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How to pick your first programming language [infographic]

Posted by / July 19, 2015

So, you’ve decided to learn a new language, but skipped Italian or French in favor of programming?

That decision can be a great one for your career, yet your goals in terms of salary and location should influence which one to focus on first.

Start your search with this helpful infographic from Udacity, then dive right in.


Via Udacity.

Take the first step with infographics.

Comments are off for this post.

  • Don’t forget Mathematica!!

  • Mr. Brock Peters

    I would say, pick JavaScript as your first language. It has C-like syntax, but more importantly, use it to gauge whether programming is something for you or not. I’ve seen too many people get excited about their ‘Hello World’ program only to see that enthusiasm plummet like faster than a plane on 9/11 when they actually have to solve a real problem.

    JavaScript has a low barrier to entry because to test a program you can either test it within a webpage or you can do it from the terminal (command line) and yet it can demonstrate some Object Oriented Programming principles. I figure, if you’ve solved a few problems in JavaScript and decided that you still like programming then you can decide to choose whether you’d like to continue working on web development at which point you can choose a server side scripting language or maybe you’d like to work on native apps at which point you could choose something like Objective-C , Java, C++ (and C) or even some new language like Swift.

    The point is, get your toes wet a little before you make a big life decision and invest money in learning.

    Also, if you decide you like programming and want to stick with it, try learning on Treehouse, yes it’s paid learning, but it’s much more engaging than college or university ever was when it comes to teaching programming (unless of course you want a formal computer science degree, then I’d do both Treehouse and college / university).

  • Ken AdamsTex

    No love for perl? 🙁

  • Learn C++. Once you know it, you can easily learn anything else (all the other languages are derivatives of C++ anyway, developed for mostly commercial reasons)

  • Gosh, and here I am, a Unity3D programmer who still yearns for the simple years…whenever they were.

  • Ken,I still have love for perl…

  • Marshall

    Or learn the old fashioned way about the fundamentals of programming. It takes me 2 weeks to write a significant application in any language I haven’t programmed in yet. Too many kids are learning a single language without any fundamentals these days, and they’re stuck mainly in that language. I, and most others that were trained 10+ years ago, can get whatever the best job is regardless of the language.

    But if you really want to know the first language to learn… maybe C. It’s got a lower level interface with easier syntax than C++. Or go straight to an assembler and learn how any programming language interfaces with the hardware, then every other language is a piece of cake.

  • Beginners should be looking at getting into something that keeps them interested and motivated to continue learning. Salary has nothing to do with what languages you know, but rather what you can DO and what is in-demand.

    Unfortunately, bullshit web-apps are in-demand, and Ruby on Rails is enough of a piece-of-shit that the idiot managers who decided to use this already obsolete tool, thereby painting their companies into a bleak corner, unfortunately are now stuck paying higher salaries for the programmers who get the unfortunate displeasure of working with it. I am of the opinion that RoR will be dead within a decade… just like ColdFusion, PowerBuilder, Toolbook, and Hypercard. So… be wise and make sure you know somethign else too.

    I think beginners would be most motivated to continue learning programming languages if more languages were as elegant as C# and more tools were as elegant as Visual Studio. I don’t know where you get your numbers, but C# programmers bank a lot more than you’re quoting. Also, for the record, learn Typescript, not Javascript. Javascript is possibly the one of the worst languages ever created, and unfortunately it is the thing running in web-browsers… but don’t let me digress into a rant about how stupid companies are for trying to build “applications” in web browsers (unless you’re building a shopping cart or a marketing gizmo… your code never, ever, ever belonged in a web browser). Typescript compiles down into javascript, and sucks a lot less than Javascript.

    There are a lot of languages missing from your chart, off the top of my head: Pascal, Basic, Perl, Swift, Objective C… Maybe you should take a look at the TIOBE index, which is generally a fairly respected survey of language popularity.

  • Jon Lennart Aasenden

    Eh.. And why is object pascal excluded? Only millions of people using it every day? Delphi, freepascal, smart mobile studio are just examples.