9 Top Programming Languages for 2022 (And Why Devs Love Them)

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 10 minutes
September 22, 2022

Choosing the best programming languages to learn in 2022 for your job future — or even just to learn as a hobby — can be tough. 

But in reality, the languages you learn really depend on two things: your personal preferences, and what you want to use them for. 

That’s why we’ve pulled together the most popular programming languages used in 2022, to help you find the ones that work for you.

So, what are the best programming languages to learn in 2022?

The top programming languages of 2022

  1. C/C++
  2. JavaScript
  3. R
  4. Swift
  5. PHP
  6. Go/Golang
  7. MATLAB
  8. C#
  9. Kotlin

Low-level vs. high-level language: Understanding the levels of programming

Before we dive in, you need to understand how programming languages are classified

Low-level languages are also known as machine code. They’re designed to be easy for machines to understand — which, in practice, means they’re expressed in binary code. Each low-level language is designed for one type of processor and is tailored to the capabilities and specifications of that processor. 

A high-level language is user-oriented; it’s designed to be easy for humans to understand, so everything is written in normal human language. That means you can give instructions using everyday words — for example, you’ll see Python programmers using words like “input,” “total,” and “count” to tell the machine what to do. High-level language needs to be run through a compiler or translator to make it readable by a machine. It’s also much less memory-efficient than low-level languages. 

Now, let’s dive into the top programming languages for 2022. 

C/C++: One of the most popular programming languages in 2022

Difficulty level

Hard 

Future job prospects

  • Junior or senior programmer
  • Software developer
  • Game developer
  • C/C++ analyst 
  • Back-end developer

Pros

  • Highly portable — C and C++ can easily run on lots of different operating systems. 
  • Lots of control over memory management — C++ supports dynamic memory allocation (DMA), which helps to free up memory and lets you allocate memory more flexibly.
  • Object-oriented — C and C++ treat data as an object, which makes it much easier to sort data while you’re writing code. It also allows the code to be reused, which can be a huge time-saver. 
  • A huge C++ community — Devs are pretty fanatical about C++ in particular, so you’ll easily be able to find online courses, lectures, and podcasts to help you get to grips with it.  

        Cons

        • Highly complex — If you’re just starting out, you might want to learn a simpler language first. 
        • Pointers in C++ take up lots of memory — This might slow you down if you’re working on a big project. They can also crash your whole system or corrupt your memory if you enter the wrong values. 
        • No garbage collection — This gives you more control over your memory management, but also means that you might accidentally end up storing redundant data, eating into your memory.

          JavaScript — One of the most used programming languages in 2022 

          Difficulty level

          Easy

          Future job prospects

          • Frontend developer 
          • Full stack developer
          • Mobile app developer 
          • Software engineer
          • Web designer 
          • Back-end developer 
          • JavaScript developer

          Pros

          • Easy to learn — JavaScript is one of the simplest programming languages, making it a favorite with new developers. 
          • Pairs well with other programming languages — JavaScript can be inserted into any web page and used in lots of different kinds of applications. 
          • (Pretty much) everyone uses JavaScript — JavaScript is one of the most used programming languages in 2022. If you want to keep your job prospects wide open, it’s a great bet.
          • It’s fast — Because it’s an interpreted language, it doesn’t have to be constantly compiled. That speeds up the whole dev process. 

                Cons

                • Relying on it can lead to bad habits — It’s pretty difficult to break JavaScript — it’s not very strict when it comes to conventions and rules. But that might mean you develop bad habits that aren’t corrected until you take on another language.
                • Browser inconsistencies — Different browsers can interpret JavaScript differently, so your users might complain about inconsistent experiences. 
                • Client-side security is weak — Any user can view your JavaScript code, so it’s more easily tampered with than other languages. 

                  Is “R” a top programming language of 2022?

                  Difficulty level 

                  Hard 

                  Future job prospects 

                  • Data scientist 
                  • Data analyst 
                  • Statistician 
                  • Data architect 
                  • R programmer

                  Pros 

                  • Perfect for statistical computing and analysis — R is the most used language for developing statistical tools, and a favorite of analysts and data scientists everywhere. 
                  • Open source — Being open source means R is license-free and very easy to customize to your needs and preferred data analysis techniques. 
                  • Huge range of packages — If you can think of a statistical technique, there’s probably already a relevant R package out there primed and ready to go. 
                  • Compatible with lots of other programming languages — R plays well with a wide range of languages, including Java, C++, and Python.  

