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The best programming languages to learn in 2020

These are the best programming languages to learn to land a great developer job and to earn more money. Also, find out developers’ favorite tools, free resources for coders, GitHub guides, and more.

Freelance programmer or developer working at home and typing source code with laptop

Image: iStockphoto/comzeal

While not every programmer may follow the oft-repeated advice to learn at least one new programming language each year, most developers will continue to build their skills throughout their career. Many programmers find their job requires them to periodically brush up on new programming languages and their dialects, software frameworks, and tools. Knowing what to learn and when can be difficult, particularly when new software frameworks and tools are created every day.

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For an existing programmer, the trigger for learning a new language might be a particular problem that needs solving, the requirement to take over someone else’s code, or just curiosity about a new programming language generating buzz. For beginner programmers, the priorities will be subtly different, with the steepness of the learning curve having a notable effect on whether they stick with a programming language.

Renowned programmer John Carmack, cofounder of id Software and CTO of Oculus VR, says there’s no problem starting with a higher-level programming language that abstracts away much of the complexity of how computers work, but advises learners delve into the workings of that language. “You should try and ‘find the excitement’ in even the most simple data processing tasks. There are layers and layers of things going on in just compiling and running the simplest program that are worth investigating,” according to an early blog post.

Cofounder of Stack Overflow Joel Spolsky goes further and recommends programmers learn a lower-level language, such as C. “Coding in C gives programmers a better idea of what the computer is actually doing, in that it is a low-level language whose instructions more closely resemble those being executed by the computer’s CPU than those of a high-level language,” he told TechRepublic.

“A lot of programmers these days will end up learning a higher level language–such as Python, Ruby, or Java–and then not even really have a good grasp on anything that is causing that code in the language to execute and therefore not appreciating why things are slow or weird.

“The idea is to have a really good comprehension of what happens at the level of abstraction below the level where you work, of what the CPU is actually doing.”

Of course, knowing which programming language is best suited to help you as a developer requires you to understand what each language is capable of and why they are typically used.

The following resources will give you an overview of how different programming languages are used, their strengths and weaknesses, and which programming languages are the most popular and why. Use them to teach yourself about the programming languages available and, more importantly for new learners, use coding to do something you enjoy.

As the other Stack Overflow cofounder Jeff Atwood wrote: “I didn’t become a programmer because someone told me learning to code was important; I became a programmer because I wanted to change the rules of the video games I was playing, and learning to code was the only way to do that. Along the way, I too fell in love.” — Nick Heath

SEE: Python is eating the world: How one developer’s side project became the hottest programming language on the planet (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)    

What are the best and worst programming languages to learn?

The Python 2 clock has expired. Now is the time to upgrade or punt.
The end of support for Python 2 could mean an upgrade project…or a calculated risk. Here’s how to decide, even if you “aren’t a Python shop.”

COBOL programmers are in demand to fight the coronavirus pandemic
A number of states continue to run the decades-old programming language on mainframe systems–including critical unemployment claims systems.

Top 5 popular programming languages
TypeScript and Python top RedMonk’s recent rankings of programming languages, based on data from GitHub and Stack Overflow.

The two most hated programming languages among developers 
Coding is intrinsic to the job of a developer, but find out what they really think about some of the most common languages.

Learn Python: Online training courses for beginning developers and coding experts
TechRepublic has partnered with top training providers to offer online courses, bootcamps, and master classes for Python, one of the most in-demand programming languages.

Why Python is likely to pass Java in popularity
According to RedMonk programming languages analysis, Python has a way to go to move past JavaScript, but it’s already out-Java’ing Java. 

16 most in-demand coding languages worldwide
Developer preference shifts away from Ruby, PHP, and Objective-C. Find out which ones are critical to success. 

An insider’s look at Google’s web framework contributions to Next.js and more
Google has been investing in a variety of web frameworks, including Next.js, to help developers build better web applications. Here’s why.

Python: Where to learn it and why you should do it now
The programming language has a relatively simple, clean syntax that’s easy for non-programmers to learn and understand.

Developers weigh in on why Rust is so hot 
Commentary: Rust keeps getting hotter. Here are a few of the top reasons.

Top 9 computer languages to know for 2020 
Why computer languages are as important in the tech universe as spoken language, and what you should know for the new year.

Java and JavaScript dominated software development in the 2010s 
Ruby and PHP had short-term popularity but long-term impact, and Python is on the rise again.

Programmer Hadley Wickham touts diversity of R community 
His packages are used by The New York Times, the FDA, Facebook, and other companies to help organize and display data in a tidy way.

