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Despite COVID-19‘s impact on the economy, data from the online talent platform Upwork reveals that high earnings for open jobs are available to developers operating as independent professionals. Upwork compiled its top 15 highest-paying programming languages for tech professional positions by analyzing the highest average hourly rates on

Top languages demand more than $66 per hour on average, translating to an annualized pre-tax income of more than $137,000 (based on a 40-hour workweek). A comparison of these top language rates to 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics average wage by occupation data reveals that $66 per hour is higher than the average wage for a web, mobile, or software developer across US metro-areas and even in the expensive metros at $39.58 and $52.09, respectively.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Facebook Data Privacy Scandal (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Upwork’s top 15 highest-paying programming languages

The following are based on average hourly freelance rate:

  1. Objective-C $66
  2. Golang $64
  3. Windows PowerShell $62
  4. Excel VBA $60
  5. Kotlin $60
  6. VB.NET $59
  7. Ruby $59
  8. Java $58
  9. Swift $56
  10. C# $56
  11. ASP.NET $56
  12. C++ $55
  13. SQL $54
  14. Python $53
  15. C $52

Remote work quickly became an enforced necessity during the darkest days of the pandemic. The results were so positive that some employers (i.e. Twitter) declared that all offices will continue to be virtual when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Other companies have given employees the choice to continue working from home (WFH) either full time, or dividing time between on-site and WFH.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Because of the favorable shift toward remote work, companies developed a reliance on the services of independent skilled professionals. There has been a surge to find top technical talent, as evidenced on job talent platforms like Upwork. They’re in desperate demand, which gives “talent” the luxury of deciding to stay in their positions, negotiate for better benefits or look to move to another company.

Of the high-paying programming languages, the skills with the highest year-over-year growth, in terms of contract volume on the platform, are:

  • Ruby—127%
  • Java—127%
  • SQL—152%

“Specialization in a particular language or discipline can help differentiate one candidate from another,” said Mike Paylor, VP of Engineering and Product at Upwork. “Skills in mobile development languages such as Objective-C or Kotlin are particularly in demand as well as relatively modern languages such as Go.”

If you’re looking to shift careers, whether it be from an entirely unrelated industry or a change within the world of technology, brushing up on skills is always welcome. It’s a great “credit” to add to your resume and will make you all the more appealing in recruitment.

If finances are an issue, there are a surprising amount of no-cost options. I wrote a piece for TechRepublic mid-May, The top free online tech classes to advance your IT skills. Here’s what we found:

No-cost tech education

The ever-changing tech world is a popular arena in which to explore courses, with education outlets that offer free online tech classes to advance IT skills. These include:

“We do not see the need for software developers waning,” Paylor said. “In fact, it is growing faster than most professions. While the demand for one programming language over another will change over time, there doesn’t appear to be any slowing of this trend. As organizations continue to face challenges, the need for new customer-facing applications that work across a variety of platforms and devices will only become more crucial, as will the professionals who are bringing those projects to life.”