Top programming languages for 2022 categorized and ranked by type, industry, and organization where it’s used.
Technology is ever-changing and there are reflections on the way we develop programs also. A few years back, the number of programming languages available was limited. But now, you could see that there are new languages coming up almost every year that is either an improvement of an existing language or as a specialized language specifically designed for definite use cases.
Learning a new shiny new language out of interest is cool, but if you are seriously looking for a job that pays for your development skills, you need to be focused on what is on-demand or rising as a niche skill.
In this blog, I have referred to multiple sources and compiled the list of languages that are in demand based on the type of development you are interested in ( server-side, mobile app, front-end, etc ) or based on the industry/organization where you want to get in.
Based on Type of Development
In this section, we will be categorizing the languages based on the type of development they fall under ( backend, frontend, mobile, etc ).
Server side development ( Backend, DevOps & Cloud )
Server-side development involves the backend APIs and other services that provide the business logic for a solution.
The development includes but is not limited to creating a web layer for serving the requests, infra services, batch jobs, integrations with other services, business logic, and databases. Most of the functions of a back-end service may not be directly visible to the end-user. But they take care of all the behind the scene tasks for successfully serving a request from a user.
You should be opting for server-side development if you are interested in building distributed, scalable services. You will be also required to work with different other services like databases, cache, queues, and other cloud providers ( AWS, GCP, etc ). All the modern systems have got server-side service(s) running and the developers who have got experience in the above services are in high demand.
Following are the hot and in-demand programming languages widely used for the development of server-side technology by different organizations.
This is the most widely used and easy to learn server-side scripting language right and it is to stay in that position for the next few years also. Python has got libraries or frameworks like Flask, Django that provide a web-based framework for rapid development. Many organizations are having their backend built using Python-based tools and are in high demand.
Java is more of a serious server-side language and has got very high demand from the enterprise application community and the services that require high scalability and consistency. The more agile application teams ( like startups ) are relying on don’t the options like Python and Node.js for quick application. For server-side Java, you are required to also know different frameworks like Spring for an effective career. Almost any organization will be having some critical services running in Java even though the primary services are in other languages.
C# is Microsoft .net-based programming language. It has got wide acceptance from the enterprise community ( banks, insurance, or the other fortune 500 service-based companies ). There is also a lot of support from Microsoft and has got good community backing.
Most of the websites that we currently use in the WWW are based out of PHP ( WordPress sites, Facebook, etc ). Many startups prefer PHP due to the less time to market and the availability of a lot of libraries that accelerate web development.
Kotlin is a JVM-based language and can run side by side with Java. You can consider this as a better version of Java that reduces the boilerplate and the verbose nature of Java. Application development is quite fast compared to Java and is considered an easy switch for existing Java developers. Due to the benefits of Java and the faster development cycle, Kotlin is getting a lot of attention and is replacing Java-based applications. It is also the primary language for Android development.
Ruby is an object-oriented scripting language that is used by several organizations. Ruby is used along with the “Ruby on Rails” framework that provides the necessary functionalities for file handling, database communication, and more. Many of the common websites like Github, Twitch, SoundCloud, Airbnb, Twitter, etc are written on Ruby on Rails.
This is a relatively new ( compared to the other languages above ) procedural programming language created in 2007. Go is used for server-side (backend) programming, game development, cloud-based programming, and even Data Science. It is quite easy to learn and the adaptability of Go for many purposes is making it one of the most popular and rising languages. There are different services like Netflix, Google, Ethereum, Kubernetes, Docker, etc. written in Go.
Front-end development ( Web, PWA )
Since the covid lockdown, there has been a very big push from different organizations for moving the services online and this has created a crazy demand for the front-end developers. As a front-end developer, you will be creating the presentation layer that takes care of the user interactions and communications with the server.
If you are someone who has an interest in building websites and adding front-end logic for user interactions, this is something for you. You will be also required to have an understanding of different frameworks ( React, Angular, etc ), Progressive Web Apps ( PWA ), server-side rendering, Single Page Applications ( SPA ), and other modern techniques of development for having high value in the market.
There is a huge surge in the requirements for developers with the above skills and it will be ever-growing as more and more organizations push to online operations.
The front-end does not have too many languages for development. We will see the ones that are available.
Other than JS and TS, there is also Elm as a younger front-end language. But the active development is stopped for Elm and the future is not certain. Also, if you are an aspiring front-end developer, you are supposed to have the knowledge of HTML and CSS for obvious reasons. I didnt’ include them as they cannot be categorized as programming language and falls under the website design.