Python bests Java for number 2 spot on GitHub’s list of most popular languages 
Python moves into second place on GitHub’s list of top programming languages and Dart tops the list of fastest-growing languages.

Python programming language: A cheat sheet 
This guide explores what Python is used for, how it compares to other programming languages, and developer resources for building skills in Python.

A beginner’s guide to Python: Books, tutorials, videos, use cases, and developers’ favorite tools 
The Python programming language is red hot. Learn about Python’s origins, how Microsoft and Netflix use the programming language, and resources for developers and hiring managers.

Why Python is considered the top programming language ahead of JavaScript and C++ 
A study conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) put Python at the top of the list of favorite languages among such contenders as Java, JavaScript, C++, and Go.

The top programming languages of 2019: Python is number one, say engineers
The most popular languages according to the world’s largest organization for engineering and applied science.

The rising programming languages that JavaScript developers are learning in 2019
A new analysis of Stack Overflow data sheds light on which emerging languages web developers are focusing on.

Julia vs Python: This is why the fledgling programming language is winning new fans
Python was named as the number one language that developers would be using if they weren’t using Julia in a new survey.

10 most popular programming languages: Rise of TypeScript
The popularity of JavaScript has led TypeScript to become a more popular coding language, according to RedMonk.

The 10 most in-demand programming languages for developers at top companies
For experienced programmers wanting to keep skills up-to-date, or new programmers in the field, here are the best programming languages to learn, according to Coding Dojo.

10 programming languages developers used most in the past year
For developers looking to stay up to date on the most relevant programming languages, here are the most relevant programming languages to learn.

Top 5 programming languages experienced software engineers use
These programming languages are among the most in-demand tech skills this year, according to Hired.

R vs. Python: Which is a better programming language for data science?
The Python vs. R debate rages on in the data scientist community. Here’s how the two coding languages match up.

Top programming languages IoT developers should learn
IoT development is rapidly expanding, but concerns around security and connectivity remain, according to an Eclipse Foundation report.

The most loved and most disliked programming languages revealed in Stack Overflow survey
The annual Stack Overflow survey is one of the most comprehensive snapshots of how programmers work.

Three reasons you might enjoy the Go programming language and three reasons you might not
The results of the 2018 Go User Survey has shed light on the pros and cons of Go.

The worst programming languages to learn in 2019
Codementor lists the struggling languages that may not be worth your time.

Which programming jobs pay the highest salaries?

Job openings among 40 industries down 1.5% during coronavirus pandemic 
In the wake of COVID-19, job openings in tech are up and down, with the internet and tech jobs category up a whopping 41%, Glassdoor found.

Tech dominates top jobs list for 2020
New data gathered by the job search site Indeed reveals eight of the top 15 jobs are in the tech industry.

Women in tech are still paid less than men in most US states
With the salary differential reaching $16,000 in some regions, female techies remain at a significant disadvantage to their male counterparts, Dice report finds.

Mid-level developers are in highest demand, according to tech hiring leaders
Companies are increasing recruiting efforts for big data and analytics, cloud computing, and AI jobs, a HackerRank report finds.

Top 4 US states for AI jobs 
AI talent is in high demand, and certain US states have more related job postings than others, ZipRecruiter found.

What technology professionals and employers are looking for in 2020 
Tech pros want opportunities for growth and a work/life balance, while employers say they face challenges finding skilled workers, according to the staffing firm LaSalle Network.

How developers can negotiate a salary increase
Tools and tips for figuring out your value and how (and when) to approach your boss.

DevOps market predicted to be worth $15 billion by 2026
DevOps tools decrease the chance of errors and help strengthen the development process in organizations.

Why Kubernetes job searches grew by 2,125% in 4 years
The most popular Kubernetes-related tech roles include DevOps engineer, software engineer, and cloud engineer. Find out how to kick off your career.

Decade in review: Software developers and cloud architects in demand and well paid 
Employers had to go all out to find and keep DevOps and site reliability engineers by the end of the 2010s.

Top coding salaries unveiled for 2019 and US developers making 5% more than last year 
Find out how long it takes to reach $100,000 as a developer in the US and how using Scala, Redis, Go, or Apache Spark will benefit you.

Developer pay: Here’s how salaries rise with experience across programming languages
An analysis of the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019 shows patterns in how programmer pay grows over time.

Programming languages: Developers reveal most loved, most loathed, what pays best
This ZDNet article covers the most-loved programming languages and what developers can expect to earn by knowing them.