                        Cons

                        • Takes up lots of memory — Especially compared to a language like Python. This can make it difficult to use in big-data contexts.
                        • No built-in security — R doesn’t have the basic security of languages like Python, which means it can’t be, for example, embedded into a web application. 
                        • Hard to learn — It’s as difficult to learn as C++, so it’s usually a no-go for beginner programmers. 
                        • Runs slowly — The programs and functions in R are spread across lots of different packages, which can make it much slower than other languages. 

                              Swift — The agile, simple language backed by Apple

                              Difficulty level

                              Easy 

                              Future job prospects

                              • Swift developer 
                              • iOS developer
                              • Mobile software engineer
                              • Swift analyst 
                              • Mobile developer

                              Pros 

                              • Open source — Learning Swift gives you access to a whole community of devs to network with, ask for help, and share tips and tricks with. It’s also constantly being updated and refined. 
                              • Speedy development — Swift is quite easy to read and write — it doesn’t use semicolons, it supports international languages, and it even accepts emojis. That simplicity makes it one of the most popular programming languages in 2022.
                              • Backed by Apple — Swift was created by Apple in 2014. With a goliath like Apple behind it, Swift is likely to remain popular for quite some time, making learning it a good investment of your time. 

                                  Cons

                                  • Relatively young — Although Apple’s backing has made Swift popular, it’s still relatively young compared to other programming languages. That means the community is very small compared to other open-source communities. 
                                  • Backward compatibility issues — New versions of Swift don’t support earlier versions of iOS. 
                                  • Hard to find well good integrated development environments (IDEs) — Swift’s official IDE is Xcode, which generally works fine, but you’ll struggle to integrate it with other IDEs. 

                                      PHP — The free, flexible open-source language

                                      Difficulty level 

                                      Easy 

                                      Future job prospects 

                                      • Software developer 
                                      • Software engineer
                                      • Web developer
                                      • Desktop application developer

                                      Pros

                                      • PHP is open source — This means it’s free, has a large support community, and is constantly being refined. 
                                      • Lots of documentation This makes it easy to learn the ropes and find fixes for issues. 
                                      • Platform independent — PHP-based applications are very flexible and can run on any OS. 
                                      • Easy to learn — You’ll pick PHP up fast, especially if you’re familiar with C programming.
                                      • Web pages load about three times faster than Python — This can be very important for SEO as well as for user satisfaction. 

                                              Cons 

                                              • Not very secure — Being open source, the ASCII text file for PHP applications is very easy to access. 
                                              • Lack of debugging tools — There are some out there, but not very many. This makes it hard to uncover errors or warnings. 
                                              • Poor performance — This is the big one. PHP can’t support many features at one time, so using it for online applications can have a huge impact on performance. 

                                                  Go (otherwise known as Golang) — Google’s fast-compiling programming language 

                                                  Difficulty level

                                                  Easy 

                                                  Future job prospects 

                                                  • Data engineer 
                                                  • Database administrator
                                                  • Software developer
                                                  • Back-end software engineer
                                                  • Web developer
                                                  • Cloud developer

                                                  Pros 

                                                  • Easy to learn — Go’s syntax is small and fairly easy to remember, plus it’s very easy to read. 
                                                  • Super-fast compiling — Compiling to machine code makes it much faster than languages that are interpreted or have virtual runtimes. 
                                                  • Very robust static analysis tools — Any errors or warnings are easily found and fixed. 
                                                  • Built-in security — Its simplicity makes it much easier to identify errors that might cause security issues and write safe, clean code. 

                                                        Cons

                                                        • Simplicity can mean a lack of flexibility — There’s not much high-level functionality in Go, which limits what you can do with it.
                                                        • Still a young language — Like Swift, Go suffers from a small community and a lack of supported libraries — although both are growing fast. 
                                                        • Huge file sizes — The lack of a virtual machine (VM) can make Go relatively inefficient, making Go file sizes huge compared to those of other languages. 

