Like spoken languages, there are hundreds of programming languages out there. Some are used by millions each day—others have fallen in popularity while others wait in the wings for their time to shine.
Earlier this century, PHP was one of the most widely known programming languages. But today, faster and more efficient languages have overtaken it.
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But with rapidly technological advances, the half-life of skills—meaning the time it takes for half the knowledge to be useless—is decreasing, creating an increased need for upskilling. Luckily, there are a number of ways to gain these skills—whether from an advanced degree, bootcamp, or certification program. But, determining which programming language path to go down can be tricky.
What programming languages are the most in-demand?
|GitHub usage (2023)
|Stack OverFlow – % of professional developer usage (2023)
|Web, software development
|Data, AI, machine learning
|Web, software development
But that’s not to say they will be tomorrow. The coding languages that experienced the most growth in 2023, according to GitHub’s research, included:
“Both Rust and Lua are notable for their memory safety and efficiency—and both can be used for systems and embedded systems programming, which can be attributed to their growth,” the report states.
Python is the programming language with the biggest demand, in the opinion of Thai Le, an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Mississippi. His area of expertise includes the study of machine learning and natural language processing.
“Python is quite intuitive, and I think it’s easier to learn,” Le says. “And then if you use Python, you can do a lot of things not only—traditional computer science stuff, but also you can do a lot of data science projects using Python as well.”
Many top tech companies, such as Meta and Google, use Python to develop machine learning and AI platforms, he notes.
Go, a programming language designed by Google, is also growing in popularity and importance, says Li, because of its ability to help create swift and accurate learning models.
Which programming language is best?
In the world of programming, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer as to the best or most important language. However, having the basic knowledge in some of the easier-to-learn programming languages like Java, Python, or Scratch may help build a foundation.
As AI becomes smarter and easier to use, computer programming is likely to look much different in the coming years—with the technology helping to automate processes, detect problems, and even propose solutions. And while AI isn’t likely to completely replace programmers any time soon, increased attention will be placed on more complicated tasks—thus emphasizing the need to master in-demand languages.