For beginners in the world of programming, the biggest dilemma is to decide where to begin or which popular language one should master for career benefits. At times, professional coders also face a situation where learning a new language seems more fruitful.

Whatever may be the reason, here is a list of the most popular programming languages across the world to know which languages are ruling the charts. This list of top programming languages is based on the data sourced from TIOBE Programming Community Index, which is a popular indicator of the popularity of programming languages.

TIOBE calculates the ratings by analyzing data from Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, Baidu, and YouTube. Variables like the number of professional developers worldwide, training courses, and third-party vendors have also factored in this list.

March 2020 headline:

The TIOBE Programming Community index is updated every month and the results for March 2020 are here. The top three most popular programming languages, namely Java, C, and Python continue to maintain their first, second and third position respectively. All top three languages are growing incrementally in terms of popularity each month. Let’s take a look at the other big changes:

Delphi to fall off TIOBE index top 20

The year 2020 seems to bring a farewell for the well-beloved Delphi language. Delphi has maintained its place in the top 20 since the beginning of the TIOBE index (which started in June 2001). In the early 2000s it was one of the most popular languages and IDEs. But now its popularity has declined drastically.

Go programming language is catching up quickly

In the previous Tiobe Index that was released a couple of months ago, Go was placed at 18th position. However, there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of this programming language since then as the rankings have upgraded from 18th to 10th position. This is by far, the biggest change in popular programming language rankings.

C# displaces Visual Basic .Net

C# has overtaken Visual Basic .Net by a small margin. At the same time, VB’s popularity has also shrunk this year. Recently, Microsoft announced that it will start deprecating VB .Net. Microsoft says that it will support Visual Basic on .NET 5 but also that it has no plans to evolve the language.

Top 10 Programming Languages In 2020

The following list contains the top 20 programming languages and their performance in comparison to last year’s ratings. After that, the top 10 languages have been individually described in brief:

Mar 2020 Mar 2019 Change Programming Language Ratings Change
1 1 Java 17.78% 2.90%
2 2 C 16.33% 3.03%
3 3 Python 10.11% 1.85%
4 4 C++ 6.79% -1.34%
5 6 C# 5.32% 2.05%
6 5 Visual Basic .NET 5.26% -1.17%
7 7 JavaScript 2.05% -0.38%
8 8 PHP 2.02% -0.40%
9 9 SQL 1.83% -0.09%
10 18 ↑↑ Go 1.28% 0.26%
11 14 R 1.26% -0.02%
12 12 Assembly language 1.25% -0.16%
13 17 ↑↑ Swift 1.24% 0.08%
14 15 Ruby 1.05% -0.15%
15 11 ↓↓ MATLAB 0.99% -0.48%
16 22 ↑↑ PL/SQL 0.98% 2.50%
17 13 ↓↓ Perl 0.91% -0.40%
18 20 Visual Basic 0.77% -0.19%
19 10 ↓↓ Objective-C 0.73% -0.95%
20 19 Delphi/Object Pascal 0.71% -0.30%

Now let’s talk about the ones that have managed to secure top 10 positions in this list:

1. Java – the undisputed winner

Java still continues to top the most popular programming language charts for the past several years. According to TIOBE’s data, Java has secured the first and second positions more than any other language for about a couple of decades.

A large number of renowned companies use Java to develop software and applications so if you happen to know Java, you definitely won’t have to struggle to find a job. The major reasons behind the popularity of Java are its portability, scalability and a large community of users.

Career Opportunity: Web developer, Application developer, EJB programmer, Software Developer, Tester, etc.

— Learn Java from Scratch

2. The good old C programming language

As one of the oldest programming languages, C still stands as one of the top programming languages, thanks to its portability feature and early adoption by tech giants including Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple. It can work with nearly every system and is highly suitable for operating systems and embedded systems.

Since it has a relatively small runtime, C makes the perfect choice for keeping such systems lean. Highly recommended for beginners, C is essentially the universal language of programming languages and has given birth to spinoffs like C++ and C# which are also quite popular.

Career Opportunity:  Software Developer, Application Developer, Tester

— C programming for beginners

3. Python – on the rise

The last 15 years have seen steady growth in the popularity of Python. This year too, Python has seen a significant rise in the index and deemed as one of the most popular programming languages. It has been able to secure a spot in the top 5 of the TIOBE index for the past couple of years.

As the major language behind some of the most promising technologies, today such as AI, machine learning, Big Data and robotics, Python has amassed a huge fanbase in recent years. You will be surprised by learning how easy it is to learn Python and this is the reason why many seasoned developers opt Python as their second or third language.

Career Opportunity: Software Engineer, Software Developer,  Web Developer, Quality Assurance Engineer, Data Science

— Python 3 Bootcamp

4. C++ continues to dominate

This object-oriented programming language was developed in the 1980s and is still found in numerous systems from desktop web apps to server infrastructure. C++ still remains in demand owing to its flexibility, performance and multiple contexts where you can use it.

