Top 8 In-Demand Programming Languages to Learn

Thinking about a career as a web developer? Explore some of the in-demand programming languages you'll need to know.

web developer at work

A career in web development can be fast-paced, engaging and highly lucrative. Virtually all of today's companies, from small businesses to global enterprises, need programmers who can tackle web design, app development, interactive site features and more. If a career in web development sounds interesting to you, your first step will be mastering a few programming languages.

In order to succeed as a developer, you will need to know more than one programming language, but you won't need to learn them all. The following list explains eight programming languages that are in high demand by some top-tier companies. If you pick two or three languages from this list and pair them up, you'll have a great base for kicking off a career in web development.

C

Why it's useful

If you don't have any experience in computer programming, C is a great place to start. C is one of the oldest programming languages still in use today, and it serves as a base for other languages you might learn as you advance. Not only will knowing C make it easier for you to learn new programming languages, it's also useful on a wide range of platforms.

What you can do with it

C is used primarily for the "bread and butter" elements of system development. These things might include operating systems, network drivers, data bases, utilities and other programs.

Who could hire you?

Companies who look for C-proficient developers include Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Amazon, HP, Dell and Digi-Key Corporation. 

Java

Why it's useful

Like C, Java is considered to be a great starter language for programmers. It's widely used, and it's also designed to be compatible with virtually any operating system. It's a platform-independent language, meaning that Java programs made for Windows can also be run on Mac OS X, and vice versa, which makes it a very popular language for computer applications.

What you can do with it

Java's well-known catch phrase is "write it once, run it anywhere," and this philosophy makes it a great choice for basic programming tasks. Java is used for web pages, cell phones, mainframes, computer applications and more.

Who could hire you?

Top employers of Java programmers include eBay, IBM, Disney, Deloitte, Amazon and Microsoft.

HTML (and CSS)

Why it's useful

HTML will be one of your best friends when it comes to building web pages and apps. While it won't help you learn more traditional programming languages, it's essential in web development. HTML is most useful when learned in tandem with another language, especially CSS. HTML allows you to build a webpage's content, while CSS is what you'll use to format the page and craft its layout. Together, these two will have you on your way to building beautiful websites.

What you can do with it

With HTML and CSS, you'll be capable of building websites and apps with interactive features, making talented HTML developers a must for any company looking to keep up with current trends.

Who could hire you?

Potential employers include just about anyone with web development needs, but well-known employers include IBM, Disney, Fidelity, eBay, Amazon and Microsoft.

PHP

Why it's useful

PHP is used in web design for server-side scripting, which is when requests made by the user are handled by a script running server-side before the server answers the request. This is useful for providing an interface for a website and also for limiting user access to the site's data sources. PHP is particularly useful because it can be embedded in HTML codes, meaning that no external file will be needed to process PHP data.

What you can do with it

PHP is used widely in web design for sites and web apps, but it can also be used for general programming needs.

Who could hire you?

PHP development is in high demand (more than 244 million sites are currently powered by it), but big names who hire PHP developers include Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo! Inc. and Intel. 

Python

Why it's useful

This up-and-coming code is widely considered to be highly readable and learnable. Python is designed with the notion of "human readability" in mind, and this means that it takes less code to form complex commands. Python can be used for scripting, or as a stand-alone programming code, making it a powerful tool in any coder's arsenal. On top of this, Python is useful on small and large scales, making it a good general purpose language.

What you can do with it

Python is a multi-purpose language, often used for web development purposes including writing basic CGI scripts, content management, email processing, processing RSS feeds and more.

Who could hire you?

Python is used on some big, well-known sites, like Instagram.com. Other companies who employ Python developers include Google, eBay, EMC, Intel, Amazon, Dell and Yahoo! Inc.

SQL

Why it's useful

If there's a black sheep on this list, it's SQL. It's difficult to learn and sometimes difficult to know how to use, but SQL is everywhere. It plays a huge role in data storage for just about any institution in existence and allows you to manipulate that data efficiently. Learning SQL will not only make you valuable to a broad range of companies (from small businesses to banks to hospitals), it will also give you a firm grasp on data storage theory, something that's important in a data-filled world.

What it's used for

SQL is the go-to language needed by programmers to manage, manipulate and search any and all databases, big or small.

Who could hire you?

Popular employers for SQL developers include JP Morgan Chase, Dell, Microsoft, UnitedHealth Group, Disney and Citi.

JavaScript

Why it's useful

Similar to HTML, JavaScript has been around for a very long time, and it's an integral part of web development. JavaScript plays a big role in making web pages more interactive, which is important as mobile web use has lessened the need for Flash. JavaScript continues to be a key player outside of web development, too.

What it's used for

JavaScript is primarily used for web development, where its functions include controlling the browser, changing document text that's displayed and interacting with the user. Outside of web development, JavaScript is used for developing games, desktop app creation and more.

Who could hire you?

JavaScript is so entrenched in web design that nearly every web company has a need for it. Big names that employ JavaScript programmers include Microsoft, Disney, Salesforce and Amazon. 

C++

Why it's useful

The demand for C++ developers never seems to subside, which is part of what makes it such a great language to learn. C++ is based primarily off of C, and is a great option for bridging gaps between other codes, like C and Java. C++ is great for fast-paced programs, like trading apps or video games. If you're interested in working with high-performance or 3D programs, learning C++ is a must.

What it's used for

C++ is used for both hardware and operating systems, and can be used to program system and application software, high-performance apps, device drivers and entertainment software, like video games.

Who could hire you?

Aside from gaming companies, C++ coders are typically hired by well-known companies like Disney, The MathWorks, Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft.