Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%

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Skills in lesser-used programming languages continue to attract the highest salaries for developers, a new report has revealed.

The annual survey from developer forum Stack Overflow showed that Clojure once again proved to be the language that demanded the highest-paying salaries on the market, with a median salary of $106,644 (£87,400).

Clojure is a dialect of the LISP language and is most commonly used to process large volumes of data. LISP is used for the manipulation of data strings, used commonly in artificial intelligence (AI) programming, and came fourth in the list, attracting a median salary of $95,526 (£78,249).

Erlang, used for developing massively scalable systems at companies like WhatsApp, was found to have fallen in popularity in 2022, thanks to the emergence of newer functional languages like Elixir. However, Erlang developers can still expect a median annual salary of $103,000 (£84,361) for their skills, an increase of around $20,000 on 2021's figures.

Among the other top-paying languages, according to the survey, F#, Ruby, Elixir, Scala, and Perl also feature, each earning a median salary north of $90,000 (£73,734).


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Salaries for developers have increased across the board compared to last year’s survey, with the top-paying languages remaining largely the same.

By far the biggest salary jump was for COBOL developers, with developers earning on average $75,592 (just under £62,000) in 2022, an increase of over $20,000 from 2021.

StackOverflow did not provide an explanation for the rise in salaries this year, but the jump was a significant one given that salaries between 2020 and 2021 were similar for most programming languages.

The reason for the high salaries in these specific languages and skills could be explained by their apparent scarcity in the market. The survey showed the top-paying languages were used by just 1-3% of developers, indicating that systems relying on languages that are rarely used must pay higher rates to secure what little talent there is in the market.

JavaScript was the most-used language for the tenth year in a row, Stack Overflow said. People training to become developers are almost equally choosing between HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and Python as their starter languages.

Salaries for web development languages JavaScript and HTML/CSS were among the lowest on the list at $65,580 (£53,738) and $63,984 (£52,430) respectively. Python developers attract a median salary of $71,105 (£58,265).

The market also experienced a rise in employed developers, up 4% on last year’s figures, and the number of self-employed or independent contractor developers is up 5% too.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.