11 Most In-Demand Programming Languages in 2021

You don’t want to waste your time. If you’re going to put aside the time and energy needed to learn new programming languages, you want to make sure, without a doubt, that the ones you choose are the most in-demand programming languages on the market. 

After all, if you’re trying to start (or advance) a career in software development, you’ll need to be at the front of the metaphorical class. You’ll need to know which programming languages are popular, which are useful, and which are up-and-coming on the market — and then set yourself up to learn them. 

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry; we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you, and looked through developer and market data from the past several years to identify trends and draw conclusions that will help you plan for your programming education. In this article, we’ll walk you through the 11 most in-demand programming languages and give you a few pointers on how to learn them. 

But before we get started, let’s recap how we built this list in the first place. When we sat down to figure out what the most in-demand programming languages for 2021 might be, we had two primary research questions:

  • Which languages are in demand right now? 
  • Which ones are growing in popularity and will be in demand soon?

You can probably guess the rationale behind our first question. While following trends isn’t always the best way to figure out which languages to prioritize, a language’s popularity can indicate its prominence in the market. Here’s a general rule of thumb for you — the more used or common a language is, the more likely it is that a developer (i.e., you!) will need to deal with it at work.

Next, we considered which skills are poised to become the most sought-after programming languages on the market. To do so, we dug into Stack Overflow’s developer surveys from the last two years and focused on: 

  • The languages that developers report they use and want to continue using 
  • The languages that developers aren’t using yet, but are interested in using

By looking at these trends, we aimed to gain a better understanding of which languages will become popular in the years ahead. 

We found that Rust, Python, and Typescript all topped Stack Overflow’s list for the most-loved languages in 2019 and 2020, with only slight shuffling across years. Similarly, Python, JavaScript, and Go ruled the top three of Stack’s Most Wanted lists for both years. Given their prevalence in developers’ minds, the odds of these five languages increasing in popularity is high — and are therefore worth including on our list. 

However, where we ranked each language depended on other factors. For example, because Python has consistently held a top-five spot on Stack Overflow’s most commonly-used, -loved, and -wanted lists, we chose to rank it higher than Rust, which, while ranking #1 on Stack’s most-loved list, languishes at #19 on the organization’s common-languages list.  

Now that we’ve covered our process, let’s start answering the question at hand: What are the most in-demand coding languages for 2021?

The Most In-Demand Programming Languages for 2021

1. JavaScript

What this language is used for: 

  • Web development
  • Game development
  • Mobile apps 
  • Building web servers

According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey, JavaScript currently stands as the most commonly-used language in the world (69.7%), followed by HTML/CSS (62.4%), SQL (56.9%), Python (41.6%), and Java (38.4%). It is also the most sought-out programming language by hiring managers in the Americas (PDF, 2.4 MB)

JavaScript is used to manage the behavior of web pages. With it, coders can create dynamic web elements such as animated graphics, interactive maps, clickable buttons, and more. Programmers who use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in tandem obtain a higher level of website control and can provide a better user experience in terms of navigation and readability. 

JavaScript is the most common coding language in use today around the world. This is for a good reason: most web browsers utilize it and it’s one of the easiest languages to learn. JavaScript requires almost no prior coding knowledge — once you start learning, you can practice and play with it immediately. 

Moreover, because the language is so ubiquitous, there are countless communities, courses, and avenues of professional support available online. This support, in addition to the language’s top-notch usability, makes JavaScript number one on our list of the most in-demand programming languages. 

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2. Python

What this language is used for:

  • Back end development 
  • Data science 
  • App development

Python is a general-purpose programming language that empowers developers to use several different programming styles (i.e., functional, object-oriented, reflective, etc.) when creating programs. Several popular digital tools and platforms were developed with Python, including YouTube, Google Search, and iRobot machines. It is also, according to HackerRank, the second-most in-demand programming language for hiring managers in the Americas after Python (PDF, 2.4 MB).

As one of the more easy-to-learn and -use languages, Python is ideal for beginners and experienced coders alike. The language comes with an extensive library that supports common commands and tasks. Its interactive qualities allow programmers to test code as they go, reducing the amount of time wasted on creating and testing long sections of code.  

