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The computer programming industry continues to grow exponentially, and so has the demand for highly trained and experienced programmers.  In fact, the demand is so great, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to fill many of the open positions available today. People entering the attractive world of computer programming will not only be entering a profession that will pay you handsomely (the average salary of a computer programmer is much higher than you may think), but it can also guarantee you a lifetime career that will provide job security. Within this booming tech sector, programmers have a much greater chance of landing that great job if they have the proper knowledge of any of the highly in-demand computer programming languages.  But to get the best job, you must know which programming languages are popular and in demand by the recruiters and employers in your market.

CultureFit has compiled a list of the 6 most in-demand programming jobs available in the Chicagoland area based on our staffing requests over the past 12 months, giving prospective talent insight as to the languages that will best enable them to secure a great position in the computer programming industry. Ranked in order of demand, the languages are as follows:

1. Java

Java is, without a doubt, the first preferred language for most IT firms and companies because of its portability and numerous features, as well as a true Object Oriented Language used extensively in software development. Java is at the top of the list, and there are numerous openings for Java developers in the region. Java Developers are also one of the highest paid programmers in the IT sector.

2. JavaScript

JavaScript is also in high demanded by companies in our Chicagoland market, as well as the rest of the country.  JavaScript is used to develop dynamic websites, and is the most mandatory programming language for web development, including HTML and CSS. It is also simple to use, because it uses plain text to create code. Based on our staffing requests, this skill set will continue to see consistent year-over-year growth in demand.

3. SQL

SQL stands for Structural Query Language, and is a specialized programming language. It became a standard back in the mid-1980’s, and continues to be deemed a core programming competency for editing and querying data residing in relational database management systems. Most websites and businesses have databases that work behind the scene. Most of these databases rely on SQL. It is most commonly used as a Query function which searches information databases for specific results.

4. Python

Python is a general purpose high level programming language also developed in the 1980s. It is also an Object Oriented Language. Python allows programmers to express a concept in just few lines of code compared to other languages that are used. It’s in great demand today because there are so few Python developers out there, and the pay is therefore extremely good!  A great example of low supply and high demand driving the compensation scale.

5. C#/.NET

C# is relatively new to the programming language spectrum, with its first release in 2000 – an Object Oriented Language developed by Microsoft as part of its .NET initiative, and combines the features of Visual Basic and C++. It’s primarily used for iOS Application Development, but it’s also used to support Android operating systems. Considering the growth of the applications market, many software companies are looking to hire more and more app developers to further grow their business.

6. C+++

Consider this programming another one of the greats coming out of the 1980’s boom – C+++ is also a general purpose and Object Oriented Programming Language. It aids in developing high performance client-server applications, system software, application software, as well as many of the video games in the marketplace today! C+++ has also powered major software like Adobe programs and Firefox.

How do your benefits and compensation measure up?

No different than your Econ 101 class – high demand, and low availability of qualified IT talent has a cost.  Understanding what the market will bear is critical in filling these critical positions.  But it’s complicated. Compensation is only a part of the negotiations.  Benefits – traditional and non-traditional, are also a part of a successful hiring equation.   These are the positions where guessing and rough estimating could result in significant frustration. CultureFit’s unique niche in the IT staffing category for the greater Chicagoland area allows us to actively monitor the hiring and compensation trends based exclusively on our local business market. Based on the past 12 months of placements, we’ve gathered the following trends:


Java, JavaScript, SQL, and Python

There’s very little variance in average compensation for the top 4 programming positions – Java, JavaScript, SQL, and Python.  Like any position the years of experience does matter, and breakdown as follows:

Programming Seniority Level Average Years of Experience Average Compensation Per Year
Junior 0-2 $55-70K
Mid-Level 2-4 $75-95K
Senior 5+ $100-140K


Another key take-away from the chart above, is the difference in the definition of seniority level vs. most other positions outside of the IT industry.  This talented and skilled group rise through the ranks at an accelerated rate and reap the compensation reward as a result of the small number of people who have followed this lucrative career path.


The compensation for the programmers who specialize in C# is driven not only by demand, but also the power of Microsoft – expect to pay an average of $135K or even greater.


These programmers tend to be more specialized in the Financial vertical.  As a result, their compensation averages are slightly higher, especially as they gain more senior level experience.

