Types of Coding and Coding Languages

Picking one coding language can be overwhelming — there are so many options. Here is a breakdown of different types of coding languages.

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by Shauna Blackmon

Updated September 16, 2022

Reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

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You may be able to name a few programming languages off the top of your head, but there are actually hundreds in existence, each with its own benefits and challenges. While it is rather remarkable to have so many, the sheer number of options can make it overwhelming for those entering the field trying to figure out where to start.

Which language you should learn depends on what you want to do. For example, do you care more about design, math, or problem-solving? While most programming languages share similarities, there are quite a few differences between them.

Here we will cover some of those differences and help you identify which programming language might be the best place for you to start. Learning a coding language can boost your salary and improve your career trajectory even if you don't want to work in tech.

Primary Types of Coding Languages

There are numerous ways to group programming languages. Two of the main ways are high-level versus low-level — where languages are more on a spectrum — and front-end and back-end, which is a more black and white type of categorization.

High-Level vs. Low-Level Programming

All programming languages fall on the spectrum of high-level, low-level, or somewhere between. High-level languages are more similar to human language, whereas low-level languages are closer to how computers understand information.

For example, if you wanted to say 'hi there' in Python, the code would be

print("hi there")

If you wanted to do the same thing in C, a low-level language, it would be

#include <stdio.h>
Int main () {
pringf("hi there");
Return 0;
}

As you can see, one is much easier on the human eye than the other. Each has its value, though. Low-level languages are often faster since they require the computer to "think" less and require less memory. They are often used to develop operating systems, databases, device drivers, and applications that require direct hardware access.

High-level languages have the clear benefit of allowing programmers to think like humans rather than a computer. However, since machines cannot understand high-level languages directly, they require a translator program to convert the code to binary, slowing down the process.

On the other hand, it is often faster for humans to write and debug high-level code — similar to how it is easier to spot an error in text than in a long string of numbers.

Major Programming Styles

Another way to group programming languages is by how they function, also called their paradigms. Most paradigms are concerned with different functions, so one language can be a part of multiple groupings. Some of the most common paradigms can be seen below.

Object-Oriented

Object-oriented programming organizes the design around objects or data rather than around the functions and logic.

Object-oriented languages are frequently used to structure a software program into classes or reusable pieces of code commands.

Example: Java

Functional

Functional programming focuses on the results rather than the process.

There is an emphasis on expressions and declarations instead of the execution of statements.

Example: Python

Procedural

Procedural programming is probably the largest category and is especially popular with script and software programmers.

These languages use a string of commands to tell the computer what to do.

Example: Fortran

Front-End Coding Languages

Looking at your favorite website, web application, or game, everything you see was created using front-end coding languages. Their main job is to make sure that everything the user sees is easily navigable, clean, and hopefully, nice to look at. Here are some of the most popular front-end languages.

HTML/CSS

When you clicked on this article link, our server sent an HTML file to your web browser, which is how you are seeing everything right now. HTML is organized into tags and elements, which tell our browsers where to put text or how big it should be. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language we use to style an HTML document. CSS describes how HTML elements should be displayed. It also helps by acting as a replicator. Instead of going through every page of a website and manually making every headline the same size, CSS allows programmers to make all related elements the same simultaneously using CSS selectors.

JavaScript

JavaScript is the most widely used language across GitHub. JavaScript is used to program the behavior of web pages. It adds interactivity to websites. JavaScript is the standard language for building websites and is more straightforward to learn than many other languages. JavaScript programmers also build a lot of their own libraries, so there are numerous add-ons — such as different syntax and typing features to help quickly detect errors.

Back-End Coding Languages

On the other side of the programming are back-end languages. These make up all of the pieces you, as the user, do not interact with. Back-end languages are responsible for the operating system that boots up when you turn on your computer and how your avatar does a fun Fortnite dance when you click a certain button during a game.

Java

Java is the top programming language of 2022, according to CodingDojo, with over 80,000 job listings on Indeed.com looking for Java programmers. Many tools and platforms utilize Java, including phones, tablets, desktops, servers, and web browsers. It is a compiled language, runs directly as machine code, and is fast.

Python

While Java wins the 2022 popularity contest, Java and Python have been the top two contenders, switching off nearly every year for the last number of years. Python is used in the growing fields of AI, machine learning, data science, as well as in web, software, and game development.

PHP

PHP is one of the primary languages that make websites interactive and dynamic. It is a general-purpose scripting language used across all operating systems and powers countless websites worldwide. Its primary use is in web development and can be merged into HTML.

SQL

With SQL, you can update, organize, and query data in your databases. You can think of SQL as functioning similarly to Microsoft Excel but on a much larger scale. SQL is primarily used by data scientists.

Ruby

Ruby was developed as a sort of Frankenstein collection of the best parts of numerous other programming languages. Because of this, it is a very flexible language, allowing developers to add and take away primary functions to fit any set of particular needs.

Types of Coding Jobs

Computer Programmer

Write and test code for computer applications.

Median annual salary (2021): $93,000

Web Developer

Can be either front or back-end of website creation.

Median annual salary (2021): $77,200

Software Developer

Works on all types of games, apps, and computer programs.

Median annual salary (2021): $110,140

Database Architect

Creates and organizes systems to store and work with data.

Median annual salary (2021): $98,860

Computer and Information Research Scientist

On the cutting edge of finding new uses for developing technology.

Median annual salary (2021): $131,490

Where to Learn Coding

No matter your learning style or how much time you can dedicate to learning, you can find something that fits your needs. Some of the most popular general online learning platforms like Coursera offer just short of 300 unique coding courses, all online and many self-paced.

Another popular option is coding bootcamps. Bootcamps are available online and in-person and often resemble a traditional educational structure in terms of both course delivery and price. Then, there are traditional university programs. Coders often use a mix of education methods to stay up-to-date on the newest trends and technology.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Languages

What is the easiest coding language to learn?

HTML, Python, Java, and JavaScript are the easiest languages to learn. However, this will depend on your previous experience and knowledge.

Some people find it challenging to get their heads around low-level programming languages at first, and some come to it more naturally. The first programming language you learn will likely be difficult. Once you start to figure out how it is structured, it will all start to make sense.

What is the most diverse coding language?

There are many ways to classify what a diverse coding language is, and many programming languages can be considered diverse or flexible in various ways.

Javascript is often known for being one of the more flexible and versatile programming languages. It is essential for web development and can be used in both the front-end and the back-end. C and Python are good examples of languages with many different functions across a wide variety of application domains, and Scala supports multiple programming paradigms (procedural, object-oriented, and functional).

What is the highest-paying coding job?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer information scientists make the most out of all computer and information technology occupations. These professionals earned a median annual wage of $113,490 in 2021. Other top-earning positions include computer network architects and information security analysts.

The median annual salary for all computer and information jobs is $97,430, more than double the median salary for all other occupations. Some newer or more popular coding jobs like working with AI or database management can ask for higher wages because of their recent popularity. In contrast, more tried and true positions, such as web developers, will probably always be in steady demand and still offer good salaries.

Feature Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

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