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What Programming Languages Should I Learn?

Posted on 
September 2, 2021
Utkarsh Sahu
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About The Author!
Utkarsh Sahu
Utkarsh Sahu
Director of Category Management at Interview Kickstart || IIM Bangalore || NITW

Whether you’re new to the world of programming or a seasoned programmer looking to learn a new language, this article has something for you. This article focuses on helping you find the right programming language for you to learn next, no matter where you are starting from right now.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!

Having trained over 6,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors, hiring managers, and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

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In this article, we answer questions like:

What Programming Language Should I Learn First?

While there are many programming languages, the two most popular programming languages for beginners are Python and C. 

You can start with Python if:

  • You’re looking for a fun, easy to learn programming language 
  • You want to learn an object-oriented programming language
  • You want to accomplish a lot of complex programming operations without having to write a lot of complex-looking code

You can start with C if:

  • You want to start from the base language first and then build on top using OOP principles
  • You’re serious about making programming your profession and understanding it deeply
  • You want to understand and build things from scratch and want more control over what you can build

What Programming Language Should I Learn as an Intermediate?

If you know only one programming language, and that is not an OOP language, the next language you should learn is an OOP language. For example, if your first programming language was C, the next best programming language to learn would be C++ or Python.

You can choose C++ if:

  • You want the OOP language to feel more familiar and want it to be closer to C.
  • You want most of your C programs to run in the new language as well successfully. (C++ is designed to have backward compatibility with C)

You can choose Python if:

  • You want something easier to use and maintain compared to C++ and C.
  • You want to learn a completely different syntax that is also super easy to adopt.

If your first programming language was an OOP language, then you might want to consider the next language to be a low-level language like C if you:

  • Want increased control over what you can do and are ready to work without the help of several layers of abstraction
  • Want to have an in-depth understanding of programming and eventually become an expert

You might also consider learning another OOP language like C++ if you:

  • Want a slower, smoother transition to the syntax of a low-level language like C.
  • Want to learn OOP languages exclusively.

If you are exclusively interested in OOP languages, you can also go for languages like Java, Ruby on Rails, and C#.

What Programming Language Should I Learn in 2021?

In this section, we’ll look at the current most popular programming languages that you can learn. We’ve used the TIOBE index and PYPL index data to compile these lists.


The TIOBE index is an indicator of the popularity of programming languages based on search engine data. According to the TIOBE index, the most popular programming languages that you can learn are:

  1. C
  2. Python
  3. Java
  4. C++
  5. C#
  6. Visual Basic
  7. JavaScript
  8. PHP
  9. Assembly Language
  10. SQL

(As of August 2021)

PYPL Index

Based on the PopularitY of Programming Language Index, which works by analyzing how often language tutorials are searched on Google, the most popular languages worldwide that you can learn in 2021 are:

  1. Python
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. C#
  5. C/C++
  6. PHP
  7. R
  8. Objective C
  9. TypeScript
  10. Swift

High-Level Programming vs. Low-Level Programming Languages

There are many programming languages, and popularity is not necessarily the best indicator of which language best suits your needs. To find the best language for you, understanding the difference between high-level and low-level languages is crucial. 

Note: C and C++ do not have automatic memory management. Hence, they are now considered low-level languages. (Truly low-level languages, as we know, are machine code and assembly language.)

Also, note that contrary to what you might’ve thought intuitively, it’s low-level languages that require more advanced skills, not high-level languages. Low-level languages offer less abstraction, are less concerned with being user-friendly, provide more control, and are closer to the computer.

Recommended Reading: The Hardest and Easiest Programming Languages to Learn for FAANG Interviews

Now that we understand this, let us look at what your ideal programming languages would look like depending on your priorities.

What Programming Language Should I Learn — Based on Priority

Everyone has their reasons for wanting to learn a programming language. Based on your reasons, your requirements and priorities will also change. While some might be looking for efficiency, others might need more control. In this section, we’ve listed down the different “priorities” and what type of language would work best for you.

