Programming Languages

A first-year Computer Science student asks me: “Which programming language I should know to get a good job in the computer industry? I am afraid what I learn in school today maybe obsolete by the time I graduate. Please advise.”

Answer: If you are good in one programming language, you can learn another language quickly. According to a recent survey by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), today Python has surpassed Java as the top language used in the computer industry. Currently, many U.S. universities are switching to Python as the official teaching language, but Java is still a favorite language in many places. The fact that Python is widely taught because it is the language used in Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and Machine learning. But Java and JavaScript are still popular in web development and general purpose computing.

There are many good jobs in the computer industry, depending on your skills and what you want to do. For example, to work as Data Scientist, Data Analyst, or Data Engineer, you will need to have skills in Python, NonSQL, MapReduce, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Business Analyst, and Project Management.

To work as a Web Designer, you will need to have skills in Java, JavaScript, User Interface Design, Graphic design, Information architecture, and HTML 5.

To work as Software Engineer, you will need to have skills in C or C++, Java, Cloud computing, Software development life cycle, Agile development such as Scrum; SQL and Project management.

Beside technical skills, you also need at least one foreign language (Prefer English) and soft-skills such as Communication, teamwork, presentation, customer service, leadership, and business strategy.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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