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Top 10 Programming Languages 2021

Learn Python. That’s the biggest takeaway we can give you from its continued dominance of IEEE Spectrum‘s annual interactive rankings of the top programming languages. You don’t have to become a dyed-in-the-wool Pythonista, but learning the language well enough to use one of the vast number of libraries written for it is probably worth your time.

Once you’ve got the basics of Python down, it’s all about the ins and outs of particular libraries for things like embedded projects and large-scale AI systems. Frankly, depending on the domain, complexity, and/or quality of documentation, grokking one can be considerably tougher than learning Python itself.

But Python has its limits, as the continued popularity of languages better suited to solving particular problems, such as R, SQL, and Matlab, shows. C, C++, Java, and Javascript also continue to dominate at the top of the rankings, both on their own merits and because of the huge existing base of code written in them. (Indeed, significant parts of Python itself and its libraries are written in C for performance reasons.) And while many a high-level language has come and gone, there’ll always be a place for those willing to write as close to the metal as possible in some flavor of assembly code.

It’s precisely because one size doesn’t fit all that our rankings are interactive. Want to just see languages that are used for embedded development? Those most in demand by employers? What’s hot for web development? Use one of our filters or presets, or adjust the weights of the individual metrics as you like.

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