It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced programmer or someone who wants to learn their first language - there are a lot of reasons why you should think about learning one of the top programming languages.
Some of the most popular programming languages take up a huge share of the market for different uses, which makes them essential for finding certain types of work.
For example, around 80% of the websites in existence today use PHP for at least some of their back-end development.
A huge majority of eCommerce and other online marketplaces use SQL for data analysis, while Solidity is one of the most in-demand programming languages because of the recent explosion blockchain technology.
Most of the top 10 programming languages that we are going to look at here have unique properties or use cases that firm their position among the most popular programming languages.
There are many reasons why you should consider learning one of the most popular languages in 2021. There is a high demand for developers who are experienced with them, jobs usually pay well, and there are a lot of resources for learners.
Table of Contents
- 1. What Makes a Language Popular?
- 1.1. Versatility
- 1.2. Uniqueness
- 1.3. Ease of Use
- 1.4. Support by Major Platforms
- 2. What Are the Top 10 Programming Languages in 2021?
- 2.1. SQL
- 2.2. Swift
- 2.3. Go
- 2.5. Python
- 2.6. Kotlin
- 2.7. Rust
- 2.8. PHP
- 2.9. Elixir
- 2.10. Solidity
- 3. Top Programming Languages: Conclusion
What Makes a Language Popular?
What makes a language popular? If only this was a simple question to answer!
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Unfortunately, there isn’t always a simple answer. Sometimes, programming languages seem to jump out of nowhere to become adopted by the masses, while others - which may appear amazing at first glance - never gain real traction.
A few of the characteristics that are shared by the most popular programming languages of our time include:
Many of the top programming languages are extremely versatile. They can be used for a wide range of applications, which means that developers who know them are always going to be in demand. Think TypeScript, Java, Go, and Python - languages that are not constrained to any one use case.
Sometimes a language is popular for the exact opposite reason - instead of being versatile, it may be in demand because of its unique use cases.
For example, Solidity is very popular because of its use in smart contract development, while SQL is essential for anyone who wants to analyze with consumer or sales data. So, top programming languages have their uniqueness.
Ease of Use
Some of the most popular programming languages in 2021 are popular because they are both easy to learn and simple to use. For example, the development of Swift by Apple has made iOS programming a whole lot easier.
Although it was only released in 2014, Swift has received rapid adoption, replacing Objective-C in iOS development.
In the same way, Rust makes systems coding very easy, leading to its meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years. So, as you can see the ease of use plays an important role in top programming languages.
Support by Major Platforms
A language could be the most versatile and the easiest to use in the world, but if it isn’t adopted and supported by major platforms like iOS, Google, and Android, there will be much less chance of it being successful.
A common theme among the top 10 programming languages outlined below is that many of them are supported by or were developed by one of the major tech companies.
For example, Go was developed by Google, Swift was developed by Apple for iOS development, and Rust is a systems coding program that is supported by Mozilla.
With this in mind, let’s have a closer look at our top 10 programming languages and their defining features:
What Are the Top 10 Programming Languages in 2021?
We have scoured the internet to find out what the most in-demand programming languages - and by extension, the top programming languages - of the current age are.
Although some people will disagree with the following list, we have done our best to represent an accurate reflection of the modern programming world.
Note that the following programs are not presented in any particular order.
SQL, or Structured Query Language, has made it onto our list purely because of its distinct use cases.
Although it is quite different from the other top programming languages on the list - in that it can’t be used on its own for any sort of website or app development - we believe that it belongs here because of both its popularity and its unique use cases.
In the modern world, data is key. If you and your business collect and analyze data efficiently, big decisions will be much easier to make. Effective data analysis can inform marketing, operation, and strategy decisions and SQL remains the most popular way to store and analyze this data.
This means that SQL is undoubtedly the best coding language to learn if you want to build a career in consumer data analysis. Good SQL programmers will always be in demand, so work availability shouldn’t be a problem.
Alternatively, SQL can add another string to your bow if you already work as a front-end engineer. It will make you more employable, will increase the number of things that you can do, and learning it should result in better career opportunities.
