The 10 Most In-Demand Programming Languages of 2016

It’s no secret that skilled programmers are in very high demand these days. In fact the US Department of Labor estimates that there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings by 2020, and enough qualified graduates to fill… wait for it… 30% of them. So if you have your sights set on a coding career, go ahead, break out the champagne.

However, there’s a catch; the tech industry moves at lightning-fast speed. What’s hot now could be obsolete in 5 years, or could have revolutionised pretty much everything. That means it’s difficult to know which languages you should be brushing up on to win that lucrative job at that big tech company.

As far as popularity is concerned, the TIOBE Index rates the following languages as of June 2016:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. Python
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. JavaScript
  8. Perl
  9. Visual Basic.NET
  10. Ruby

But popularity doesn’t necessarily correlate with demand. Coding Dojo compiled data from jobs website listing the languages employers are looking for the most. They came up with the following 9:

  1. SQL
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. C#
  5. C++
  6. Python
  7. PHP
  8. Ruby on Rails
  9. iOS/Swift

Taking account of both lists, we’ve compiled our own version. Here are the 10 most in-demand programming languages of 2016. If you’re planning on becoming a professional programmer, this is the stuff you need to learn (and you can check out our online help guide to what programming language you should learn – but finish reading this first!).


What is it? SQL (Structured Query Language) is a special-purpose programming language designed to query, edit and retrieve information stored in a database management system.

Why is it in-demand? Because big data is big news. Companies big and small are collecting and using more data than ever before, and they need database professionals to help them organise, understand and use it to their advantage.

What else do you need to know? It has a simple syntax and is in many ways similar to Excel, so anyone can learn the basics in minutes.


What is it? Java is a general purpose, object oriented programming language used for all kinds of internet-related applications. It can run on any computer independent of device and platform.

Why is it in-demand? Java has been around for a long time and is one of the core ‘building blocks’ of just about all apps and websites. It’s so widespread that it’s pretty much never going away, so Java developers are always in demand.

What else do you need to know? Java is modelled on C++, but is a little less complicated. There is a steep learning curve, but once you’ve cracked it you’ll never look back.


What is it? C# is a hybrid of Microsoft’s C and C++ languages, originally developed as a competitor to Java and designed for improving productivity in developing web apps.

Why is it in-demand? Like Java, C# can be used on multiple platforms without being rewritten and has a wide variety of uses. This diversity coupled with its link to Microsoft means C# developers are in consistent, steady demand.

What else do you need to know? It’s very beginner friendly, and has lots in common with Java, C and C++. If you know one or more of these related languages, learning C# will be a breeze.


What is it? In layman’s terms, JavaScript is what makes websites look cool and interactive. In not so layman’s terms, it pulls API data and builds on HTML to do so.

Why is it in-demand? Because it works on all browsers, is used in almost every single website in existence, has endless libraries and has been steadily increasing in popularity for several years… to name just a few reasons!

What else do you need to know? It’s NOT the same as Java. Also, if you want to get good at it – or become a professional web developer/designer – then you need HTML and CSS in your arsenal too.


What is it? C++ is the grandfather of programming languages, used for graphical or large-scale applications, embedded firmware, client-server applications and analyzing/manipulating data.

Why is it in-demand? C++ has a long-standing reputation and is known for its reliability. It’s always in demand for high-performance apps such as Adobe, Microsoft and the like. Basically, no other language can match it.

What else do you need to know? C++ is where C# and C derive from, so they have plenty in common. Learning it is a challenge, but the rewards are manifold.


What is it? Python is an object oriented language used to build web and desktop applications, as well as for data analysis in science industries.

Why is it in-demand? Its remarkably simple syntax makes everything infinitely more efficient, so companies love it. It’s also very powerful and generally seen as the new ‘big thing’ in programming.

What else do you need to know? Python is perfect for beginners and one of the most popular ‘new’ languages among graduates. You’ll be seeing it everywhere in the not too distant future.


What is it? PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a general purpose, server-side scripting language especially suited for web development. It can be embedded into HTML.

Why is it in-demand? Although it can do much more, PHP is especially widespread in the world of e-commerce. With online shopping becoming more popular by the day, PHP’s demand increases too.

What else do you need to know? It runs on many platforms and is compatible with any server. It’s also commonly bundled with databases written in SQL. The learning curve is relatively gentle.

8.Ruby on Rails

What is it? Ruby on Rails is a web framework that provides all the structures needed for a database, web service and web pages, allowing for powerful, varied web development.

Why is it in-demand? Simply put, because lots of big ‘trendy’ websites like AirBnB, Kickstarter and Groupon use it. But setting up and maintaining a website with it is quick and easy, too.

What else do you need to know? The common abbreviation is ‘Rails’, NOT ‘Ruby’. Ruby is the programming language that Ruby on Rails is built with. Don’t mix them up!


What is it? Originally developed for text manipulation, Perl is a general-purpose programming language now used for all kinds of web development, system administration, network programming and more.

Why is it in-demand? Some say its popularity is waning, but the truth is that supply and demand have more or less caught up with each other. Perl remains stable, cross-platform and capable of lots of tasks.

What else do you need to know? Perl isn’t all that different to Python and incorporates the best elements from many other languages, like C.


What is it? Swift, new, innovative, powerful language dedicated to iOS and OS X.  It works side-by-side with Objective C and is used to build and develop all things Apple.

Why is it in-demand? Apple is well known for doing things their own way, and programmers with knowledge of Swift are, so far, few and far between. Plus it’s new and is only set to increase in popularity over the next few years.

What else do you need to know? Swift is super fast and the syntax is very concise. However, keep in mind that it’s still new. There will be updates and occasional bugs on the regular (for now).

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