If you want to code from home, start learning JavaScript

An examination of the tech skills mentioned most often by telecommuting job listings finds that the ubiquitous scripting language is number one

Yesterday I wrote a post about how job boards are making it easier for tech workers to find positions open to telecommuters. As I was researching it, I wondered whether certain programming languages or tech skills were more in demand for telecommuting jobs than others. If I want to stay at home and write code in my pajammies, is there one language more than others that would help me achieve my dream?

Turns out the answer is yes and the best choice seems to be good old JavaScript. To come up with that answer, I looked at a number of job postings for software developers open to people wanting to work remotely. I then compared the frequency with which a number of popular programming languages and technologies were mentioned by the postings. Here’s what I found:

top_skill_telecommuting-600x450_0.jpgImage credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Learn JavaScript, work from home

Before discussing the results, let me describe my methodology:

  • I looked at 719 job listings open to remote tech workers on two job boards: Dice and the new job board We Work Remotely. On the former, I looked at everything listed under the “Programming Jobs” section (141 jobs). On the latter, I ran a query after checking the “Search Telecommuting jobs only” checkbox on their advanced search page, which leads to a query like this one; this produced 578 job postings.

  • I decided to look at the number of times the top 10 programming languages on the current TIOBE Programming Community Index (November 2013) were mentioned. Those languages are: C, Java, Objective-C, C++, C#, PHP, Visual Basic, Python, Transact-SQL, JavaScript.

  • I also considered the top trending job skills according to Indeed.com. Those skills were: HTML5, MongoDB, iOS, Android, Puppet, Hadoop, jQuery; I ignored Mobile app, PaaS, social media as being too general.

  • On We Work Remotely, I used their search functionality to find job listings associated with a given keyword, such as this search for JavaScript positions, then totaled up the number of Programming Jobs that it returned. The only exception was for C jobs; for those I went through all 141 listings by hand to find the ones that mentioned it (as opposed to C# or C++).

  • On Dice, I used their Skill filter to find listings mentioning certain skills or languages, such as this one for jQuery jobs.

As you can see, JavaScript topped the list, being mentioned in just over 20% of these listings. This doesn’t seem surprising, given its increasing ubiquitousness these days. In fact, while it’s only ranked #10 on the current TIOBE index, there is other evidence that JavaScript really is the top programming language today.

In general, languages and tools used for the web are high up the list, like JavaScript, jQuery at #3 (12.5%) and PHP (9.5%) in the fifth spot. iOS (#8, 5.6%), Android (#10, 4.5%) and HTML5 (#11, 4%) are more in the middle of the pack, but I would expect those to become even more important over time, given continued growth in mobile devices and apps.

Of course, you still can’t go wrong with knowing the classics, such as Java, second on this list (mentioned in 15% of listings) and C, which was fourth (10%).

There you have it: if you want to code from your favorite easy chair with your cat on your lap, make sure you know some JavaScript.

Happy job hunting!

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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