What’s the best programming language to learn?

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Contents

  1. The best programming languages to learn
  2. 1. HTML and CSS
  3. 2. JavaScript
  4. 3. Python
  5. 4. C#
  6. 5. C++
  7. 6. Java
  8. 7. Go (Golang)
  9. 8. Ruby
  10. 9. SQL
  11. 10. Swift
  12. 11. TypeScript
  13. 12. Rust
  14. Which programming language is best for beginners?

One of the most common questions aspiring coders and software engineers have is, what is the best programming language to learn? No one wants to invest time learning a programming language that won't help them reach their career goals.

If you’re new to coding, you may wonder which languages are the most important to learn. The best programming language depends on what you want to build and the type of developer you want to be. It also depends on how much coding experience you have so far.

Below, this list will cover the best programming languages to learn and guidance on choosing the right ones for your career.

The best programming languages to learn

Before going through the list, let's briefly cover how we evaluated these as the best programming languages.

Best language criteria

  1. Learning curve: How hard is it for someone new to understand or use? For example, Python is easier to learn because its syntax—the structure of the language—is similar to English.
  2. Average salary: How does experience influence the average salary range?
  3. Use cases: What is this language typically used for?
  4. Community support: Is it easy to find communities and documentation to learn the language?
  5. Market demand: How many jobs need this skill and is it growing in demand? Do popular applications or companies use it?
  6. Best for roles: Which jobs use this programming language daily?

Now that we have that covered, let's dive into the list.

1. HTML and CSS

HTML and CSS are technically two, but we’ve combined them in this list since they’re so closely connected.

HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the structure of any webpage you see online in a browser. With it, you can add headings, bullet points, and images to a page. Screen readers also use HTML to understand and describe the content on a page for those with visual impairments.

Developers use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and HTML together. CSS is how you ‘style’ or bring HTML to life. It’s how you add colors, animation, layouts, mobile responsiveness, and typography.

HTML and CSS aren't technically programming languages but are required for front-end web development or web design. Of course, front-end developers typically have to learn JavaScript too.

Learning curve

HTML and CSS are the easiest languages to learn. On average, developers take about one month to get the fundamentals down. Advanced topics like responsive design—developing a webpage that adapts to multiple devices and screen sizes—may take longer to learn.

Salaries

A web designer role may suit you if you specialize in HTML and CSS. According to Glassdoor data, the average web designer’s salary for a year is:

  1. Entry-level: $49,000
  2. Mid-level: $66,000
  3. Senior-level: $106,000

Keep in mind that this is an average. It doesn't account for benefits, location, cost of living, or experience, which influences your compensation.

Market demand

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics(opens new window), demand for web designers with HTML and CSS knowledge is expected to grow by over 16% in the next decade. This translates to over 17,000 new jobs each year.

Use cases

Web designers use a combination of creative and technical skills. Types of projects web designers work on could include:

  1. User design: The layout and aesthetic of a site and how users interact with it.
  2. Front-end development: Designing and developing the front-facing part of a new website or existing site.

Community support

Almost everything on the Internet, from Twitter to LinkedIn, was built with HTML and CSS. You'll have plenty of online communities and resources to support you while learning.

Best roles

  1. Web Designer
  2. Front End Developer
  3. Web Developer

2. JavaScript

HTML and CSS create static elements. You see them, but you can’t interact with them. JavaScript is what makes sites interactive.

For example, you see buttons on all websites. They may say “Submit” or “Add to Cart”. HTML tells the browser that the element is a clickable button. CSS styles the button font, border, size, and color to stand out on the page.

With only HTML and CSS, clicking the button wouldn’t do anything. You haven’t told the browser what you want the button to do. You need to add JavaScript to tell elements on the page what to do.

JavaScript goes beyond buttons. You can create complex, interactive features like social media news feeds or maps with JavaScript.

Learning curve

JavaScript has a medium-level difficulty compared to the other programming languages on the list. On average, learning JavaScript will take new developers about three to six months.

Salaries

The average JavaScript Developer's salary is:

  1. Entry-level: $80,000
  2. Mid-level: $107,000
  3. Senior-level: $146,000

Use cases

Developers use JavaScript to build complex website features and interfaces. On top of that, it is versatile. For example, you can also use it to build artificial intelligence programs, real-time chat applications, or mobile apps.

Community support

JavaScript has one of the most passionate and largest Developer communities. There are over 16.4 million active JavaScript Developers worldwide.