If you like the sound of SQL and think that you might want to have a go at learning it, you should take a look at Coursera's SQL course.
Although it was only released in 2014, Swift has quickly risen to become one of the most in-demand programming languages of 2021. It was created by Apple to replace Objective-C and to simplify iOS programming.
It was quickly adopted by Apple programmers and has experienced a steady rise in the language rankings since.
Swift has become one of the fastest-growing programming languages ever. Despite being released in 2014, it is now the language of choice for various iOS, Mac, Apple Watch, and even web programming uses. It is designed to allow programmers to quickly write software which is fast, stable, and secure.
Swift bases itself on three key principles:
- Safety - Swift is built on security and safety. This can sometimes make it feel a little restrictive, but it reduces the risk of potentially severe developer mistakes.
- Speed - As a replacement for Objective-C and other C-based languages, Swift must be comparable when it comes to performance. It was therefore designed to be fast, predictable, and consistent.
- Expressiveness - Unlike older languages which can be counter-intuitive and hard to follow, Swift offers clear, the predictable syntax which is fun and easy to use.
As you can see, Swift is a modern language that has a lot of potential heading into the future. If you would like to take advantage of the demand for Swift developers, take a look at the Beginner Friendly Swift Tutorial and the Learn Swift Programming course on BitDegree.
Go, which is a programming language created by Google in 2009 as an alternative to C and C++, is arguably the best coding language to learn in 2021. Also known as GoLang, it has earned its spot on our list of the top programming languages due to its extreme versatility.
Designed to be simpler, safer, and easier to write, Go has taken the programming world by storm since it was released.
It is relatively easy for beginners to learn - a rarity among statically typed languages - and offers very understandable code syntax.
As a modern language, Go offers some benefits that make it appear quite favorable compared to older languages like Java and Python. These include:
- Its speed. As far as speed is concerned, Go is comparable to the C languages. This makes it very useful for things like website development.
- Its ease of use. However, unlike the C languages, Go is very easy to use. Its code is logical, and it is easy to picture what a block of code will do before you run it.
Add in the security aspect and you have a language that appears to be here to stay.
If you would like to dabble in Go - either as your first language or as one to add to your developer’s toolbox - there are plenty of online courses to choose from. Look for a reliable course provider, who has a good reputation, and who offers good learning support.
Ahh, Python. One of the oldest and most popular programming languages of all time, Python has made our list of the top programming languages due to its versatility and multiple use cases.
Surveys have ranked it as the most wanted and third most loved programming language, which suggests that it deserves its spot on our list.
Python is very popular when it comes to the sciences, particularly within data analysis fields. It is relatively simple to write a new scientific program using Python. This makes it a must-learn language for people like researchers and lab assistants.
However, it is also used to develop things like web apps and APIs, and it is very compatible with other languages. Python is arguably the best coding language to learn, especially if you don’t work in a specific programming field.
You will find it very easy to learn if you already know another language, but it is still a great language for beginners. Python is the most popular language taught in schools.
If you feel like Python could be useful to you, check out the Interactive Python course on edX.
Kotlin recently ranked as the second most loved language in the world - behind cult-favorite Rust. It has also received ongoing official support from both Android Studio and Google, giving it an instant tick as one of the top programming languages to learn.
Kotlin was developed as an alternative to Java. It addresses several issues inherent with the Java language and is starting to become the language of choice for many large Android teams. Some of the most attractive features of the Kotlin language include:
- It is concise, which means that you have to write less code to achieve the same result. There is less room for mistakes, and your programs will be more compact.
- It is safe, eliminating entire error classes - for example, null pointer exceptions don’t exist in Kotlin.
- It is user-friendly, allowing the use of both existing JVM, Android, and browser libraries and Java IDE tools.
As you can see, Kotlin is poised to take over a significant portion of the market from Java. If you are or want to be an Android developer, it is one of the top programming languages to learn, with developers in high demand at present.
