The best programming languages to learn in 2024

best programming languages to learn
Learning programming can help you develop problem-solving skills, open up career opportunities, foster creativity and promote personal development. Source: AFP

Ever wondered what are the best programming languages to learn in 2024?

Before looking at the best, you first need to understand what programming languages are.

TL;DR They are instructions that computers understand and execute to perform various tasks. Developers use them to communicate with computers and create software, websites, apps and more. 

Without programming languages, every computer task would have to be written in complex binary code, which is impractical.

For example, instead of manually performing repetitive calculations, a programme can be written to do it automatically.

However, different programming languages are suited to different tasks. Some are better for web development, others for data analysis, gaming or artificial intelligence.

This means you need to choose the best programming language that fits the requirements of your job or project.  

Programming languages are gaining popularity 

Programming languages have become more popular over the last few decades. This is due to the advancement of technology, which has made computers and phones an important part of our daily lives. As a result, the demand for skilled programmers has skyrocketed.

The main reason they are so popular is because of their versatility. They are not only used for traditional software development but also for other applications such as web development, mobile app development, data analysis, artificial intelligence and automation.

This has created many opportunities for you to use programming skills across different areas.

Aside from that, many successful startups and tech companies have been founded by those with programming backgrounds. The ability to turn innovative ideas into reality through coding has attracted a new generation of entrepreneurs who see programming as a fundamental skill.

As technology continues to evolve, programming languages are expected to increase in demand, making them valuable skills to have.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software development jobs are projected to grow 22% by 2030.  

Whether you’re aiming for a career in tech or simply want to enhance your problem-solving skills, mastering the best programming languages can enhance your career and earning prospects:

10 best programming languages to learn in 2024

With hundreds of programming languages to choose from, how do you know which to pick?

To answer this question, we spoke to Nabaraj Chapagain, who has spent a decade in roles such as Front End Developer, Full Stack Developer, Full Stack Engineer and Head of Development and Project Management.

Today, he is the Technical Director for the Nepal outpost of a UK-based media, content and creative agency. Below are Chapagain’s picks for best programming languages, based on their popularity and demand from employers.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the best programming languages you can learn in 2024. Mainly used for creating interactive websites, it is essential for web development. 

It has since expanded beyond web development to include server-side programming, mobile app development, game development and more.

Major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix rely heavily on JavaScript for their web applications and services. 

As such, it remains the most popular programming language because it is supported by all major web browsers, making it accessible to virtually every internet user. 

JavaScript also allows for content updates on web pages without requiring a page reload. This interactivity enhances user experience, making it indispensable for web development.

You can learn this programming language through websites like Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and Udemy. These platforms provide courses for beginners with interactive exercises, video tutorials and projects.

There are also books available on JavaScript catering to different learning styles and proficiency levels. “Eloquent JavaScript” by Marijn Haverbeke and “You Don’t Know JS” series by Kyle Simpson are some examples.

With consistent practice and focus, you can grasp the basics of JavaScript within a few weeks to a couple of months. 

best programming languages to learn

Python programming language comes from an old BBC television comedy sketch series called Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Source: AFP

2. Python

Python is a high-level programming language designed to be easy to read and write, making it one of the best programming languages to learn, especially for beginners. 

It is useful in a number of fields, including web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computing and automation.

Because of its versatility, it consistently ranks among the most popular programming languages in the world and Python developers are in big demand with companies willing to pay competitive salaries

You can learn this programming language online and offline through tutorials, courses and even books. Websites like Codecademy, Coursera and Udemy offer courses for beginners, while YouTube has plenty of free tutorials covering different aspects of Python programming. 

3. Java

Though it has been around since the 1990s, Java is still one of the best programming languages to learn. 

Java is renowned for its “write once, run anywhere” capability. This means that Java code can run on any device that supports Java without needing to be changed. 

As such, it can be used to develop a wide range of applications, from desktop to mobile and web applications.

Many large corporations and organisations rely on Java to develop secure applications. For example, banking systems, e-commerce platforms and even Android mobile apps are often built using Java.

Being well-versed in Java can open the doors to many career opportunities with Java developers  among the highest-paid professionals in the software development field.