Speed and Memory Efficiency

You can explore mid-level languages that are now considered low-level, like C and C++, and see if that works for you. However, you may find that the control offered by high-level and mid-level languages does not suffice. In that case, you might want to learn more about low-level languages like assembly language and machine code.

Readability, Ease of Use, and Maintainability 

Python wins this category, by far, in many ways. Python is an OOP language with excellent readability and ease of use. You can achieve a lot just with a few lines of Python code that’d take over 10x lines of much more complex code in a language like C. 

Other than Python, languages like Java, Visual Basic, HTML, and JavaScript are also some languages that are easy to learn and use.

More Control Over Data Storage, Memory, and Computer Hardware

Again, mid-level and low-level languages will give you more control here. Languages like C and C++ would come in that category as they have no automatic memory management. In C and C++, you can, therefore, control memory management manually.

Higher-Paying Jobs

If your goal is earning a higher salary, the following are the top 10 programming languages you should go for. The figures are average salaries earned by Software Engineers working with the respective programming language.

Recommended Reading: Most Popular Coding Languages for FAANG Interviews in 2021

What Programming Language Should I Learn for Artificial Intelligence?

Python, Java, and Prolog are the most popular languages when it comes to AI programming. Python is preferred by more than 57% of Software Engineers over C++ when developing Artificial Intelligence solutions. Java, however, is preferred even more than Python when it comes to developing AI solutions. 

Java’s virtual machine technology makes it convenient to implement the code on different platforms. So if the code is written and compiled on one platform, there is no need to compile it on others. These factors make Java one of the best languages for AI.

What Programming Language Should I Learn for Blockchain?

Go, Java, Python, C++, Solidity, and C# are considered the best languages for blockchain development. Python may be an excellent choice for you to begin blockchain development if you’re a beginner since it has a huge open-source community. C++ is great if you have some experience. In fact, the development of Bitcoin involved C++. 

When it comes to Java, certain factors that make it incredibly useful for blockchain development include:

  • Java’s WORA (“Once Written, Run Anywhere”) functionality 
  • The use of universal JVM for execution, which makes programs independent of system-specific architecture

Recommended Reading: Most Popular Back-end Development Languages to Get a Job at FAANG

FAQs on Programming Languages You Can Learn

Q. What are some relatively new programming languages I can learn?

Here are some relatively new languages you might want to learn:

  1. Kotlin: Kotlin is Android’s first language, and within itself, it combines both OOP and functional programming features seamlessly. Designed to be completely interoperable with Java, Kotlin is a general-purpose language, has type inference, and provides features users ask for.
  2. Go: Go is a system-level programming language with simple scoping rules and a focused vocabulary. Go aims to use the best out of functional and object-oriented styles of programming. It is also the fastest-growing language on Github.
  3. Swift: Developed by Apple, Swift offers a simple, cohesive syntax to its users. Its development was inspired by languages like Python and Ruby and is secure, easy to learn, and has appreciable performance.
  4. Other than the top three mentioned here, some other relatively new programming languages you might want to check out include Scala, Elm, and Rust.

Q. How do I choose which programming language to learn next?

While this article provides a lot of information, you need to take into consideration a few factors that’ll help you decide the best language for you to learn next:

  • Who you are, and what you like about programming.
  • What your background and experience is in programming
  • What kind of work do you want to do going forward as a programmer
  • How much do you want to be able to earn as a programmer
  • Are you okay with trading syntax readability for more control over data storage, hardware, and memory

Q. As an intermediate-level programmer, how do I crack FAANG interviews?

If you need help with your technical interview prep, whether you’re a front-end software developer or a back-end coding engineer, consider joining Interview Kickstart. 

IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. 

Sign up for our FREE webinar to uplevel your career!

Last updated on: 
September 22, 2023

Utkarsh Sahu

Director, Category Management @ Interview Kickstart || IIM Bangalore || NITW.

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