Dice: Programming Languages That Aren’t Worth Your Time

As we all know, there are new programming languages that are seemingly created every week. But which ones should you skip and not waste time learning, while leaving time for others that are more enduring and will make you more marketable and help advance your career?

We turned to the actual listings on Dice to try to spot some trends. In late April, we searched both the entire job listing text as well as the specific job titles to see what people were actually looking for. You can see the tabulated results below.

First, it is safe to say that the Web is the primary focus of many software projects. The top two mentions on Dice were for Web and Java developers, followed by Javascript and C++ developers. Clearly, if you don’t have any Web development skills in your portfolio, now is the time to start.

Java is much more important than Javascript, which seems to be evolving into other languages, such as Ruby and newer languages such as Erlang and Clojure. If you have never heard of these latter languages, it might be worth your time to learn at least what they are and how they are used in functional programming.

But as to things to jettison from your resume, Fortran, Cobol, and to some extent Visual Basic as skills aren’t needed by themselves anymore. They appear infrequently in the job titles, as a giveaway that few hiring managers are focused on them. While you can still find a few jobs that require these languages (such as for a Cobol developer in MasterCard’s data center outside of St. Louis as one notable example), for the most part these languages are dead and forgotten.

Visual Basic was the surprising one of this set, showing up in only 13 of the titles of more than 700 listings. So one recommendation would be not to focus on VB other than as a means to an end to entering the entire .Net Microsoft universe, which still pulls down more than 2500 job titles.

iOS developers are in moderate demand and a very specialized field, as given that the number of the entries in the overall job descriptions match up with the number of mentions of the actual job titles. But Android developers are still as much as twice as popular, given the market growth there in Android phones and tablets.

The press likes to have stories on big data these days, but curiously the concept is still not really big demand, although more people are putting it in their descriptions. The term showed up in less than 50 job titles, which was surprising given how much has been written on the topic, with stories even appearing in the New York Times on a fairly regular basis. As another data point here, the fact that in job titles Hadoop is only mentioned 10% of the time that it is present in a job description means it still is pretty specialized and not as mainstream as you may think.

Another surprise was the low percentage of job titles that listed Drupal developers. Perhaps this is on the way out, or at least part of a mix of other skills with newer Web technologies.

Amazon and other cloud services are still not in as much demand according to the Dice listings, but it is part of an overall job involving several other skills. Only 16 job titles listed Amazon Web Services explicitly. I don’t think this means that people are moving away from AWS, just not really looking for someone to focus on this exclusively.

To check our informal analysis, we also looked at the site InterviewStreet.com. They organize coding challenges and are used by a growing number of employers to screen for potential programming talent. Their challenges cover 16 different programming languages, including C, C++, Java, C#, Python, PHP, Ruby, Perl, Javscript, Haskell, Scala, Clojure, SQL, MySQL, R and Go. As you can see, there are a number of newer languages here as well as the old chestnuts.

Dice Search Terms Results

Search term Overall job mentions Job title mentions
web developer 15131 2159
Java developer 11113 4162
C++ developer 9733 182
Javascript developer 8479 465
oracle developer 7097 685
.net developer 7047 2531
php developer 2388 532
mysql developer 2201 90
android developer 1466 326
big data developer 1032 42
visual basic developer 779 13
ruby on rails developer 622 209
hadoop developer 551 55
amazon developer 505 3
iOS developer 391 390
drupal developer 338 74
cobol developer 344 67
aws developer 281 13
fortran developer 15 2


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