Learning more than one programming language can boost salary by £10,000

Knowing multiple programming languages, such as Java, C and C#, can get you noticed faster in the IT jobs market.

The majority of IT professionals believe knowing more than one programming language is an essential skill to have in the current IT recruitment market, according to a report by IT recruiter Greythorn. 

Furthermore, the firm’s research suggests that learning more than one programming language can increase your salary by between £3,000 and £10,000 per annum.

The recruitment company says employers, many of them in London, are looking for flexible IT staff that have knowledge of three or four different programming languages. An added bonus would be candidates that have a mix of both traditional and niche programming expertise.

Charlie Setoodeh, senior consultant at Greythorn, said the explosion of programming languages, such as Scala, Perl and Ruby has changed the landscape for IT professionals: “When building up your skill-set as an IT professional, it’s now a major selling-point to have expertise in multiple languages.”

But according to Setoodeh, candidates with a broad expertise are few and far between. “Where new languages create cost savings or greater utility for employers, demand can spring up almost overnight for people who can use it,” he said.  

The most lucrative and in-demand languages are Scala, Python, Erlang, Ruby on Rails and Perl, according to Greythorn. The fastest growing programming language, due to a need for more developers able to work on mobile platforms, is Objective C, according to the TIOBE software index.

However the TIOBE index did not show a correlation between the most popular programming languages and higher salaries. The index found the most popular programming languages in March 2012 (in terms of the number of lines of code written) were Java, C and C#. However the salary increase for knowledge of these programmes was less than £500.

Anthony Koporo, consultant at Greythorn, said IT professionals should take care to access languages that are currently in high demand: “When you look at TIOBE’s index, perennials such as Java might seem the obvious choices for professionals looking to expand their expertise. But Java use is shrinking.

“Professionals who focus on the fastest-growing languages will see the best rewards, because there are fewer professionals out there with the expertise to do the job. That’s why people who can use Objective C and Python currently stand out from the crowd.”

Koporo said the only exception to this rule is contract work, as this type of employment tends to focus on projects that use only one programming language. He pointed out that there is less advantage in knowing multiple languages when applying for these types of roles.

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It’s really not that surprising. I think one of the main reasons is that, like the article points out, IT professionals know that knowing more than one language is an essential skill, but they land a job that, for whatever reason, keeps them working in one primary language at the expense of learning or keeping fluent in others. One trick I use to keep fluent in other languages is to use my discretionary time to work on in them to solve little problems that come up on an almost daily basis. That way, even though the bulk of my job requires Java, I can use Perl to whip up a quick solution.
Is it that people who learn 2 languages are better than sticking to one because they are more versatile?  Is the flexibility to learn a new language something employers value highly?  I wonder at what point learning a new language, stops being a benefit.
Looks like an interesting finding but does not appear to be practical one from hiring manager's point of view :-) And IMO, it's too early to say Java is getting dead. Half of the world is still running on it...