The Most In-Demand Programming Languages for 2023

Computer programmers are behind every digital device we use today. Programmers built your smartphone operating system and the apps you use on them. A developer created your favorite Instagram filter. Wearable health monitors, smart home security systems, and digital currencies all began with a programmer who had an idea and knew how to code.

To learn computer programming is to make yourself more marketable, more mobile, and more competitive in a digital society. How essential will programmers continue to be to the worldwide workforce? The World Economic Forum (WEF) stated in 2020 that we had embarked on the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” in which emerging technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and e-commerce have transformed the ways we live and work.

The WEF’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report found that the three roles with the highest future demand will be data analysts and scientists, AI and machine learning specialists, and big data specialists. What do these careers have in common? They require expertise in computer programming.

Programming skills can expand your career prospects dramatically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects all computer occupations to grow by 13 percent through 2030. Among those occupations, information security (33 percent), software development (22 percent), and web development (13 percent) project significant opportunities.

An image showcasing the job outlook for computer occupations through 2030.

Now that you understand the marketable value of a programming skill set, you may have questions, such as:

  • What are the most in-demand programming languages?
  • Which programming language should I learn first?
  • What’s the best way to learn programming?

Read on to learn the answers to those questions and more.

Types of Programming Languages

A programming language is a method of communicating instructions to machines, translating them in a way they can understand and act upon. Programming languages tend to fall under two major umbrellas: low-level and high-level.

Low-level programming languages include machine language and assembly language. Machine language is primarily binary code (e.g.,1s and 0s), whereas assembly language uses English words that are then translated into machine language for computers to act upon. It’s important to note that low-level languages are specific to distinct types of computers manufactured by specific companies; they require an in-depth knowledge of specific operation and data storage guidelines, as there aren’t “one size fits all” low-level languages. However, this is not where most programmers spend their time.

High-level languages are what most programmers work with. As a result, high-level languages are more user-friendly since they apply accessible words and characters that the computer translates into its machine language through assembly language.

High-level languages can be subdivided into the following categories:

Imperative: Details what is to be done and specifically how to do it.

Procedural: A specific sequence of instructions leading to a desired result

Object-oriented: Binds related data and functions into a grouping called an object, encouraging reuse of objects within the same and other programs

Parallel processing: Performs sequential steps of a computer program simultaneously, using two or more processors

Declarative: Specifies what is to be done rather than how to do it.

Logic: Uses logical formulas to express facts and rules, enabling logical inferences based on all available data

Functional: Uses pure mathematical functions, emphasizing the evaluation of expressions rather than the execution of commands

Database: Defines and accesses databases

With so many different programming languages, choosing the best (or first) to learn can be challenging. Read on to learn about some of the best known, most used programming languages.

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Eight of the Most Used Programming Languages

There are literally thousands of programming languages; however, most programmers focus on a select group of languages, depending on their industry, field, and programming goals. The following eight languages are among the most in-demand and commonly used across a variety of industries.

Why JavaScript?

  • Essential for web development and app-building
  • Used to build APIs (application programming interfaces) in websites
  • Easy to learn and highly functional

Developers have made JavaScript the primary tool of their trade for nearly a decade. According to Stack Overflow, developers have voted JavaScript as their most used language for nine consecutive years. Nearly 65 percent say they use JavaScript, making it one of the best programming languages for web development.

Developers build numerous website functions using JavaScript: media players, interactive maps, animation, and much more. JavaScript also controls the way we interact with sites. When you click on a video or dropdown menu, you’re interacting with a component created with JavaScript.

Little wonder, then, that hiring managers say JavaScript is the No. 1 language they look for from job-seekers. Fortunately, JavaScript is a high-level language with syntax that is fairly easy to learn, making it one of the languages beginning programmers often learn first. With some study, programmers can use JavaScript to create animated 3D graphics, a new app, or a vibrant video game.

Why Python?

  • Versatile, easy to learn, and widely used
  • Key language for data science, financial technology (fintech), and AI
  • Popular among the world’s leading tech companies

Here’s an interesting insight about Python: The World Economic Forum, in its 2020 Future of Jobs Report, cited Python programming as the number one skill to learn for those who are unemployed. This is because Python is a fundamental language for emerging careers in data science, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. It also ranks as the most popular programming language in the world, according to Google searches compiled by PYPL.

Python is a general-purpose language, meaning it can aid in a variety of applications, including web and software development, scientific programming, and data analysis. It is an object-oriented language (OOL) that supports other programming styles, including functional and procedural, and uses an easy-to-read syntax that most programmers pick up quickly. This simple syntax comes in especially handy for programmers to perform complex financial or data work.

Python has also built a large network of libraries loaded with tools and utilities that make programming quicker and easier. For instance, PyPi lists more than 10,000 tools for machine learning, making Python one of the best programming languages for machine learning and AI.

Why SQL and NoSQL?

  • Necessary for storing and managing data
  • Used with relational and non-relational databases
  • Important for finance and fintech

If you’re interested in a career in data analysis or financial analysis, becoming familiar with SQL (Structured Query Language) and NoSQL (not only SQL) will be beneficial. These declarative languages are considered database languages and are integral in the setting up, structuring, and querying of databases.

SQL is the No. 4 most used programming language, according to Stack Overflow, and the most popular for working with data. Meanwhile, NoSQL operates as the language of non-relational databases, which store data without a fixed structure, such as photos, videos, and social media posts. NoSQL databases accommodate larger amounts of data and can also be queried at faster speeds.

SQL and NoSQL can be used for a number of different database projects, but both tend to be required in fields such as data science and fintech.

Why C#?

