Why learning Object Pascal could be a good career move

New data shows which tech skills have experienced the biggest increase in demand in recent years, and only one programming language makes the list

Picture of the entrance to Pascal’s hardware store
Credit: Vintage Canadian Supermarkets and Discount Stores (CC BY 2.0)

If I asked you to name the programming language skill for which demand has increased the most recently and told you that the language name began with a “P,” odds are you’d probably guess Python, right? Well, if you did, while that would be a good guess, it would also be wrong. Based on recent job listing data from Dice, the language that saw the biggest jump in demand from 2013 to 2014 wasn’t Python but Pascal - or, more specifically, Object Pascal.

This week Dice released a new list of the top ten tech skills for which demand is growing the fastest. To determine this list, Dice looked at the change in demand for tech skills based on job listings over the two most recent full calendar years, 2013 to 2014. The tech skill which showed the biggest increase in demand was Cloudera Impala, an open-source SQL query engine for Hadoop. Between 2013 and 2014 its ranking among tech skills increased by over 2,500 spots. The average salary for jobs requiring Cloud Impala in 2014-2015, according to Dice data, was $139,874.

Object Pascal, an object-oriented version of Pascal used by the Delphi IDE for developing web, desktop, and mobile applications, had the 9th largest increase in demand using this measure, with its ranking rising by almost 1,800 spots (average salary for jobs requiring Object Pascal was $77,907). No other languages made the list, though other programming-related tools did, such as Xamarin (a tool for developing cross-platform mobile apps using C#, 4th), Laravel (an open source PHP web-application framework, 6th), and RStudio (an IDE for R,7th).

The Dice researchers didn’t offer a theory as to why demand for Object Pascal seems to be rising rapidly.

I looked at some other common measures of programming language interest and usage to see if they also detected a rise for Object Pascal. Here’s what I found:

  • In the April 2015 TIOBE index, which ranks languages based on web searches, Object Pascal made a big jump, rising to 11th from 19th one year earlier.
  • The April 2015 PYPL index, which ranks languages based on Google searches for language tutorials, doesn’t include Object Pascal in the top 16 languages. Google Trends doesn’t register anything for “Object Pascal tutorial,” but it does shows that interest in Pascal and Delphi tutorial has basically been flat for the last two years, after steadily declining for the previous 5-6 years.
  • Redmonk rankings, which order languages semi-annually based on a combination of GitHub activity and Stack Overflow questions, shows a slight uptick for Pascal usage based on GitHub since January 2014, but not much change in terms of Stack Overflow interest. Redmonk also shows that Stack Overflow questions about Delphi have been relatively steady over the past year, but GitHub activity shows a decline in Delphi usage.

The results aren't overwhelming but, generally, indicate that there is a real increase in usage of Object Pascal over the last year or so. The Dice data show that it’s clearly being listed as a required or desired skill more frequently, while the TIOBE index shows that more people are searching for information on it. So, if you’re looking to add another skill to your tech toolbox to make you more marketable, consider learning Object Pascal.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Cloudera Impala as Cloud Impala.

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