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Most Popular Programming Languages in 2024

Hiring Developers

Programming technologies are fast evolving to meet modern-day needs. Now, there are a plethora to choose from, covering every aspect of development including websites, apps, games and algorithms. 

For tech recruiters, HR leaders and hiring managers it can be tough to prioritize the skills to hire in-house (or to source externally). When deciding, it’s worth looking at what’s popular now, what’s likely to become popular in the future, and how emerging technologies might support your business goals.

Based on our 2024 annual survey involving HR professionals and developers, the current top 10 programming technologies in high demand are:

  1. Python (42.1% of respondents have a high demand for candidates with this skill)
  2. JavaScript (41.6%)
  3. Java (39.1%)
  4. C# (25.0%)
  5. SQL (24.3%)
  6. C++ (24.0%)
  7. TypeScript (23.5%)
  8. HTML/CSS (22.1%)
  9. PHP (18.1%)
  10. C (11.9%)

Read up on the top 4 to better understand why they’re worth investing in.

Why prioritize your programming technologies?

Why does it pay to prioritize your programming technology needs?

Firstly, because there’s such a wide range of technologies on offer, it’s worth choosing the ones that best align with your current business goals, future strategy, industry and the in-demand roles your tech teams are requesting. For example, if your goals involve artificial intelligence (AI) then finding developers with Python knowledge is a good start. However, if you’re building games, then C# will be more suitable.

Alternatively, if you’re unsure of your future needs, then pick a language that is popular across many industries and applications. JavaScript, for example, is the standard programming language of the web and a decent all-rounder for developers. Meanwhile, Python is well-known in Machine Learning and Data Science circles.

Python places 1st

Increasing from the 3rd position last year, Python comes in as the top language with 42% of respondents looking for developers with this skillset.

Despite its current-day popularity, Python was originally launched in 1991 and has been something of a slow burner. Recent years have seen a boom in Python’s ranking, largely due to its applications in Machine Learning and Data Science.

Python is a high-level, general-purpose language with uses in building web applications, analyzing data and developing algorithms. It has an easy-to-use syntax with an emphasis on code readability and simplicity. Making it ideal for junior developers, especially those who are interested in a career in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science.

The language is known for being highly reliable and efficient. There are several Python libraries available to developers. These libraries help speed-up various tasks in Data Science, building AI algorithms and linking to APIs. Its reliability and efficiency make it popular for both large enterprises and start-ups. Plus, it can be used to automate certain activities, including some of your time-consuming day-to-day tasks. 

Beyond this, Python can also be used for web development. Indeed, Python is used often in web scraping and something that could take hours to code in PHP will take mere minutes using Python. The website Reddit is built via Python, for example.

The active Python community is spearheading the language’s growth, offering best practice advice and troubleshooting for beginners and experts alike.

Because of this, Python is known as the “fastest-growing major programming language”. With applications in some of the most exciting (and fast-growing) technologies today, developers who know Python will quickly find roles in Big Data, AI, Robotics and Cybersecurity. Because of the growing ubiquity of these technologies, it’s worth investing in Python skills now as your organization will most probably need some kind of Data, AI and Cybersecurity experience in the near future.

JavaScript drops, but not far

Coming in at 2nd. down from its first place position last year, JavaScript remains one of the most popular popular programming languages on our list – due to its ubiquity on the web and our heavy reliance on the Internet. 

JavaScript is used for web development, to add interactivity to a website in the form of games, buttons, dynamic styling, animations and forms. It was invented by Brendan Eich, co-founder of the Mozilla project, the Mozilla Foundation, and the Mozilla Corporation.

There are over 1.7 billion websites (and counting) in the world, which makes the scope of JavaScript extremely large (it’s used on around 95% of them). Couple this with the fact that JavaScript is very versatile and simple to learn, and you can see why it’s a popular programming language.

JavaScript has a core language, with added flexibility through additional development tools. These unlock extra functionality with minimum effort. For example, you can easily integrate with third-party content providers like Twitter and Facebook via an API (Application Programming Interface).

As a cross-platform programming language it enables applications to be deployed on both desktop and mobile platforms. Plus, JavaScript-savvy developers have access to a large community of JavaScript enthusiasts, who regularly share tips and new ideas on how to best leverage the language. The community is dedicated to keeping JS essential to the effective running of the Internet for many decades to come.

The bronze goes to Java 🥉

Java remains a top programming language because it’s the native language for Android, the most popular mobile computing platform in the world. It’s also a popular language for enterprise applications.

With 2.3 billion mobile devices running the Android operating system, Java (like JavaScript) has widespread appeal. The language has been consistently amongst the top in-demand programming languages since its creation in the mid-90s. Now, many of the world’s largest companies use Java to build desktop apps and back-end web systems.

Given the enduring popularity of Java in the software development industry, developers with expertise in this language often find themselves in a favorable position in the job market. This is an important consideration for recruiters seeking such talent, as these candidates may frequently receive multiple job offers. Consequently, to attract and retain these skilled individuals, it is advisable for employers to ensure that their compensation and benefits packages are not only competitive but also aligned with the current market trends and individual expectations of Java developers.

Java is popular for several other reasons. It has great portability, thanks to platform-agnostic Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This means that Java can run on nearly every system.

It’s also highly scalable. This makes the language popular among both enterprises and scaling start-ups. 

“When web companies grow up, they become Java shops.”

James Governer from RedMonk

Java is a statically-typed language, so it’s faster and easier to maintain with fewer bugs. It’s also backwards compatible, so old versions of the language still run perfectly, even when new versions are released. This helps keep costs for your organization low, as you don’t have to constantly re-write code every time a new version is launched.

Java is a popular language now, with a large community behind it that ensures its popularity well into the future.

Sharpening skills with C#

The C programming language is one of the oldest, most popular programming languages thanks to its portability and early adoption by tech giants like Apple and Microsoft. C# (known as C-sharp) is a spin-off of the original language, developed in 2000 by Microsoft.

It is an object-oriented language, organized around objects instead of actions, and data instead of logic. Its features are similar to Java, and C# is particularly effective for building Windows desktop applications and games. It can also be used to develop web and mobile applications. C# is often used for large company applications such as processing bank transactions.

In particular, if your organization works within the gaming industry (or is planning to) then C# is a worthwhile investment. 34% of the top free mobile games are made using C#, along with virtual reality applications. It’s often used to develop games using Unity, including Temple Run Trilogy and Assassin’s Creed: Identity.

Plus, as a high-level programming language, C# is rather user-friendly to learn and more independent from a computer’s hardware architecture. Your developers can also spot errors more readily in C# because the code is checked by the framework before it becomes an application. It also gives a decent grounding in other C languages like C++ making them easier to learn in the long-run, offering an obvious learning and development (L&D) pathway for your team.

With all that said, however, C# does require more time and effort to learn than Python.

The right choice for your organization

Choosing the right programming technology to recruit for is a big decision that could steer the course of your organization for decades. Depending on the industry you’re in, picking C# over Java or Python instead of JavaScript will alter the capabilities and direction of your team and the projects they work on. Take your time in deciding: consider your business goals over the short and long-term and the languages you’ll need to achieve them. Meet with your hiring manager to align your visions. Think about the initial languages your developers should know and what they can upskill in. As discussed, some languages like C# can provide a springboard for other coding skills.

Starting with one of the four programming technologies we’ve just discussed will give you a strong foundation. However, ensure you always keep up with the changing times. Keep an eye out for the next big thing in programming and your industry. That way, when a new language or use case appears, your organization and developers will already be a step ahead. 

Oh, by the way, we’ve put all of our articles and resources on how to find and hire tech specialists here.