Are you wondering what’s the best programming language to learn in 2022? Which first or additional technology can you pick up that will help you get a well-paying job?
It’s not as simple of a choice as it seems. Some languages are popular and oversaturated, while others are trendy but obscure among recruiters. Either way it can be hard to find a job with them. Other coding languages are very old and it can be hard to break into an industry with developers who possess 20+ years of experience. Some are high in demand and low in supply, but very difficult to learn and apply.
You also need to pick a language applicable to the type of work you’re doing. For instance, SQL is an appropriate choice for a back end web developer. Yet, it will do little for application developers who aren’t working with databases.
Generally, it’s a safe choice to go with a language that is already well known, new enough that there’s a high demand for young developers, and has stayed popular for several years so you can be sure it won’t just burn out.
It can also be appropriate to jump on a bandwagon and learn a rising language that might net you a better salary. Or, go for an older language that still runs a lot of the world’s existent technology.
Here are some suggestions for the best programming languages to learn this year, with the pros and cons for each. That way, you can make the right decision for you.
How to Check the Top Programming Languages
Year by year and even month by month, the trends in programming languages constantly shift. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the top and rising languages. Yet, that might not be easy if you don’t have a foot in the industry.
Luckily, there are several tools out there that track what programming languages are seeing most use in the real world, either automatically or through developer surveys. This can allow you to pick one that’s sure to be in high demand, or make predictions on which may soon land you a better job.
It can also give you a good idea of which languages are on a steady downward trend. That way, you don’t invest time and energy into it.
Popularity Indices of Programming Languages
Use these tools to find out if your desired language is on its way up or down:
- PYPL – The PopularitY of Programming Language Index tracks searches for the “[language] tutorial” keyword in Google worldwide and compares it to the trends from a year ago. This is a good metric for tracking how many new developers are getting into a language.
- TIOBE Index – TIOBE is a monthly index that works similarly to PYPL to track searches and determine which languages are most prolific. It dates back to 2001 and you can see some of the past trends of your favorite languages.
- IEEE Spectrum – If you don’t trust just one source, how about eleven? IEEE combines data from all across the Internet to determine which languages are rising. You can even sort their list by trending, job searches, or a custom ranking.
- StackOverflow developer surveys – Each year, StackOverflow, a very popular Q&A website for developers, holds a survey of its users. Here you can find the most common languages used by developers like you, as well as the most wanted and even hated technologies.
All clear so far? From the tools above, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of several programming languages.
As of 2022, Python definitely seems like the best programming language to learn. It has been topping the popularity charts for some time now. Everyone who doesn’t already know it seems to want to get into it. And despite this popularity and the sheer number of people with Python skills, it’s a language many job providers are asking for – and paying for.
So what makes Python such a prolific language right now? Though it has been around since 1991, Python had a recent resurgence in popularity and here is why:
- It’s easy to write, which makes it very easy to learn. The readable syntax means no more giving yourself headaches squinting at your own code.
- At the same time, it’s both powerful and incredibly flexible. Python can do almost anything. You use it to write applications, break into high-paying industries like machine learning, or even in web development. And it’s all possible through a wide range of frameworks and libraries, from Django to TensorFlow to NumPy.
- Python’s growth as a language has been stunning, and it shows no signs of stopping. This means more jobs, courses, libraries, and resources available for you.
The problem is that Python has been so popular for so long that it could easily become oversaturated. The languages versatility alleviates that somewhat, but it’s still something to consider.
Another problem is that “Python developer” isn’t much of a desirable job on its own. To get hired, you may need to apply your Python skills to more specialized roles. Examples are “data analyst”, “web application developer”, or “machine learning specialist”.
This likely means getting familiar with some of Python’s libraries and seeing what you can do. Check out the Python Package Index to get started.
Created in 1995, Java is a very old technology. Yet, it remains one of the top programming languages in the world. And despite how ancient it is, job recruiters can’t seem to get enough.
That’s because it still powers Android apps, web back ends, and even real-world devices like televisions. Over 15 billion devices run Java. And through the decades, it’s remained nearly as popular as it once was. That means there’s plenty of plenty of tutorials, tools, and resources to help you work with it.
Besides its versatility in function, thanks to Java Virtual Machines, the language is platform-agnostic and will work on basically any device. It also has a good learning curve; it’s not too difficult to break into even as a beginner coder, and the pacing of learning intermediate and advanced Java is very smooth.
There are problems with Java. It can be very difficult to enter the industry as a new coder with so many senior developers with 20+ years of experience.