  • Widely used in desktop and app programming
  • Popular in game programming
  • Similar syntax to other common languages

C# is Microsoft’s next generation of the C languages family, which also includes C++. According to Microsoft, programmers familiar with Java and JavaScript will feel comfortable with C# as well.

C# is a general-purpose, object-oriented language, making it useful in a variety of applications. Novice programmers can begin by building a simple console app, move on to developing a website, and apply the advanced properties to construct a game. Twenty percent of hiring managers look for C# skills when interviewing candidates, according to HackerRank.

C# also is the leading language in Microsoft’s .NET framework, and was developed specifically for the framework, which empowers developers to build for the web, mobile, gaming, AI applications, and internet-enabled devices. C# boasts a robust library and growing user community, making it one of the best programming languages to learn.

Why HTML and CSS?

  • Fundamental tools of web development
  • Used in conjunction with each other
  • First languages for many programmers

Are you an aspiring web developer? If so, HTML and CSS will be incredibly useful tools. In fact, they rank second among Stack Overflow’s most commonly used programming languages for good reason — they give us web pages.

Before HTML and CSS, the internet consisted of plain text. These two languages allow developers to structure that text, add headers and images, adjust colors, and define where content appears on the page.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the primary scripting language of the web. Developers employ HTML to format pages and display text in its varied forms: paragraphs, headers, titles, lists, etc. HTML also defines hyperlinks.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) serves as a companion to HTML. CSS controls page elements regarding style: color, type fonts, text sizes, etc. Developers compare the languages like this: HTML designs the house and CSS decorates it.

Why Java?

  • Versatile and easy to learn
  • Portability: “Write once, run anywhere”
  • Used across a variety of sectors

Java has been around for more than 25 years, yet it remains one of the most in-demand skills for programmers. HackerRank asked employers in several fields to rank the languages they look for in candidates, and Java ranked number one in healthcare, social media, and finance; and number two in gaming/media and fintech.

Why is Java a workhorse language? First, it’s a general-purpose, object-oriented language — useful to develop almost anything across multiple platforms. Java appears on websites, mobile devices, and connected appliances. Programmers use it to build e-commerce sites and banking apps. Considered one of the “more secured programming languages,” Java will continue to be instrumental in finance.

Java further benefits from portability, demonstrated in its well-known “write once, run anywhere” slogan. Programmers who write programs in Java can run them on any machine, making their work accessible across multiple systems.

Why Ruby?

  • Focuses on simplicity and productivity
  • Popular in finance and fintech
  • Provides the foundation for the Ruby on Rails web framework

Launched in 1995, Ruby is a free, open-source language that its developer calls simple in appearance but complex inside, “just like the human body.” Ruby is popular in healthcare, finance, and fintech, as well as for building security applications. Much of this language’s popularity grew through the development of the Ruby on Rails Framework, a hub for web development.

Ruby’s most appealing traits (speed, flexibility, and security) align closely to the needs of fintech programmers; they use Ruby to build financial products such as booking and payment systems. Twitch and Airbnb are among the many platforms that use Ruby on Rails.

Why PHP?

  • Performs key functions in web development
  • Useful in creating interactive websites
  • Important for server-side developers

HTML/CSS and JavaScript are the primary tools of front end, or client-side, web development (where users interact with the site).The server-side, or back end, is where websites store and organize information. PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a scripting language that developers use to write executable code on the server-side.

When you visit a website, PHP code delivers an HTML page to your browser. HTML and PHP work in tandem to deploy sites for viewing and are important languages for full stack developers to know.

PHP has been around for nearly three decades but remains popular in web development. It holds firm among HackerRank’s top 10 best-known languages and demonstrates utility across various industries. One of PHP’s biggest selling points is WordPress, which hosts more than 40 percent of the world’s websites and uses PHP.

Finding the Best Programming Language for You

Those who learn computer programming can open new doors, personally and professionally. Hobbyists can learn HTML/CSS to develop a website; gamers with a big idea and some Python skills can write their own video game; and small business owners can improve their bottom line by learning simple ways to manipulate data through SQL and NoSQL.

Even non-programmers can make their jobs a little easier by writing small programs to automate repetitive tasks. Nearly everyone can benefit from learning to write some code.

The best programming language for you depends on your interests and career goals. While reading this list of in-demand programming languages, note what appeals to you. Then, if you’re interested in diving deeper into programming, consider a coding boot camp, where the curriculum covers the languages needed to become a full stack developer.

Most In-Demand Programming Languages FAQ

A programming language is a method of communicating instructions to machines, translating them in a way the machines can understand and act upon. Programming languages contain their own terms, symbols, and syntax that computers interpret to perform tasks. Programmers primarily write in high-level languages that are easier for them to read and understand, rather than low-level languages that speak directly to machines.

According to the Online Historical Encyclopedia of Programming Languages, nearly 9,000 programming languages have been invented since the 18th century. Of course, that list covers nearly two centuries of problem-solving until Fortran debuted as the first programming language in 1957. Today, programmers work primarily with high-level programming languages, where the syntax mimics our own spoken languages.

Python and JavaScript are two of the top programming languages for beginners. They are versatile, considered easy to learn, and used widely across many industries.

Web developers may want to start with HTML/CSS and JavaScript. Aspiring data scientists may consider Python, which also works for fintech professionals and game developers. Those who work with databases may choose to study SQL and NoSQL.

Learn a New Programming Language Today

Turn your passion into a career by learning a new programming language. The options are endless, whether you’re looking for an optimal programming language for beginners, or the best programming language for machine learning.

Ready to get started? Then check out University of Denver Coding Boot Camp, which will immerse you in the world of full stack development. Coding is the gateway to a boundless future, so begin your journey today!

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