Best Computer Programming Languages to Learn: Computer Programming Certification

How to choose the right programming language: for students and beginners, or a career. We look at educational aspects, market demand, and niches.

Which is the best software development programming language? That depends on the situation. Here are some selection criteria, and concrete recommendations.

Best First Programming Language to Learn for a Beginner

A first language should be fun and easy to use. Some college programming courses are general introductions, not aimed at producing professional programmers. Programming is also taught to grade school and high school children.

Instructors might want to start with a language that supports a specific programming paradigm, such as Object-Orientation (OO) or Functional Programming. If not, a simple procedural language should be chosen.

The temptation to choose a complex mainstream language, such as Java, should be avoided. The purpose of an introductory course isn’t to immediately prepare students for a programming job. It’s to teach basic programming concepts and techniques:

  • Decision statements.
  • Loops.
  • Functions and subroutines, encapsulation, modularity, information hiding.
  • Variables and arrays.
  • Algorithms.
  • Data structures.
  • Debugging, printing out intermediate results.

The purpose is also to get students hooked on programming, not scare them off. Once the programming fundamentals are solid, the student will find it easy to move on to more complex languages.

The language should be:

  • Free. No compiler license.
  • Easy to install. No complex development environment to set up.
  • Easy to use. No complex Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to learn.
  • Easy to program. A typeless scripting language is ideal. John Ousterhout explains the advantages of scripting languages.
  • Easy to debug. This means short edit-compile-run debug cycles, and good error reporting.
  • Easy to deploy. No complex run-time environment to set up.
  • Fun to program. This means graphics programming, if possible.
  • Easy to show off. A web-deployable program allows students to show their programs to family and friends. Mobile phone compatibility is a bonus.
  • Multi-platform. Students should be able to use their home computer: Windows, Linux, or Apple Mac.

The above criteria are especially important for a self-taught programmer, learning at home without a teacher.

JavaScript is an unconventional but solid choice for a beginner’s language. It fits the criteria listed above:

  • Free. All you need is a text editor and a web browser.
  • Easy to install. Most PCs will already have a web browser installed.
  • Easy to use. There’s no IDE.
  • Easy to program. It’s a typeless scripting language.
  • Easy to debug. Many browsers have a JavaScript error reporter that can be switched on. Students can use message alert boxes or writes to HTML fields, to print out intermediate values.
  • Easy to deploy. Students just load an HTML file from their local drive, into their web browser.
  • Fun to program. HTML5 has a powerful built-in graphics capability.
  • Easy to show off. If hosted on an Internet-accessible web server, students can email the URL of their page, to friends.
  • Multi-platform. JavaScript should run on most browsers, on most operating systems.

One issue with JavaScript is that the student will need to learn HTML too. However, considering how widespread and important HTML is, this is probably an advantage. One bonus is that knowledge of JavaScript does have value, career-wise. Other suitable candidates are Python and PHP.

Best Computer Programming Languages to Learn

Best Computer Programming Language for Kids

For young children, a specialized educational language such as Logo is suitable. The logo was developed by Seymour Papert, specifically for children. It was popular in the 1980s but has unfortunately fallen out of favor. It was known for its simple Turtle Graphics graphics programming interface. Free versions of the Logo are available for download.

Best Web and Other Programming Language to Learn for Career Purposes

Assuming that your basics are strong, it should be possible to quickly pick up any programming language within a few days and to become competent within a few weeks. The question is, which language should you spend your time on?

One easy way to choose is to look at what is in demand in the market. Check classified advertisements and job websites:

  • Java
  • C#
  • C/C++
  • JavaScript (and CSS, HTML)
  • Visual Basic
  • PHP
  • Objective-C
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Ruby (on Rails)

All the languages listed above can be used for web programming, even Visual Basic. However, C/C++ is more likely to be used for non-web applications.