Here are some of the most popular online JS communities:

Market demand

JavaScript is the most in-demand programming language for Developers. Devjobscanner (opens new window)analyzed over fourteen million Developer job postings from 2022 to 2023. JavaScript is the most common skill on job listings, with over 29% including JavaScript skills.

Best roles

Due to its flexibility, many roles use JavaScript, including:

  1. Front End Developer
  2. Mobile / Native App Developer
  3. Back-End / API Developer
  4. Artificial Intelligence Engineer
  5. Data Analyst

3. Python

Python has been around since 1991. Guido van Rossum created Python, and his main focus was code readability.

Python is a general-purpose programming language, so you can use it to create a wide range of products. It has become one of the most in-demand languages because it's easier to learn and versatile. You can use it for anything from automation and data analysis to software development.

Learning curve

Python has a lower learning curve than other languages because its syntax is easy to read.

Experienced Developers like to use Python because it is ideal for quickly iterating and prototyping products. It's even becoming the de facto language for many introductory computer science university classes.

Salaries

The average salary for Python Developers ranges from:

  1. Entry-level: $99,000
  2. Mid-level: $114,000
  3. Senior-level: $140,000

Use cases

Like JavaScript, Python is versatile. These areas frequently use Python:

  1. Data science and artificial intelligence: Python has many libraries that make data science or artificial intelligence projects easier to handle. Some of the popular libraries are Pandas, Numpy, and Sensorflow.
  2. Web scraping: Python is the de facto language for web scraping. Developers use web scraping to extract data online using website URLs. This helps businesses conduct competitor analysis and gain more customer insights.
  3. API development: APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, allow two different applications to communicate and work together.

Community support

Some of the largest companies—Uber, Google, Instagram, and Netflix—use Python for their applications.

Python also has many free, open-source community tools. In addition, there are several Python-dedicated Slack and Discord communities and in-person events. Joining one can help you network with other Developers and grow your knowledge.


Here are some of the most popular online Python communities:

Market demand

Python is the second most in-demand job in the market right now. In the Devjobscanner study, 20% of job postings listed Python.

Best roles

Due to its flexibility, many roles use Python, including:

  1. Back-End Developer
  2. API Developer
  3. Data Analyst
  4. Data Engineer
  5. Data Scientist
  6. Machine Learning Engineer

4. C#

Anders Hejlsberg, a software engineer at Microsoft, developed C# in 2000. Hejlsberg designed C# to be scalable and easy to maintain. You can create web and mobile apps with C#. However, game developers most commonly use it.

Learning curve

C# is more challenging to start with than Python or Ruby. Its learning curve is comparable to Java. It can take three to four months to learn C#, and longer if you are entirely new to programming. It would be best if you start with other programming languages first.

Salaries

The average salary for C# Developers ranges from:

  1. Entry-level: $96,000
  2. Mid-level: $101,000
  3. Senior-level: $144,000

Use cases

You can use C# for:

  1. Web applications: It is excellent for enterprise web applications that require scalable and reliable web services.
  2. Windows applications: Since Microsoft built it, most Windows programs use it.
  3. Game development: C# and C++ power the Unity game engine, a platform for creating 2D and 3D games and animation.

Community support

Since Microsoft built C#, there has been no shortage of community support. There are over seven million active C# Developers.

Some of the most popular online C# communities include:

Market demand

C# is one of the top five most in-demand software development skills. Over 11% of Developer job postings look for C# experience.

Best roles

Common C# Developer job titles include:

  1. Windows Application Developer
  2. .NET Developer
  3. Game Developer

5. C++

C++ is used to build operating systems, browsers, and more. Computer Scientist Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ as an extension of the C language. It is primarily C++ that powers most of Adobe’s products, including Photoshop. Figma also uses C++.

Learning curve

C++ is the one of hardest programming languages to learn. It gives programmers a high level of control over system resources and memory. As a result, you don't focus only on programming but also CPU memory and resource management. Unfortunately, the syntax is also verbose, so learning it takes time.

Salaries

The average salary for C++ Developers ranges from:

  1. Entry-level: $75,000
  2. Mid-level: $106,000
  3. Senior-level: $150,000

Use cases

  1. Operating systems: C++ is ideal for developing operating systems. Most macOS and Windows operating systems were written in C++.
  2. Graphical user interfaces: Building applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  3. Embedded systems: Systems that work with hardware like medical equipment and smartwatches.
  4. In-game programming: C++ is favored in game development because of the control it allows developers to have over available resources. This factor is key for 3D and multiplayer games.
  5. Web browsers: Mozilla Firefox browser was built from C++.

