What is the Best Programming Language to Learn in 2013?

An interesting article caught my eye at jobstractor.comthe programming language trends review. The company analyzed more than 60,000 job vacancies during 2012 to produce a chart of the most sought-after technologies:

Language Jobs
PHP 12,664
Java 12,558
Objective C 8,925
SQL 5,165
Android (Java) 4,981
Ruby 3,859
JavaScript 3,742
C# 3,549
C++ 1,908
ActionScript 1,821
Python 1,649
C 1,087

programming language vacancy statistics

Despite developer complaints, demand for PHP and Java (server/Android) remains strong. You would also expect those jobs to require some SQL knowledge although that has a strong showing in its own right. ActionScript is a dying art so it’s rapidly falling off the chart.

But there are a number of surprises:

  • Even if we combine ASP.NET and C# figures, why is Microsoft’s technology stack so low?
  • Why is Objective C demand almost double that of Android when iOS devices are less popular?
  • Why is JavaScript relatively low given all the HTML5 hype?

Part of this can be explained if we look at the relative changes in demand from the beginning of 2012 to the end:

Language Change
JavaScript 1.6%
Ruby 0.7%
Objective C 0.6%
Android (Java) 0.6%
C++ 0.5%
C# 0.3%
Python 0.1%
SQL -0.2%
C -0.3%
ASP.NET -0.5%
PHP -0.7%
Java -1.4%
ActionScript -1.6%

programming language vacancy changes

JavaScript demand has increased faster than any other language. iOS and Android have also increased at an identical rate. PHP and Java jobs are decreasing in relation to trendier languages such as Ruby.

Before you make too many judgments, consider how this data is collated. Jobs Tractor searches Twitter for developer jobs so results may be skewed. For example, I suspect Twitter is used by more web start-ups than blue-chip corporations — this could partly explain the lower .NET figures.

In addition, there can be significant regional differences. Ruby skills are highly-prized in Australia but less well-known in the UK.

If you were expecting this article to recommend the most lucrative language of 2013 you’ll be disappointed. This is the only fact you need learn:

Never use job vacancy statistics as a reason for learning a language!

If demand for a particular technology is low, fewer developers are willing to learn it and the market adjusts accordingly. QBasic and COBOL developers may earn more than Objective C colleagues because their skills are increasingly rare!

Ultimately, pick technologies which interest you and never stop learning. Programming skills are always transferable and it’ll make you a better candidate when a suitable job eventually arises.

Comments on this article are closed. Have a question about programming languages? Why not ask it on our forums?