6 Critical Reasons Beginner Programmers Should Learn JavaScript in 2021

“Why learn JavaScript?” I asked my sister when she was in college and starting to pick up the fundamentals of JavaScript. “Isn’t it ancient? Do people still use it?” 

I was surprised to learn that JavaScript was the most used programming language in 2020, but I shouldn’t have been – it’s held that spot for the past eight years, according to StackOverflow’s developer survey. It’s a really popular language for mobile apps and web development especially. You’re looking at a website built with JavaScript right now. 

As the no-code movement gains a foothold, beginner programmers might wonder why they learn JavaScript at all, given there are endless numbers of JavaScript frameworks providing ready-to-use code, and many websites and apps can be built entirely free of code.

To those naysayers, I will only say that it’s always worth understanding how something works before you start taking shortcuts. And JavaScript, of all the languages I frequently write about, is one of the languages most likely to outlive any fads. It’s used by 94.5% of all websites, and the world wide web isn’t going anywhere. When I asked her “Why learn JavaScript?” I didn’t know the extent of its influence. 

Now, a bit wiser, I know there are several good answers to why beginner programmers especially should learn JavaScript. They revolve around how easy it is to get started – and to keep going, crucially; how learning JavaScript can help your programming career flourish; and the practical advantages of JavaScript over other languages. 

Let’s get into six reasons why you, a beginner programmer, should learn JavaScript. 

1. You’ll be a popular hire in whatever you want to do.

Getting a job in programming is the absolute number one reason you should learn JavaScript. It’s been pretty well-documented that computer science graduates are among the most sought-after of grads. So much so that it’s actually increasingly common to get a programming job without a degree at all. Companies need more employees that can code than are currently graduating from college. 

Out of all the coding languages, JavaScript coders are close to the top of that list, and for good reason. “Mastering this key programming language could see you go on to work in full-stack development, games development, information security software engineering, machine learning, and artificial intelligence,” writes Emily Stevens in CareerFoundry. It’s versatile for hobbies and for employers. 

This demand explains why you should learn JavaScript: 72% of companies are looking for a JavaScript coder. As a JavaScript developer, the median wage in the US is around $112k per year. 

Even if you don’t want to program websites or apps for a career, being able to create your own website with JavaScript in order to host your portfolio can be a huge help in your job hunt. 

2. It makes you a versatile programmer.

JavaScript is kind of a lingua franca among coding languages. If you know how to code in JavaScript, there’s no cap to the kind of cool stuff you can program. JavaScript gained a foothold by helping developers code on the client-side (frontend) of websites, but recently, there have been additions to the JavaScript frameworks that make it a great language for coding on the server-side or backend of websites using Node.js. 

“Javascript everywhere’ (i.e. node.js) has really become the default web-development paradigm,” writes Tom Critchlow in his blog post on web browsers. His answer to why you should learn JavaScript is simply that it’s a language with a can-do attitude, no matter what you want to do with it.

Plus, you can get in on some app action, creating web apps, mobile apps, and desktop apps using React, React Native, and Electron. It’s even a decent contender against the likes of Python for doing machine learning work with TensorFlow.js

In short, if you can learn JavaScript, there’s very little you can’t accomplish with this workhorse of a coding language. Unlike R, that’s best for data viz and statistics; or Swift, that’s only useful for iOS, JavaScript is a great language to learn to accomplish a lot of different things. Why learn JavaScript? Because it’ll see you through a wide range of programming tasks you might want to accomplish. 

3. It comes pre-installed in your browser.

Running is the perfect hobby for me because I don’t need anything other than a sports bra and some running shoes to get a workout in. Part of the reason behind why learning JavaScript is awesome is that it’s kind of like the running of coding languages – you don’t need any fancy equipment, development environments, or branded textbook. If you have a computer with a browser, you can code in JavaScript. 

Even similarly simple languages like Python are hard compared to JavaScript. When I began learning Python, in order to do anything fancy, I had to get my feet wet with the terminal, which I find tedious and annoying. Frankly, that was an obstacle. Meanwhile, your computer already has a javascript GUI and runtime. With any text editor and browser, you can code in JavaScript. 

This makes it ultra-accessible for beginners like me. With a very basic understanding, you can follow a tutorial like this one from Oreilly and write a program within minutes. Why learn JavaScript only by rote, when you can do it hands-on? 