Community support

C++ has a big Developer following, with over 7.5 million active Developers worldwide. In addition, LinkedIn, Microsoft, NASA, and Facebook use C++ in their businesses.

Here are some of the most popular online C++ communities:

Market demand

Around 7% of jobs include C++ skills in their job descriptions.

Best roles

C++ job titles may include:

  1. Game Developer
  2. Embedded System Engineer
  3. Desktop Application Developer

6. Java

Java has been around for a long time—since 1995. However, it has evolved since then. Today, it is one of the most powerful programming languages, and enterprises commonly use it. For example, Google built Google Docs with Java.

Java is often confused with JavaScript, but they are different. JavaScript’s primary use is to create websites. With Java, you can build software and other applications.

Learning curve

Java has a steeper learning curve compared to other languages. It has a verbose syntax and a complicated setup process. Also, it requires a lot of memory, so you’ll need a powerful computer setup to code with it.

Salaries

The average salary for Java Developers is:

  1. Entry-level: $80,000
  2. Mid-level: $105,000
  3. Senior-level: $148,000

Use cases

Java is a multi-platform language, meaning it can create many products, including:

  1. Web applications: Developers typically use the popular Spring framework to develop the backend for web applications.
  2. Android development: Java is the foundational technology behind all Android development.

Community support

Java has a huge developer community with over 9.6 million active developers worldwide. In addition, Spotify and Twitter rely on Java for their web applications.

Popular online Java communities include:

Market demand

Java is one of the top three in-demand jobs. Close to 17% of developer jobs look for Java skills.

Best roles

A skill set in Java opens the door to several roles, including:

  1. Back-End Web Developer
  2. API Developer
  3. Cloud Application Developer
  4. Android Developer
  5. Desktop Application Developer

7. Go (Golang)

Compared to the other languages, Go is a newcomer. Google Developers created it just 13 years ago to improve developer productivity. Its creators took elements that they liked from other languages—C, Python, and JavaScript. Then, they combined them to create Go.

Learning curve

Go is not a beginner-friendly language—it has a learning curve similar to C# and Java. It should be a reasonably smooth transition if you already have some programming knowledge. If you're new to coding, it will be hard to learn.

Salaries

Go Developer salary ranges from:

  1. Entry-level: $72,000
  2. Mid-level: $119,000
  3. Senior-level: $169,000

Use cases

With Go, you can create:

  1. Web applications: Go shines at developing APIs, web servers, and web app frameworks.
  2. Cloud development: Go powers several cloud computing tools. For example, the popular cloud platform Kubernetes was built using Go.

Community support

Google uses Go for its technology products. The Go community is still relatively small, with two million active developers.

A popular online Go community is:

Market demand

Go is growing fast in popularity but has a way to go before it reaches JavaScript, Python, or Java levels. For instance, only around 2% of job listings include Go experience. It could be worth learning if you want to work for Google.

Best roles

  1. Backend Web Developer
  2. API Developer
  3. Cloud Developer

8. Ruby

Ruby is an open-source scripting language invented by Yukihiro Matsumoto. Combining Ruby with Ruby on Rails, a web framework is a must. Ruby Developers use it to build front-end and back-end applications.

Learning curve

Ruby is about as hard to learn as Python. However, it is more accessible because it has a simple syntax that is easier to read and write.

For beginners, it can take six months. In contrast, an experienced Developer may learn it in as little as a month.

Salaries

The average salary for Ruby Developers is:

  1. Entry-level: $90,000
  2. Mid-level: $126,000
  3. Senior-level: $140,000

Use cases

Ruby shines when it comes to building web applications. However, you can also use it for automation tools, data processing, and desktop apps.

Community support

The Ruby community is not as large, with just 1.4 million developers. Nevertheless, recognizable companies like Twitter, Crunchbase, and Github use it.

Online Ruby communities include:

Market demand

About 5% of Developer job postings look for developers with Ruby skills.

Best roles

Common job titles for Ruby Developers include:

  1. Back-End Web Developer
  2. API Developer

9. SQL

Data professionals, as well as Developers, use SQL or Structured Query Language. SQL extracts and organizes data. Therefore, it is the programming language for data analysis and data science.

Learning curve

SQL is an easy language to learn. Unlike other languages on this list, you type what you want to be done versus how to do it.

Salaries

Most Developers who specialize in SQL are Database Developers or Data Engineers. The average salary for this role is:

  1. Entry-level: $75,000
  2. Mid-level: $118,000
  3. Senior-level: $128,000

Use cases

SQL has a narrow purpose—database management. Data science, API development, web services, and cloud computing rely on SQL.