Rust is a system's programming language with quite narrow use cases. Although it isn’t essential for most programmers to learn it, it is useful for anyone who plans to do any form of system coding in the future. Sponsored by Mozilla, Rust appears to have a lot of growth potential.
A recent survey by Stack put Rust at the top of the most loved language list for the third year running. It also made it to the top 10 most wanted languages, reinforcing its position on our list.
Although it isn’t a super common language yet, Rust has a lot of features that make it very favorable. These include:
- Its speed. Rust is super fast, making it great for web development.
- It is safe. As a similar language to C and C++, Rust has the distinction of being significantly safer.
- It is sophisticated. Compared to other modern languages like Go, Rust comes out on top when it comes to ease of writing complex code.
Due to its complexity, Rust probably isn’t the best language for beginners with no coding experience. However, if you are looking to expand your knowledge with a language that is great for systems programming, Rust is a good choice!
PHP, the language of the internet. PHP has made the list of the top programming languages due to one single fact - it is everywhere!
Over 80% of websites use at least some PHP code as part of either their back or front-end design, which means that there will be work for PHP developers long into the future.
PHP is unique due to its ability to be embedded into HTML code. This means that, instead of having to output HTML as you would with Perl or C, you can jump straight in and out of PHP mode with simple commands.
One of the main benefits of PHP is its simplicity for beginner programmers. It is very easy to learn but offers a wide range of features for more advanced developers. Although it is primarily used for web programming, you can do other things with PHP.
If this interests you - and it should - then take a look at Coursera's online PHP course.
Elixir is probably the least well-known language on our list, but it has been included due to its huge potential to take the programming world by storm going into the future.
As a functional, dynamic language, Elixir has been designed to build fully scalable, easily maintainable applications. It is used by popular chat provider Discord and has been proven to perform well under very heavy user loads.
Some of the most popular Elixir language features include:
- It is scalability. As proven by its use on the Discord application, Elixir is extremely easy to scale and can handle huge numbers of concurrent users.
- It is a fault-tolerance. If you are building a new program, things will go wrong. As humans, we aren’t perfect, and the perfect code is near impossible to achieve. However, Elixir is designed to cope with faults in a program, rather than crashing or failing to run.
- It offers functional programming, which allows developers to write code quickly and easily.
If you are a beginner who is learning to program for the first time, Elixir probably isn’t a good choice purely because of the lack of resources and tutorials out there.
However, experienced programmers may benefit from adding it to their resume, because the demand for Elixir developers is expected to increase over the coming years.
- Simplistic design (no unnecessary information)
- High-quality courses (even the free ones)
- Variety of features
- Nanodegree programs
- Suitable for enterprises
- Paid certificates of completion
Last, but not least on our list of the top programming languages to learn is Solidity, another relatively new language that has exploded in popularity in the past year or two.
Solidity is used to write smart contracts that can be executed on the Ethereum blockchain. As blockchain technology is adopted at an increasing rate, the demand for Solidity developers is expected to increase exponentially.
Despite the demand for decent Solidity developers, it probably isn’t the best programming language to learn first. You are fairly limited to what you can do with Solidity outside of smart contract development, so it is probably better to stick to a more versatile language as your first.
However, if you are sure that you want to get into smart-contract development and programming, BitDegree offers two great interactive Solidity courses - Learn Solidity: The Ultimate Solidity Course To Kickstart Your Career and Space Doggos, Interactive Learning Solidity Course For Beginners.
Top Programming Languages: Conclusion
Learning a new programming language requires a significant time commitment.
This can be risky, as there is always the chance that your new knowledge won’t land you a job. You might learn a language that simply has no job demand, or you might decide that the language you have learned just isn’t for you.
If possible, you need to avoid this happening. If you want to get a job at the end of your course, it is probably a good idea to learn one of the top programming languages outlined above.
These are some of the most popular and in-demand languages in the world. They would all make great additions to your skill set that you will be able to use for years into the future.
Now that you know which languages are the most popular, it's time to pick one and start learning! Choose one of the best learning platforms such as edX, Udacity, or Coursera, and begin or continue your programming journey.