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How to choose a programming language that’s right for you

Technology | Rick Deller | 7/3/17

your guide to programming languages

Are you new to programming or perhaps you’re looking to switch languages? Learning a new coding language can not only lead you onto a new career path, but it’s also a great way of developing in-demand job skills. By becoming fluent in a programming language, you will be able to prove to employers that you have a clear software aptitude as well as the ability to process information and analyse data. Whether you want to learn a language to build software, apps or websites understanding the fundamentals of programming will also teach you computational thinking, and problem-solving skills that can be applied anywhere.

So how do you decide?

Learning a new coding language from scratch is very much possible today with free resources available online. But deciding on a programming language can be a minefield as there are thousands out there, and especially so if you’ve got no idea of what you want to accomplish and where to take your career.

Below we explain some programming languages to give you an idea of what they are used for, the types of job roles and the average salaries you could earn to help you choose a programming language that’s right for you and your end goal. – But before you get into the different types of languages and career prospects on offer, it’s a good idea to consider your options and define your goals, check out this helpful post to get you started.

 

Your guide to programming languages and their career prospects

 

PHP

PHP is one of the most popular programming languages out there because of its easy use for programmers new to the scene but it can also offer lots of advanced features for experienced programmers. PHP is quite the multitasking tool, it can generate dynamic page content as well as create, open, read, write and close all files on the server.

Why use PHP?
PHP is a great language to use if you intend to code for the web and has great frameworks such as Laravel, Symphony 2, Zend, CodeIgniter, CakePHP and a wide range of support tools too.

As mentioned before, PHP is a good one for beginners as it’s easy to learn and runs efficiently for the user, it’s also easy to deploy with continual improvements being made. Due to PHP being widely used there is a large community of users across the UK and other parts of the world. If you want to find out more about PHP and become fully immersed in this programming language then get involved with your local PHP group – which you can easily find here.

Companies that use PHP:
Many hosting providers use its servers, powering more than 20 million websites and utilised by companies such as Facebook, Etsy, Drupal, WordPress, Whatsapp, Tumblr, SnapChat Hootsuite, Nokia.

What jobs use PHP?
If you’re looking for a career that includes PHP, roles can range from PHP Developer and Software Engineer to Full Stack Developer and Front-end developer with an average salary of £37,500.

 


JavaScript

JavaScript has grown in popularity over the years and is a client-side dynamic programming language that is widely used as the next step for developers once you’ve got to grips with HTML and CSS. JavaScript can be described as the behaviour side of the website and is embedded in most browsers and used in website advertising, analytics and widgets. You can also use it to build an autocomplete function on a website, fix layout issues and enhance HTML boxes, so users can have a mix of presets and ability to add their own text.

JavaScript is pretty much used everywhere and you’d be hard-pressed to find a device today that doesn’t run JS and it can be used on both back and front end scripting. As a fast, flexible and expressive programming language it is praised for its ubiquitousness. It has popular frameworks Angular and React, which you can use to write reusable components that can be plugged into an application that controls a sturdy framework.  Including the open source platform node.js, that is built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime and makes easy work of building fast, scalable network applications.

Companies that use JavaScript (Basically everyone with a website)
Airbnb, Yahoo, Snapchat, LinkedIn, FitBit, Opsview, Adstream, PaySafe, Sky, Eurostar, HSBC, Thomas Cook.

What jobs use JavaScript?
JavaScript Developer, Front-end Developer, Web Developer, Software Developer, Technical Web Analyst, Full Stack JavaScript Developer,

Average Salary: £57,000

 


Java

Despite the similarity in name, Java has no relation to JavaScript whatsoever. As one of the oldest programming languages on the web developed back in 1995, it still holds its popularity, placing first two years running in the TIOBE index. Java is very versatile and can be used for anything, from web applications to desktop and mobile apps. As well as playing online games, uploading photos, taking virtual tours and using interactive maps to name a few.

Why use Java?
Java is pretty much the basis of Android, powering Android apps and is a good choice for those who want to get into mobile development. Due to its age, it has great libraries and a huge amount of documentation available. Java software has an open source version of a Java Compiler where programmers can collaborate on an open source application of the Java platform. The Java language has excellent tooling and being slow to change its easier for beginner programmers to keep up with.

Companies that use Java
Due to it being one of the oldest programming languages it still holds its own in the language markets, and as such is used by a large host of businesses, most famously by financial banks such as Lloyds Bank Group, Credit Suisse, Financial Times, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs. However, it is also favoured by well-known brands, Facebook, Ebay, Netflix, Uber, DigitasLBi, BBC, Sky and Right move.

