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Which programming languages pay most in 2019?

Updated June 2019

There is seemingly endless debate about which programming languages are the most popular and a plethora of sites that are all dedicated to trying to work it out from the Tiobe Index, Redmonk, Github, PYPL, IEEE Spectrum to the yearly Stack Overflow Survey.  We’ve even dabbled in the debate ourselves with our Most Popular Programming Languages 2019 article blog

While it’s great to see which languages other developers like using because they’re lovely to work with, have fabulous documentation, a vast helpful user community or are less prone to sanity-sapping errors -  there’s only one major issue

If businesses aren’t looking for your preferred language then you’re a bit stumped.  If you want to learn and use the language in your spare time, then good for you.  But if you want to pay the bills and lead the life you dream of then you’ve got to keep an eye on what is happening in the market too. 

The best developers often have a suite of programming languages under their belts, and it would be sensible to include a few that are guaranteed to earn you a good salary but also have enough demand to give you a variety of different jobs and companies to work for

We've taken the Top 50 most popular programming languages from the latest Tiobe Index as a base and have then sorted them by either Average Salary or Day Rate Advertised in the last six months in the UK (using ITJobsWatch data).  We've also added in the number of Perm and Contract jobs so you can sanity check if there is enough demand for those skills too and that they're not just anomalies.

Caveats - 1) The salary and pay data is based on jobs advertised which aren't always the same as the final agreed pay rate 2) The number of jobs advertised is based on the particular skill/language mentioned in an advert resulting in a potential skew towards skills/languages that regularly appear alongside other skills/languages

Permanent developer jobs that pay most in 2019 (UK)

The number of permanent IT jobs for the top 20 highest paying languages has dropped 11% in the last year while the average salaries have increased by nearly 7%

 

Programming Language

No. of Perm jobs

Jobs change

Average salary

Salary change

1

PL/I

7

new

£95,000

 new

2

Clojure

238

-51

£75,000

£10,000

3

Haskell

182

-1

£72,500

£7,500

4

Swift

160

8

£70,000

£10,000

5

Scala

2471

-831

£70,000

£0

6

Go

1565

175

£67,500

£2,500

7

Lua

104

new

£67,500

new

8

F#

214

new

£67,500

new

9

ML

27

new

£67,500

new

10

Rust

107

63

£67,500

-£10,000

11

Groovy

520

new

£62,700

new

12

Kotlin

874

365

£62,500

-£2,500

13

Java

21543

-5171

£60,000

£5,000

14

Python

16158

176

£60,000

£2,500

15

ABAP

284

-278

£60,000

£2,500

16

Objective-C

705

new

£57,500

new

17

Ruby

3310

-2118

£57,500

£5,000

18

Perl

1947

-711

£57,500

£2,500

19

R

1941

-89

£57,500

-£2,500

20

Bash

3356

-140

£57,500

£2,500

Contract developer jobs that pay most in 2019 (UK)

The number of contract IT jobs for the top 20 highest paying languages has dropped nearly 10% in the last year while the average salaries have increased by just over 5%

 

Programming Language

No. of contract jobs

Jobs change

Average daily rate

Daily Rate  change

1

ML

3

new

£750

new

2

Rust

30

16

£663

£38

3

Haskell

54

-15

£650

£175

4

Swift

138

-2

£550

£50

5

Go

673

-12

£550

£25

6

Scala

1383

-479

£550

£0

7

Clojure

88

-10

£550

-£63

8

Java

11460

-2316

£525

£25

9

Python

7424

264

£525

£0

10

Ruby

1430

-607

£525

£25

11

Groovy

463

new

£525

new

12

R

716

-85

£525

£0

13

F#

47

new

£525

new

14

Kotlin

375

75

£525

£15

15

Bash

1532

-320

£525

£25

16

Perl

839

-508

£500

£12

17

Lua

17

new

£500

new

18

Prolog

1

new

£500

new

19

TypeScript

1448

306

£500

£25

20

Apex

311

72

£500

£0

 

Languages that pay well AND are in high demand

Scala

Scala is a high-level general purpose language that companies use for all types of things from machine learning to web apps, and it scales incredibly well (hence the name?).  It includes functional and object-oriented programming and relies on the JVM runtime.

Some believe that Scala is complex and hard to understand and even dangerous at times, but if written well it should be easier to read and understand than most other languages

The number of both Permanent and Contract jobs have decreased using Scala this year although there are plenty still out there and the pay level remains high so it’s still a great language to focus on

Go

Go, or Golang is best known for being the language from Google that is used for Docker Container systems and has leapt in popularity over recent years with demand for Permanent Go developers continuing to rise and pay increases for both Contract and Permanent.  It is popular in startups but also big corporations and is easy to use and super fast with low-level features and can compile down to a static binary that doesn’t have any dependencies – so no dependency conflicts or mad installs

R

R helps data analysts and mathematicians (it was built for mathematicians) solve data issues in a simply and efficiently.  It allows you to do your data acquisition, cleansing and analysis all in one place and its visualisation tools are great too.  Employers particularly like R skills because it may mean that they can save by not having to buy proprietary statistics packages

The demand for R as a language is slowly decreasing as are permanent salaries, but there are still many well paid R jobs out there

Python

2019 is all about Python - it's hugely popular with developers, easy to learn and there are lots of well-paid jobs - it's the perfect match.  Much of the rise in demand for Python developers is attributed to the changes in data science and machine learning in recent years and Pythons applicability and versatility to data analysis.  If you're starting in the world of developmen,t this is the obvious place to start

Java

Java has been around forever and is still the language most in demand, but it is starting to lose ground.  But let’s face it – Java is in everything and everywhere so it’s not going anywhere fast and salaries are increasing significantly for experienced Java developers

Perl

Perl is implemented in a vast amount of companies, often on legacy systems admittedly, but where you need to work on something text related (especially in Asian languages), it comes into its own.  It remains popular with system and network admins and web developers but maybe if you’re looking for a new language to focus on it shouldn’t be at the top of your list with demand dropping - but the pay is increasing so if you're already experienced in Perl it could serve you well

Bash Shell and PowerShell

Bash is a Unix shell and a command processor often used for Linux distributions, Windows10 and the macOS.  It is arguable whether it's a language as usually only a few lines of script are used, but it is used regularly on all types of systems and can be productive.  It is especially handy in an emergency where other tools aren’t available and is super useful for DevOps working in Unix like environments for deploying, managing, repairing and automating systems.  If you’re a serious developer, it is considered to be something you should be able to use

Bash Shell and PowerShell are both popular currently, but Bash is faster with a limited syntax while Powershell has a more consistent syntax structure.  Bash Shell, therefore, may be easier to get to grips with initially and certainly one that is valuable to add to your toolkit

Ruby

Ruby is still in high demand in the Web dev world, and a significant number of DevOps tools such as Chef and Puppet are written in it.  It probably isn’t the language that everyone is talking about currently and isn’t in a period of huge growth but don’t let that put you off – Ruby developers often love Ruby and find it ‘beautiful’ to use and average pay has increased by £5000 this year for permanent Ruby jobs which is very encouraging to stay with it

TypeScript

Typescript is a Microsoft language which is a superset of JavaScript used for the development of large applications.  If you’re working in a team and need to build something that has to be scaled and maintained for a long time, then TypeScript is often the preferred option by companies.  It is a rarer skill than JavaScript hence the demand for experienced Contractors being high

Added 17-Jun-2019

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