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Best Computer Programming Certifications 2018

Best Computer Programming Certifications 2018
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Whether you're choosing a language-specific or platform-oriented credential, it's worth looking at our top five programming certifications for IT pros, freshly updated.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockAnthropologists reckon that humans around the globe speak somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 distinct languages, with a number around 6,700 appearing most frequently in online sources. Nobody has conducted an exhaustive survey for all computer programming languages in use around the world, but other, more focused studies are available.

These studies include the U.S. Department of Defense Survey of Computing Languages (also known as the DoD Language Survey) conducted in 1995, which identified no fewer than 450 programming languages in use in various weapons and automated information systems in the 1970s, with 37 total languages recounted as part of the 1995 survey of languages in use for weapons systems. Encyclopedia Britannica reports that there are currently more than 2,000 programming languages in use, although some are more commonly used than others. A number from hundreds to thousands of such languages appears both reasonable and defensible, depending on what types of systems and applications might be under consideration.

In this certification guide, we provide you with our top five programming certifications for IT professionals. These days, computer programming certifications are as much about development platforms and environments as they are about specific programming languages. You'll find an interesting mix of language-focused or language-specific credentials available, such as C/C++ certifications, as well as various platform-oriented credentials like Microsoft's MCSD certification.

Because many desktop programs are now either universal or web-related apps, programming professionals may want to consider adding web and mobile application development credentials to their portfolios. Numerous excellent certifications and related training materials for web and mobile app developers are available. Some of the certifications discussed here, such as the MCSD, also transfer into certification programs for web or mobile apps.

To learn more, be sure to take a look at our recommendations for best web and best mobile app developer certifications for 2018. Keep in mind that, while certifications certainly speak to employers and boost earning potential, a college degree is still the most common path to computer programming jobs.

We performed an informal job search that gives you an idea of the relative frequency with which our top five certifications appear in actual job postings.

Job Board Search Results (in alphabetical order, by certification)*

Certification
SimplyHired
Indeed
LinkedIn Jobs
Linkup
Total
ACE (Adobe)
208
164
36
7
415
C Language Certified Associate
3,316
349
1,793
0
5,458
CSSLP [(ISC)2]276
295
511
151
1,233
MCSD (Microsoft)
420
442
1,252
215
2,329
PCP (Puppet)262
234
255
6431,394

*See our complete methodology for selecting top five certifications in the "Best Certifications" series.

Salaries vary depending on the job role, but, on average, software and application developers can expect to earn something in the mid- to high 80,000s. Simply Hired reported average earnings for application developers at slightly more than $85,000 and almost $93,000 for software developers. Earnings on the high side were reported at more than $140,000 ($142,000 for application developers and $146,550 for software developers), with low earnings in the mid-50,000s. Computer programmers earn slightly less, with average earnings reported at $60,211. Salaries ranged from lows in the mid-30,000s to $112,307 for top earners.