Main image of article What Do the Most Popular Programming Languages Like Python Pay?

Which programming languages pay the most? That’s a topic of overwhelming interest to many technologists—and it’s also a complicated one.

What makes it complicated? For starters, many jobs demand you know a few programming languages. For example, an iOS developer job may require you to master Objective-C (to manage a legacy codebase), Swift (to build new apps), and SQL (to manage any related databases). Second, companies may pay radically different salaries for technologists with the same skills—a Java developer at deep-pocketed Google, for instance, will likely make more than their professional colleague at a tiny startup in Kansas City, even if they have similar abilities and experience.

With all that in mind, we can still attempt to peg a salary number to a particular programming language. Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass) collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, and it offers up the salaries associated with particular skills, including programming languages. Our selective list of programming languages comes from GitHut 2.0, which breaks down the most popular languages on GitHub. Here’s the resulting chart, along with Lightcast’s projections for language growth and current job postings featuring each language:

What can we conclude from this chart? Mastering some of the world’s most popular languages—especially the likes of Java, Python, TypeScript, and others—can earn you significant pay. In addition, these languages seem to have great short-term growth prospects, with numerous jobs available now.

How does this list compare to other breakdowns? The latest edition of Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Salary crunched data from 37,960 respondents and came back with some different answers. Check out their chart:

When it comes to the biggest payouts, Stack Overflow clearly leans toward smaller, more esoteric programming languages. And that makes sense; if the talent pool for an in-demand language or skill is small, then salaries will rise. That might be the case with Clojure, Erlang, F#, and the other programming languages on this list. (Ultra-popular programming languages such as Python, Java, and JavaScript ranked significantly lower, which could be a consequence of their ubiquity—when there’s a huge pool of talent for a particular language or tool, related salaries can potentially dip.) 

Whatever breakdown you prefer, a huge number of organizations need technologists skilled in a variety of programming languages. Mastering these languages can translate into job security, opportunity—and higher salaries.