Top 4 Programming Languages: Choosing the Right One

Top 4 Programming Languages: Choosing the Right One


Last updated July 17, 2018


So you’ve decided to pursue learning a computer programming language. The next logical step is to determine which programming language you should focus your time on (not to mention your financial resources). There are a number of considerations that come into play, but three of the most important are:

  1. The difficulty level with which you’re willing to learn
  2. Which skills you possess that closely align with each language
  3. Your own personal goal for learning a programming language

What do you want to accomplish? Consider the following options:

  • Becoming productive quickly (fast return on investment)
  • Career change
  • Career advancement
  • Increased income
  • Developing mobile applications
  • Acquiring certification for programming abilities
  • Simply looking for a new challenge and new skills

Choosing the Right Programming Language

To help you make the programming language decision that best meets your needs and abilities, here are suggestions based on the most in-demand development skills. Included are tips on complexity level (ranked as beginner, intermediate, and advanced) and skills that would be beneficial for a particular programming language. It’s important to note that even those labeled as ideal “beginner” languages become more challenging as you become more proficient and experienced in its use and capabilities.




Java Computer Programming Languages

Java is one of the most common, high-demand computer programming languages in use today. Owned by the Oracle Corporation, its object-oriented structure has become a standard for applications that are capable of being used regardless of platform (e.g. Mac, Window, Mobile Devices).

With millions of Java developers worldwide, there are hundreds of texts for learning Java programming, as well as a variety of forums available to Java developers for vetting ideas or solving programming problems.

Java is widely recognized for its portability across platforms from mainframe data centers to smart phones. Alternatively, Java may be considered a quite complex language to become efficient with quickly. The trade-off is that Java skills are in high demand for experienced developers.

Level: Intermediate
Skills Needed: Problem solving, knowledge of object-oriented structure
Platform: Web, Mobile, Desktop
Popularity Among Programmers: One of the world’s most popular; high demand
  • Regarded as a good start for learning to think like a programmer 
  • You’ll be able to access/manipulate the most important computer parts like the file system, graphics, and sound for any fairly sophisticated and modern program—that can run on any operating system.
Downsides: Lots of new vocabulary to learn, higher-level language
Degree of Use: Widely used; highly applicable
Annual Salary Projection: $95,000

2. C (and C++)

C is probably the oldest commonly used programming language—and is actually the root of languages such as C#, Java, and JavaScript. As C++ is essentially an enhanced version of C, both are covered here together as an option for programming development skills. Many developers today skip over the process of learning C on its own, preferring to go straight to C++. Others feel that the foundation of learning C first provides a valuable foundation for C++ development. They are both some of the most foundational languages in computer science and programming. C and C++ developers can make use of compilers available for a wide variety of platforms, making applications developed in these languages largely transportable.

Both C and C++ are considered high-performance languages and are widely utilized in developing applications where performance is a critical issue such as client/server applications and commercial products such as Firefox and Adobe, as well as programming video games.

Level: C – Intermediate to Advanced 
C++ – Beginner to Intermediate
Skills Needed: Problem solving, basic computer knowledge. As C and C++ are geared toward low-level management of computer resources, knowledge of computer functions such as memory management are beneficial.

Mobile, Desktop, Embedded

Popularity Among Programmers:
  • C – There has been a higher migration from C to C++ 
  • C++ – One of the world’s most popular languages
  • C – Used to learn the fundamentals of programming at the lowest (hardware) level 
  • C++ – Allows for a much greater “control” than other languages.
  • C – Coding in C is stricter, not very beginner-friendly language, steeper learning curve 
  • C++ – A bit more difficult to pick up and become productive with than C (and even more so than Java)
Degree of Use:
  • C – One of the most widely used 
  • C++ – Widely used
Annual Salary Projection:
  • C – $93,000 
  • C++ – $94,000

3. Ruby


Ruby Computer Programming Languages

If you want to start out with a language that is known for being relatively simple to learn, Ruby may be your computer programming language of choice. Ruby is a fairly young language that was developed in the 1990s. It was designed to have a more human-friendly syntax while still being flexible from the standpoint of its object-oriented architecture that also supports procedural and functional programming notation. 

[Pro Tip: There is a 20-minute quick start guide on the Ruby website]

Ruby developers tout it for being an easy language to write in and also for the relatively short learning time required for developers to  understand the basics. These attributes have led to a large, strong community of Ruby developers and a growing interest in the language for beginning developers.


Beginner – Ruby and Ruby on Rails have evolved to become extremely popular for web developers.

Skills Needed: Problem solving, abstract thinking (ability to visualize what application users want to see)
Platform:  Web
Popularity Among Programmers: On the rise
  • Flexible
  • Syntax is considered easy to read and to write (no specialized “vocabulary” in order to get started)
  • Enforces good programming style
Degree of Use: Least broadly used
Annual Salary Projection: $94,000

4. Python


Python Computer Programming Languages

Python is another language often praised by developers as being easy to understand and become productive with quickly. With a large community of developers there are many sources for information about the language, including learning tools and documentation for generating applications productively. Python is also open-source and free software, even when used to develop applications for commercial use.

In a programming language survey conducted by, Python won hands-down as the most popular language recommended for a first-time programmer. Python's developer community promotes its use as a teaching language, thus they have learning tools and documentation available to help first-time coders.

Level: Beginner – Python allows a beginner to become productive quickly
Skills Needed: Problem solving, abstract thinking
Platform: Web, Desktop
Popularity Among Programmers: Becoming continuously more popular
  • Flexible
  • Naturally/Intuitively readable
  • Highly regarded official tutorials and documentation
  • Scripted as opposed to compiled
Downsides: Doesn’t start with programming basics (known to abstract too many important basic concepts)
Popularity: Becoming continuously more popular both in technical education and business use
Degree of Use: Widely used; popular in both technical education and business use
Annual Salary Projection: $83,000

How to Get Started

As with any educational process, you can always purchase an entry-level textbook and see how far you get on your own. But with a skill as technical as programming, this can quickly become frustrating—increasing the time spent before you become truly productive with your new skill. In some cases, this frustration causes prospective programmers to abandon the effort altogether.

Fortunately, there are many online courses available for computer programming languages, as well as instructor-led classroom training. This is often money well-spent, as you gain knowledge from the experience of the training resource and typically shorten the time to get “up to speed” with the programming language you’re focused on. This can significantly increase your satisfaction and confidence levels.

Additionally, many prospective employers prefer that candidates possess certification of their skill sets. This provides them with the assurance that developers can truly provide useful skills in the shortest amount of time possible, giving the employer the fastest return on their investment.

Simplilearn Can Help

Each of Simplilearn’s course pages provide lots of additional information about the language training we provide, including the full syllabus, suggestions on who should take the courses, and more.  Learn more about our courses in Java, C, Python, and Ruby.

About the Author

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies. Based in San Francisco, California, and Bangalore, India, Simplilearn has helped more than 500,000 students, professionals and companies across 200 countries get trained, upskilled, and acquire certifications.


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