And as more modern languages like Python emerge, it could begin to steadily decline in popularity. You can already see the effects in action. While it’s not on its way out any time soon, there’s no telling whether that will still be true ten or 20 years from now.
The language isn’t too hard to learn, especially if you already have one or two others under your belt. It’s not a bad one to learn early in your career either.
Swift almost exclusively appears on Apple products, of which there’s certainly a market for app developers. If Mac or iOS development is interesting to you, this language is something you’re definitely going to have to pick up.
The issue is that it’s not a language that translates well outside of this context. You can use it on other devices, but its target group is definitely primarily Apple operating systems. If that’s not what you are aiming at, it might not be the best idea to learn this programming language.
Still, Swift is a very fast and efficient coding language. Designed as an alternative to Objective-C, it has a lot of its best features and is also not a difficult starting language for beginners.
Swift and Java are both very important languages for mobile app development, but don’t forget about Kotlin. It’s a little easier to pick up than Java, which makes it a popular choice for Android developers. It’s also interoperable with Java, so if you’ve already started using it, you don’t need to start your project from scratch.
In addition, you can use Kotlin for iOS development thanks to Kotlin Multiplatform. Though it’s not as popular as Swift for iOS, it means this is a language with a lot of flexibility and potential.
Should you want to learn a language that’s really flexible and capable of almost anything, C++ might fit the ticket. It’s a very powerful programming language for designing anything from simple applications to entire operating systems.
The downside: C++ not very easy to learn. The language will teach you many of the core essentials of coding and building programs, but it will take much more time to get the hang of than something like Python.
It also came out a whole ten years before Java, so is even older and has similar issues. At the same time, it does not quite possess Java’s popularity. But if you want to build powerful programs and applications that need a robust back end, look into C++.
If C++ is interesting to you in theory, but too low level, old, and difficult to learn, C# may be worth trying instead. This object-oriented language is not as versatile, and in fact is primarily for application development.
But it’s a lot easier to get into. C#’s goal is specifically to be less overly complex than popular app development languages like C++ and Java. It handles a lot of things automatically that these other languages require you to code yourself, which means more time saved.
It’s also a great first language for new developers because it’s easy to pick up.
Interested in data science, statistics, and graphics? R is the language for you. It is able to analyze and visualize large volumes of data, which makes it very different from most other programming languages.
R is not a very easy one to learn, however. Even if this isn’t your first programming language, its syntax is not like anything you’re likely used to. And if you’ve never tried learning coding before and don’t have a background in science or statistics, you may not have a very good time trying to figure it out on your own.
On the other hand, R opens up the door to industries that involve business, research, statistics, and economics – all of which can pay very well.
SQL is a language that deals with data and databases. It’s useful if you’re looking to get into the web development or data analyst fields.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to focus more on app development, SQL likely won’t be of much use to you. But in certain jobs, especially back-end web development, knowing SQL is a very good idea. And a developer who can handle databases well is a valuable asset on a web development team.
Ruby is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language much like Python. And while it doesn’t win out in popularity, it does have its benefits. Developers describe Ruby as a more elegant language.
While Ruby itself is a widely used tool for software development, the framework Ruby on Rails is a very popular solution for web development. Many web applications run on RoR. While Python’s Django is giving it a run for its money, it’s still a common technology.
Go, or Golang, is a general-purpose language by Google. It’s also one of the best choices for beginners, being among the easiest of programming languages to learn. Released in 2012, it’s comparatively young, but many developers are interested in trying it.
Go is more similar to C-based languages than Python. One of its main uses is in developing systems like servers and networking, though you can also use it to make apps and anything else.
Being a new language, you may find it easier to get a job without as much older and more experienced competition. It also looks good on a resume, coming from Google and all.
Learn a New Programming Language in 2022
All of the languages above are staples in the industry and have a fairly good chance of continuing to grow and generate jobs. That means you can pick one you like and have fairly good prospects with any of them.
If you’d rather take a risk and try out a brand new but less reliable language that could potentially earn you a high-paying job, you should take a look at indexes like PYPL and TIOBE. These can point you in the right direction.
Just remember that, while it’s important to pick a programming language that’s likely to help your career, there’s no such thing as wasted time. Every new technology you pick up leads to a deeper understanding of programming and another thing on your resume.
Plus, you never know when a language could surge in popularity and put you ahead of the competition.
Which programming language will you learn this year? Tell us what you’re thinking of trying in the comments, and start looking for courses and tutorials to help you get started.