Still potentially lucrative, are legacy languages: languages used on old systems. On the PC, there’s Delphi and PowerBuilder. On the mainframe, there’s JCL, CICS, RPG, COBOL, DB2, and many others. The Australian has an article on the demand for legacy software skills.

You should check for the availability of jobs in your area, before investing time in learning any system.

Other Important Software Skills to Learn

There’s more to software development than coding. Knowledge of the following will also be useful:

  • Mini languages such as SQL (database) and regular expressions (text processing). These are used inside many languages.
  • Web security programming knowledge (cross-site scripting, SQL injection, input validation).
  • Software testing techniques (regression test, load test, test automation, test documentation).
  • Software development life cycle management.
  • Software development methodologies (Agile, Scrum).

Niche, domain-specific, platform-specific, industry-specific programming skills might also be marketable:

  • Mobile phone applications (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7).
  • Facebook application programming.
  • Cloud computing programming, for example, using Google’s App Engine (Python or Java),
  • CMS (Content Management System) customization with WordPress or Drupal.
  • Sugar CRM (Customer Relationship Management) customization.
  • Linux Beowulf Cluster programming.
  • Digital Signal Processor programming.
  • PLC and industrial controller programming.
  • Embedded system controller programming.

Computer Programming Certification

Having a computer programming certification is the key to advancing in a career in IT, as well as a pre-requisite for most computer programming jobs. However, even those who have not followed a College or University grade computer programming course can still profit from the recent boom in the computer programming job market by taking computer programming classes, either online or offline.

For those who have already followed high school computer programming courses, the basics will already be well understood, and all that might be required is an online certification to bring specific knowledge up to professional if not academic, standards.

Types of Computer Programming Certification

There are 3 main categories of computer programming certification:

  • Ad-hoc Organizations
  • Professional Organizations
  • Academic Organizations

The ad-hoc organizations offer mainly online computer classes, which may or may not be paid, and which may or may not be recognized. One such organization is Expert Rating, which is recognized by freelance hubs such as Rent A Coder. Holding an Expert Rating computer programming certification, while no guarantee, certainly enhances the chance of a freelance programmer landing a contract with a buyer on sites such as Rent A Coder, eLance, etc.

Professional organizations such as Microsoft also offer computer programming certification. These tend to be tightly coupled with their products, however, which may not be an advantage. Generally speaking, for programmers entering the non-freelance market, one of these recognized certifications might add more weight than one issued by an ad-hoc organization.

Academic organizations offer degrees and other academic computer programming certifications. These can be obtained either online or offline, and are usually well-respected and recognized by the industry. The caveat might be that some online degree courses have less acceptance than those offered by traditional institutions, so it is a good idea to check whether the online college or university in question has obtained the relevant recognition.

Selecting an online computer programming course is a process in itself. As a general guideline, it would be advisable to pick one which follows the student’s process with marked course work – this will help to keep them on track.

Computer Programming Certification Specialization

It is usually possible to specialize in 1 of 2 areas of computer programming:

  • By language (i.e. C/C++, Delphi, SQL…)
  • By the domain (i.e. Windows, Web, Database…)

When specializing by domain, it will often be an advantage to have some knowledge of the languages that are of use in that domain. So, for a student of Web Programming, it will be a distinct advantage to some knowledge of JavaScript, although they might not become as much of an expert as someone following a JavaScript programming certification course.

The Best Programming Language

The best computer language is the one that gets you hired. Unfortunately, some employers ask for something like “three years experience in x,” making it difficult for new programmers to break into the market.

As a prospective employee, it’s up to you to convince people that you can do the job. One way is to create your web or Facebook applications, then include their URL in your job application. You might even be able to make some money from them (Adsense advertising or affiliate marketing) and succeed as an independent freelancer.

About the author: Bianca J. Ward is a professional online essay writer at EssayWriterFree where she provides people with qualitative works. Besides, she is a passionate photographer and traveler who has visited 52 countries all over the world. Bianca dreams about creating a photo exhibition to present her works to others.

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