What programming skills are most sought after?

Are you spending time learning the right skills for your future career? Is it worth learning JAVA, C++ or Python? I wondered the same thing and failed to find anything on the web to tell me what to learn. So I took things into my own hands. Surely the best way to see what’s worth learning is by seeing what companies are actually using. And the best way to do that is to look at tech vacancies.

So, I built a script that trawls a well known job site for the following keyphrases:

  • web
  • developer
  • engineer
  • software

Not the best and certainly not comprehensive, I’ll grant you. Then I scraped the first 100 results for these keyphrases. Again, not brilliant. Only a small sample size, but it’s not nice to crawl another person’s site without permission, so I tried to keep a light footprint. Finally, I looked at the top tags on Stack Overflow to use a list of skills to look for in the scraped pages.

The results are in.

Skill Mentions
html 51
css 46
javascript 45
mobile 28
php 26
jquery 19
c# 18
java 18
sql 16
xml 14
c 13
linux 13
asp.net 13
python 12
agile 11
ajax 11
c++ 10
windows 10
mysql 10
.net 10
html5 9
mvc 8
flash 8
iphone 7
sql server 7
android 6
wordpress 6
perl 5
git 4
css3 4
scrum 3
subversion 3
django 3
bash 3
unit testing 3
ruby 3
jsp 2
postgresql 2
drupal 2
memcached 2
blackberry 2
coldfusion 2
extjs 2
magento 2
ubuntu 2
apache 2
oop 2
actionscript 2
ios 2
couchdb 1
nosql 1
kanban 1
haskell 1
joomla 1
erlang 1
vb.net 1
iis 1
oracle 1
flex 1
qt 0
regex 0
xcode 0
codeigniter 0
symfony 0
objective-c 0
zend 0
sqlite 0
selenium 0
hadoop 0
cassandra 0
svn 0
cakephp 0
cocoa 0
scala 0
mongodb 0
redis 0
shell 0
node.js 0

This only gives a general idea as to what skills tech employers in the UK are looking for but as expected, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are all high scorers. For me the surprises are Ruby and Zend which only scored 3 and 0 respectively. Having said that, it could very well be due to the sample size and and quality

N.B. I’m looking to vastly improve the scraper in the future to work out an average salary related to particular skills as well as using a larger data sample and a better pool of jobs to start with. I’ll either update this post or create a new one, depending on when I get round to this…

N.B. If anyone can think of any skills that I may have missed that you would like to be included when I get chance to run this again, let me know in the comments.


A good friend of mine got in touch with an analysis of 20,000 programming jobs (bubble jobs have kindly donated this data) based on the same set of skills above. Makes for an interesting comparison. These are actually much closer to the figures I expected before I started out. Check em out:

Skill Mentions
java 4098
.net 1265
sql 1230
php 1056
linux 1034
c# 743
asp.net 723
html 681
javascript 659
css 547
oracle 433
sql server 426
mobile 394
c++ 355
agile 343
windows 261
mysql 257
xml 242
ios 230
mvc 217
scrum 211
android 199
vb.net 164
jquery 162
ruby 162
ajax 160
perl 113
python 108
iphone 105
flash 86
html5 80
zend 72
magento 63
apache 62
shell 59
drupal 58
ipad 50
jsp 50
oop 47
flex 35
objective-c 34
symfony 29
css3 27
qt 27
actionscript 24
selenium 23
bash 16
postgresql 16
iis 16
wordpress 15
scala 15
nosql 14
django 12
hadoop 12
cakephp 12
svn 10
blackberry 8
kanban 8
joomla 7
subversion 6
extjs 6
mongodb 6
coldfusion 5
ubuntu 5
cocoa 4
erlang 3
xcode 3
cassandra 1
unit testing 0
memcached 0
couchdb 0
haskell 0
regex 0
codeigniter 0
sqlite 0
redis 0
node.js 0
c 0
git 0

3 thoughts on “What programming skills are most sought after?

  1. I was a sucker for picking the wrong langue to start with. University didn’t help with this teaching both a php and a JSP module, I chose JSP to learn further for my dissertation due to the average wage of JSP developers. Only after did i find the demand for jsp is very low compared with other languages .

  2. To be fair, I think demand shifts about a lot and by the time people come out of Uni, languages tend to have moved on and new ones come onto the scene. It must be pretty frustrating, but if the lecturers and staff who set the modules aren’t working in the real world, they bound to end up teaching outdated stuff.

    Of course, key concepts never change and perhaps IT courses should focus more on this rather than language specifics?

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