What Are Computer Programming Languages?

Computer programming languages are used to create operating systems, applications software and websites. Some examples include Java and C++. Read on to learn about languages that are used and to find out what careers are available in the field of programming. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Computer Programming Languages

Computers and similar machines complete tasks by receiving instructions from a programming language. In the most basic terms, programming languages are chains of commands that are issued and followed. Each language is a series of computations and algorithms that help create and control the behavior of machines. There are thousands of different computer programming languages out there, and more are being created each year.

Computer programming languages normally have two components: semantics and syntax. Semantics is the meaning of the language, while syntax is the form in which it is presented. If you're interested in learning about computer programming languages, you can do so in a computer science or other computer-oriented program at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Some popular languages include C++, Java, Python and PHP.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Online Availability Fully online programs available
Prerequisites Completed relevant college coursework or work experience recommended for a bachelor's program
Professional Certification Certification in specific programming languages available
Key Skills Analytical, troubleshooting, detail oriented


C++, which is an enhancement to the C programming language, is one of the most popular programming languages used by programmers. It sees uses in drivers, hardware design, embedded software, systems software, application software, client applications, server applications and video games. In C++, a mixture of high-level and low-level programming features is used.


This programming language was released in 1995 and is used in the Java platform. It has ties to the programming languages C and C++, but it is generally regarded as having simpler and lower-level facilities. Overall, Java is a general-purpose and object-oriented language geared towards having few dependencies.


One of the higher-level programming languages, Python is designed to have a clear and easy-to-read syntax while providing good power. It is unique compared to other languages in that it blocks information sequences with indentations. It is primarily a scripting language, although it has non-scripting uses.


This hypertext preprocessor scripting language is normally used for Web pages and Web development. PHP helps with Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Most modern Web servers use PHP as a processor and an interpreter for the majority of computing platforms and operating systems.

Career Options

If you decide to learn some computer programming languages, you can choose to become a computer programmer, software developer or Web developer.

Computer Programmer

Rather than actually planning and designing programs like software developers do, computer programmers use their knowledge of programming languages to write code and do testing. In addition to coding new programs, they might make changes to existing ones. To work in this career, an associate's or bachelor's degree will likely be necessary, and you'll need to know at least a few languages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates an 8 percent decline in job growth for this occupation between 2014 and 2024, and programmers made a median salary of $77,550 as of May 2014.

Software Developer

Software developers are responsible for planning and designing software and may specialize in either applications or systems software. Although they might do some coding, that duty is often given to computer programmers. A bachelor's degree is the entry-level education requirement for software developers, and possible majors include mathematics, computer software engineering and computer science. The BLS expects 19 percent employment growth for developers of applications software and 13 percent employment growth for developers of systems software between 2014 and 2024. Median earnings in May 2014 were $95,510 for applications developers and $102,880 for systems software developers.

Web Developers

As a Web developer, you would make websites and Web applications. Some common languages used include HTML, JavaScript and XML. Other duties may include adding multimedia content to websites, creating layouts and debugging website applications. Some specific roles include Web programmer, Web designer and webmaster. At least an associate's degree is typically required to become a Web developer. The BLS expects 27 percent growth for this occupation between 2014 and 2024, and it reported a median wage of $63,490 as of May 2014.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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