A career in C++ would usually involve the development of desktop applications which are focused on performance-intensive tasks. Mastery of C++ can give a deeper understanding of how programming languages and help in acquiring low-level memory manipulation skills.

Career Opportunity: Operating Systems and Compilers, Database engines, Gaming industry, Financial platforms,
Embedded systems

— C++ for absolute beginners

5. C# – Game developers’ favorite

C# is a modern object-oriented programming language that was developed by Microsoft to rival Java, which was heavily used by business software developers at that time. It was designed for developing apps on the Microsoft platform and needs the .NET framework on Windows to work.

You can use C# to develop almost anything but it’s particularly strong in case of Windows desktop applications and games development. After seeing a constant decline in its popularity in the past two years, C# finally seems to gain traction as it has shifted one position upwards this year, pushing away Visual Basic .NET

Career opportunity: Game Developer, Application Engineer

— The Complete C# Foundation

6. Visual Basic .NET

Even though Visual Basic .NET continues to hold the sixth position as last year in the most popular programming languages list for 2020, there is an overall decline in the ratings of the language. It is one of Microsoft’s OOP languages that combines the power of .NET Framework-based classes and run-time environment.

Derived from VB6, it is well known for the development of GUI applications making tasks easier for programmers and improving productivity. For coders, VB .NET offers a fast and easy way to create desktop applications for the Windows platform as well as web-services and web development.

Career Opportunity: Senior Engineer, Software Developer, DevOps Engineer, QA Automation Engineer

— Guide to VB.NET

7. JavaScript is an essential

JavaScript has not only managed to secure the seventh position on the list for the third time among the top programming languages, but it has also gained positive change in its ratings. All software developers these days use JavaScript in some way or the other. Used along with HTML and CSS, it is essential for front-end web development that creates interactive web pages and displays content dynamically to users.

Over 90% of the websites use this language and it is one of the friendliest programming languages for learners, to begin with. So, there will be no shortage of opportunities if you master JavaScript. However, you will need to learn other supporting languages and frameworks to pursue a career as a front-end developer for desktop, mobile app or game development.

Career Opportunity: Web Developer, Software Developer, App Developer, UI/UX Engineer

— JavaScript: Complete Guide

8. PHP for Web Development

According to TIOBE, after getting displaced by JavaScript and shifting down to number eight in on the most popular programming languages index in 2020 — PHP has stabilized. PHP is mostly used on the server-side for web development accounting for about 80% percent of websites on the internet. Facebook began its journey with PHP and its role in the WordPress content management system makes it quite popular.

PHP offers several frameworks like Laravel and Drupal to help developers build applications faster with more scalability and robustness. Hence, if you are looking for a career in web development, PHP is not a bad choice, to begin with.

Career Opportunity: Web Developer, App Developer

— Advanced PHP programming

9. SQL to manage database

The popular query language was rapidly progressing in number in the top 20 programming languages of the TIOBE index for quite some time. However, the ratings for SQL show a slump this month. It is worth noting that despite the presence of other database technology, this standard query language for managing databases has been reigning for the past four decades.

The reason being its simplicity, reliability, ubiquity and an active community that does a lot to keep this open-source language around. SQL is typically easier for beginners to learn compared to other languages and as far as a career path is concerned, several well-paying jobs like Data Analyst require SQL as a must.

Career Opportunity: Database Administrator, Database Developer, Database Tester, Data Scientist, App Developer, Web Developer

— Fundamental SQL Programming

10. Go is gaining popularity

The open-source programming language Go was developed by Google and its first stable release was made available in 2011. Go programming language is inspired by languages like Algol, Pascal, C, Modula, Oberon, Smalltalk and Newsqueak. It inherited its fundamental concepts mostly from Oberon language and its syntax is from C.

Fast languages like C can be difficult to work with at times and are not safe. Compiling speed, dependencies and runtime errors are vast. Whereas Java can be too complex and verbose to write. But Go has been designed for fast compilation in mind from the beginning. It’s concise, explicit and easy to read.

Now there are nearly two million programmers in the Go community. Go programming language has been adopted by notable companies such as Google, Docker, Dropbox, Heroku, Medium, Lyft, Uber, and others. And as we can see on the TIOBE index, Go has made significant progress since last year and we can expect to rise further on the list.

Career Opportunity: Software Engineer, Software Architect, DevOps Engineer

—Go Developer Master Class Bundle

It’s time to code

This concludes the list of the most popular programming languages you should learn in 2020. I hope the programming language rating in this article helps you choose the right language career path based on your interests and the type of software development you would like to indulge in. Each language has its pros and cons, so take your time in weighing each option and choose accordingly. More importantly, make sure you hold a good command over the language you choose for programming. Until then, enjoy coding!

Also Read: Best Programming, Scripting, and Markup Languages To Learn 

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