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Most Popular Programming Languages for a Career in Web Development

Future web developers looking at a laptop screen - Tulane School of Professional Advancement

Programming languages are perhaps the most vital component of the internet. Without them, web pages and applications would lack all visual appeal, functionality, and interactivity. One of the first steps toward attaining a career in web development is to become proficient in at least one programming language, particularly one that can most efficiently and successfully support your intended features and style. Learn more from the experts at Tulane SoPA about the field's most popular programming languages and the functions they can serve in a wide variety of web development roles.

Starting a Career in Web Development

Often equipped with a background in information technology, web developers are primarily responsible for using programming languages to design and maintain how websites and applications look, feel, and function. These professionals may work for companies that are dedicated exclusively to web development, or they may work as part of an in-house development team at businesses across industries, including e-commerce, entertainment, search engines, and social media.

Because programming languages vary in what they can do and how they are implemented, it's up to web developers and the companies they work for to determine which languages are most appropriate to handle the tasks at hand. Some languages are more suited for front-end development, which determines how the client-side features of a web page or app will appear and behave, while others are better for back-end development, which manages server-side databases and logistical features. Full-stack developers may use multiple programming languages to work on both the front and back end simultaneously.

JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Used to power most websites today, including internet giants such as Facebook and Google, JavaScript is unlikely to become obsolete in the foreseeable future. Compared to other languages, it is relatively easy to learn, and it can be used to build dynamic front-end elements such as animated graphics, clickable buttons, and interactive maps, as well as back-end support using a variety of frameworks, including Node.js and Express. JavaScript's versatility, accessibility, and ubiquity make it a great first step into learning programming.

Career paths JavaScript supports

Being versed in JavaScript can support the following web development roles:

  • Front-end, back-end, and full-stack web development
  • UX design
  • Web application development

Golang

Although perhaps not as well known as JavaScript, Golang still enjoys widespread popularity, particularly among back-end developers. Created by Google in 2007, Golang is an extremely efficient, statically typed programming language that can execute multiple processes at the same time and offers powerful memory safety and management features. While Golang is easy to learn and highly capable of building scalable and secure web applications, its newness means that fewer resources are available for support, and its simplicity can make it less flexible in certain capacities. Put simply, Golang is still evolving, and developers are still working out its capabilities and possibilities.

Career paths Golang supports

Being versed in Golang can support the following web development roles:

PHP

PHP is a well-established server-side scripting language that is capable of handling enormous projects, including entire content management systems like WordPress, which alone powers millions of websites around the world. It is one of the easiest scripting languages to learn and is supported on virtually every operating system, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. It is an older system, so PHP's popularity may be on the decline as newer, faster languages take its place, but its ubiquity on the internet, abundance of resources, ease of use, and promising job prospects make it a valuable language to learn nevertheless.

Career paths PHP supports

Being versed in PHP can support the following web development roles:

  • Back-end and full-stack web development
  • Desktop application development
  • Computer programming

Python

Currently only second to JavaScript in popularity, Python is an extremely useful and versatile general-purpose programming language. It can be used for a diverse range of projects and applications, from standard back-end web development to more advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things. Python is relatively easy to learn, comes with an extensive library that supports common commands and tasks, and is used in a wide variety of industries and professional roles, making it an excellent first language for new programmers to start with.

Career paths Python supports

Being versed in Python can support the following web development roles:

  • Back-end and full-stack web development
  • Software engineering
  • Data science and analysis
  • Machine learning engineering

C++

C++, an expansion of the original C programming language, is a popular general-purpose language known for its versatility in building all kinds of applications. Programmers can use C++ to create mobile apps, computer programs, operating systems, video games, web browsers, and more. While it is highly useful and its skills transfer very well to other languages, C++ is not necessarily the best programming language for complete beginners, as it is very complex and can be tricky to learn.

Career paths C++ supports

Being versed in C++ can support the following web development roles:

  • Software engineering
  • Game development
  • Mobile app development

HTML and CSS

HTML and CSS are technically not programming languages, but they are two of the most basic and essential building blocks of any web page. HTML is a markup language that builds the structure of a page's content, while CSS is a language used to style those HTML elements with coloring, sizing, and positioning. Beginning programmers can get a handle on the basics of HTML and CSS very quickly, making them great stepping stones into the field of front-end web development. Given their utility, ease of use, and popularity, HTML and CSS will likely be used and improved upon for years to come.

Career paths HTML and CSS support

Being versed in HTML and CSS can support the following web development roles:

  • Front-end and full-stack web development
  • Web designing
  • Digital marketing management
  • Content production

Choosing the Right Language for Your Career

If you're interested in pursuing a career in web development, an important first step is to assess your interests and goals to determine which languages would be the most valuable to learn. A career in front-end development, for example, would likely require proficiency with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while beginning back-end developers would be more inclined to learn a language such as PHP, Golang, or Python. If you are more interested in game or mobile app development, an app-focused language like C++ would be more appropriate to begin with.

It's also important to consider the overall usefulness and potential longevity of the language (or languages) you decide to learn. All of the above programming languages are still widely used, in-demand by hiring managers, and likely to remain popular in the future, but as technology evolves quickly, you should keep an eye on programming trends and new tools and languages as they emerge. Having an active network of peers who study or work in programming can be a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest information.

Study Web Development at Tulane SoPA

You don't need to be experienced with programming or have any proficiency with programming languages to start pursuing a career in web development. At Tulane SoPA, we'll help you to gain the knowledge and skills you'll need for your intended path. We offer a wide variety of tech-related bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificate programs, plus hands-on learning opportunities and personalized faculty support. Apply to our program today to get started on your new career in web development.

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