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Lucy Oleschuk
Level 31

What Programming Language Should I Learn? A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your First Coding Language

Published in the Random group
It's no secret that more and more people are considering the transition into IT. According to statistics, people need approximately 12 months to make the final decision to switch to IT, which is two months longer compared to other industries. If you've managed to make the leap into IT more swiftly, congratulations! However, the decision to dive into the vast world of programming comes with its own questions, and perhaps the most crucial one is, "What programming language should I learn first?". Fear not, as we are here to guide you through this daunting decision-making process. What Programming Language Should I Learn? A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your First Coding Language - 1We'll help you navigate through different options and find the answer to the question, "What programming language should I learn". Read on.

Programming languages: types and peculiarities

With more than 700 programming languages out there, choosing the most optimal one for the start can be daunting. Programming languages serve various purposes, from building software and controlling machines to designing video games and creating mobile apps. Generally, we can divide all of them into high-level programming languages, low-level programming languages, markup programming languages, and query programming languages.
  • High-level programming languages like C, C++, Python, and Java are easy to understand as they have human-like syntax, making them simpler to read and write. They are best suited for developing web, PC, and mobile applications.
  • Low-level programming languages are intended for specific computer architecture and hardware to provide direct control over a computer's resources. They are commonly used for developing operating systems and device drivers.
  • Markup programming languages. Dissimilar to typical coding languages, markup languages like HTML involve annotating documents in a syntactically distinguishable way from the text, making them readable for both humans and machines.
  • Query programming languages excel in accurate data retrieval and mass collection. SQL, one of the most well-known query languages, is widely used in managing databases and is highly valued by employers for its simplicity and effectiveness.
For start, it’s better to choose some high-level programming languages as they are considered to be beginner-friendly with easy syntax and readability. Also, high-level languages are extremely versatile and applicable to various domains, including web development, software engineering, data analysis, AI, ML, and more. Because of their versatility, high-level programming languages are also widely used in the industry, leading to numerous job opportunities That being said, if you want to land a job faster, choosing a popular high-level programming language extensively used in real-world projects is also important. As of PYPL ranking of February 2024, the top 5 look as follows: What Programming Language Should I Learn? A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your First Coding Language - 2

How popularity is evaluated?

If you wonder by what criteria the popularity of programming languages is estimated, it all depends upon the specific ranking. For example, the PYPL index measures the popularity of programming languages based on the frequency of language tutorials searched on Google. The logic behind this approach is that the more people search for tutorials on a specific programming language, the more likely it is that this language is in demand or gaining popularity. The TIOBE Index has another methodology to evaluate the popularity of programming languages. The ranking is influenced by factors such as the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors related to a particular language. Currently, the top 5 looks as follows: What Programming Language Should I Learn? A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your First Coding Language - 3The specialists behind TIOBE process data from various sources, including search engines, social media, and coding repositories. Not without a reason, TIOBE stands for "The Importance of Being Earnest". Not only professional companies rank the programming languages. You can also find numerous surveys conducted by online communities for programmers. The most popular of them is the annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey. This survey gathers insights and data from developers worldwide, providing valuable information about the programming community, industry trends, technologies, tools, and various aspects of developers' lives and preferences. The top 5 among beginners in 2023 looked as follows: What Programming Language Should I Learn? A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your First Coding Language - 4Overall, rankings are cool things to watch out for. However, there are also certain "practical" factors to consider when choosing a programming language for starting your career in IT. Let's go through a realistic checklist using Java as an example. Is this programming language used in the development of modern and trending technologies? Java is widely used in evolving technologies like AI and ML, making it relevant in today's tech landscape. In which domains is the language utilized? Java finds applications in various domains, including web development, mobile app development, enterprise solutions, etc. How is the programming language supported? Java is well-supported and continuously developed to adapt to the changes in the IT sector and remain relevant. Java has stable graphics of updates — new versions are constantly improved and released twice a year. Which top companies use the language in their development? Many top companies, such as Google, Amazon, and Oracle utilize Java in their development projects. What is the size of its developer community? Java boasts one of the largest and most active developer communities, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Big community — is one of the key factors for newcomers. Is detailed documentation available? Java provides extensive and accessible documentation, which facilitates the coding process for developers. Is there a demand for this language in the current job market? As you may see from different rankings, Java is among the world's top 5 most popular languages. That’s why Java professionals are in great demand, making it an optimal language for newbies and those with a tech background.

