Main image of article Python, Java Top List of Languages In-Demand by Employers

Which programming languages do employers most want their employees to master? According to a new breakdown by IEEE Spectrum, Python tops that particular list, followed by Java, C, C++, and JavaScript.

In order to arrive at its conclusions, IEEE Spectrum analyzed 11 metrics from eight sources. Those sources included Hacker News, Stack Overflow, Github, CareerBuilder, Twitter, Google Search, and Google Trends. The organization’s resulting list of the top programming languages is interactive and filterable; with a few clicks, you can create (for instance), a custom job-centric ranking:

Why are these languages in particular in such high demand among employers? At least in the case of Python, the answer is pretty straightforward: in addition to being an immensely popular general-purpose language, more and more technologists within companies are adapting Python to specialist ends, including (but certainly not limited to) machine learning and finance IT. No wonder a JetBrains survey from earlier this year found that Python was the most-studied language among developers; knowing it can boost your career.

The rest of these rankings should be pretty clear to technologists, as well: Java, C, C++, JavaScript, C#, and HTML have massive mountains of legacy code behind an uncountable number of enterprise-related websites, mobile apps, and embedded systems. Even if companies stopped creating new software tonight, they would still need many thousands of full-time employees and contractors to maintain that legacy code for many years to come.

The newest language on the top part of IEEE’s list, Swift, is there thanks to the enduring popularity of the iOS/macOS ecosystem. If a company wants to build iOS apps for either internal or customer-facing use, they’re increasingly likely to utilize Swift, which Apple has positioned as the successor to its decades-old Objective-C.

The one specialized language in the top 10, MATLAB, is a nod to businesses’ continuing need for analytics and computing, especially in the fields of economics and engineering. No huge surprises there.

What’s the takeaway for developers and other technologists? If you’re looking to build out your “employable” programming skills, it still pays off to focus on the well-established, “old school” languages such as Python. Newer languages might be exciting to explore and tinker with, but companies ultimately use languages with substantial history and documentation—and they need developers who can often understand and manage legacy code in addition to building new services and applications.