                                                            MATLAB — The engineer’s favorite language 

                                                            Difficulty level 

                                                            Easy 

                                                            Future job prospects 

                                                            • Research scientist 
                                                            • Data scientist 
                                                            • Mechanical engineer
                                                            • Control systems engineer 
                                                            • Chemical engineer 

                                                            Pros 

                                                            • Easy to use — And easy to learn, of course, making it perfect for beginners.
                                                            • Huge community — Engineers of all kinds love MATLAB, so it’s easy to find support and advice. 
                                                            • Platform independent — MATLAB works on most major computer systems, and programs written in MATLAB can easily be ported between different systems too.
                                                            • Huge language library — There’s something for everyone and every situation, covering a huge range of predefined functions and special-purpose toolboxes. 

                                                                  Cons

                                                                  • Runs very slowly — MATLAB is an interpreted language, meaning it executes more slowly than compiled languages. 
                                                                  • Expensive to use — The cost of the language license is very high compared to its competitors. 

                                                                    C# — The cross-platform, fast-running alternative to C

                                                                    Difficulty level 

                                                                    Easy 

                                                                    Future job prospects 

                                                                    • Cloud developer
                                                                    • Mobile developer
                                                                    • Game developer 
                                                                    • Data scientist 
                                                                    • Machine learning engineer 

                                                                    Pros 

                                                                    • Object oriented As with C++, C# treats data as an object, making it easier to test, read, and reuse code in this language. 
                                                                    • Runs very fast — C# has very short compilation and execution times, making it one of the most rapid languages out there. 
                                                                    • Automatic memory management — Programmers love that they can spend less time worrying about memory organization, and more time on their code. 
                                                                    • Cross-platform — C# is designed to work across any .NET platform and take advantage of the huge number of libraries, components, and features that come with the .NET Core framework.
                                                                    • Plays well with other languages — C# code can work well with applications written in C++, F#, Visual Basic, and Windows PowerShell. 

                                                                            Cons 

                                                                            • Compilation can slow down development — C# is a compiled language, meaning your code has to be compiled every time you make a change. 
                                                                            • Only runs on Windows — With Linux servers becoming more and more common, this can be very limiting, even with all the advantages of the .NET platform integrations. 

                                                                              Kotlin — The language that brings together power and simplicity 

                                                                              Difficulty level 

                                                                              Easy

                                                                              Future job prospects 

                                                                              • Web developer
                                                                              • Software engineer 
                                                                              • Kotlin/Java engineer 
                                                                              • Android developer

                                                                              Pros

                                                                              • Straightforward syntax — Although Kotlin is a very powerful language, its syntax is pretty simple. That makes Kotlin easy to learn and any errors in your code easy to uncover. 
                                                                              • Plays well with Java — Kotlin and Java are very similar (though Kotlin is much more concise) and Kotlin actually positions itself as 100% Java-interoperable. 
                                                                              • …And even improves on Java in some areas — Kotlin uses lots of the same concepts and libraries as Java, but streamlines many Java syntactic constructs. 
                                                                              • Very reliable — Kotlin’s developer, JetBrain, put the language through intense alpha and beta testing before releasing it, so it’s significantly less buggy and more reliable than many other languages. 

                                                                                    Cons

                                                                                    • Compilation isn’t as fast as Java — This is one of the areas Kotlin hasn’t managed to improve on. Java always wins for clean, fast-compiled builds. 
                                                                                    • Adoption is slow — Kotlin is relatively new, and lots of companies still aren’t using it. This might limit your job prospects. 
                                                                                    • Support and learning resources are sparse — Kotlin is new enough — and the community is small enough — that you might struggle to find answers to your questions or specific libraries for certain challenges. 

                                                                                      You’ve learned a programming language — what’s next? Speeding up your compilations 

                                                                                      All of the programming languages we’ve covered here have their own benefits and drawbacks. But once you’re embedded in the world of programming, you’ll come up against the same roadblock with every single language: slow compilation times holding back your efficiency. 

                                                                                      Even the languages that are known for their fast compilations can really slow down your day (and drive you a little crazy in the process). 

                                                                                      If you want to spend less time waiting around for your code to compile, we’re here to help. 

                                                                                      Incredibuild is built to radically accelerate every stage of development — including your compilation time — by harvesting idle CPU and emulating your local environment on remote machines. Just what you need to use any programming language to its full potential. 

                                                                                      Joseph Sibony
                                                                                      Joseph Sibony reading time: 10 minutes minutes September 22, 2022
                                                                                      September 22, 2022

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