It doesn’t matter if you want to learn your first programming language or your fifth, mastering a new language takes time and energy, and you’ll want that investment to be worth your while.
Before you dive into learning a new language you might be wondering what you’ll be able to build once you master the language, or if it’ll still be in use 10 years from now. (Yes, even programming languages retire.) If you’re trying to figure out the answers to these questions as they relate to learning C++, here’s a look at several factors that could influence your decision.
What is C++ used for?
One of the benefits of C++ is that it has a wide variety of applications. In fact, Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of the language, put together a long list of C++ applications. But most often, C++ is used to build large software infrastructure and applications that can run even with few resources. The efficiency of the C++ code makes it perfect as a base for applications and software.
C++ is also used for several pure computing functions, including operating systems, database tools, web browsers, and search engines. For instance, Lyall Stewart, a member of the Codecademy community, views C++ as the best language for operating system development. C++ is also used for technological advances that build on what computing can do, such as internet of things (IoT) devices, machine learning tools, and augmented reality or virtual reality applications.
Here are some other fields C++ is used in:
- Gaming: For programming video and computer games, C++ optimizes resources to produce graphics and host multiple players in a game at once.
- Medicine: C++ powers MRI machines, lab testing equipment, patient information systems, and bioinformatics research.
- Scientific research: C++ is applied in a variety of scientific fields, including physics and space exploration.
- Finance: C++ is used to code software for banking, trading, and financial modeling. Its efficient performance is well-suited to handle high volumes of financial transactions.
- Aviation: C++ programming powers both commercial and military aircraft flight software.
- Telecommunications: This field requires speed and efficiency in communication resources, which C++ provides for both telephone and internet communication systems.
- Movie industry: As in gaming, C++ makes graphics and special effects possible by handling large footage files and performing the calculations needed for special effects.
Does C++ have a good future?
You might be thinking that since C++ has been around for decades, its popularity is likely to decline. But since many of the popular long-standing operating systems and web browsers are built with C++, it’s unlikely to fade away any time soon. For example, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome, and Safari are built with C++. Also, since C++ is a fast programming language, many libraries — particularly machine learning libraries like TensorFlow — depend on it.
Simon Brand, a C++ developer advocate at Microsoft, also predicted C++ will continue to grow when he spoke to Codecademy in 2019. “[C++] will continue to develop in the embedded space, which has pretty much been owned by C for the longest time,” he said, referring to the programming used in devices other than conventional computers.
Brand then went on to say that as young developers consider which languages to use, especially for embedded programming, he expects more to continue choosing C++. Brand pointed to the financial industry and gaming as sectors where C++ will continue to have a strong presence.
Employment and salaries for C++ professionals
If you’re new to the development world, you might be factoring in potential employment opportunities, as well as potential salary ranges, before you decide which programming language to dive into. The good news is that job growth for C++ coders has remained stable at 8% per year. That means that, even though the growing rate isn’t particularly high, the amount of job opportunities for C++ devs is on the rise each year — which is a good thing when you’re picking a new language to learn.
As for salary expectations, Indeed says the average annual salary for C++ developers is $114,486. But for entry-level C++ developers, the average annual base salary is $66,564, according to Payscale. And as with other professions, the more experience you have as a C++ developer, the higher your potential salary is likely to be.
Time in the field isn’t the only factor that impacts salary. If you have knowledge or expertise in a related area to complement your C++ knowledge, this can increase your earning potential, as well as your job opportunities. For example, if you have knowledge of databases, operating systems, internet protocols, software development, or algorithms, adding C++ to your skill set could bump you into a higher salary bracket and open up new job opportunities.
How do I learn C++?
Wondering where to start learning C++? You can start with the fundamental programming concepts in our Learn C++ course. The course also digs into more advanced areas, like functions and coding challenges. By the end, you’ll have the opportunity to build C++ programs geared toward fields other than computing and systems operations, like gaming and communications.
If you’re ready for an intermediate-level course, our C++ for Programmers course is for programmers who are already familiar with coding and looking to dive into the C++ language. The course features short, interactive articles that can serve as an ongoing reference resource. It teaches the built-in data structures of C++ and object-oriented programming.
We also have guidance on how to compile and execute C++ programs, cheat sheets for beginners, and projects that aspiring programmers can work on to get hands-on experience using C++.