That said, even advanced users would benefit from adding Python to their mental catalog of programming languages; with over 50% of hiring managers (PDF, 2.4MB) seeking candidates who know the language, Python is easily one of the most marketable and in-demand programming languages of 2021. 

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3. HTML

What this language is used for: 

  • Web documents 
  • Website development 
  • Website maintenance

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. Don’t let the complicated-sounding name fool you, though; HTML is one of the most accessible stepping stones into the world of programming. 

Technically, HTML is a markup language, which means that it is responsible for formatting the appearance of information on a website. Essentially, HTML is used to describe web pages with ordinary text. It doesn’t have the same functionality as other programming languages in this list and is limited to creating and structuring text on a site. Sections, headings, links, and paragraphs are all part of the HTML domain. 

As of 2020, HTML shares its #2 spot on Stack Overflow’s list of the most commonly used languages in the world with CSS. 

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4. CSS

What this language is used for: 

  • Web documents 
  • Website development 
  • Website design

CSS, or cascading style sheets, is usually applied in conjunction with HTML and governs the site’s appearance. While HTML organizes site text into chunks, CSS is responsible for determining the size, color, and position of all page elements.  

CSS is convenient, too; the cascading part of the name means that an applied style will cascade down from parent elements to all children elements across the site. This feature means that once users determine aesthetics for the main parent, they won’t have to manually repeat their code across a website. Moreover, the delegation of site organization to HTML and aesthetics to CSS means that users don’t have to completely rewrite a web page just to change a color. 

CSS is an approachable language that allows beginning programmers to dip their toes in the metaphorical coding pool. If you’re new to coding, there’s no reason not to learn CSS before tackling more complex languages!

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5. Java

What this language is used for: 

  • E-commerce 
  • Finance
  • App development

Java is a general use and object-oriented programming language. In object-oriented programming, developers create objects that encompass functions and data, which can then be used to provide structure for programs and applications. 

Java currently ranks as the third-most sought-after programming language for hiring managers globally (PDF, 2.4 MB) and has held the #5 spot on Stack Overflow’s list of the most commonly used languages for two years

Java’s popularity is for good reason; this language is relatively easy to learn and use, boasts incredible security and can handle massive amounts of data. These features make Java an ideal language for the online finance sector, and it is often applied in industries such as banking, billing, and the stock market. 

The versatility of the language, however, is what learners find really appealing. Touted as a “write-once, run-anywhere” language, Java can effectively run on any operating system, regardless of which OS was used to write the original code. It is thus ideal for writing apps not only for mobile phones and computers, but also remote processors, sensors, and a variety of other consumer products. 

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6. SQL

What this language is used for: 

  • Database management 
  • Sales reports 
  • Business management

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a language that allows programmers to query and manipulate databases. As a domain-specific language, it is designed mainly for managing data within an RDBMS (relational database management system). Put simply, SQL can locate and retrieve data from a database, as well as update, add, or remove records. 

While SQL is highly functional, it tends to work better with small databases and doesn’t always lend itself to managing expansive ones. 

That said, SQL still ranks as the third-most-used language in the programming industry, with over half (54.7%) of surveyed developers reporting that they use it. 

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7. NoSQL

What this language is used for: 

  • Database management 
  • Sales reports 
  • Business management

NoSQL, or Non-relational SQL, was created to improve SQL’s scalability while retaining the other language’s ease of use. 

Remember, SQL utilizes relational database/stream management systems that keep data in tables and allows users to manipulate and extract data. NoSQL databases, on the other hand, don’t use tables and can be more useful than their predecessors for specific applications, such as storing data in a hierarchical network or supporting large-scale, cloud-based applications. 

Because these languages are both so versatile, they rank high on our list of the most in-demand coding languages. 

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8. C#

What this language is used for: 

  • Game development
  • Desktop/web/mobile apps 
  • VR

Also stylized as C Sharp, this language belongs to the object-oriented family of programming languages. C# was released in 2002 by Microsoft and stands today as a much-loved improvement on the C++ coding language. 