Is there a difference in choosing a programming language for beginners and people with a technical background?

No! The main difference lies in the time you’ll need to grasp all the basic programming concepts. For example, complete newbies need, on average, 12-18 months to master programming from scratch and get their first job as a programmer. This timeframe can be shorter or longer depending on the individual's dedication and the quality of learning resources. Individuals with a technical background might learn to code more quickly, especially if they are already familiar with programming concepts and other languages. They could potentially become proficient in easy-to-learn programming languages like Java within a few months.

How much time does it take to learn a second or a third programming language?

It all depends on the language you choose. The rule of thumb is that if the new language is similar to the one(s) you already know, the learning curve may be gentler, and you might grasp the basic concepts swiftly. “When you know the fundamentals of programming and a certain programming language, learning another one doesn't take long. The hardest part about learning a programming language is the syntax, the classes to use, and the libraries. But if you put your head into it, it shouldn't take too much. You'll need two to three weeks to learn the entire language,” — says Edward Izraitel, a "CodeGym University" course mentor. The amount of time you dedicate to learning, your study habits, and the resources you use can also greatly impact how quickly you pick up a new programming language. As a general guideline, it might take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to become proficient in a new programming language, depending on the abovementioned factors. The key is consistent practice and hands-on coding.

Common questions when choosing a programming language

Here, we have narrowed down the frequently asked questions of people choosing a programming language for starting their IT career.

Which programming language is the easiest to learn?

The ease of learning varies, but high-level object-oriented languages like Python and Java are often considered beginner-friendly due to their clear syntax and readability.

How long does it take to learn a new programming language?

As we have already mentioned, complete beginners need approximately 12-18 months to learn their first programming language. However, if you have prior coding experience, a few months may be enough for you.

Which programming language is most in demand?

Today, languages such as Phyton, JavaScript, Java, and C# top the lists of different rankings. Java has been in demand for more than 25 years now because of its versatility and “write once, run anywhere” peculiarity.

Which programming language is best for getting a job?

Java is also a strong contender for job opportunities globally, especially in enterprise environments, web development, and Android app development.

Which programming language pays the most?

We bet nobody has the answer to this question. Salaries vary by location and job role, but languages associated with high-paying jobs mostly include Java, Python, and JavaScript.

How to succeed in learning to code

Even if you already decided to become a developer and are now choosing the first programming language to learn, there may still be some hindrances on your way.
  • you may get stuck at some point
  • you may lose motivation
  • you may feel overwhelmed with many resources and information you need to learn
  • you may just feel seared when learning to code for the first time
What can you do about that? Our advice is to:
  1. Set clear goals. Whether you’re willing to build a website, create a mobile app, dive into data science, or earn reasonable money, having a clear purpose will motivate you.
  2. Start with the basics. Begin with programming fundamentals, such as understanding variables, data types, control structures, and functions. Establishing a strong foundation will make it easier to tackle more complex concepts later.
  3. Choose the right language. Select a programming language based on your goals and interests. Java is often recommended for beginners due to its readability, applicability, demand, and strong communities.
  4. Join coding communities. From the above point, it’s easy to conclude that engaging with online coding communities, forums, and social media groups is a nice idea to stay on the path. Learning from others, asking questions, and participating in discussions can enhance your understanding and provide support.
  5. Practice regularly. Coding is a skill that improves with consistent practice.
  6. Take online courses. There is no better place to practice than taking online courses like CodeGym. The platform offers interactive lessons, practical exercises, real-world projects, and, most importantly, a structured plan. All these can help you master programming step-by-step without overwhelming yourself and losing motivation.
“When I was looking for courses, I saw a CodeGym commercial on Reddit. There was something like “learn programming solving small tasks”. That got me interested, did not sound complicated.” — says Tom, the CodeGym student.


In conclusion, choosing the first programming language can be challenging. We recommend you not consider the complexity of the language as the main factor. Instead, think of its prospects and your future demand as a professional in this language. Once you decide, make sure not to quit midway through the learning process. Set clear goals, stick to a structured plan, choose the right learning resources, and engage with coding communities. By following these tips, you can quickly master programming without feeling overwhelmed. Let’s do it!