Learning a programming language is a big commitment. It can take a whole lot of effort to become proficient in one language. So how can you decide what programming language is worth your time and effort?

What programming language you should learn comes down to what developer career you would like to pursue or what kind of things you intend to build. If you’re not yet clear cut on what area to specialize in, Python and JavaScript are considered the best programming languages to learn first.

Read on to learn why python and JavaScript are widely regarded as the best languages for beginners, as well as what languages different developer jobs require.

Programming Languages to Learn Based on Career Path 

Career Path: Front End Developer

Languages To Learn: HTML, CSS, JavaScript

If you have your eyes set on becoming a front end web developer, you need a set of programming skills in your arsenal. These include:

  • HTML and CSS are the building blocks of websites. HTML creates the structure of web pages while CSS designs the visual aspect. 
  • JavaScript is used for adding interactive elements on a website. 

Career Path: Backend Developer

Languages To Learn: PHP, Ruby, JavaScript, Python, SQL 

  • PHP is the top language for backend development. 80% of websites are PHP-based. Besides writing server-side scripts, it can also be used for building desktop applications.  
  • Ruby and it’s popular framework Ruby on Rails are among the top scripting languages for web development. 
  • JavaScript is both a client-side and server-side language. Backend developers use JavaScript’s Node.js to display dynamic content. 

Career Path: Mobile Developer

Languages To Learn: Swift, Kotlin, Java

What programming languages you should learn in order to become a mobile application developer will depend on whether you would like to develop Android or iOS apps.

  • Kotlin is the official language for Android apps development.
  • Swift is the Apple backed programming language for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS development.
  • Java is also applicable for both iOS and Android applications and is a very important skill for a mobile developer to have. 

Career Path: Game Developer

Languages To Learn: C#, C++, Rust

C# is the main language to learn if you want to bring epic game ideas to life. It will enable you to create 3D and 2D video games via the Unity game engine.

Other system level programming languages such as rust and C++ are also great for game development. 

Career Path: Data Science

Languages To Learn: R, MATLAB, SQL, Python, Go

  • R, MATLAB and Python are the go to programming languages of data scientists and analysts.
  • SQL skills are also a must-have for any data scientist worthy of the name.
  • Thanks to its performance, Go is also becoming a popular language in data analysis.

Career Path: Systems Programmer

Languages To Learn: C, C++, C#, Rust, Go

  • C# is the language of choice for Windows app development. It’s also popular in multi-platform apps, web development, software development, cloud computing and robotics. 
  • Thanks to its speed and security advantages, Rust is favored by both programmers and businesses for low systems programming.
  • Go or Golang was developed by Google to improve systems efficiency. It’s used for developing Google applications, building web servers and data pipelines, and even in machine learning. 

Programming Languages To Learn Based On Where You Want To Work

Work For: Startups

Languages To Learn: Python, JavaScript, Ruby, Go

  • If you would like to develop websites for startups, you’ll want to consider adding Python and JavaScript to your portfolio.
  • Other programming languages that are popular with startups include Ruby and its Ruby on Rails framework.
  • Go has also become popular in recent years because of its simple syntax and blazing fast speed.

Work For: Large Organizations

Languages To Learn: PHP, Java, C, C++, C#, Ruby, Go, R 

Java and PHP are the hottest programming languages in the corporate world.

Many companies including Google and Amazon use these two languages on the back-end of their websites and also for developing enterprise applications.

C, C++, C#, Ruby, Go, and R are also among the most in demand programming skills in the corporate world. 

Popular Programming Languages To Learn First

Not yet clear on what field you would like to work in? Are you learning programming as a hobby? Here are the best languages to start your learning journey: 

Python

Learning Difficulty: Easy

Where To Learn: Python for Everybody

Applications: Data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, web and desktop applications, web servers and services, software development, scientific computing, animation, and more. 

Thanks to its intuitive and easy to learn syntax, Python is regarded as the best coding language to learn first.

This is not the only reason many beginners choose to go with Python first though. Other reasons to learn Python include: 

  • It’s one of the fastest growing and most in demand programming languages today.
  • It’s easy to find the support you need as the community of developers is very large and active.
  • If your end goal is to build mobile apps, however, python is not a good language to learn as it isn’t applicable in mobile development.

JavaScript

Learning Difficulty: Easy

Where To Learn: Modern JavaScript from the Beginning

Applications: Front end web development, back end web development (through Node.js), application development, game development, and web servers.

It’s hard to go wrong with JavaScript no matter what kind of programmer you would like to become.

The best thing about investing your time and effort learning JavaScript is that it’s an incredibly versatile programming language with diverse applications.

On top of this, it’s easy to get a junior developer job once you’ve mastered JavaScript.

C

Difficulty level: Moderate to Difficult

Where To Learn: C Programming for Beginners

Applications: System level programming, high-frequency trading, multi-platform app development.

Learning C first gives you a solid foundation for becoming a great programmer. 

On the downside, C is not the easiest to learn programming language. Its syntax is complex and the learning curve for a beginner is quite steep.

On the upside, other programming languages will be so much easier to learn once you conquer C.

Take A What Programming Language Should I Learn Quiz

Still not sure what programming language you should learn? 

Taking a quiz can show you what languages match your strengths, problem solving approach, interests, and other factors. 

Where to take a quiz: Code Academy Sorting Quiz

Conclusion

To answer the question what programming language should I learn, consider your interests and the type of programming career you would like to pursue.

If you’re not sure what career to pursue or are just learning for fun, JavaScript, Python, or C are good starting points. You can also view our most popular programming languages round up here.

Whichever language you opt to go with, it’s important to stick with it until the end. It’s also important not to rest on your laurels once you master your first language.

The good thing is that you will find other languages so much easier to learn once you learn one language.

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