You can also learn by poking around in the Javascript that runs an overwhelming majority of websites, by right-clicking and selecting “inspect” on any website. It’s a fun way to pick apart pre-existing JavaScript and see what happens when you change things. TXbn1zmVBTRwSROeE1dRagznXw

4. There are a lot of shortcuts, when you’re ready to take them.

Coding can include a lot of repetitive tasks – there are shortcuts in JavaScript that can make your life easier. It’s best to understand the underlying bones of any language before you start looking for shortcuts. However, if you use JavaScript for anything serious, there will be a time when you have a good understanding of the basics of Javascript. At that point, you might want to know how to make things easier. 

Plain old JavaScript (also called “vanilla” JavaScript) can do a lot, but when you’ve grasped the basics, you can begin to take advantage of the many shortcuts that exist in the form of JavaScript libraries and frameworks. 

These assets have grab-and-go JavaScript code that’s been pre-written for your use. These frameworks act as a structure, with a lot of the elements and components already built and ready for use or modification. It can help you build whatever it is you’re building a heck of a lot faster and with greater ease.

It’s the difference between building a house from scratch, versus coming to a house that already has the blueprints in place and even a few furnishings that can let you build your dream home faster. You’re still doing the work – and you need to understand how those foundations work, or else you’ll run the risk tearing the whole thing down because you don’t know what you’re doing – but it’s simpler to get the house ready. 

5. You’ll find a way to learn.

Many people ask, “why learn JavaScript when there are so many newer languages out there?” When I listed the most popular coding languages of 2021, I noticed a definite rift. One on hand, relative newcomers like Rust, Go, and Swift are growing rapidly in popularity but don’t have a really wide range of ways to learn yet. Swift and Go are company-sponsored (Apple and Google respectively), and Rust users are a tiny minority. No matter how popular in the community, these are bleeding-edge users with a limited set of learning resources. 

By comparison, I also reviewed languages like Python, Perl and JavaScript that have stood the test of years. Thanks to simply existing longer, they have a much more developed library of assets. There are simply more free JavaScript basics courses (like the free JavaScript course we have at QVault, created specifically for beginners), more tutorials, more YouTube videos, more free textbooks. Plus, there’s a much larger community of developers who can help you with basic errors and questions on places like StackOverflow, Discord, and newsletters

When you’re learning a new language, it helps tremendously to know you’re not alone, and to rely on the community around you who’s been where you are now. JavaScript has literal generations of devoted coders who are more than happy to lend their expertise to any novice coder still struggling with the basics, hanging out all over the internet like in QVault’s Discord community. That kind of group feeling can make or break your ability to stick with a language. 

6. JavaScript can make you a renaissance programmer

Nowadays, knowing only one coding language is good, but most jobs ask that you can code in more than one language. JavaScript is a great contender for that first one for the reasons listed above, but also because it’s a great primer to any future programming languages you might want to learn. The benefits of JavaScript are fantastic on their own, but it’s also good to know that learning JavaScript first is a good bet for any up-and-coming programmer.

“JavaScript provides a crucial introduction to key principles and practices that you’ll take with you throughout your career as a developer,” writes Stevens in Career Foundry. Same as C++, Python and Java, JavaScript supports object-oriented, functional, and imperative styles of programming. That means that when you’re fully versed in JavaScript and thinking about picking up language number 2, you’ll be able to pick it up much faster than normal. 

A lot of languages borrow concepts from each other, or are built to shore up the weaknesses of another. JavaScript is one of the few that has completely transferable skills that can help you hit the ground running when you start to learn another programming language. Why learn JavaScript? Because it’ll help you learn Python, or C++, or any other similar language. 

Why Learn JavaScript? Final Thoughts

This language is more than a synonym for CoffeeHandwriting – it’s the perfect programming language for beginners to use immediately in their career, as well as providing a perfect jumping-off point for any future developments. It’s totally future-proof, since nearly all of the web relies on it. Why learn JavaScript? To summarize the reasons I’ve listed above, the reasons why you should learn JavaScript are:

  • It’s a multifunctional language.
  • It’s easy to get started with.
  • There’s a comprehensive set of frameworks and libraries to make your life easier.
  • The community is firmly entrenched and stellar.
  • It’s a highly sought-after professional skill.
  • It can help you learn your next programming language.

In other words, it’s a great language that can help you accomplish a lot both in your personal life and in your professional life. Out of all the programming languages you could start learning in 2021, JavaScript must come top of the list.

Have questions or feedback?

Follow and hit me up on Twitter @q_vault if you have any questions or comments. If I’ve made a mistake in the article be sure to let me know so I can get it corrected!