Programming Seniority Level Average Years of Experience Average Compensation Per Year
Junior 0-2 $55-80K
Mid-Level 2-4 $80-110K
Senior 5+ $115-180K


These highly sought after programmers also have the advantage of significantly influencing their benefits which expand beyond the traditional benefits that a non-IT professional would consider or even be offered.  The following will provide valuable planning guidance based on our 1st quarter survey results:

1. Healthcare Factors

For many, healthcare is a table-stake to the compensation and benefits plan in order to be positioned as competitive. However, healthcare as a benefit has become an increasing challenge for companies of all sizes.  A few facts to consider:

  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 48% of all privately owned businesses offer Healthcare Insurance in Illinois (approximately 1% less than the nation average).

light bulb
Key Learning – This opens the door as a potentially competitive opportunity when it comes to securing the hire of a high demand programmer.

  • An overly attractive plan may add an added tax burden on the employee. This Cadillac tax could dilute the overall value of the compensation package.


light bulbKey learning –  to obtain one of the top 6 highest demand programmers the hiring company should consider providing healthcare options that empower the IT professional to select which plan best fits their individual needs.

Although healthcare insurance ranks as the second highest priority, nearly 50% of the respondents ranked this benefit as having no importance or unimportant in their decision to make a job change.

healthcare bar graph

This leaves the door open for businesses to create offer packages with other attractive components in it, such as the flexibility to work on and off premise, which ranked 3rd in preferences.

2. Job Flexibility Basis

13.5% of the respondents from the CultureFit survey actually left their previous position to obtain this benefit.  According to Adam Kooperman, President of CultureFit:

“In the Chicagoland area, commutes can exceed 2 hours. This is becoming a recurring preference for job seekers, which can cause a company to lose their ideal candidate to a competitor who offers either a shorter commute, or the flexibility to work on and off premise built in.”

Similar to our 2014 Benchmarking report, this trend is a recurring priority when reviewing the 39% of respondents that indicated Job Flexibility was either important or extremely important when selecting a new company to work for in the future.

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The trend isn’t native to the Chicagoland area, or other major metro areas, as a recent 2016 Computerworld survey found a similar nationwide response of 31% of IT professionals expressed Job Flexibility as a priority preference.

Just as important as an attractive offer package is having a high-level understanding of how an IT candidate is managing their career. This highly talented group of professionals are also highly motivated, and career advancement matters.  Companies that take a position of supporting these career development goals by covering the costs of continuing education will not only reap the benefit of internal business advantage but also, a good hiring and retention advantage.

  • Over 30% of our survey respondents indicated they made a recent move due to the opportunity to develop their skill sets, experience, or a promotion.

The most successful businesses develop a workforce plan designed to balance both the needs of the business as well as the candidates.  Dorie Isaacson, CultureFit’s Director of Recruitment, adds:

“It’s a short and long-term strategy to help reduce hiring costs, attract the highest quality talent with the best culture fit, and retain the employees who make the greatest impact.”

As previously reported in our 2014 CultureFit Benchmarking study, the average IT candidate who is actively interviewing, will do so with 3-4 companies at the same time.  Tracking hiring trends from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective is essential to a successful recruitment plan.

CultureFit and Advance Search bring a combination of over 10 years of IT Recruitment; entrusted to hire and place IT professionals throughout the Greater Chicagoland and Milwaukee area.  Each year, they’re charged to recruit, negotiate, and place 100’s of open positions with quality talent that meet skill set requirements as well as compliment an organization’s culture.  Their unique position has afforded them the opportunity to identify hiring trends from both the organization and the talent’s perspective.

If you’re a programming developer who specializes in one of these 6 in-demand languages, and would like to discuss positions that are available in the Chicagoland area, speak with one of our IT staffing consultants at CultureFit. CultureFit is a full service Technology Staffing and recruitment firm for IT Professionals that value organizational fit, job satisfaction, and an extremely high level of technical IT skills.

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Thank you for downloading the CultureFit eBook on the Highest Demand Programming Jobs in the Chicagoland area. Regardless of whether you’re a business or an IT Professional – the actual hiring trend insights will help with planning for future or new vacancies, respective to compensation and benefit trends, with one goal – finding & securing the best organizational fit.

Have additional questions? One of our experienced Staffing Consultants can help you with additional information. Call 847-945-7600.

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