As a general-purpose language, C# is growing in popularity for developing web and desktop applications; according to HackerRank, roughly one of every five hiring managers (PDF, 2.4 MB) is looking for a developer that can code with C#. There’s no denying that it is one of the most in-demand coding languages for the upcoming year; however, there are other reasons to have this skill on your radar.

As with other popular languages, an enormous community works with C# and offers support to new learners. Because of this, learning C# may be easier than attempting to learn some of the newer and less-documented languages. Plus, C# is ideal for building ever-more-popular mobile apps and games. There’s little doubt that this language will continue to be useful in the coming years. 

Additional Resources:

9. Rust 

What this language is used for:

  • Operating systems 
  • VR 
  • Web browsers

According to Stack Overflow, Rust has consistently ranked at the top of the most-loved programming languages, with 86% of users claiming that they were interested in continuing to develop with it. 

However, Rust users only accounted for 3% of developers in the survey, which indicates that the vast majority of programmers are unfamiliar with its usefulness. Rust is a “multi-paradigm” programming language, which means that it allows developers to work in a variety of programming styles. In syntax, it is comparable to C++, though it supports more wide-ranging applications. 

If you’re looking for faster compilation, better cross-platform capabilities, or just better career prospects, Rust is a great language to pick up. 

10. Perl

What this language is used for:

  • System administration 
  • GUI development 
  • Network programming

Perl isn’t the most commonly used language on the market. In fact, just 3.1 percent of developers used it in 2020, and it didn’t even make Stack Overflow’s commonly used languages list for 2019. However, we are recommending it for a reason. If you’re already well into your career, learning Perl could significantly boost your earnings potential. 

According to HackerRank, developers who know Perl tend to make 54 percent more than the average developer (PDF, 2.4MB). That said, it is worth noting that most of the people who know these are senior developers, who tend to make more at a baseline — thus, attempting to quantify the “bonus” that a programming language provides may be somewhat tricky. That said, learning a language like Perl may still make a junior developer better suited for a promotion or raise. 

The Practical Extraction and Report Language — or Perl, for short — is a scripting language that is commonly used to extract information from a text file and create a report. 

While many programming languages are compiled languages — wherein a target machine translates the program — Perl is an interpreted language, wherein a third “interpreting” machine locates the code and executes a task. Usually, interpreted programs require more CPU, but because Perl is such a concise language, it creates short scripts that can be processed quickly. 
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11. Go

What this language is used for:

  • System/network programming 
  • Audio/video editing 
  • Big Data

Developed at Google in 2007, Go is a top-tier programming language. What makes Go really shine is its efficiency; it is capable of executing several processes concurrently. And as far as programming languages go, it has an extensive “vocabulary,” meaning it can display more information than other languages. 

Though it uses a similar syntax to C, Go is a standout language that provides top-notch memory safety and management features. Additionally, the language’s structural typing capabilities allow for a great deal of functionality and dynamism. Moreover, Go is not only high up on programmers’ most-loved and most-wanted lists — it also correlates to a 33% salary bump (PDF, 2.4 MB).

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are an established coder or just starting to look into the industry, learning a new language is one of the best ways to advance your programming career. But how can you start your educational journey? 

Your first step depends on you, your schedule and the resources you have at hand.   

A college program, for example, will provide you with a comprehensive education in the theory and practice of programming — however, the typical undergraduate program also demands four years of full-time study and tens of thousands of dollars in tuition funding. 

If you want a faster and less expensive educational experience that focuses on skills-based learning, you may want to consider a boot camp. Coding boot camps equip you with the hands-on skills and language proficiencies you’ll need to land an entry-level job in the field — all within three to six months. 

If you’re looking for the cheapest educational course and don’t mind taking on the responsibility of self-teaching, you may want to consider learning necessary coding skills via tutorials, books, and online courses. Keep in mind that while this route offers tremendous flexibility and opportunity for low-cost learning, it may not be a fit for learners who need external motivation. If you know that you’ll have trouble keeping yourself accountable, try one of the other options mentioned above!

No matter which route you ultimately choose, one point is for certain: there’s no better time to pick up a new skill and kickstart your coding career. 

We hope that this list of the most in-demand programming languages for 2021 will help you begin your journey!

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