The best programming languages to learn in 2019: Top coding skills that pay you the most
These are the languages that are in the highest demand and offer the highest salaries.

Python developer, data scientist or DevOps: Which tech jobs pay best? 
The best-paid tech jobs, and the best cities to live in while doing them, are outlined in a new report. Read this ZDNet article for the details.

This programming language is earning US developers $100,000 a year
The healthy pay packets being reported are just the latest of many indicators that Java developers are well rewarded.

The programming languages and skills that pay the best in 2019
The 10 programming languages associated with the highest-paying jobs all earned developers an average salary above $100,000.

How can I launch a developer career? releases smart job description management tool for landing top talent
The Job Architect platform streamlines the process for creating, sharing, and approving employment listings, keeping posts up to date and accurate.

Atlassian adds 12 DevOps automation features 
A new set of tools to help eliminate busywork piggybacks on the company’s findings that DevOps implementation leads to less time for developers to build code. 

15 companies that are hiring remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic 
Jobs are out there, even in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, if you know where to look. FlexJobs has a list of 15 companies that can help you find remote work.

Developers: 7 must-read career guides
Learn how to become an Alexa developer, an iOS developer, or a software engineer and ace your developer interviews by downloading these useful guides.

Education alone isn’t enough, tech pros need specialized skills, too
74% of HR hiring decision makers agree that a talent gap persists in the US. Here’s how to solve it.

300,000 new developer jobs in US in next decade
Bootcamp boosts your resume, full-stack developers are the most-wanted tech workers, and new skills keep you on top, according to a new report.

Dice reveals top technology employers, jobs, and skills for 2020
Six million job postings in the US were analyzed to find the top companies hiring, as well as the key skills employers are looking for.

Indeed: Amazon and Walmart have the most job postings in Silicon Valley 
Machine learning engineers top the salary list at $172,000 while software engineers are at the bottom with $112,000.

2020 tech conferences and events to add to your calendar 
Tech professionals should start planning their 2020 travel schedule now, and these conferences are the industry’s largest.

Why front-end development may be the new frontier 
VCs have gone wild for back-end developer-oriented technologies, but front-end technologies like Next.js are heating up.

IBM introduces series of free developer conferences 
The company says it will hold four free cloud and AI-focused events for developers in North America, India, Europe, and Asia.

Is a developer career right for you? 10 questions to ask yourself
Developers need to be problem solvers who excel at teamwork and continuous learning.

How to become a developer: A cheat sheet
If you are interested in pursuing a career in development and don’t know where to start, here’s your go-to guide for salaries, skills, and the best programming languages to learn. (Download the free PDF version: How to build a successful developer career.)

How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet
If you are interested in pursuing a career in mobile development and don’t know where to start, here’s your go-to guide for salaries, skills, and the best programming languages to learn. (Download the free PDF version: Getting started with iOS development (free PDF).)
How to become a DevOps engineer: A cheat sheet 
If you are interested in pursuing a career in DevOps and don’t know where to start, here’s your go-to guide for salaries, skills, and interview questions. (Download the free PDF version: How to build a successful career as a DevOps engineer.)

How to become an Alexa developer: A cheat sheet
Alexa has evolved beyond the Amazon Echo into one of the hottest new platforms in tech. Learn how developers and businesses can leverage the technology. Download the free PDF version: Getting started with Alexa development (free PDF).

Disclosure: TechRepublic may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page. TechRepublic and the author were not compensated for this independent review.

What schools, books, courses, and online resources are available for developers?

Codecademy giving 100,000 fired and furloughed workers access to premium online coding education resources
Codecademy’s new initiative aims to help people who have lost their jobs gain new skills during the coronavirus crisis.

Intel and Udacity announce edge AI nanodegree program for developers
Graduates of the program will be able to accelerate computer vision and deep learning solutions within the Intel OpenVINO toolkit.

Take new online Coding Dojo classes for Python, Java, MERN and more
Here’s a way to change or future-proof your career with new tech-focused online programs from Coding Dojo.

Enterprise eLearning: Uptick in education demand during coronavirus outbreak
As more employees work from home, many are taking the time to upskill and reskill. Here are some of the most popular learning topics.

Developers: 7 free guides on popular programming languages
If you want to expand your software development skill set, these TechRepublic downloads can help get you started. 

Developers: 5 free downloads to expand your Apple coding skills
If you’re not building iOS and macOS apps, you might be missing out on income. These downloads will help you master Swift, ARKit, and more.

