Best programming language to learn in South Africa

Best programming language to learn in South Africa

September 6, 2022 Off By TLK

The best programming language to learn in South Africa is dictated by two things: the most popular programming language, and the best paying programming language.

South Africa is the most vibrant technology and start up space in Africa. The country employs both local and foreign talents, so this article is not just for South Africans but everyone interested to work there.

You do not necessarily need to have a degree to land a software development job as long as you have the required expertise in one or more of the best paying tech developer languages, you are good to go.

Best programming languages to learn first

So which is the best programming language to learn in South Africa? A research done by OfferZen found out interesting details. The tech-oriented firm says it speaks one on one to thousands of people in the developer community of Africa’s most developed nation.

“Thousands of developers responded, and shared with us what it’s like to work in South Africa, what programming languages and tech stacks they most enjoy working with, and what’s most important to them when looking for a job,” OfferZen CEO Marlan Joubet said.

First, let’s look at programming languages popularity.

The most popular programming languages in South Africa

1. JavaScript

This is the most popular programming language in South Africa right now. Most of the programmers interviewed use JavaScript in almost all their projects. Almost 65 percent of all interviewees use it as their primary language.

The research also shows that this language is top priority for developers who are yet to learn it, and want to do so. In this case, it leads Python by about one percentage point at 44 percent.

2. C#

This is the second most popular coding language in South Africa. It is a primary skill for about 41 percent of the respondents, almost 25 percentage points behind JavaScript.

However, only about 38 percent of developers want to acquire this skill, putting it in third place in terms of priority behind JavaScript and Python.

3. Java

Generally, about 33 percent of respondents use Java as their primary coding language. There is a slight difference in terms of geographical preference for the language though when you break it down: Gauteng, where Johannesburg falls, Java is strongly in third place but Cape Town prefers Python as the third most popular language.

About 30 percent of developers are prioritizing Java as a key skill to learn, putting it in the distant fifth place behind JavaScript, Python, C# and TypeScript in that order.

4. TypeScript

27 percent of South African programmers use TypeScript as their primary language, making it the fourth most popular programming language.

TypeScript holds the same position in terms of the skill developers want to learn with about 32 percent of respondents being keen to learn it, four percentage points ahead of Java.

5. Python

You cannot think about the best programming language to learn in South Africa or anywhere else without mentioning Python. Slightly over 26 percent of developers use Python as their primary language making it the fifth most popular language.

This language is rising in popularity as it ranks second just behind JavaScript as the skill to have. The prediction is that it will outdo JavaScript in the very near future. 43 percent of developers want the skill compared to the 45 percent that are keen on learning JavaScript.

6. PHP

PHP wraps up the 6 most popular coding languages in South Africa but only about 19 percent of developers use it as their primary language.

It also drops further in the must have tech skills being pipped into seventh place by Go. Only 12 percent of developers want to learn it compared to 18 percent who prefer Go.

7. Ruby

Only 4.4 percent of programmers use Ruby as their primary coding language in South Africa.

About 10 percent of developers want to add it to their skills, making it less preferable compared to Go, PHP, and Swift.

8. Go and Swift

Go has only slightly above 4 percent of developers primarily using it while Swift is preferred by only 2.8 percent of South African programmers.

While 18 percent of developers want to add Go to their coding skills, only 11 percent want to learn Swift.

9. Other coding languages

The following languages are used by less than 2 percent of developers in South Africa.

  • Objective-C
  • Elixir
  • Rust
  • Clojure

4 percent or less of developers want to learn Elixir, Clojure, or Objective-C.

Most popular coding frameworks in South Africa

JavaScript frameworks are the most popular in South Africa at the moment. Three of them occupy places in the top five most popular frameworks. They are: Node.js (1st), Angular (2nd), React (4th).

From the research, it seems if you are an Angular developer Gauteng would be a better place for you than Cape Town while if you are a React developer, the opposite is true.

Developers are also keen to work with specific frameworks, and OfferZen’s research shows that JavaScript still lead the pack. Only that Angular will topple Node.js as the most preferred framework to learn.

The best paying tech developer skills in South Africa

Now let’s look at the best programming language to learn in South Africa with reference to pay. As it is in most job markets, most sought after skills which have fewer people who possess them definitely attract a higher premium.

It is no different with programming languages. It appears the most popular languages do not attract high wages because there is always someone willing to offer a lower price.

The OfferZen research showed that if you are proficient with Go or Ruby, then money will follow you. These two skills attract higher wages across all levels of experience, doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a junior (1-2 years), intermediate (2-4 years) or senior developer (6+ years).

1. Go and Ruby

These are the best paying tech developer languages in South Africa. Senior developers skilled in Ruby and Go earn a median salary of around R 66,967 pm. Intermediate developers for Go earn R41,279 while those with Ruby earn R40,273. Junior developers for both languages attract an average of R26,000 pm.

2. Swift

Swift coders are generally the third highest paid in South Africa. Junior developers are paid an average of R23,077, intermediate developers earn about R37,791, while senior developers earn about R65,469.  

3. Python

The case with Python is a little complicated when it comes to senior level developer wages. However, junior and intermediate Python developers are the third highest paid in South Africa earning an average of R23,496 and R36,475 respectively. Seniors earn an average of R62,382.

4. Java

It is one of the best paying tech developer languages. Developers with Java skills earn more at senior level than those who know Python. OffZen found out that they can earn as much as R1.5k more than those who proficient in Python or TypeScript. Java junior developers earn an average of R21,015, intermediate developers earn R36,475 while seniors earn R64,023.

5. TypeScript

It is the sixth highest paying coding language skill in South Africa. Juniors earn an average of R21,537, intermediate coders earn R53,200 while senior coders earn an average of R62,479.

6. C#

C# junior coders an average of R20,258 with intermediate developers being paid an average of R34,697. Senior C# developers earn an average of R61,933 in South Africa.

7. JavaScript

JavaScript is among the lowest paying despite it being a popular language. Junior developers who are proficient in JavaScript earn an average of R20.220, intermediate coders earn R34,144 while senior developers earn R59.957.

8. PHP

Like in most markets around the world, PHP is not the best programming language to learn in South Africa. PHP coders earn the lowest salary in South Africa, no matter the level of experience.

Junior developers attract about R18,646, intermediate developers get paid an average of R30,054 while senior PHP programmers attract R51,812.

Most lucrative fields for tech developers in South Africa

Even with all these skills, the amount you earn depends on the field you are working in. The highest paying and worst paying fields for tech developers in South Africa are as below:

  1. Fintech – best, intermediate developers earn an average of R39,291
  2. Data and analytics – they are more lucrative fields for junior developers
  3. Cloud based solutions – more lucrative for senior developers earning an average of R67,276.
  4. Web development and design – is the least lucrative field earning intermediate developers as average of R28,211.

Interesting facts:

  • People who learned coding from a younger age of say 12 years on wards earn more than those who started coding in school or college.
  • Self taught coders earn basically the same or more than coders with a college degree in all categories including best paying tech developer languages in South Africa..

*All the data presented here is from a survey by OfferZen