Do a simple web search and you’ll find there are hundreds of programming languages in existence. Do another search for the most popular ones and again, you’ll come up with a head-spinning list. To be as objective as possible, we’re examining the top programming languages from a career perspective.
There are many ways to rank programming languages, like the number of websites built with them, Google search results, GitHub projects or StackOverflow questions. We pored through data from job search engine Indeed.com for the number of job postings that contained the name of a programming language.
We did the same analysis last year and found some interesting changes from 2016 to 2017, which are explained below. So without further ado, here are the nine most in-demand programming languages of 2017.
The number of Indeed job descriptions including SQL (Structured Query Language) increased by nearly 50,000 this year over last year, giving SQL a dramatic lead over the other languages. It’s unclear if this is entirely due to more SQL jobs in the market or a change in how Indeed works. Either way, SQL is still the clear leader in our analysis. SQL is used to communicate with and manipulate databases. It is extremely common, with many variations like MySQL and Microsoft SQL. Microsoft released SQL Server 2016 in the past year, which proved to be surprisingly popular and introduced several new features to make the language more open-source like integration with R, the popular data analysis programming language, and a Linux version.
The number of Java positions available on Indeed went up by almost 30,000 in 2017 compared to 2016, possibly because of continuing Android growth. Java is a simple, readable programming language used by millions of developers and billions of devices worldwide. All native Android apps are built in Java and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Java as a server-side language for backend development. User have been getting excited about the upcoming Java 9 launch in July 2017, although Java Enterprise Edition declined in popularity in 2016.
Python continued to grow in popularity in 2016 and moved up two places in our rankings to be the third-most common language by job posting. Python is a general purpose programming language that emphasizes code readability and increasing developer productivity, used for desktop apps, web apps and data mining. In October 2016, Microsoft launched the beta version 2.0 of its Cognitive Toolkit open source deep-learning framework, which includes support for Python.
“C Sharp” saw a small increase in popularity in 2017, but not enough to keep it from falling behind C++. The language was developed for Microsoft’s .NET software framework and can now be used on non-Windows machines since the release of the .NET Core open-source development platform in June 2016. Its main use is building Microsoft enterprise software. Most of the features in C# 7.0 were released last year, including language support for Tuples, local functions, pattern matching and many more.
Perl made a big jump in popularity this year to move ahead of iOS and PHP and knock Ruby off of our list. Perl, or “the duct tape that holds the Internet together,” as it’s been named, is actually two languages now; Perl 5 and Perl 6, which launched in Dec. 2015. Both of them are general-purpose dynamic programming languages that see a lot of use in CGI, graphics, network, and finance programming. Some think the growth of DevOps triggered this popularity surge because Perl is versatile and works well with other languages, making it a good DevOps tool.
#8 iOS Family
Most developers writing for the iOS operating system use Objective-C, C, or Apple’s new Swift programming language. We counted any job postings that included “iOS” in our ranking and saw little change from 2016. Swift launched in 2014 and it rose quickly in popularity due to its scalability, speed, ease of use and strong demand from the mobile app marketplace. Apple released Swift 3.0 in Sept 2016 with new features including better translation of Objective-C APIs, modernizations of debugging identifiers and a new model for collections and indices. Apple plans to release Swift 3.1 and Swift 4 in 2017.
Ruby on Rails, which was number nine on our list last year, dropped down several spots to number seventeen. This may be caused by Ruby losing some of its market share to increasingly popular alternatives like Node.js and Go.
If there’s one thing to take away from our analysis, it’s that no programming language can accomplish every task and the job market changes quickly from year to year. To be a successful developer, it’s important to master multiple languages and train yourself to pick up new languages quickly so you can adapt to changing job opportunities.