Popular Programming Languages in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Let’s explore three popular coding languages and how you can start learning. Are you ready to enter the field of software development but unsure of the programming languages employers want you to know? This guide can help you know where to start.

[Featured image] A student in headphones sits at a desk with two laptops and a monitor and works on programming. There is a chalkboard wall to their right.

For decades, software engineering and software development have continued to grow rapidly. According to Statista, the software market in the UK is expected to reach US$36.42 billion in 2024 [1]. With growth continuing, software development and computer programming skills will likely remain in high demand.  However, not all jobs in this field require the same skill sets and knowledge. By learning the right programming languages and expanding your knowledge of the languages you already understand, you can enhance your CV and stand out from other candidates. 

The following list of popular programming languages is a starting point that you may want to spend time learning:


Python is a dynamic, object-oriented programming language that combines data structures with an easy-to-learn syntax. Its applications range from simple functions like powering a moderator bot on Reddit to complex functions such as financial data analysis and machine learning. 

What is object-oriented programming?

Object-oriented programming is a coding model that organises data and functions into reusable pieces of code, such as classes, objects, methods, or attributes. This approach is suitable for larger and more complex programs, such as mobile applications. 



Why it's popular

Python has existed since 1991, giving it time to grow and gain popularity [2]. While there are a lot of advantages for developers to learn Python for web development and software applications, there may be two main reasons why:

  • Python is versatile. Python is a very versatile and highly utilised language. Its versatility has led it to be used for everything from basic web development to complex AI systems and embedded projects. Furthermore, Python can act as a "glue" code that connects different programming components to interact and run on every operating system.  

  • Python is simple. Python's language structure is based on English syntax, making it easier for English-speaking programmers to read and comprehend than more numerical-based languages. Python is also an open-source programming language, which means anyone can download and use the source code for free.


JavaScript (JS) is a high-level programming language used to make websites and apps more interactive; it is also commonly used in game development. A noticeable impact of JavaScript is its ability to make websites come alive by adding elements such as animations, dropdown menus, and colour-changing buttons, making it a core technology for web development. JavaScript is so present on the internet that W3 Techs, a web technology survey company, reports that it is used as a client-side programming language for 98% of all websites [3].

Why it's popular

JavaScript is one of the programming languages behind some of the most popular sites, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Here are some reasons why:

  • JavaScript is fast. It runs immediately within a web browser, reducing load time

  • JavaScript is easy. JS is a relatively easy language for programmers to learn, and its popularity makes it easy to recognise and implement. 

  • JavaScript is interactive. JS adds noticeable and responsive website elements like zooming capabilities and dropdown menus. These elements enhance the user's experience and make JS an in-demand addition to website development.

  • JavaScript gets along with other programming languages. As a core web language, JS is closely aligned with CSS and HTML (other core languages used to build websites). It also has a variety of frameworks and libraries that programmers can learn to specialise in their skills.

C is one of the oldest and most widely used software programming languages. Technically speaking, it is a multi-paradigm, procedural language that supports structured programming. This means that it’s a low-level language that doesn’t require a lot of runtime to support. C is a great language for operating systems, hardware drivers, and kernel-level software. 

Why it's popular

While there are a lot of compelling reasons to learn C, the reason it may be so popular comes down to communication. C allows developers to speak with one another easily and with their machine(s). Let's look at these reasons a bit more closely:

  • C is great for collaboration. It has been called the common language of programmers. So, by learning it, you’ll be able to speak and interact quickly with developers of different levels and fields.

  • C is portable and efficient. C is popular because it allows developers to speak to programs quickly and efficiently. Programmers use C because popular programs from Windows and Linux to iOS use it. In addition, since it’s one of the oldest programming languages, it serves as backbone code for many older and newer applications that may want to interact with older technology. 

Some other programming languages to consider learning once you’ve mastered the basics include:

  • C++

  • C#

  • Go 

  • HTML

  • Java

  • Perl

  • R

  • SQL

Ways to start learning

While there are many programming languages that you can learn, you may want to determine your ambitions and goals first. If you’re new to software development and want to learn a backbone language, start with C. If you’re interested in website design, consider JavaScript, or if you want to keep your options open, consider Python.

Here are some options for learning a new programming language:

Online courses

Programming courses can be easily found online through various platforms. For instance, Coursera hosts online programming courses from top-tier universities like Stanford and the University of Michigan, as well as organisations like Google. 


Bootcamp courses are a more accelerated and intense approach to learning code. Depending on the subject, they may last a week or a couple of months. Companies and universities often offer these courses to accelerate learning in a streamlined manner. 


Earning a university or foundation degree in a relevant discipline can help you learn valuable computer programming and software development tools. Degree programmes in computer science and computer engineering often include programming coursework, where you may learn about other valuable software skills, including web development and hardware applications. 

Next steps 

Regardless of which programming language you choose, you can expect to continue learning throughout your entire career in programming. Stepan Furdei, a software engineer at Meta, says his master's degree in computer science put him on the right track in his career, "however self-education accounted for more than 90 percent of my success."

"Over my 17 years of engineering, the technologies changed so much that I wouldn't fit anywhere these days if I didn't keep continuously pushing, exploring new technologies as they came up, and always striving to do better," he adds. "I can't think of any successful engineer who wouldn't do that."

On Coursera, you can find several ways to learn how to code, including free courses, degree programmes, and certificates, all at your own pace. Consider learning some popular programming languages with Python for Everybody Specialisation, JavaScript for Beginners Specialisation, or C for Everyone: Programming Fundamentals, all at your own pace.

Article sources


Statista. “Software - United Kingdom, https://www.statista.com/outlook/tmo/software/united-kingdom.” Accessed May 21, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.