Six Programming Languages and Libraries Taking Over In 2016

By Drew Hendricks

It’s a good time to be a developer. Simply put, the explosive rise of the tech industry has led to a widespread proliferation of tech jobs and has made programming a very highly sought after (and a very well paid for) skill. The numbers don’t lie either; from 2004 to 2014, tech-related jobs grew 31% faster than other high-growth industries such as healthcare, and tech jobs are consistently listed among the highest paying jobs in America alongside the usual suspects like doctors and lawyers.

With the rapid growth of the industry, though, comes a wide array of specializations in that field. Indeed, some estimates suggest there are over 250 different programming languages to choose from, and that doesn’t even include the many libraries within languages that require further specialization. Obviously, it’d be impossible to master all of these specialties, so honing in on one high-demand skill set is of great importance when it comes to succeeding as a developer.

The key, then, is to pay attention to the trends and focus your efforts on the languages with major potential for the future. With that in mind, here are six programming languages and libraries taking over in 2016.

1. Swift

The hype surrounding Apple’s recent WWDC 2016 shows that Apple still commands a strong presence in the development world. It makes sense, then, that Swift, the language supporting macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, is popular among developers, especially given that Apple is a closed ecosystem, meaning you have to use one of their languages to program for their devices. The recent announcement of Swift 3, the open source update to Swift, means that the possibilities for this popular language are expanding into new areas, such as developing apps with Siri compatibility. It should come as no surprise that a Swift developer could easily earn a salary of around $80,000 on average, despite the language’s relatively young age.

2. Java

Java has been around for quite a while, so although it’s not necessarily “taking over” in terms of just now bursting onto the scene, its importance cannot be understated. According to Java’s Web site, 89% of desktops in the U.S run Java, and its standing as the official language for Android development means it is applicable across many platforms and devices. With the slogan “Write once, run anywhere,” it’s no surprise a top-level Java developer can expect a salary around the $100,000 range.

3. Ruby on Rails

A streamlined successor to the widely revered Ruby, Ruby on Rails, or just Rails for short, is surging in popularity these days, and for good reason. Some of the Internet’s most popular Web sites—including Hulu, GitHub, and Twitch, to name a few—were built with Rails. Because of its ease of use for developing Web apps, Ruby on Rails jobs can often fetch a solid salary of at least $75,000.

4. React

One of the crown jewels of Facebook’s open source community, React is a JavaScript library designed for building user interfaces. Coming in at number six on GitHub’s all-time most starred list, React is currently run on the front pages of such popular sites as Netflix and Airbnb. Despite being a relatively young addition to the coding world, estimates suggest that a senior level React developer could earn upwards of $120,000.

5. Python

A highly versatile language emphasizing streamlined code and readability, Python comes in at number six on the top technologies list in Stack Overflow’s 2016 Developer Survey and is used by such tech-savvy heavyweights as Google and NASA. Quickly becoming as prevalent as other foundational languages like JavaScript and C#, Python’s modern take on high-level programming is valued by developers and employers alike, and the earnings prove it: on average, a Python developer can earn around $92,000.

6. R

R is a language best known for its applications in statistical computing. Mostly used for data analysis, graphic modeling, and developing statistical software, R is very popular among statisticians and data miners, positions that are both becoming more and more popular in the development world with the rise of big data. R is a very unique language and thus requires a specific skill set that takes time and effort to master. As a result, the pay is pretty good: on average, R developers at the top of their field can earn salaries as high as $110,000.


Choosing a programming language or library to master often depends on your area of interest, but it is worth noting which languages among the many options have the potential for huge growth in the future. Do some research on these six and see if one of them is right for you to master. What other languages or libraries do you think will take over in 2016? Leave a comment below!

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