Best Programming Languages to Learn in 2020

A breakdown of the top 8 programming languages you should learn right now based on workforce demand, hiring trends, and earnings.

This page will be updated annually with the most desirable programming languages and current statistics.

best programming language to learn

If you're new to the world of software development, figuring out the best programming language to learn can be daunting. There are literally hundreds of programming languages out there. Thankfully you don't have to learn them all.

With that said, there’s a number of programming skills and platforms that a young developer should study and master, and choosing the right ones can shape your career. Luckily for you, we've assembled this list of the best programming languages to learn - based on workforce demand (gauged by the number of coding tests DevSkiller's clients ordered for job interviewees), salaries according to Payscale.com, and emerging trends in software production and hiring. We've included data and statistics from the DevSkiller 2020 IT Skills Report on the top eight programming languages you should learn right now.

Here are the best programming languages to learn in 2020:

  1. JavaScript

    javascript programming

    JavaScript (JS) - the code that powers interactive, user-facing features on most web pages - is this year’s hottest skill, highlighting just how important the front-end has become to software development. The unrivaled demand for JS goes to show that while large back-end teams are still vital, the overwhelming need for developers to work on web apps has surpassed the need for them to create back-end software systems. JavaScript's unwavering popularity shows why it is the best programming language to learn if you want to pursue a career in web development.

    Unsurprisingly, React was the most common technology tested within the JavaScript tech stack in the DevSkiller IT Skills Report. React has topped the hiring trends of Hacker News for a few years now, so it makes sense that a third of all JavaScript developers will be tested on this resource. The average salary of a JavaScript developer in the United States is $82,161.

  2. SQL

    sql scripting

    SQL (or Structured Query Language) is a query language used to retrieve information from databases. SQL cannot be used to write applications; however, it can communicate with the relational database systems built into many apps. SQL has many benefits, including combining data from multiple sources, data manipulation, and simple troubleshooting (just to name a few). This functionality has made SQL incredibly popular, which is reflected in the 2020 DevSkiller Report, where it was the 2nd most popular language tested.

    SQL developers can expect to earn $73,841 per year on average in the United States. The popularity and high starting wage make SQL one of the best languages to learn.

  3. Python

    python programming

    Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language created by Guido Van Rossum in 1993. It's readability, extensive support modules, and open community makes it one of the most flexible and in-demand programming languages to learn today. Python is a popular programming language for hot and emerging software trends like machine-learning and deep-learning applications. Even though Python is over 25 years old, it remains one of the best programming languages to learn by anyone interested in a career in software engineering. In the IT Skills Report, Data Analysis was the highest tested technology of the Python tech stack.

    The average Python developer salary in the United States is $90, 821.

  4. Java

    java programming

    First seen in 1995, Java is a powerful general-purpose language that remains one of the most popular programming languages today. Java's Write Once, Run Anywhere (WORA) capability provides cross-platform functionality and has become standard for several platforms (Mac, Android, Windows, etc). Despite its age, Java continues to be one of the most widely used programming languages in existence. As of today, over three billion devices are running on Java around the world. It's continued popularity, Android compatibility, speed, and performance ensure that it will remain a top language to learn for years to come.

    On average, a Java developer earns $74,300 in the United States.

  5. C#

    c sharp programming

    C# is another stalwart programming language that remains popular to this day. In the DevSkiller IT Skills Report, C# (.NET/C#) was the 5th most popular language tested from over 213,000 coding test invites. C# is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that was built on the foundations of C by Microsoft. If you're interested in pursuing a development career in the rapidly growing virtual reality (VR) space, then C# is the best programming language to learn. It is the recommended language for learning 2D and 3D video game design using the Unity game engine.

    The average C# developer salary in the United States is $67,283.

  6. Ruby

    ruby programming

    Ruby is an interpreted high-level programming language that was first released in 1993. It is commonly used for web development, particularly as the basis of the Ruby on Rails web application framework. Ruby's friendly community and easy-to-learn syntax make it one of this year’s ideal languages to learn. In fact, the ruby community even has an expression about being helpful to other community members - "Matz is nice and so we are nice" or MINASWAN. It refers to Ruby's creator, Yukihiro ("Matz") Matsumoto, who is said to be a very pleasant and kind person.

    In the United States, Ruby developers can expect to earn $75,604 on average. Ruby is also a standout programming language for those pursuing a career in full stack development.

  7. Swift

    swift programming

    Swift is a great language to learn if you're interested in Apple products and mobile application development. Apple developed the programming language as a replacement for C, C++, and Objective-C with the intention of being easier than the aforementioned languages and allowing less room for error. Apple has developed Swift for modern iOS compatibility, which is the operating system for iPhone and iPad, and the basis for watchOS (Apple Watch), as well as tvOS (Apple TV).

    The average salary for a Swift developer in the United States is $102,838. The high average salary and positioning in the fast-growing Apple hardware market makes Swift a very attractive programming language to learn.

  8. Scala

    scala programming

    Scala was created by Martin Odersky in 2003 and combines mathematical functional programming and organized object-oriented programming. Scala combines the best Java features, such as its super-fast JVM runtime environment, with its own modern twist. This interoperability with Java, proliferating community and number of frameworks, and concise syntax make Scala one of the absolute best programming languages you can learn.

    As a Scala developer in the United States, you can expect to earn $115,702 per year.

Programming languages are the drivers that power this modern world of technology, but choosing the best programming languages to learn can be a difficult decision. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of not only the most popular languages and what they can do, but which programming skills will be the best for your career path. As the world becomes more digitized, the need for skilled web developers, software engineers, and computer programmers will only continue to rise.

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