Developers: 9 free downloads that will enhance your programming career
Code reviews, developer burnout, website design blunders, reactive mobile apps, and books about programming languages are some of the topics covered in these free TechRepublic downloads.  

Low-code platforms help with project backlogs and software development training 
Boomi and Appian streamline enterprise software tasks for non-technical employees.

Budgets for workplace learning and development are increasing in 2020 
Executives are focused on closing the skills gap, and they’re shifting from instructor-led training to online training, according to a LinkedIn report.

Google reveals new Python programming language course: Scholarships for 2,500 (ZDNet)
Google creates a new Python training certificate to boost your chances of getting a job.

Tech career scholarships aimed at underrepresented communities
The $3K Access Scholarship at New York’s Flatiron School will be awarded to 500 on-campus applicants. 

Top 5 books developers should read
From books about legacy code to web design, Tom Merritt recommends five books every developer should check out.

Gallery: 20 books that every programmer should read 
Not all of your coding education should be done in front of a computer. These 20 books will help hone your abilities and put your approach to developing in sharp focus.

The top 20 tech skills of the past 5 years 
Python and AWS saw the biggest growth over the past five years, while Oracle saw a significant decline, Indeed found.

What grade do coding schools deserve? The answer is personal 
Given the global need for software developers, the existence of coding schools isn’t surprising. Coding schools’ impact on individuals, however, just might be.

These are the colleges that produce the best developers
Some of the highest-performing students don’t necessarily end up at top-ranked universities, according to a HackerRank report.

The Pragmatic Programmer: Classic developer handbook is retooled for the 21st century
The authors of The Pragmatic Programmer 20th Anniversary Edition on how software development has changed and the essential skills for a modern dev.

Learn Python: Online training courses for beginning developers and coding experts
TechRepublic has partnered with top training providers to offer online courses, bootcamps, and master classes for Python, one of the most in-demand programming languages.

Need help understanding DevOps? Emily Freeman’s new book has the answers
It’s easy to get confused about what DevOps means, and how to do it successfully. A new book by Microsoft’s Emily Freeman offers practical advice.

A beginner’s guide to Python: Books, tutorials, videos, use cases, and developers’ favorite tools
The Python programming language is red hot. Learn about Python’s origins, how Microsoft and Netflix use the programming language, and resources for developers and hiring managers.

Getting started with Kotlin: A resource guide (free PDF)
Last year, Google named Kotlin an official language of Android, and it has since seen a meteoric rise in popularity . This comprehensive list of books, courses, tutorials, videos, and websites will give you a head start in learning this fast-growing language.

Rust: What it is, why you should learn it, and how you can master it (free PDF)
The Rust programming language is growing in popularity, delivering the performance of C and C++ but with less chance of running into problems. This ebook offers a look at the pros and cons of Rust and how it’s being used, along with a comprehensive list of resources that will help you get started or further enhance your Rust programming skills.

Getting started with Julia: A list of resources (free PDF)
If you’re getting ready to jump on the Julia bandwagon—or if you already have–check out this list of books, courses, tutorials, videos, tools, and websites. It covers beginner topics as well as more advanced concepts to help you enhance your Julia programming skills.

Getting started with Python: A list of free resources (free PDF) 
If you’ve decided it’s time to master Python, this list will help you zero in on the best books, videos, websites, and courses, all for free.

Learning programming languages for free: GitHub’s best guides for Java developers
The 10 highest-ranked, English-language repositories on GitHub designed to help those learning Java.

Photos: 20 best resources for learning how to code 
Developers don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to get into coding. Here are 20 tools to help you learn, exercise, and polish your coding skills.

The truth about MooCs and bootcamps: Their biggest benefit isn’t creating more coders (cover story free PDF)
The world needs more software programmers and MooCs and coding bootcamps promise to deliver the needed skills. But as an on-ramp to becoming a developer, they have debatable value.

What interview questions should developers ask and expect?

How to ace a technical interview: Advice for software developers looking for a new job
Wisdom from developer team leaders and recruiters will help you polish your technical skills and know what mistakes to avoid in an interview.

How software engineers can highlight the soft skills employers want during a technical interview
Hiring managers are looking for communication skills and a willingness to learn as well as programming skills during a technical interview.

5 biggest mistakes developers can make in a job interview
Here are five common mistakes and tips on how to land the sought-after roles.

10 questions full stack developers should expect in a job interview
Full stack developers are in high demand. Here are some tips on how to answer the most common questions and land the right job.

5 questions software engineers should ask in an interview
While interviewers ask the majority of the questions in an interview, candidates are usually given the opportunity to make inquiries as well. Here’s what you should ask.

