The 4 most in-demand programming languages

It’s no secret that software developers are in high demand around the world. The digital skills crisis has meant that good developers are not only hard to find, but often have the luxury of choosing from more than one job offer. 

So what makes a 'good developer'? As an IT recruiter, Cathcart Associates knows the skills employers that look for in a web developer.

Here are four languages that just keep on cropping up. You might also want to see our guide to the best laptops for programming to make sure you're well equipped to start out in the field.

Not all programming languages were created equal

Not all programming languages were created equal (Image credit:

01. C#

C# is an incredibly popular language among developers and employers alike. It’s designed to be relatively easy and straightforward, and is primarily used to develop web, mobile and enterprise applications while supporting imperative, functional and object-orientated paradigms.

There are a couple of reasons why C# developers are highly sought-after by employers. The first is because of the language’s flexibility and usability, which makes it a hit for businesses worldwide.

The second is that it was developed by Microsoft to build apps on the Microsoft platform. As a result, it fits in with most common Microsoft IT infrastructure, which many companies have embedded at their core.

02. PHP

Another hugely popular option is PHP, an open source, server-side scripting language. Millions of websites across the world are powered by PHP, including high-profile sites such as Facebook and Wikipedia.

PHP is a language that is popular among employers because it’s all over the web and is used extensively in the development of open source projects, such as WordPress

There has been a marked increase in PHP’s popularity over the years, and now it’s so popular that many companies are competing against one another to get their hands on good PHP talent. The good news for PHP developers is that there are no signs of this demand slowing down.

Cathcart Associates recruit developers for many IT companies

Cathcart Associates recruit developers for many IT companies

03. Java

Java is an old favourite among developers (and we use the word ‘old’ because it's over 20 years old). It’s popular because it’s relatively easy and versatile – an attractive proposition for corporations and developers. It also has many users, many existing applications and such a vast ecosystem. 

In 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that of 105,000 IT jobs available in the UK, 13,000 of them were in Java-specific roles. Java also has a reputation for being a stable language, which is one key reason why the job market is showing sustained hunger for developers in this field. 

Furthermore, employers who have been on the block for a long time tend to seek Java developers because they have Java integrated into their systems.

04. JavaScript

JavaScript’s popularity is unrelenting. It’s a versatile, object-orientated programming language that it is built into most major browsers, including Firefox and Safari. Despite having been around for a while, JavaScript has managed to hold its own against the onslaught of new languages that have emerged. Many would regard it as a ‘need to know’ language to help further a career.

A significant number of developer jobs out there have some kind of requirement for JavaScript, which is why they are so popular among employers. 

But if you're a JavaScript developer, you shouldn’t get too comfortable. Its popularity and the fact that many roles have a basic JavaScript requirement means that you'll need to work hard to stand out from the crowd.

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Sam Wason and Gordon Kaye are joint managing directors at IT recruiter Cathcart Associates.