Best Programming Languages to Start Freelancing in 2020

The demand for programming talent has steadily increased in the preceding decades.

In fact, there never has been a better time to start learning to code. Why? Because you (yes, YOU!) can sell your skills for top dollars—the average freelancer earns much more than $100,000 per year (source).

Nobody denies two transformative trends:

  • Programming is on the rise. With the proliferation of computing into every area of our lives, it’s now more important than ever before to be able to speak the language of computers.
  • Freelancing is on the rise. The biggest freelancing platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr grow double-digit year after year. They are out to disrupt the organization of the world’s talents—and it looks like they’re succeeding.

If you combine these trends, you end up with one of the greatest opportunities of our times: freelance developmentthe act of selling your programming services to a global client base.

Do you want to develop the skills of a well-rounded Python professional—while getting paid in the process? Become a Python freelancer and order your book Leaving the Rat Race with Python on Amazon (Kindle/Print)!

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But there are many fundamentally different programming languages, which language to learn? What’s the best language with the highest potential and the biggest growth opportunities?

This article answers this question for you. But instead of going over the different programming languages, I’ll go over the different end-goals you want to achieve. The programming languages will then naturally emerge from your overall goals as a programmer. You should decide on your life goals first and not on the technologies. Otherwise, you end up confused, unmotivated, and unable to see the big picture.

Before you start diving into the details, here’s a quick tabular overview:

TitleBest Programming LanguagesYearly Income (Average US)
Web DeveloperJavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL$78,088
Mobile Developer AndroidJava$126,154
Mobile Developer AppleSwift$123,263
Back End DeveloperPython + Django + Flask$127,913
Front End DeveloperJavaScript + HTML + CSS$109,742
Full-Stack EngineerPython + JavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL$112,098
Data ScientistPython + Matplotlib + Pandas + NumPy + Dash$122,700
Machine Learning EngineerPython + NumPy + Scikit-Learn + TensorFlow$145,734

Let’s dive into the different freelance developer career choices for maximum success!

Web Developer? JavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL

Do you want to become a web developer? The most common four programming languages you must learn are JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and SQL. Have a look at the most popular programming languages used by the largest websites in the world: Google, Facebook, and YouTube. They all use JavaScript and HTML as front-end technologies. In the back-end, there are different choices—but a proficient understanding of SQL is a must.

The average salary for a web developer is $78,088 per year in the US:

Mobile Developer Android? Java

Do you want to become a developer for mobile Android apps? The recommended programming language for native Android apps is Java.

The average salary for an Android developer is $126,154 per year in the US:

Mobile Developer Apple? Swift

Do you want to become a mobile developer for Apple apps? The best programming language is Swift which is Apple’s own creation. I’d generally not recommend to lock in your knowledge to a single company but if you’re really committed, it can be a great way to differentiate your skills.

The average salary of a mobile app developer in the US is $123,263.

Back End Developer? Python + Django + Flask

No online business can thrive without a scalable back-end. The servers must run properly and serve a varying number of users. Becoming a back end developer is not the most popular choice—because many people want to “see” the applications they’re coding. This makes back end development a great career choice: less competition and massive value for companies.

The average back end developer earns $127,913 per year in the US.

Front End Developer? JavaScript + HTML + CSS

Developing beautiful, well-rounded front-ends of modern web applications is fun and a prestigious activity that will usually be valued very highly by clients that hire you as a front end freelance developer. The standard languages in front end development are, of course, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. You must master these languages above everything else! And if you do, you’ll build yourself a powerful skill on which you can base your whole career.

The average front end developer earns $109,742 per year in the US.

Full-Stack Engineer? Python + JavaScript + HTML + CSS + SQL

The most advanced coders in web development are called “full stack engineers”. They have experience in front end and back end development. They know different technologies through years of experience and practice. They have honed their skills to a very high level. To become a full-stack engineer, your best programming language choice is JavaScript, HTML, CSS for the front end and Python and SQL for the back end. But it doesn’t stop there—much more languages must be learned as you go along and move beyond average full-stack programming level.

The average full-stack engineer earns healthy $112,098 per year in the US.

Data Scientist? Python + Matplotlib + Pandas + NumPy + Dash

Do you want to join the ranks of data scientists—often being called “the sexiest professions in the 21st century”? Your best shot is Python and its great libraries: Matplotlib, Pandas, NumPy, and Dash. A great starting point is our book “Coffee Break NumPy”—check it out if you want to become a skilled data scientist with attractive pay and plenty of freelancing opportunities in the years to come!

The average data scientist earns a staggering $122,700 per year in the US. If you become a data engineer (next level), you’ll even reach an average earning level of $130,000.

Machine Learning Engineer? Python + NumPy + Scikit-Learn + TensorFlow

The highest earning potential as a freelance developer comes with the title “Machine Learning Engineer”. As such a developer, you must analyze and create high-performing machine learning models. It’s vital that you understand the background maths and concepts. The most popular programming languages as a machine learning engineer are Python and its powerful libraries NumPy, Scikit-Learn, and TensorFlow.

The average earnings as a machine learning engineer is $145,734 per year in the US. And this is average! It’s hard to find anything better.

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory, let’s get some practice!

To become successful in coding, you need to get out there and solve real problems for real people. That’s how you can become a six-figure earner easily. And that’s how you polish the skills you really need in practice. After all, what’s the use of learning theory that nobody ever needs?

Practice projects is how you sharpen your saw in coding!

Do you want to become a code master by focusing on practical code projects that actually earn you money and solve problems for people?

Then become a Python freelance developer! It’s the best way of approaching the task of improving your Python skills—even if you are a complete beginner.

Join my free webinar “How to Build Your High-Income Skill Python” and watch how I grew my coding business online and how you can, too—from the comfort of your own home.

Join the free webinar now!