What jobs use Java?
Java Developer, Software Developer, Back-End Developer, Java Software Architect,

Average Salary: £52,000

 


Objective-C

Like Java, Objective-C can be utilised to write desktop software and mobile apps. It is also an Object-orientated programming language that is based on C and used by Apple developers to develop mobile apps for iOS and mac OS.

Why use Objective-C?
Until the release of Swift, Objective-C was the go-to language for native iPhone apps but it is still strongly backed by Apple. It has a strong interface builder and supports generic programming such as Java, Scala or C#. If you want to take your career towards working with iPhone and iPad apps, you’ll want to learn Objective-C.

Companies that use Objective-C?
Apple, Instagram, Uber, Slack, Snapchat, 9gag, TimeHop, Zillow, Weebly, FitBit, Luminosity,

What jobs use Objective-C?
Full Stack Developer, Software Developer, Objective C Developer, Software Architect, Back End Developer, iOS Developer, Application Developer, Mobile Application Developer,

Average Salary: £45,000

 


Swift

Swift is the modern language for developing all Apple products, from the Mac, iPad and iPhone to the Apple Watch and Apple TV applications. Swift was introduced in 2014 as a modern programming language that planned to replace Objective-C. If you are looking to develop with Apple technology, then it would be good to have an understanding of both Objective-C and Swift as they both work side by side in the same application.

Why use Swift?
Like Objective-C, Swift is Apple approved and considered to be an innovative and new programming language. It’s Open Source and easy to use and is designed to give developers more freedom than ever before. It also supports inferred types to keep code clean and free from mistakes, with some powerful error-handling tools embedded in the language.

Companies that use Swift
Apple, Artsy, Lyft, Deloitte UK, Microsoft, Shazam, TransferWise, First Utility, On the Beach, BBC, comparethemarket.com, Amazon,

What jobs use Swift?
iOS Developer, Software Developer, iOS Application Developer, Mobile Application Developer, Front-End Developer,

Average Salary: £50,000

 


Python

Python, like PHP is a server side and non-compiled dynamic programming language that can be used on its own or as part of another framework. As it’s a general-purpose language Python is pretty much used for everything from server automation to data science and machine learning. Most companies are now starting to implement machine learning within their data teams, meaning Python will be the most commonly used language to implement advanced algorithms. The language also extends to creating mobile apps, building websites, software and games to helping researchers decipher their data and provide database access.

Types of businesses that use the Python language can range from fintech banks and finance firms for pricing, risk management and trade management platforms. To eCommerce companies that build and maintain their retail websites. The difference in utilising the language for either would lie with the type of stacks used alongside the Python language and deciding on which sector to go with would depend on where your interests lie.

Why use Python?
Python is a great first language for beginners as it is easy to read and understand, taking away syntax learning stress off first-time coders. It’s admired for its elegant syntax and readable code, and being beginner friendly it handles a lot of complexity, so you can focus on learning programming concepts without worrying about details. Python is known for its great number of libraries available and most importantly its large community. It has the 5th largest Stack Overflow community and 3rd largest Meetup community offering great opportunities to learn from fellow developers.

Companies that use Python:
Instagram, Google, Vine, Snapchat, PayPal, DropBox, Pinterest, Netflix, Uber, Spotify, Reddit,

What jobs use Python?
Python Developer, Software Developer, Back End Developer, Full Stack Developer, Database Administrator, Data Scientist, Solutions Architect, DevOps Engineer,

Average Salary: £52,000

 


Ruby and Ruby on Rails

Ruby is a server-side interpreted, non-compiled dynamic programming language that would be nowhere without Ruby on Rails, a framework that has helped with its rise in popularity. Ruby balances functional programming with imperative programming and is a blend of languages such as Perl, SmallTalk, Eiffel, Ada and Lisp. It is widely used across start-ups and large companies to build simulations and web applications. Ruby on Rails lets you easily build web applications and websites efficiently.

Why use Ruby /Ruby on Rails?
Ruby is quick to develop and programme friendly with powerful one-liners.  It also has a thriving community that is very beginner friendly with lots of conferences and meet-ups to get involved with if you’re just starting out. Ruby on Rails is highly portable and will work on many types of desktop from UNIX, Max OS X and Windows 95 to 2000, DOS, BeOS and more. Some of the biggest websites in the world used Ruby on Rails to build such as Airbnb, Groupon and Kickstarter to name a few. It is an Open Source and powerful language that covers both front-end and back-end programming, meaning you can easily develop a whole web application.

