Whether you’re a budding programmer or a veteran seeking to shake up your current career path, chances are part of your job search involves scanning the post for compensation details. Proficiency in certain programming languages can sometimes bump up a salary depending on how in demand it is at the time. So, if you’re just starting out or looking for a more lucrative avenue, you might be wondering which languages pay the most.
The Top 5 Programming Languages
A recent study by the Brookings Institution provided some framework for Quartz’s Max Nisen to compile a list of the most valuable programming languages. Here are the top five based on average annual salary in descending order:
5. C++ ($93,502)
4. JAVA ($94,908)
3. Python ($100,717)
2. Objective C ($108,225)
1. Ruby on Rails ($109,460)
The dataset Nisen worked with lacks a few newer skills like Erland and Haskell, most likely because those are only recently gaining popularity. And no one should be surprised to see usual suspects like JAVA and C, since those staples won’t be going anywhere soon.
While Ruby appears to be the most valuable language, it may not be wise to put all of your eggs into one basket by only focusing on learning that skill just in case its popularity tapers off over time. Many professionals recommend that newer programmers pick up languages like C or JAVA early on to serve as a solid foundation as they move forward.
It’s What You Do With It
Nothing sparks debate between programmers quite like asking which language is better than the other. They all hold certain skills close to their hearts and will defend them to the death. All that aside, it seems like many IT professionals agree on one thing: it’s not which language you learn, it’s what you do with it.
For example, Salesforce architects earn between $180,000 and $200,000 annually. Those architects aren’t using any of the top five languages we listed earlier. Apex isn’t even in the top ten. Your tech skills are valuable, of course, but they shouldn’t define you.
Companies scout out the best programmers, not just the guy or gal who happens to know a particular language. That one skill won’t carry anyone very far, and employers know that. They’re more interested in your ability to problem solve and adapt in any environment, which may or may not include that one specific language you’ve mastered.
Something to Consider
Programming is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative professions out there, with salaries easily surpassing $100,000 on a regular basis. However, rather than chasing after that golden egg of a programming language just to lock in a sizeable paycheck, it may be better to focus on becoming a well rounded programmer, proficient in many languages and skills. Language barriers mean nothing if you have the right tools to knock them down with ease.
If you can get a firm grasp of design principles and algorithms, learning a new language will come easier to you. Concern yourself more with learning and improving, and the salary you want is sure to follow.