Today I want to answer a question from a reader that’s top of mind for programmers, developers and software engineers:

Hi,

I am trying to choose a computer programming course and I was wondering if you could steer me in the right direction by giving me some idea of which computer programming languages employers look for most often. I didn’t want to end up learning languages that are rarely asked for.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Karl (name changed for privacy)

First of all, THANK YOU for choosing programming as a career. Because companies really need people like you who are willing to learn new languages to help them stay competitive.

But which programming language should you dig your teeth into next?

One day Objective-C is the standard for writing iPhone apps. The next day Apple introduces Swift which may replace Objective-C. Eventually. Most likely you’ll need to know both languages.

So if you already know Objective-C it’s a no-brainer. Swift is next.

If that’s not your background, here are some other paths to consider.

Programming languages most in demand at Stafflink — Python and Ruby

Stafflink owner Tim Collins says that if you’re going to learn one programming language right now, Python is the way to go. Ruby (RoR — Ruby on Rails) comes in second (at least with Stafflink’s client base).

  • Should I learn Python or Ruby? — An excellent comparison of the Python and Ruby by Michael Herman (mjhe0 on Github)
  • Learn Python or Ruby for free at Codecademy.
  • A more direct path to a job (if you can afford it) would be to study Ruby on Rails with Bitmaker Labs in Toronto.

Evaluating the popularity of programming languages

CodeEval is a platform where developers can showcase their skills by participating in app building competitions and solving programming challenges. This is a great way to impress employers with their technical skills. They compared data points from over 100 thousand coding tests and challenges by over two thousand employers. This gorgeous bubble graph shows the results:

thousands of data points we’ve collected by processing over 100,000+ coding tests and challenges by over 2,000+ employers. – See more at: http://blog.codeeval.com/codeevalblog/2014#.U6mo1rEgs74=
thousands of data points we’ve collected by processing over 100,000+ coding tests and challenges by over 2,000+ employers. – See more at: http://blog.codeeval.com/codeevalblog/2014#.U6mo1rEgs74=
Most popular coding languages of 2014

Most popular coding languages of 2014 by www.codeeval.com

The Tiobe Index

The TIOBE Programming Community index rates the popularity of programming languages based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors.

Tiobe Community Index of Top Programming Languages in 2014 - www.tiobe.com

Tiobe Community Index of Top Programming Languages in 2014 – www.tiobe.com

Ohloe

Ohloe is a free online community platform that aims to map the landscape of open source software development. It features  metrics and analysis on thousands of open source projects. The following chart was generated on Ohloe to compare the popularity of C++, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, PHP Python and Ruby with Ohloe’s userbase.

A chart created on Ohloh.net to compare popular programming languages C++, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, PHP Python and Ruby

Comparing six popular programming languages on Ohloh.net: C++, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, PHP Python and Ruby

Action Plan To Decide Which Programming Language To Learn

Okay, so you know which programming languages are popular and in demand with employers. That’s the easy part. How do you decide which programming language to learn next?

1. Decide where you want to steer your career next

Find job descriptions for the job you want.

Do you see any of the popular programming languages listed above in the job requirements? That might be good language to learn.

2. Read 10 Programming Languages You Must Learn in 2014 

You’ll get a good idea of how the programming languages fit into the big picture and ideas for places to start learning these skills online.

  1. Java — learn it at Udemy, Lynda.com, Oracle.com, LearnJavaOnline.org
  2. C Language — learn it at Learn-C, Introduction To Programming, Lynda.com, CProgramming.com, Learn C The Hard Way
  3. C++ — learn it at Udemy, Lynda.com, CPlusPlus.com, LearnCpp.com, CProgramming.com
  4. C# – learn it at Udemy, Lynda.com, Microsoft Virtual Academy, TutorialsPoint.com
  5. Objective-C — learn it at Udemy, Lynda.com, Mac Developer Library, Cocoa Dev Central, Mobile Tuts+
  6. PHP — learn it at Udemy, Codecademy, Lynda.com, Treehouse, Zend Developer Zone, PHP.net
  7. Python — learn it at Udemy, Codecademy, Lynda.com, LearnPython.org, Python.org
  8. Ruby — learn it at Codecademy, Code School, TryRuby.org, RubyMonk
  9. JavaScrip — learn it at Codecademy, Lynda.com, Code School, Treehouse, Learn-JS.org
  10. SQL — learn it at Lynda.com, SQLCourse.com, TutorialsPoint.com, SQLZoo.net

3. Sign up for a course and start learning!

Go sign up for a course and start learning. Skilledup.com is another place you can go to search for online courses.

Please let me know what you decide to learn and if you find a great course out there that your recommend for others :-)

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