By Jim Johnson, Senior Vice President, Technology, Robert Half

What coding languages should you learn? What coding languages should you master? Whether you’re a rookie programmer or an experienced engineer, these are vital questions for your career development.

Making these decisions will be easier if you know what coding skills technology managers are looking for right now. Good news: Robert Half asked them that very question in a recent survey — and the results are in.

Top coding languages in 2022

Following are some of the most sought-after languages of 2022 in descending order, along with some tips for leveling up your coding skills.

1. Java

Almost half (47%) of technology managers prefer candidates to know Java. It’s easy to see why. Oracle’s coffee cup-branded language powers everything from lightweight mobile applications (including most Android apps) to vast enterprise systems.

Because of its versatility, Java, with its extensive libraries and cross-platform support, remains a popular first language for developers. The same can be said for Python, which is why many programmers aim to become proficient in both of these object-oriented languages. If you must choose one, pick Java if you’re working in web development and Python if you’re leaning toward data science and machine learning.

Java developers should also consider learning Scala or Kotlin, both of which run on Java Virtual Machine. The former shines on big data projects, while Google named the latter a first-class programming language for Android development.

2. JavaScript

A vast majority of websites use JavaScript as the client-side programming language. So, it’s not surprising that 43% of technology managers are eager to beef up their team’s JS expertise.

Its online omnipresence isn’t the only reason for JavaScript’s enduring popularity. Thanks to open-source libraries and runtime environments like React and Node.js, JavaScript is more versatile than ever, powering everything from the server-side of websites to mobile applications.

Like Python, JavaScript is also beginner-friendly, making it a great option for those new to programming.

3. C/C++/C#

This language group places third in our rankings, with 40% of technology managers identifying it as a current skills gap on their teams.

The C family saga dates to the 1970s when C was developed. It’s still widely used in operating systems, databases and the embedded systems found in hardware ranging from microwave ovens to childproof locks. Its successor, C++, powers major operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux, and the rendering engines for the best-known web browsers.

C++ isn’t beginner-friendly, prioritizing power and versatility over ease of use. For that same reason, it’s an impressive addition to your resume.

4. Python

From kids writing their first lines of code to the 36% of technology managers who named it in our survey, many people love Python. That has much to do with the language’s simple syntax and shallow learning curve — writing in Python is as close to writing in English as coding gets.

It’s powerful, too. Iconic software platforms like Instagram and Spotify were built using Python. Fintech companies favor the language thanks to its ability to handle complex mathematical tasks. And data scientists use it to extract and analyze data using Python libraries like TensorFlow, NumPy and SciPy.

If you’re interested in working in statistical analysis, data visualization or predictive modeling, you should certainly learn Python and probably also R, a popular language among data miners and statisticians.

5. SQL

Like C, SQL (Structured Query Language) dates to the 1970s and is still going strong today. Programmers use it to query, modify, add and delete the data in relational databases. Over a quarter of our survey respondents (27%) were looking to hire these experts.

SQL knowledge is particularly important for data scientists and analysts who can write SQL queries to extract information from a company database. That data still needs to be analyzed, of course, which is why data professionals often add languages like Python or R, which have powerful data-wrangling abilities.

How to level up your coding skills

For many coders, deciding which languages to learn or master is the easy part. The tough part is deciding how to do it. To help get you started, here are five ways to boost your programming skills:

  • Learn from your peers — Find an open-source library that interests you on a site like GitHub or Bitbucket and read the code until you have a good idea of how it works. Seeing how different people approach problems will help you think more creatively as a programmer.
  • Read a book — Online tutorials are invaluable, but it’s easy to skip sections or get distracted by the other open tabs on your browser. Working chapter by chapter through a book not only breaks up your routine but also compels you to grapple with challenging concepts.
  • Start a project — If you’re bored in your current position, jumping ship isn’t the only solution. Use some of your free time to contribute to open-source projects that interest you or start your own project from scratch.
  • Stay active in the coding community — Contributing to Q&A and self-learning sites like GeeksforGeeks, Stack Overflow and Codecademy is a great way to improve your coding skills. You’ll also make valuable industry contacts who can recommend you for projects and open positions.
  • Earn a certification — There are two main reasons for getting a certification. The first is that you will hone your programming skills in the process of acquiring the certification. The second is that earning in-demand credentials will bolster your resume and give hiring managers the confidence that you can walk the walk.

Land your dream role

Confident you have the coding skills to advance your career? Visit our jobs board and find open technology positions you can apply for today.

Follow Jim Johnson on LinkedIn.