Is It Worth Learning JavaScript? Popularity, Salaries, and Future

JavaScript remains one of the world's most popular programming languages, but to say that there isn't a love and hate relationship between the language and developers would be disingenuous. Despite there being ClojureScript, Elm, and TypeScript that compile to JS - there are no signs of JS being on a decline.

The main reason for this is the fact that the entry threshold for JavaScript is relatively low, and thanks to the npm ecosystem - apps can be bootstrapped quickly and efficiently. To top it off, you can work with JavaScript directly from the browser's developer console.

And in recent years, platforms like CodeSandbox have made it easy to create real development environments in the browser, too. All of this makes it even simpler for novice developers to get started with the language.

JavaScript at a glance

JavaScript is a high-level programming language that supports imperative, functional, and event-driven programming styles.

The main features of JS include:

  • One of the defining features of JavaScript is that it's a dynamically typed language. This means that variables don't need to be declared with a specific data type - the type is determined at runtime when a value is assigned to the variable.
  • JavaScript is an interpreted language, meaning code is executed on the fly as it's encountered. There's no need to compile the code before running it.
  • Functions are a first-class citizen in JavaScript, which means that they can be assigned to variables, passed as arguments to other functions, and returned as values from functions. This makes functions a powerful tool for building complex and modular applications.
  • JavaScript supports prototypal inheritance, which allows you to create objects that inherit properties and methods from other objects. This powerful feature enables you to write reusable and efficient code.
  • JavaScript is supported by all modern browsers, which makes it a universal language for building web applications. It can also be used on the server-side, thanks to Node.js, which enables you to build powerful and scalable web applications using JavaScript.

And it goes without saying that JavaScript has a vibrant ecosystem with a large and active community of developers. This community has created a wide range of libraries, frameworks, and tools that make it easier to build complex applications using JavaScript.

JavaScript in the real world

What are the real-world applications of JavaScript?

These days JavaScript can be applied to numerous use cases, including web development, mobile and desktop applications, and hardware programming. The language is a critical component of front-end development, along with HTML and CSS. Together, these languages enable developers to create dynamic and interactive web pages that provide rich user experiences.

Beyond front-end development, JavaScript is also widely used in server-side programming.

The introduction of Node.js in 2009 revolutionized server-side programming by allowing developers to use the same language for client-side and server-side development. This means that JavaScript developers can build complete web applications, from front-end to back-end, using a single language.

The applications of JavaScript continue to expand with the growth of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Developers can now use JavaScript libraries, such as TensorFlow.js and Brain.js, to build machine learning models and neural networks in JavaScript.

Overall, the versatility of JavaScript has made it an essential language for developers across a range of industries. The language's ability to be used in both client-side and server-side development, desktop applications, and hardware programming has only contributed to its continued popularity.

Popularity and growth

As stated at the start of this article, JavaScript is one of the leading programming languages.

As of February 2023, the JavaScript language is ranked 7th in the TIOBE Index. In the annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey, JavaScript is ranked 1st by professional developers, and it has remained so for a decade now! And on GitHub, JavaScript is the 3rd most popular language. This makes it more popular than C++, PHP, and Ruby.

The popularity of JavaScript is also evident in the number of libraries and frameworks built on top of it. Popular JavaScript frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular have millions of users, and new frameworks are constantly being created to meet the demands of modern web development.

The prospects of JavaScript are also excellent. With the continued growth of web development and the rise of new technologies like artificial intelligence, the demand for JavaScript developers is likely to increase.

JavaScript Salaries: What are the numbers?

The salary of a JavaScript programmer depends on the level of qualification, the region of residence and work, and the role of employment.

Role North America Europe
Front-end Developer $65,000 - $120,000 €40,000 - €75,000
Back-end Developer $70,000 - $130,000 €45,000 - €85,000
Full-Stack Developer $80,000 - $150,000 €50,000 - €95,000
Mobile Developer $75,000 - $135,000 €45,000 - €85,000
Game Developer $90,000 - $170,000 €55,000 - €105,000

All the data in the table above is specifically in the context of JavaScript development. The salary information was gathered from sites such as Dice, Hacker News, and Developer Surveys. It is a rough but accurate estimate, as each company has its own ways of compensating its employees.

The average salaries for JavaScript developers are generally in line with those of other popular programming languages like Python, Java, and C#. In fact, in some cases, JavaScript developers may earn higher salaries than those working with other languages, particularly in front-end development roles.

The demand for JavaScript developers has been steadily increasing over the years, as more and more businesses move online and require web applications and mobile apps.

This has led to a shortage of skilled developers, which has driven up salaries for those with the requisite skills and experience.

What does the future hold?

So, to answer the question, "Is JavaScript worth learning?", the answer is yes, it is. JavaScript works in the browser, it runs on the server, and for all we know - it could become the go-to language for IoT projects.

All the while, JS remains an easy language to catch up with (learn from scratch), making it both popular but also in high demand.

It's worth pointing out that JavaScript is also one of the oldest languages (December 1995) that has remained in active development. As of 2015 (the release of ES6) - JavaScript is on a persistent one-year release cycle.

The releases might not be groundbreaking as far as the features go, but the language is far from being left alone, and the broader community feels the development pace.

For example, you can follow along with TC39 (the committee behind the official specification), voice your concerns, and make recommendations, all of which encourage a healthy and open discussion about the language's future.

Is a low-entry threshold a bad thing?

The low entry threshold for learning JavaScript has always been a topic of debate. On one hand, more people can participate in coding and programming using the language. However, the downside is that the level of proficiency among these individuals may be low, which could lead to a negative perception of the language.

In order to effectively use JavaScript, one must have a comprehensive understanding of the language itself, as well as related areas, including computer science. Many tasks using JavaScript require a similar level of complexity as those that are solved with other programming languages.

Looking ahead, it is unlikely that JavaScript will be replaced in the foreseeable future. This is due to several reasons. Firstly, it is the only language of its kind that is supported by all web browsers. While there have been attempts to introduce alternative languages, these have been unable to gain widespread adoption.

Secondly, the need to share logic between the client and the server has only increased with the growing prevalence of server-side rendering. This has further strengthened JavaScript's position on the server side.

Thirdly, the tooling for JavaScript and the client-side web stack is primarily written in JavaScript, which further reinforces its dominance in the industry.

Lastly, the significant investments made in the development of JavaScript engines are yielding positive results. The requirements of these engines are reducing, allowing them to run on increasingly weaker platforms and devices. This trend means that specialists with a comprehensive knowledge of JavaScript will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future.

Overall, JavaScript remains a popular and indispensable language in the programming world. While some concerns exist regarding the low entry threshold and proficiency of new learners, the benefits of the language far outweigh these concerns. With the continued growth of web development and the increasing need for cross-platform compatibility, JavaScript's position as a key programming language is unlikely to be challenged anytime soon.