Which lingo should I learn?

Don’t learn a programming language based on popularity alone; what you want to do with it matters more. Which lingo should I learn? Don’t learn a programming language based on popularity alone; what you want to do with it matters more.

Dear Molly: Which programming languages are the best career bet today? When I searched on the Internet, I found that JAVA and Visual Basic are the most popular.

Molly says: I wish you had included the sites where you got the information about which programming languages are the most widely used. I wouldn’t say that any one language is more popular than another, because a lot depends on what you are trying to do with the programs you create.

It’s also difficult to say which programming languages are your best career bet. It all depends on whether you can satisfy your employer’s or clients’ needs. I know someone who learned COBOL 20 years ago and has been employed as a COBOL programmer on a continuous basis ever since. She doesn’t know any other programming languages and says she’s not interested in learning any others.

I think you should concentrate on finding a programming language that is linked to some aspect of IT that is interesting to you and learn that language thoroughly before you learn another–if you learn another. While you are learning that language, also find out all you can about how the programs you create with it are used in business or science. Doing so will help you communicate much more easily with the people who want them.

If you’re interested in JAVA and Visual Basic, start reading about these languages online. Here are a few sites to help you get started for Java: the Mountain View/Silicon Valley Java Users Group, the Game Developers Java Users Group, and the Sun Microsystems site. Here are some Visual Basic sites to check out: the San Diego Visual Basic User Group, Carl and Gary’s Visual Basic Home Page and Dev/X.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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