Must-Know Programming Languages in Boston and New York City

As a software recruiter that talks with dozens of software engineers and hiring managers every week, I thought it might be helpful to share my experience of what programming languages seem to be most currently in demand. If you’re planning to look for a software engineering job at some point soon, or are thinking about which technical direction you should take your career, here’s the scoop. Please keep in mind that this is a completely unscientific sample, in that it represents the client companies of one recruiter (yours truly), operating in two metro areas: Boston and New York City. I also tend to do most of my work with high tech companies (as opposed to financial services firms, hospitals, law firms, etc etc.), and I lean pretty heavily toward startups and other small- and medium-sized companies.

  • Java — I always have quite a few clients seeking Java Developers. Mostly what’s hot is backend and server side experience, or mobile/Android. I don’t get too much call for Java developers who are only focused in the middle business logic layers.
  • JavaScript — Very much in demand, but not so much the traditional JS/ jQuery pairing. It’s all about the newer SPA MV* frameworks: Angular, Backbone, React, Ember, Knockout, and Node.
  • Ruby, Rails — very in-demand, but more so (for me and my recruiting practice) for those who have it on top of a formal CS background, or at least other professional software development experience. I don’t have as much demand from my clients for those with only bootcamp experience looking for web developer jobs. Doesn’t mean “never”, just “not as much”.
  • Python — Extremely high demand, for web applications development, backend big data processing, and automated frameworks and testing.
  •  PHP — Not too much demand for PHP Developers to work on more PHP. Depending on the client, mostly this background would be considered fine experience to transition to another, more popular, web application development stack.
  • Perl — See PHP above, but less so.
  • C# .NET — Maybe surprisingly, I get little call for this experience. I know it’s still very widely used and there are many “Microsoft shops”, but I think that very few startup companies pick this stack any more, for a variety of reasons. When I do have clients seeking .NET people, it’s almost always because they’re working with some amount of legacy code, or otherwise need to interoperate with existing code bases. It’s very rare that it’s the choice for brand new directions. Some clients will look at C# experience as a perfectly fine transition point into working with Java, but many will not. In general, I think most of the VPE’s at startups I work with look at someone with solely C# and .NET experience in a somewhat negative way.
  • C++ — If it’s with Linux, working on backend systems software, maybe yes, but not at all on the applications development layers. Nothing doing for C++ and Microsoft Windows applications developers, unfortunately.
  • C — Not very much, only rarely. I don’t do much with embedded software or low level networking code, which may account for what I see.
  • Groovy, Grails — I have a small number of clients that develop in Groovy, but so far all of them have been very happy to take a Java developer, as long as that person’s willing to/wants to work in Groovy. It’s never been an incoming requirement.
  • Scala — Same as Groovy. A few companies use it, but nobody’s required it coming in the door (yet).
  • Haskell, Erlang, Clojure — Don’t really see these being used to any great extent. I get more candidates telling me they really want to work in these languages than I do any demand for them from companies.
  • Objective-C, Swift — Good iOS developers are in high demand.
  • SQL — High demand from clients for SQL skills, but not really as the only language someone knows. Combine it with other programming languages and then yes, definitely.

Have questions about the software job market? Interested in finding a good software recruiter in Boston or NYC? Please contact me!

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