Even though we only have 2 primary language options for the front-end, there are numerous frameworks that are widely used for front-end development. Most of them support development in either JS or TS. A current-day front-end dev is expected to be proficient in at least one of the below frameworks.
A framework that is developed and maintained by Facebook. This is now the most in-demand front-end framework for development due to the simple learning curve, wide support, easy component-based structure, and support for different libraries. Mostly preferred by the startups and product teams due to the ease of development and training.
Developed by Google, this is based on TypeScript natively and follows an MVC pattern with two-way binding. It is used for both single-page applications and multi-page applications. Many organizations are designing their front-end based on Angular and the demand is ever rising since its inception. Angular is the number one choice for enterprise-based web applications.
This is a framework created by taking the best practices of the above two frameworks. it is not complex like Angular, which makes it easy to learn and use. Secondly, it is much smaller in size and similar to Angular, offers two-way binding, Visual DOM, and component-based programming. This has seen rising demand but is still way behind React / Angular.
This is similar to Angular with its component-based structure and the two-way binding. It allows for the development of complex mobile and web applications easily. It has a got a learning curve and the adaptation is slow. But there are already big companies like Apple and LinkedIn using it.
Mobile development involves the development of applications for mobile devices primarily in Android and iOS. Previously, it was either Java for Android or Objective-C for iOS development. But now, there are mature frameworks that can build for either platform with cross-compatibility.
If you are someone interested in creating mobile apps, this is a very lucrative developer position in 2022 as the mobile device penetration is on the spike and also there are numerous app-only startups. But, you need to be aware of the basics and also get up-skilled in the modern languages and frameworks for cross-platform development.
There are different languages available in mobile development for both native well as cross-platform development. Based on the popularity and demand, we could rank them as below:
Kotlin is a relatively new language created based on JVM and is now being used as the primary language for Android app development. It has a syntax based on Java but is more fluent and less verbose than Java. Due to the quick development time compared to Java, it’s gaining a lot of adaptation from different organizations and if you are considering a career in native Android app development, it is a must to know Kotlin.
Swift is a modern language that is currently the official language for native iOS app development. This is quickly replacing the complex Objective C development and is in high demand. If you are targeting the lucrative iOS development space, you need to get started with Swift at the earliest.
When android was first introduced, Java was the primary language for development. Now also there are many organizations that follow the Android development based on Java. There is a very good chance that this could make way for Kotlin in the future ( maybe within a year or two ).
Dart is a new general-purpose programming language developed by Google. Though it can be used for server-side development, the introduction of Flutter based on Dart for cross-platform development has created a demand for the developers. Dart has some learning curve and is not straightforward as in the case of React native. But there is a good chance that Google will be pushing this like Angular and could become a choice for many organizations for their cross-platform app development.
Data Science, Analytics, and Modeling
Data science is a very active area where a lot of opportunities are now available. With the amount of data that is being generated by the different systems, organizations are struggling to keep up with the analysis and the insights obtained from it.
If you are someone with an analytical mindset and the ability to identify data points from the huge volume of big data, you should be able to grab this opportunity. Modern data analysis requires you to be knowledgeable in some of the programming languages for creating the models and other scripts.
Let’s see some of the programming languages skills that are imperative for the data science professional. They are ranked based on popularity and demand.
Due to the easy learning curve and the simplicity, Python is the number one choice for data scientists for analysis. The availability of different libraries in Python for the purpose of data analysis has made it even more popular among professionals.
R is a language specialized in statistical analysis and intuitive visualizations. R is built to handle massive data sets and complex processing through RStudio. There are many tools that are available to R specifically for statisticians and can be used as an advanced option over Python.
When you talk about data, there is no denying the fact that you will be required to work with databases, and hence it’s necessary to have the skills in SQL for querying and structuring the data.
Scala is created as an extension to Java and is interoperable with Java due to its byte code conversion. This is preferred by big organizations for enterprise-level data analysis.
This is another specialized language for the purpose of data analysis. it provides versatility and supports both parallel and distributed computing and is incredibly fast. Used for data visualization or deep learning, numerical analysis, or interactive computing, the niche focus of Julia offers fast performance.
Java is mostly used for the integration of enterprise-grade deep learning and big data analysis using Hadoop, Apache Spark, etc. It is also used for integrations of data points between massive systems due to its scalability and concurrency properties.
