CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 18, 2014
version 4, draft 4

What is The Best Programming Language to Learn to Find a job

girl coding

No matter what sector of industry or commerce you work in it’s a safe bet that many of the processes and systems that keep the business running are based on computer programs. Clearly there are plenty of jobs in this field, but what’s the best programming language to learn in order to land a job?

What programming language to learn?

The answer to this is not a simple one and won’t necessarily be the same for everyone. All the popular languages will get you into a well-paid position; programmers with three to five years’ experience can expect to receive a salary of between £35,000 and £50,000. If you worked as a consultant, you might even expect to earn more.

The most popular programming languages currently are:

  • Objective-C
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Ruby
  • .Net
  • C/C++
  • Python
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • SQL

The bad news is that you’ll probably need to learn more than one language, depending on which particular area interests you and what you’d most like to work on. Here’s a quick reference guide to illustrate the point.

Language

Commonly used for

Python/Ruby/PHP

Websites and mobile apps (server-side)

Objective-C/Swift

iPhone and all Apple Products

HTML/CSS/JavaScript

Building websites (client-side)

Java/.Net

Android programming. Server-side for websites.

C/C++

Graphics, video games

So, you can see that the language you need to learn really depends on the area of programming you want to get into. The following table gives you more of an idea of what skill sets you’ll need to learn for different job roles.

Job Role

Skillset

Server-side/Back-end programmer

Database knowledge. Sysadmin knowledge. One of the following: Python, Ruby, PHP, Java or .Net.

Client-side/front-end programmer

Design skills. JavaScript, CSS, HTML, SQL.

Mobile programmer

Objective-C or Java (for Android). HTML/CSS for mobile websites.

Game programmer

Strong artistic skills. C/C++, OpenGL, Animation.

High performance programmer

Mathematical or quantitative background. C/C++, Java.

Whilst it’s true to say that the more languages you learn, the more options you will have available, most people gravitate to a particular field that interests them and that they’re passionate about. Think carefully about what enthuses you most, research job adverts to see what recruiters are asking for in the way of programming knowledge and equip yourself accordingly.

When you’ve decided which language/languages you want to learn, start off small. Begin with a few small projects and simple tutorials just to see if you think you can get to grips with your chosen language before you explore further avenues for more advanced training.

It is important to point out that HTML/CSS and SQL are not actually programming languages. HTML is a markup language used in web design and CSS is a style sheet language which defines the format of a website. SQL is a general term for numerous query languages that are used to gather information from databases. However, all three of these languages and more are necessary in order to be an effective web developer.

Throughout your career in such a rapidly changing industry you’ll need to keep yourself up to speed with developments as they happen. One thing’s for sure; you’ll never get bored with this career choice!

Whichever area you decide to work in, you will need to learn more than one language. Research the career angle you’d like to pursue and equip yourself with the right skillset. Once you’ve achieved that, the world’s your oyster!

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