower. 

Courses to consider:

Java

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Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Java is a high-level language used to build web and desktop applications. Developed during the 1990s, Java was intentionally crafted to be simple and object-oriented, secure, and portable. You can master it in weeks or months with the best Java bootcamps.

Java but has a wide and comprehensive application programming interface. Java finds use in developing mobile applications, especially for Android. Netflix, Google, and even NASA use Java.

Courses to consider:

Javascript

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(Image: Shutterstock)

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Predominantly used on the client-side of websites, JavaScript can be used on the front-end or back-end of web development. JavaScript is used to add interactive elements to websites, create mobile and web apps, and build web servers.

JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are the core languages of the internet. JavaScript is high-level, flexible, and essential to network-centric applications. Created alongside the development of web browsers themselves, JavaScript found widespread use by the end of the 1990s. 

Courses to consider:

Python

Difficulty: Intermediate

PHP is used to manage dynamic content on webpages as a server-side scripting language. PHP was created in 1994, is general-purpose and open-source, and was one of the first languages that could be embedded into HTML.

PHP remains widely used due to its simple syntax and command functions. Fast, secure, and versatile, PHP is also platform independent and contains a lot of legacy code, adding stability to the language.


SEE: What is Stack Overflow?


PHP

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Difficulty: Intermediate

PHP is used to manage dynamic content on webpages as a server-side scripting language. PHP was created in 1994, is general-purpose and open-source, and was one of the first languages that could be embedded into HTML.

PHP remains widely used due to its simple syntax and command functions. Fast, secure, and versatile, PHP is also platform independent and contains a lot of legacy code, adding stability to the language.Courses to consider:

Ruby

Black man and Black woman tech workers looking at a computer together
Maskot/Getty Images

Difficulty: Beginner

Introduced during the mid-1990s, Ruby was designed to be user-friendly and make programming fun. Relatively small and easy to learn, Ruby is object-oriented and open source.

Ruby is used in building desktop applications, data processing tools, and static websites. Programmers also use Ruby for automation and website deployment. One of the most popular features of Ruby is its ability to scrape website data.

Courses to consider:

SQL

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Difficulty: Intermediate

SQL, designed to manage data, is the standard language for relational database management systems. Introduced during the 1970s, SQL features five main language elements: clauses, expressions, predicates, queries, and statements. 

SQL retrieves, removes, and updates data on regional database management systems like Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL. It is also used on the back end of websites supported by a database. This includes e-commerce and online ticket systems.

Courses to consider:

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