Top 10 Programming Languages To Learn for 2024

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Today, many jobs in IT require a solid understanding of the top programming languages. To begin a career in programming or take your current role in software development to the next level, you'll need to know the most popular programming languages.

Today, many jobs in IT require that you have a solid understanding of the top programming languages. Whether you’re trying to begin a career or take your current role in software development to the next level, you’ll need to know at least a few of those.

However, since the digital landscape is changing so rapidly, it’s difficult to determine which ones are the best.

There are many programming languages available, each designed for specific uses. To make sense of them, one tactic is to whittle down the list to the ones that meet your needs.

This article will help you get an answer as we’ve compiled a Top 10 list based on the most recent Tiobe Index of programming language popularity.

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Top 10 Programming Languages To Learn

10. Assembly Language

A kind of low-level programming language, an assembly language, talks directly with the hardware of a computer. However, it’s not just one language but rather a group of languages. The first assembly languages were created sometime in the 1940s. With assembly language, a programmer works with operations directly implemented on the physical central processing unit.

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Because it is a low-level programming language, sitting close to the computer’s instruction set, an assembly language is more powerful than higher-level programming languages, such as Python, Java, or C++. Programmers who want more control over their computers often use assembly languages as they enable them to manipulate their hardware directly.

9. SQL

A declarative programming language, Structured Query Language (SQL), is used to retrieve data or otherwise communicate with relational databases.

Developed by IBM in the early 1970s, database programmers use SQL to generate reports by querying business databases. SQL’s popularity began in 1986 when the American National Standards Institute adopted it as a standard. Another reason SQL is popular is that it’s available on a variety of systems.

No matter their fields, software developers have to interact with databases, and SQL is the standard for interacting with databases. For instance, data scientists use the SQL programming language to load data into their models, while data analysts use SQL to query data tables and derive accurate insights. SQL is used regularly by database administrators, as well as developers writing scripts to integrate data from different sources.

8. PHP

Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf developed PHP, which stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor,” in 1994. Developers mainly use the PHP language to build dynamic web applications and websites as well as for server-side scripting on the web. One of the main advantages of working with the PHP language is its simplicity. Its syntax is similar to the syntax of other languages, including Java and C.

Over the years, PHP has evolved and improved and will likely continue to evolve and remain relevant for building dynamic and robust web apps. And as more companies continue to rely on PHP-based applications, its core functionality will likely be improved. Its integrations with other web technologies will like be enhanced, and there will be increased support for modern web development frameworks. PHP has a large, active community that continues to add new libraries and features.

7. Visual Basic

Microsoft introduced Visual Basic, an object-oriented programming language, in 1991. Visual Basic stems from BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), an earlier programming language. Visual Basic was created to enable developers to quickly develop applications based on graphical user interfaces as well as enable access to local and remote databases. One advantage of Visual Basic programming is its flexibility.

Full-stack and front-end developers can use Visual Basic to create customized applications that run in web applications or Windows. In addition, Visual Basic can run on any device and in any browser. Visual Basic is one of the best programming languages to learn among midsize and large companies for its use in data collection, communications, inventory management, and accessing databases.

6. JavaScript

Brendan Eich created JavaScript, a high-level, interpreted programming language, in 1995. Developers mainly use JavaScript for front-end web development as it allows them to create dynamic and interactive web pages. They can also use JavaScript on the server-side with Node.js for full-stack web development.

One of JavaScript’s main advantages is its versatility. Developers can use JavaScript to build a broad range of applications, including web applications, games, desktop and mobile applications. Because JavaScript is cross-platform, developers can use it on any operating system. A large and active community of developers contribute to developing JavaScript by creating numerous frameworks and libraries to simplify programming and make it more efficient.

Top 10 Programming Languages To Learn

5. C#

C# (pronounced C sharp) is a popular language that’s used to develop Windows desktop and mobile applications as well as websites using the .NET framework. Developers can also use C# to develop games. Microsoft developed this modern programming language in the early 2000s. C# is a perfect language for developing desktop applications for Windows PCs.

An object-oriented language, C# combines the simplicity of Visual Basic, an object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft, with the power of C++. Like Java, C# is a compiled language, so it’s faster and more efficient than interpreted languages, such as Python. A large community of developers contribute to C #’s development, creating libraries and resources for developers to use.

4. Java

Java is a high-level, object-oriented programming language. In 1995, Canadian computer scientist James Gosling developed Java at Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle). Since Java is a versatile language, developers can use it for a broad range of applications, including enterprise applications, web applications, mobile applications, and desktop applications. And because Java is a compiled language, i.e., it’s converted into machine code before it’s executed, it’s faster and more secure than Python and other interpreted languages.

Java’s syntax is similar to the syntax of the C++ language, so it’s easier for developers familiar with C++ to learn Java. Because Java is used for enterprise applications, it has become a foundational language for large businesses. In addition, Java’s use in Android application development has made it indispensable for mobile app developers.

3. C++

A high-level, object-oriented computer language, C++ (pronounced ‘C plus plus’), was created by Danish computer scientist Bjorne Stroustrop at Bell Labs beginning in 1979 as part of the development of the C family of languages. C++ is one of the most popular and most-used programming languages. It’s an ideal choice for developing operating systems. Developers can also use C++ for a wide range of tasks, including systems programming, embedded systems programming, and game development.

Since C++ is one of the best programming languages to learn as it is easy to pick up if you’re just getting started. It’s also easy to switch to C++ because its syntax is similar to C, C#, and Java. C++ supports various ways of programming, including object-oriented, functional, procedural, and more, making C++ flexible as well as powerful.

2. C

C, a general-purpose, high-level programming language, was developed by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1972. Despite its age, C is still a popular programming language, primarily because it’s a fundamental language in the computer science field. Developers can use C to develop such software as operating systems, compliers, databases, and more. The C programming language is good for beginners because of its efficiency and simplicity. In addition, C gives those starting out a basic understanding of programming.

C is closely associated with Unix since Ritchie developed C to write the Unix operating system. C is one of the most popular languages available. If you know C, you’ll have no trouble learning others, including Python, C++, C#, and Java, as their syntax is similar to C.

1. Python

A general-purpose language, Python is recognized for its readability, versatility, and simplicity. Developers can use Python for a number of applications, including data science, data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), web development, and machine learning. Since Python is so versatile, it can be used by developers in many industries. The Python language is also the best option for use in data science and AI because of its good libraries and versatility.

Python is one of the most popular programming languages if you’re just starting out because it’s easy to learn, and there are numerous resources online to help you. Python is also popular with experienced developers because of its simplicity and ease of use. Its large library of pre-built modules and easy-to-read syntax make it easy for developers to quickly and efficiently write code.

The Bottom Line

As new technologies continue to emerge, the demand for skilled developers is increasing. You can begin a career or update your programming skills by understanding which programming languages are the most popular and which will be needed in the future.

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.