MATLAB is a programming language and environment specific to mathematical and statistical computing. There are many built-in tools and libraries for dynamic visualizations. Most of its capabilities are now covered by Python and the fact that it’s a paid option is diminishing its popularity.
In the world of big data and data science, Excel may feel like a joke. But there are a lot of avenues where the final data or summary of findings are required to be converted to Excel visualizations for presentations. Though knowing excel will not help you land a high-demand job, it’s a good option to have the basics grasped for a quick presentation.
Hardware and embedded systems
With the sudden advancement of the Internet of Things ( IoT ) and other mobile devices, the hardware and embedded instructs professionals are able to see a good rise in the demands. This area includes the design & development of hardware components, IoT-connected devices, SoC ( System on Chip ), etc.
If you are someone with an interest in embedded systems, there are good opportunities with the rise in demand for smart home devices and other IoT devices.
There are several programming languages used for the development of embedded systems and devices. Let’s see the most common ones that are in demand and rising.
As far as IoT app development is concerned, JAVA has the most prominence in the market. Its interoperable functionalities and availability of extensive libraries, make JAVA an ideal programming language for IoT development.
2. C Language
C is an efficient and widely used programming language. Industry estimates say 80% of embedded systems use the C programming language. This is not going to go away soon. So if you are seriously looking for embedded systems, C is going to be the most powerful language in your arsenal.
Due to the simplicity of the language and the availability of comprehensive libraries, Python is widely used for the development of IoT systems.
While other programming languages discussed earlier can be used to develop IoT applications for the web, smartphones, and devices across multiple platforms, Swift is a language specifically designed to develop IoT applications for iOS devices. As Apple is pushing for more connected devices ( Tags, Smart homes, etc ), there are a lot of opportunities for the development of IoT-based applications for the iOS ecosystem.
PHP on Chip is an IoT hardware platform-based programming language based on the PHP language. . Some of the IoT-specific functionalities offered by the programming language include UART, RTC, SPI, and more
Rust is a language that provides the efficiency of C / C++ and is used as an alternative in many cases for IoT development. The language is yet to be widely used by the developers but seems to be holding a promising future in IoT and embedded development.
Trending languages used by Industry ( Business vertical )
Now let’s quickly see what are programming languages in demand for a specific industry or organization if you are looking to get into a dream company of yours.
FAANG and other global top tech companies
FAANG ( Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google ) and many other global technology companies mainly look for a developer’s problem-saving skills rather than expertise in a specific language. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want you to be proficient in a language in demand. End of the day, they also write programs in some languages.
Below is the list of the languages favored by them. Most of them use a mix of the below languages based on the requirements. Primary language preference is in brackets.
- Python ( Google )
- Java ( Apple, Amazon )
- C / C++
- Go ( Google )
- Kotlin ( Google )
- Swift ( Apple )
- C# ( Microsoft )
- PHP ( Facebook )
Cloud Providers and services ( AWS, GCP , Azure ) etc
Let’s see what are the preferred languages for the cloud platform providers for creating the services that are scaled and distributed all over the globe.
- Python ( AWS, Azure )
- Go ( GCP )
- Java ( AWS )
- JS ( User interfaces and web apps for accessing the resources )
The banking and financial institution require enterprise-grade software that has got a good reputation for meeting the compliance requirements of the industry. You may not see many new languages used in this industry ( unless you are a fintech startup using an established bank as a backend. Like the case of new generation neo-banks ).
- Java ( Most common and the first choice for enterprise grade software development )
- Scala ( A new generation language based on JVM )
Information & Cyber security
The infosec professionals mostly use programming languages for forensic purposes and also for creating some specific tools for doing the research.
- Python ( Quick and easy creation of the automation and data scraping scripts )
- Java ( Used for creating secure backend services )
- Shell scripting ( Creating scripts for server side checks )
- Powershell ( Scripting and automation )
- C / C++ ( System level checks and forensic investigations )
AI & Machine Learning
AI / ML is a very hot industry that is generating a lot of demand for professionals with the right knowledge. Due to the nature of this industry and the requirements, there are specialized languages as well available.
- Python ( Most common due to the simplicity and the support for numerous libraries )
- Scala ( A better version of Java that has gained popularity recently )
A quick reference table
For a quick reference, I have compiled the list of languages discussed above along with the use cases, industry, demand, etc. You may also open the URL here in case not able to see the content below.
I hope that the above list compiled has helped you to identify some of the languages that you can start with for programming as a beginner or for switching to an upgraded one if you are already an experienced developer.