Telephone interview cheat sheet: Software developer
This TechRepublic Premium cheat sheet provides a framework for assessing qualifications for the software developer role. We’ve provided sample answers, which you can replace with your own information.

Telephone interview cheat sheet: Web developer
Phone interviews can save time and speed up the hiring process. This TechRepublic Premium cheat sheet will make it easy to ask both general and job-specific questions, allowing you to compare candidates for the web developer position in a systematic way.

5 developer interview horror stories
Interviewing for a developer job can be stressful under any circumstances, but especially these.

What are developers’ favorite tools?

Cloud computing: This new tool from AWS could make life easier for developers
AppFlow has been designed to remove the need for manually-configured data transfers between AWS and services like Salesforce, Slack, Trend Micro and Zendesk.

Developers: This new tool spots critical security bugs 97% of the time
Microsoft claims a machine learning models it’s built for software developers can distinguish between security and non-security bugs 99% of the time.

Stack Overflow adds dark mode–programmers’ top feature request
With dark mode, the de facto source of solutions to programmers’ problems takes one more step toward looking like and being an integrated development environment.

2020: Employees should learn in the flow of work, not from A to Z
Learning in the flow of work through nonlinear training will lead to stronger developers in 2020.

What does upstream and downstream development even mean? 
Have you heard the terms upstream and downstream applied to source code, and wondered what they meant? Here’s a simplified explanation.

ReactOS 0.4.12 features improved network functionality and new themes 
ReactOS, the free and open source operating system for Windows servers, announced its latest version.

Open source hardware: The problems and promise 
Open source hardware projects have struggled to gain the mass audience that popular open source software projects have. This may not matter.

Programming languages: Java developers reveal their favorite tools
The type of jobs performed by developers who primarily work with Java, as well as the technology these Java devs use to do their job.

Programming languages: JavaScript developers reveal their favorite tools
A new analysis has shed light on the technologies developers are using to help them build web and native apps with JavaScript.

Developers: Use this new tool to solve programming problems on Stack Overflow
A solution called CROKAGE helps developers parse through the 27 million answers on the platform to find the one they need to fix their code.

How can I be a successful developer?

How DevOps has evolved since 2012 
O’Reilly’s What is DevOps?: Infrastructure as Code published almost eight years ago. A programming expert reflects on which predictions by the author came true and what’s coming next.

10 toxic traits that could damage your IT career
In order to have a long and successful IT career, here are 10 things you should not do. 

10 traits of great IT pros
A net admin with more than 20 years of experience lists common traits of IT professionals who excel in their careers.

DevOps report includes 3 key skills needed for career success
The Upskilling 2020 report from the DevOps Institute describes what employers consider the ideal job candidate. 

8 tips for success as a female developer
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has its obstacles. Here are best practices recommended by female developers in the field. 

Legal engineering: A growing trend in software development 
A developing field that ties in legal and programming expertise, legal engineering is bridging the gap between law and technology. Learn about the opportunities and skills involved.

Diversity: Why open source needs to work on it in 2020 
Commentary: Given how central open source has become to tech, we need open source communities to lead the way on diversity.

10 most affordable cities for developers 
A few locations on the list do surround major tech hubs, but most aren’t in areas you’d think.

The most in-demand technologies for IT professionals 
JavaScript and Java are the most in-demand languages for software developers, while Linux and Ubuntu are the top technologies for IT operations professionals.

Top 3 flexible tech job career fields 
Yes, there are remote, flexible, freelance, project, or part-time jobs available in tech, according to a report from the job search site Flexjobs. Find out which companies are hiring.

Developers in 2020 need open source and want the ability to work remotely 
Allowing developers to work from home is key for finding good people.

Skilled tech workers are among the majority of the 57 million Americans who freelance 
Tech freelancers’ median hourly rate is 70% more than all US workers and many boast the current most-wanted tech-skills: ServiceNow, neo4j, relational databases and d3.js

The top 5 most in demand developer skills
As one of the most in-demand jobs in the tech world, developers must remain up to date on their skills. Here’s where to start.   

Why your first programming language doesn’t really matter
When it comes to learning programming, your choices are less important than you might think.

Are developers honestly happy working 60-hour weeks? Why it’s bad news whatever your programming language
A new analysis of the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019 finds no significant spike in job dissatisfaction when working 60 hours a week.

Top priorities for professional developers: Why devs are always looking to learn new programming languages
The biggest motivators for developers in the workplace are revealed in a new report.

Also see

Editor’s note: This article was most recently updated on April 10, 2020.