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The 6 Most Lucrative Programming Skills You Can Learn Online


If you are looking for a secure job with the flexibility to work online from anywhere, programming, a fundamental skill for most computer science careers, is a great way to go. Introductory programming courses are available for learning Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, C++, HTML, PHP, and pretty much everything else.

In addition to free and low-cost online courses, there are hosts of websites with tutorials dedicated to teaching beginners in-demand programming languages. Other websites, such as Stack Overflow, offer Q&A platforms where coders can work through issues with their source code.

What Can I Do With Programming Skills?

Programming knowledge can help you build a path to a multitude of careers in computer science, including web development, software development, app development, game development, software engineering, machine learning, and more. And you don’t have to be a developer or a programmer to use coding skills on the job—the ability to code can open opportunities in other fields, including data sciencemarketingcybersecurity, and fintech. 



Programming is critical whichever direction you go in data science. While languages like Python, R, and SQL act as foundations for many data science or analytics roles, others are useful for career paths in areas such as data systems development or better suited specifically for aspiring data scientists.

As you explore the different career options available for programmers, keep in mind that being a good programmer takes more than just writing lines of code. Other important skills to have include soft skills such as problem solving and the ability to pay attention to detail. 

Top Programming Languages to Learn

1. Java

A search of the most popular programming skills on Indeed shows that Java is at the top in terms of outstanding jobs with salaries above $100,000. The Java programming language is one of the most popular programming languages according to the latest TIOBE Index  and is also the TIOBE Programming Language Hall of Fame Winner for 2015. Java can run on any operating system and is used to develop native Android applications. 

2. SQL

SQL is a common programming language for managing data. Since almost every programming application interacts with data in one way or another, it’s understandable that SQL would be high on the lists of requested skills and high-paying jobs. Indeed lists over 20,000 jobs in SQL  paying over $100,000 per year. 



Start learning SQL by enrolling in a free-self-paced Introduction to SQL from Davidson. You’ll learn how to write SELECT queries, learn various operators, functions, and much more from expert instructors. In no time, you’ll be setting up and interacting with databases.

3. C, C++, and C#

C was created in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs and is one of the most widely used programming languages. It is always found near the top of the TIOBE Index  of programming language popularity, along with C++ and C#. C++, also created at Bell Labs, is a flexible extension of the C language that allows programmers to create applications that will run on a wide variety of hardware platforms. C#, pronounced C-Sharp, is a modern, object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft.

Learn the principles of C in an introductory course such as C Programming: Getting Started from DartmouthX.

4. Python

Python was created by Guido van Rossum in 1989 and he gave the programming language its name based on his love of the Monty Python Flying Circus. This language is easier to learn and use than others, making it an ideal choice for both beginner and experienced programmers. It can be used to develop websites, web applications, back-end APIs, and more. It’s also widely used in areas of computer science that are in high demand, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data. 

Start learning how to use Python to solve real-world analytical problems in Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python from MITx. 

5. JavaScript

JavaScript is an object-oriented scripting language that is commonly used to add interactive features to web pages. Along with HTML5 and CSS, it is one of the cornerstone coding languages used by developers and designers. It can be used in a variety of tasks, including  frontend development, backend development, game development, mobile apps, and building web servers. This versatile, beginner-friendly language is also in-demand with employers. According to DevSkiller’s latest IT Skills Report , 75% of companies are looking for Javascript developers. 



Enroll in JavaScript Introduction from W3Cx and by the end of the course you’ll be able to read the source code of any JavaScript example found on the web, learn from it, tweak it, and even start contributing to open-source JavaScript projects.

6. R

R is an open source programming language used for statistical computing and graphics. It is widely used in data science by data analysts, statisticians, and data scientists. Given the increased demand for data science and machine learning across industries, R programmers are highly sought after in today’s job market. 



Learn the fundamentals of R language in R Programming Basics for Data Science with IBMx. In this five-week introductory course, you’ll cover data types, techniques for manipulation, how to implement fundamental programming tasks, common data structures, and more.

Explore Programming Courses on edX

Whether you’re writing code for the first time or want to expand your skill set and become a better programmer, there’s a free online computer programming course at edX for you. Explore our coding boot camps, courses, and programs for coders of all levels to start learning today.

Last updated: February 2019