Companies that use Ruby/ Ruby on Rails
GitHub, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kickstarter, GoPro, Airbnb, On the Beach, Which?, Citizens Advice, Deliveroo, Amazon,

What jobs use Ruby/ Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails Developer, Software Engineer, Ruby Application Developer, Front-end Developer, DevOps Engineer, Web Developer,

Average Salary: £62,000

 


Perl

Perl is a general-purpose programming language that was originally developed for text manipulation but is now used for a wide range of tasks including web development, network programming, GUI development, bioinformatics, system admin, testing and more. In recent years, Perl’s popularity has started to return to the levels it enjoyed 20 years ago.

Why use Perl?
Perl is fun and easy to use, it’s also Open Source with a code that is brief and effective. It’s great for beginners because of CPAN the (Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) a vast collection of useful and reusable Perl modules, that allow you to use as libraries and simplify writing code. Perl can also lead you to other avenues and if you know it well you will have no issues learning other languages like Python, Ruby, PHP, Java and .NET. Another plus for learning Perl as a beginner and one of its biggest strengths is its resourceful and thriving community. Perl programmers love their language and it is documented extensively so you can easily find answers to any Perl queries.

Companies that use Perl
Snapchat, Booking.com, C.V. Library, Zoopla, cPanel, NET-A-PORTER, Deutsche Bank, XS4ALL, Amazon, LoveFilm,

What jobs use Perl?
Perl Developer, Perl Scripter, Perl Programmer, Software Engineer, Software Developer,

Average Salary: £47,500

 


C#

“C-Sharp” is an object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft, and borrows its syntax from C++ with similar features to Java. Due to its flexibility, C# can be used for almost anything from powering large data servers to creating software and web applications. It was originally designed for use within the Microsoft .NET framework, which has a large library of prebuild code classes.

Why use C#?
There is a huge support for .NET on the windows platform and as such C# has become the first-choice language for developers when building Windows desktop applications. C# was also created to build upon the good elements of C++ and Java languages and intended to be modern with a general purpose. It is a strongly typed language, making it easier for beginner programmers to adhere to the coding best practice and easily find and eliminate bugs. If you are new to C# and want to learn all about it, Microsoft has plenty of resources and tutorials available.

Companies that use C#?
Microsoft, Huddle, Stack Overflow, ASOS, Bloomberg LP, Moonpig.com, Next PLC, Hays, Natural History Museum,

What jobs use C#?
C#Developer, .Net Developer, Software Architect, Developer in test, Full Stack Developer,

Average Salary: £42,000

 


Scala

Scala is very much a scalable language, meaning it is able to grow and change with your learning. From messing around with typing one-line expressions and seeing what happens with the results, to depending on it for large mission critical systems (as many major companies such as Twitter and LinkedIn do). Known for its flexibility, Scala language can be used for either object-orientated programming, scripting or functional paradigms within it. Scala is also a JVM language, meaning it can be used to produce software that runs on a Java Virtual Machine.

Why use Scala?
Scala is open source with concise syntax and to some, it can feel like a scripting language. Its type system is quite complex but its REPL (interpreter) offers a great help for beginners learning their first programming language. Scala is great at solving functional problems and has lots of great libraries that help with this, offering different ways to solve the same problem.

What jobs use Scala?
Software Engineer, Scala Developer, Data Scientist, JVM Developer, Data Engineer, Dev Ops Architect, Big Data Developer, Scala Engineer,

Average Salary: £67,500

 


Whichever you choose as your first programming language or your next project, keep in mind that many of these language skills are in high demand from companies everywhere offering great opportunities to make your mark in programming. Remember that no matter which language you decide is right for you, getting to grips with it and succeeding will be a challenge at first. But be sure to persevere, have fun and don’t give up!

We hope our information has helped and brought you a little further on getting to grips with how to decide on a programming language that’s right for you.

If you are skilled in any of the programming languages listed and you are looking for a new role or a career change, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, email me at rick@eligo.co.uk or call 020 8944 4187.

We have a wide range of technology roles available on our technology jobs page from Open Source Development, QA and Testing to Big Data, Analytics, Mobile and more.

 

Sources

A big thank you to Dave Cross and Matt Black 

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