Community support

Any website or application that manages data uses SQL. Popular online SQL communities:

Market demand

SQL is typically paired with other skills like data science or data engineering. Only about 2% of Developer job postings include SQL skills.

Best roles

The best roles for SQL include:

  1. Data Engineer
  2. Database Developer
  3. Data Scientist

10. Swift

If you want to build applications for Apple products, you’ll need to learn Swift. Apple developed Swift as a quick, interactive language to build iOS, watchOS, and macOS apps.

Learning curve

Building a basic understanding of Swift will take one to two months. If you already have some coding experience, you could learn it faster.

Salaries

Most roles that require Swift programming skills are Mobile Developers or iOS Developers. The average salary for iOS Developers is:

  1. Entry-level: $89,000
  2. Mid-level: $103,000
  3. Senior-level: $132,000

Use cases

  1. Apple iOS development: Developers use Swift to build apps for Apple products—Apple Watch, iOS, Mac, and Apple TV.

Community support

Apple has a learning resource hub(opens new window) for Swift Developers.

Market demand

Apple iOS systems hold over 57% of the total market share in the United States. In addition to Apple, Slack, Instagram, Airbnb, Lyft, and many other tech companies rely on Swift programming for their applications.

Best roles

  1. iOS Developer

11. TypeScript

Microsoft created TypeScript in 2012. It’s heavily based on JavaScript but has slight differences. Many companies will include JavaScript and TypeScript skills in a job posting because they’re so similar. TypeScript is more scalable and easier to maintain than JavaScript.

Learning curve

It takes one to two months to learn TypeScript. However, if you want to learn TypeScript, you should first learn JavaScript. Altogether it can take three to four months or more if you haven’t used JavaScript before.

Salaries

TypeScript Developer salaries are similar to JavaScript Developers. Most roles that need TypeScript skills are Full Stack Developers and the average salary is:

  1. Entry-level: $102,000
  2. Mid-level: $125,000
  3. Senior-level: $150,000

Use cases

Many companies that use JavaScript also use TypeScript. Microsoft, Amazon, Asana, and Slack are a few examples.

Community support

TypeScript hasn’t quite reached the popularity of JavaScript, but there are several online communities, including:

Market demand

TypeScript is the fourth most popular language on GitHub(opens new window). It’s also one of the fastest-growing programming languages.

Best roles

  1. Full Stack Developer
  2. Web Developer
  3. Front End Developer

12. Rust

Rust is a reliable, secure, and memory-efficient programming language. It’s often used to build applications that need scalability, including operating systems, games, and browsers. It’s gaining popularity in Web3, with applications built on a decentralized, blockchain infrastructure.

Learning curve

Rust is not a beginner-friendly language. Most Developers who learn Rust have previous experience in two or more languages like C/C++, Python, or Java. If you’re not new to coding, you can learn Rust in two or three months. However, if you’re a beginner, it will take more time to learn other languages first.

Salaries

The average salary for a Rust Developer is:

  1. Entry-level: $76,000
  2. Mid-level: $105,000
  3. Senior-level: $160,000

Use cases

  1. File-syncing: DropBox uses Rust to update files in real time.
  2. Blockchain development: Rust is often used as an alternative to C/C++ and is found in some blockchain projects.

Community support

Rust isn’t as widely used as JavaScript, but it has been gaining traction, and there are communities like the Rust Foundation(opens new window).

Market demand

Many tech companies, including Facebook, Discord, Cloudflare, and Dropbox, rely on Rust. Compared to popular languages like JavaScript or Python, fewer jobs require Rust. However, there is a smaller pool of Rust Developers, which can create a demand for talent.

Best roles

  1. Back-End Developer
  2. Blockchain Engineer
  3. Web3 Developer

Which programming language is best for beginners?

The answer to what is the best programming language to learn varies. It depends on your specific interests and career goals.

For most aspiring coders, JavaScript is the most popular because it is so versatile. In addition, most companies expect developers to have JavaScript experience. Almost a third of available jobs seek JavaScript skills.

Many developers will build a foundation with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Then, you can specialize in one or a few other languages on this list.

With Multiverse's software engineering apprenticeship, you'll learn JavaScript. Plus, you’ll expand your skillset with a programming language that interests you. Lastly, you'll put your learning into practice with hands-on experience at Multiverse partner companies while earning a salary.



Team Multiverse

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