North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

Popular modern programming languages to learn for career progression

Posted on: February 14, 2022

Software development has progressed greatly since the inception of the Internet in the 1980s. As businesses become more digital-savvy, and as businesses are increasingly either predominantly or entirely based online, there has never been a better time to learn a modern programming language.

Learning a modern programming language takes time and patience, but whether you’re looking to learn your first or if you’re looking to add another one to your skill set, in the modern world of work this skill is invaluable.

A brief history of modern programming languages

In 1995, four new programming languages were released which changed the landscape for computer programming. Just as the Internet was beginning to make its way into the mainstream, Java, JavaScript, PHP and Ruby were all unleashed. Unknown at the time, these languages would all become staple tools for most software developers.

Prior to this, the most common programming languages were C and C++. Both of these were powerful and had formed the basis of software development, but as is now the norm for modern technology, an evolution was required. Despite the upsides of C and C++, they were not suited to the world wide web, and were considered complicated to new programmers.

In the 2000s, computing machines started to have multiple processors and many individual processors had more than one core. This change to computing hardware required programming languages that could adapt to the new technology. In order for these new multi-core processors to work at their full capacity, programming languages needed to be able to execute processes concurrently or in parallel.

Modern machines are powerful, and so they require programming languages which are quick and easy to read and write for optimum programmer productivity.

What are the most popular programming languages?

Different programming languages are used for different types of development, so choosing a programming language to learn will largely depend on what your career goals are. If you’re looking to learn a programming language, it is also worth considering not only the most commonly used languages, but the languages which are growing in popularity. By learning a programming language that is growing in popularity, you will develop skills that are in-demand in today’s job market.

The most in-demand programming languages for the different types of software development are:

  • Front-end web development: JavaScript, Elm, and TypeScript
  • Back-end web development: JavaScript, Scala, Python, Go, and Ruby
  • Mobile development: Swift, Java, Objective C, and JavaScript
  • Game development: Unity and TypeScript
  • Desktop applications: Scala, Go, and Python
  • Systems programming: Go and Rust


In Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey, JavaScript was rated the most popular language among developers with 70 percent of respondents noting they had used the programming language within the past year. 

JavaScript is predominantly used as a front-end language and many popular sites use it to create interactive web pages and to dynamically display content, including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and YouTube.

This programming language can also be used on the server-side through Node.js which is compatible with Linux, SunOS, Mac OS X, and Windows. Used in this way, JavaScript can build scalable network applications.


Used for app development of iOS and macOS mobile applications, Swift was released by Apple in 2014. 

Whilst still a relatively new modern programming language, iOS apps hold their place as the most profitable in the mobile app marketplace and iPhone use across the globe continues to grow, so learning this language could be an investment to futureproof your career.


Scala has similar features to Java such as its Object-Oriented Structure and speedy JVM runtime environment, but can also resemble pure math as a functional programming language. 

It allows concurrent programming, and is a strongly typed language so engineers can customise their own data types making bugs impossible at runtime.


The first official version of Go was released in 2012 by Google. It is a low-level language, which is ideal for building web servers, data pipelines, and even veers into data science territory as it can be used in creating machine learning packages. 

It is an open-source language, so developers can add their own contributions for other programmers to use.


Python is a popular first choice of programming languages to be learnt by beginners because it is user-friendly, clear, and intuitive. 

Often used for back-end development, the open-source Django framework has been written in Python which is a popular choice and has been used in the development of Mozilla, Instagram, and Spotify.


What started as a thesis by a Harvard student has now become a popular modern programming language used by front-end developers.

Elm is another functional programming language which software engineers can use to create client-side interfaces without the constrictions often imposed by HTML and CSS. 


Used as the basis for the Ruby on Rails web application framework, Ruby has an active community of users and straightforward syntax. 

This scripting language is popular in the tech sector, and many start-ups have used Ruby on Rails to build their websites. Use cases include Airbnb, Bloomberg, and Shopify.


Pronounced ‘C Sharp’, C# was originally designed by Microsoft as part of its .NET framework for building Windows applications. 

It is the go-to programming language for Microsoft app development, and is used by mobile developers to build cross-platform apps on the Xamarin platform. C# is also the recommended language for 3D and 2D video games and is used widely in VR development.

Become fluent in computer science

At the North Wales Management School, we have a 100% online MSc Computer Science degree which is studied part-time. Designed to fit around your current commitments, whether you’re looking to progress your career in computer science or change your career path into this exciting field, this degree is for you.

If your ambitions lie in software development, the Software Development for the Web module will introduce you to modern programming languages and popular platforms that programmers use, and will teach you how to design, build and deploy your own website project through a series of practical exercises.

Find out more about this online master’s degree, and learn the in-demand skills that make our computer science graduates sought-after in our rapidly-evolving digital world.