To become one of them, you can sign up for a course on Coursera, Udemy and Codecademy.

best programming languages to learn

C++ is a popular beginner-friendly programming language. Source: AFP

4. C++

C++ is considered one of the best programming languages to learn because it is widely used for developing system software, game engines, desktop applications and embedded systems like those found in cars and medical devices.

Many industries, including finance, gaming and aerospace, rely on C++ for complex computations and to manage system resources.

Whether you’re interested in developing software for desktop platforms, mobile devices or even low-level systems programming, C++ has you covered. The C++ code can be easily integrated with other languages.  

5. Swift 

Swift is a programming language developed by Apple. It was designed to be fast, safe and expressive. Initially introduced in 2014, Swift has gained popularity and is now used for developing iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS applications.

As it is designed with safety in mind, it helps developers write code that is less prone to errors and crashes. 

The syntax of Swift is clean and easy to read, so it is easy for beginners and more efficient for experienced developers.

Platforms like Udemy, Coursera and Codecademy offer courses tailored to learning Swift for iOS development.

Apple also provides tutorials for Swift on its official website, which is a great starting point for beginners.

best programming languages to learn

Golang is one of the programming languages used on Google Cloud. Source: AFP

6. Go 

Go, also known as Golang, is one of the best programming languages you can learn in 2024. 

Designed by Google, it focuses on simplicity, efficiency, and concurrency. 

Companies like Google, Uber, Dropbox, and Docker use Go to build web servers and APIs. Its built-in concurrency features make it efficient for handling multiple requests simultaneously, leading to high-performance web applications.

Many cloud platforms, including Google Cloud Platform and AWS, support Go. This makes it suitable for system programming tasks, such as building operating systems and network programmes.

You can learn Go through platforms like Coursera, Udemy and Pluralsight. These courses cover language fundamentals, concurrency and projects.

There are also books available on Go programming, such as “The Go Programming Language” by Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan.

7. Kotlin 

Kotlin is a programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). It was developed by JetBrains to address some of the shortcomings of Java while maintaining existing Java codebases.

One of the main uses of Kotlin is in Android app development. Many developers find Kotlin to be more concise, expressive and safer than Java, which has led to an increase in productivity and fewer bugs in their code.

With its rise in popularity, knowing Kotlin can enhance your career prospects. Companies such as Google, Pinterest and Square use Kotlin for their Android apps.

You can learn Kotlin through online platforms, tutorials and courses. Websites like Udacity, Coursera, and JetBrains offer comprehensive Kotlin courses for beginners.

best programming languages to learn

Whether your four or 40, learning the best programming languages will help you develop problem-solving skills and logical thinking. Source: AFP

8. Rust 

Rust is a programming language that emphasises safety and performance. It was developed by Mozilla Research and first released in 2010.

What makes Rust one of the best programming languages to learn is its ability to provide memory safety without sacrificing performance. 

As such, Rust is popular where reliability and security are essential, such as embedded systems, operating systems and networking infrastructure.

Learning Rust can be challenging for beginners due to its emphasis on memory safety and ownership concepts. However, there are many resources available to help you get started. Online platforms like Udemy, Coursera and Pluralsight offer Rust courses for learners of all levels. 

For someone with a solid understanding of programming fundamentals, mastering this language may take a few weeks to a few months. However, becoming proficient in Rust’s advanced features may take more time and practice.

9. PHP 

PHP, which stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a widely used open-source scripting language designed for web development. It’s mainly used for creating dynamic web pages and web applications. PHP code is embedded within HTML, making it easy to integrate with web content.

This programming language is one of the best programming languages to learn, and popular platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are built on PHP.

It can be used for many purposes, such as server-side scripting, command-line scripting and even building desktop applications. Its flexibility makes it suitable for small websites and large-scale web applications.

Many companies actively seek PHP developers to maintain existing websites, develop new web applications and contribute to open-source projects.

best programming languages to learn

Airbnb was built from scratch using the Ruby on Rails web application framework. Source: AFP

10. Ruby 

Ruby was created in the mid-1990s by Yukihiro Matsumoto and has since gained popularity for its syntax and flexibility.

It is mainly used for building web applications and websites. Many popular websites, including Airbnb, GitHub and Shopify, have been built using Ruby.

However, though Ruby is commonly used for web development, it can also be used for other types of software development, such as scripting and automation.

Platforms like Udemy, Coursera and Codecademy offer courses for those interested in learning Ruby.