What Is the Highest Paid Programming Language?

by Dana Severson

    Programming languages are the bread and butter for programmers, developers and analysts. They’re essentially the codes used to create programs, and computers use them as sort of instructions to display applications. As technology changes, so do the programming languages, and certain languages can pay more than others.

    As of 2013, the highest paying programming language was Java, a general purpose programming language well suited for the World Wide Web. On average, salaries for IT professionals with Java development skills were about $95,000 a year, according to Computerworld. A survey by Robert Half Technology, a national IT recruiter, supports this assessment, as developers, programmers and analysts with Java experience earn roughly nine percent more than their colleagues without such skills. For example, lead applications developers brought home $94,000 to $130,000 in 2013. With Java development skills, salaries jump to anywhere from $102,460 to $141,700 a year.

    The highest paying programming language isn’t actually the most in demand. This honor goes to SQL, or structured query language, a programming language used to manage, modify and access information within databases. In 2013, IT professionals with SQL skills earned an average of $90,000.

    Other languages that are both lucrative and in-demand are C, C++, C#, XML and Perl. Like Java, C is a general purpose programming language, and one of the most popular. In 2013, IT professionals with this development skill averaged $93,000 a year. C++ is a multipurpose programming language that borrows heavily from C, and IT professionals with this skill averaged $94,000 a year. C#, or C-Sharp, is a language used within XML-based Web services to improve Web-based applications. With this skill, IT professionals earned an average of $91,000 a year. XML, or extensible markup language, is often used in “office-based” applications, and provides an average salary of $92,000 for IT professionals. Perl isn’t a programming language people hear a lot about, but it helps developers work with text data. On average, IT professional with this skill brought home $93,000.

    Though certain programming languages are in higher demand, don’t discount those not as often seen on job boards. Craig Buckler, director of OptimalWorks, raises an interesting point in an article for SitePoint, explaining that certain programming skills are becoming increasingly rare, so the market adjusts. You may end up earning a higher salary for programming languages that fewer developers and programmers are familiar with. The job becomes harder and harder to fill, so employers tend to toss more money on the table to secure qualified candidates.

    About the Author

    Dana Severson has been copywriting since mid-2005, providing marketing collateral for businesses in the Midwest. Prior to this, Severson worked in marketing as a manager of business development, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others. His work can be seen on Beneath the Brand, Digital Pivot and On Marketing.

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