Which Programming Language Should You Learn for Your Career?

Believe it or not, programming languages are not just for programmers. If you want to add a valuable skill to your toolbox or learn something new, learning to code is a great way to start.

Computer programming and machine language have come a long way since their inception. Initially, binary code was punched into punch cards or magnetic tape, termed first-generation programming languages.

Then came the assembly languages, or second-generation programming languages. Assembly languages translate machine code into a higher-level language.

FUN FACT: RollerCoaster Tycoon was programmed by a single programmer, 99% of it was written in the x86 assembly language. His reasoning for using an assembly language instead of C++ or C# was that it offered lightning-fast compilation and incredible optimization. This game was ahead of its time, running high gaming capabilities on very minimal hardware requirements.

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Following second-generation languages came third-generation languages, also known as high-level programming languages, which we will discuss today.

Some high-level programming languages popular today include Python, JavaScript, Visual Basic, Perl, PHP, Ruby, C#, and Java. These languages may use natural language elements, be easier to use, or make automation easier. This makes program development more straightforward and understandable than a lower-level language.

So – which language should you learn to level up your career?

If you have never learned a programming language, you will want to start with a more beginner-friendly language. Java and Python are the two most popular languages to start you on your programming path. Java is a compiled language, making it fast and efficient, and Python is an interpreted language with more concise syntax than Java. It can also perform the same functions as Java in fewer lines of code. Which is better for you?

Java

While Python may be more beginner-friendly, Java is better at teaching the inner workings of programming and logic and is a more verbose and structured language. If you want to dive into the world of computer science, Java is an excellent place to start. It is versatile and widely used in many platforms, such as Android apps, server back-ends, and desktop applications. Java can effectively run on any operating system, making it ideal for writing apps across many platforms and processors.

 

Application Back-End Development, App Development
Level Intermediate
Companies Using Java Twitter, Airbnb, Google, Uber
Where To Learn Codecademy (a personal favorite)
Udemy

Example Code

Python

If you want to jump into a beginner-friendly language, Python is the way to go. It uses straightforward syntax yet is very versatile in its capabilities. It has a thriving, supportive community that supports and develops the ecosystem. Python’s versatility means it is in demand in AI/ML, data analytics, data visualization, and app development. Web and game development also use Python.

 

Application Data, Analytics, AI/ML
Level Beginner
Companies Using Java Uber, Goldman Sachs, PayPal, Spotify, Instagram
Where To Learn Codecademy (another personal favorite)
Udemy

Example Code

JavaScript

According to Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey, “2022 marks JavaScript’s tenth year in a row as the most commonly used programming language.” Hiring managers globally look for JavaScript as a language skill when hiring, according to HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report. Why is JavaScript so popular? It is versatile. JavaScript is used for both front-end and back-end, meaning it manages the behavior of its web pages. Every web browser supports it, making learning and implementing the language relatively easy and accessible. Since it is such a popular language, countless communities and resources exist to learn and find support.

 

Application Front-End and Back-End Development, Game Development
Level Beginner to Intermediate
Companies Using Java Microsoft, PayPal, Netflix, Facebook, Walmart
Where To Learn freeCodeCamp
JavaScript30

Example Code

SQL

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a language that queries and manipulates databases using English-like statements. It creates, stores, and retrieves records from relational database management systems (RDBMS). You can store data in the form of tables, modify, extract, and much more. While RDBMSs have similar capabilities without SQL, using SQL in your database adds more functionality, control, and customization. Back-end data storage on websites and data processing solutions also use SQL.

 

Application Data Management and Analysis, Back-End Development
Level Beginner
Companies Using Java Microsoft, Dell, Accenture, LinkedIn, Seagate
Where To Learn Codecademy
Udemy

Example Code

PHP

Many web developers find PHP an essential language to learn. It is used to develop dynamic and interactive websites and applications, like JavaScript. However, while JavaScript is a client-side language, PHP is primarily used for server-side scripting. It can also write command-line scripts and develop desktop applications. It is platform-independent and can be used across a variety of operating systems.

 

Application Back-End Web Development
Level Beginner to Intermediate
Companies Using Java WordPress, Facebook, Wikipedia, Slack, MailChimp
Where To Learn Codecademy
Udemy

Example Code

Go

Go was developed at Google in 2007 and uses a syntax similar to C. It provides top-tier memory safety, management features, and structural typing capabilities. It is built for concurrency, meaning it can implement a routine, run it, and keep it going while thousands of other processes run in the background. It is a highly efficient language. Dropbox uses Go to manage more than 500 million users on its network. It is also ideal for building eCommerce sites.

 

Application System/Network Programming, Big Data, eCommerce
Level Beginner to Intermediate
Companies Using Java Google, Uber, Twitch, Dropbox, Soundcloud
Where To Learn Udemy
ZeroToMastery

Example Code

MATLAB

MATLAB, or “Matrix Laboratory,” is a language designed for engineers and scientists. It allows them to express matrix and array mathematics easily. It helps to perform mathematical calculations, design, analysis, and optimization with speed, accuracy, and precision. One data scientist states that “developing algorithms in MATLAB is ten times faster and more robust than developing in Java. We need to filter our data, look at poles and zeroes, run nonlinear optimizations, and perform numerous other tasks.”

 

Application Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Data Science
Level Beginner
Companies Using Java Caterpillar, General Electric, AMD, Volvo
Where To Learn MathWorks MATLAB Academy
edX

Example Code

C and C++

C is one of the oldest and most popular programming languages and is the root of other languages, such as C#, Java, and JavaScript. C++ is an enhanced, extended version of C. C++ is for building operating systems, IoT/embedded devices, game development, databases, and web browsers.

Application Operating Systems, Software Development, Game Development
Level Beginner to Intermediate
Companies Using Java Adobe, MySQL, Windows, Firefox, Chrome
Where To Learn Codecademy
Udemy

Example Code

Whether you’re looking for a competitive edge or want to learn something new, there is no better time to pick up a new language. Programming can boost problem-solving and logic skills, improving perspective and proficiency. Solving a programming challenge is such a rewarding, gratifying experience that you will want to continue learning and coding. Even if your job does not require a deep understanding of the language you’re learning, you’ll gain immense benefits from your experience.

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