5 skills every programmer needs in 2014

- select the contributor at the end of the page -
In honor of National Programmer's Day (you should probably go check the break room for cake), we've rounded up five of the top languages of 2014. Yes, there are a number of big names that didn't make the list, but that doesn't mean you should shrug them off.

Likewise, newer programming languages are growing rapidly, but because they're still emerging, job openings that require these are still small compared to their well established counterparts. Above all, it's important to remember that technology moves fast, and it's the ability to quickly adapt that will keep you ahead of the curve.

1. Java.

Love it or hate it, as of 2014, Java remains one of the most popular programming languages in use with an estimated 9 million developers (and that's even after a slight decline from last year). Java lets you “write once, run anywhere,” which means that you can develop on any device and then run it on another without much hassle, as long as it has a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This spares you the agony of having to write a different version of your software for each new platform or operating system.

History: Developed in 1991 by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle Corporation); the first Java Developer's Kit was released in 1995.

Average salary: $85,000

Where you've seen it: Google's Android software platform (the Android SDK uses Java as the basis for Android applications).

Why you should learn it: Given that Java has been around for nearly two decades, it isn't likely to straight up disappear anytime soon. Its proven popularity also means that there are plenty of job opportunities for those who are well versed in it. It's also been said that Java is one of the easier languages to learn, especially if you already have object-oriented programming experience, so you really have no excuses not to get the ball rolling.

Recommended courses:

That's just the start -- we have even more Java courses here.

2. SQL.

This tried and true programming language proves that you don't always need the latest and greatest to get the job done. While it's certainly been around for a while, SQL (short for Structured Query Language, though you'll rarely hear anyone use the full term) is still going strong and is used for managing data in relational databases. Basically, it lets you control the information in a database and allows users to locate specific data in a pinch. Being able to tout SQL on your resume can go a long way, given the mass amount of data that's generated daily. History: SQL was developed in the 1970s by IBM researchers Raymond Boyce and Donald Chamberlin. Average salary: $92,000 Where you've seen it: It's been said that SQL is everywhere, and it's a tough statement to argue. It's used by banks, governments, big corporations and small businesses, to name just a few. If you're reading this on your Android or iPhone, take a moment to consider that many of the apps you're using right now have access to an SQL database. Why you should learn it: Knowing SQL is a little bit like having the entire world right at your fingertips. In a nutshell, the possibilities are nearly endless. Much like Java, it's been around for a ridiculously long time (over 25 years at this point). Adding SQL to your skills not only makes you more attractive to potential employers, but you also become more self-reliant in the sense that you now have the knowledge to answer your own data questions. Recommended courses:

3. Python.

If programming languages had a cool kid in the group, Python would be it. It's been holding steady to its widespread popularity since 2008, consistently ranking in the most popular programming languages in the TIOBE Programming Community Index.

History: Created by Guido Van Rossum at CWI in the 1980s.

Average salary: $102,000

Where you've seen it: Major organizations like Google, Yahoo, CERN and NASA use Python.

Why you should learn it: Python is tough to escape, and that's not a bad thing. If you've been putting it off, it's bound to pop back up until you finally embrace it. Sure, you can get by without it, but why would you want to when it has the potential to significantly boost your earning potential? (Go ahead and take another peek at the average salary above, we'll wait.) On top of that, a solid understanding of Python can serve as a great foundation for learning other object-oriented languages like C++, C#, Perl, Ruby and Javascript, among others.

Recommended courses:

Pining for more Python? We've got your fix.

4. Ruby.

Ruby has been called many things: simple, beautiful, flexible, practical, and even artful at times. That's probably because its creator, Yukihiro Matsumoto, wanted Ruby to feel as natural as possible, without the complexities and restrictions often encountered by other languages of its ilk. This approach has paid off, as there are reportedly more than 600,000 websites running the Ruby on Rails framework (more commonly referred to as Rails) at the time of this writing. History: Influenced by Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada and Lisp, Ruby was designed in the mid-90s by Yukihiro Matsumoto. Average salary: $102,000 Where you've seen it: Many major sites, including GitHub, Yammer, Scribd, Shopify, Hulu and Basecamp, use the Ruby on Rails framework. Why you should learn it: If you're new to coding, this is a good place to start (heck, even your kid can learn it), but you don't have to be a rookie to pick up Ruby. And you'll be better off for it, as demand for Ruby programmers is on the rise thanks to the Ruby on Rails framework, which is used by plenty of businesses to build and maintain websites. Recommended courses:

5. Objective-C.

If you're a hardcore Apple fan, you're likely familiar with Objective-C, as it's the star player when writing software for the company's wildly popular OS X and iOS operating systems, despite Swift's recent debut. Given its name, it should come as no big surprise that Objective-C is an extension to the C programming language (it was originally developed by adding Smalltalk-80 extensions to C).

History: Just like your favorite themed dance party, off-the-shoulder sweaters and hair bands, Ojbective-C was born in the early 80s. It was eventually picked as the main language used by NeXT for its NeXTSTEP OS.

Average salary: $83,000

Where you've seen it: Apple uses it for the OS X and iOS operating systems – the App Store is overflowing with apps constructed from Objective-C.

Why you should learn it: If you want to build apps for Apple's iOS, there's no way around it. Sure, you can now use Swift, but Objective-C has been around a heck of a lot longer, making it far easier to smooth out any bumps along the way. And if you still want to learn Swift, go for it -- the two can be used side-by-side in Apple's Xcode.  It may also help to know that Objective-C is even easier to learn if you already know a language like Ruby or Python.

Recommended courses:

For more courses on Objective-C, head here.

Beyond coding

The best software isn't built by one person, it's created by teams. This means you need to kick your rock star attitude to the curb, because it won't get you very far with any organization worth working for. Think of it like this: It's 50 percent coding skills and 50 percent personality that will make you stand out. Rather than behaving like you're the best player on the team, you should feel challenged by your peers. It also helps if they're the kind of people you want to grab a beer with at the end of a long workday, and that all starts with how well you communicate.

Click here for a shareable infographic we've put together that outlines all these fun facts in one place.

Get our content first. In your inbox.

Loading form...

If this message remains, it may be due to cookies being disabled or to an ad blocker.

Contributor

Stacy Warden

Stacy is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.