Is C++ Worth It Learning in 2023: How to Future Proof Your Career

I still remember when I first time read Bjarne Stroustrup’s “The C++ Programming Language” book and I struggled to understand why anyone would need to use classes.

I already knew C and Pascal and C++ did not make sense initially, but eventually, everything clicked, and I learned to appreciate the Object Oriented Programming paradigm, which is used in almost all modern languages.

But that was a quarter of a century ago; how about now?

Is C++ still relevant you might ask?

Well, according to the TIOBE Index, C++ is the 3rd most popular programming language on the face of the planet.

Ranking-wise, it shows consistency — in the previous year, the extension of the C programming language was also deemed 3rd in the top programming languages by IEEE Spectrum.

In fact, even though C++ is a 4-decade old programming language, it’s still relevant these days. As a matter of fact, many big tech companies rely on it. With around 4.4 million developers all over the planet using it, learning C++ now can give one a career edge and increased earning potential.

However, there are so many programming languages, so that not everyone needs to learn C++. Let’s unpack this.

C++ code

C or C++ : Which High-Level Language is Worth to Learn

C came into being in the early 1970s. It was invented by Dennis Ritchie as a system implementation language for the operating system UNIX. It was named C after the B programming language used by Bell Labs.

Meanwhile, in 1983, Bjarne Stroustrupm, who is a Danish computer scientist at Bell labs, created C++.

C++ was originally referred to as “C with Classes” since, first and foremost, it was invented as an enhancement to the C programming language.

In the C programming language, “++” is used as an increment operator. So, in other words, the name “C++” suggests that it’s basically the C program incremented.

Between these programming languages, C is so much easier to learn. The primary reason for such is that it’s procedural.

Simply put, it means that it uses a linear or top-down approach, relying on procedures or subroutines. In addition, the libraries that come integrated with the C language are easier to understand.

But here’s another reason why learning C is easier: it has fewer concepts.

Since the C++ programming language is basically the superset of C, learning it requires a lot more effort.

Also, unlike the procedural approach C has, C++ is object-oriented programming (OOP), which is a computer programming model characterized by the identification of object classes closely linked with the functions or methods they are associated with.

And because they are different programming languages anyway, although one is derived from the other, you can learn C and C++ in any order you want.

As a matter of fact, you can learn C++ without learning C first.

C++ programmer at work

How Much Do C++ Programmers Make

Based on a report by Indeed, according to 1,200 reported salaries, C++ programmers in the US receive an average base salary of $118,231 per year in 2023. Average salaries range anywhere from as low as $62,575 per year to as high as $223,390 per year. Some of the highest-paid C++ programmers are in New York and California.

Due to the fact that C++ is a programming language that’s versatile and widely used across a number of industries, it isn’t surprising why C++ programmers are some of the most highly-paid professionals.

However, it’s important to note that, as of this writing, there’s a decline in the employment of programmers.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for computer programmers in the US is -10% — the average growth rate for all occupations in the country is 5%.

Despite this, around 9,600 openings for computer programmers are estimated to be available each year, on average, over the decade.

It’s in California where the most number of computer programmers are employed, amounting to 23,960. It is followed by Texas (14,220), New York (12,610), Florida (7,110) and New Jersey (6,520).

Pay-wise, C++ programmers are paid handsomely. As mentioned earlier, their average base salary is $118,231 per year. That’s equivalent to $50.72 per hour.

Depending on the employer, they also usually enjoy a wide range of benefits, including 401(k), paid time off and dental, vision and health insurance.

Below are the cities that pay C++ programmers the most:

CityAverage Salary
New York, New York$173,194 per year
San Francisco, California$157,002 per year
Chicago, Illinois$150,369 per year
Austin, Texas$140,875 per year
Dallas, Texas$140,383 per year
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$123,169 per year
Boston, Massachusetts$121,585 per year
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin$112,365 per year
Orlando, Florida$108,380 per year
C++ salaries by city

Just to give you a much better idea of how much C++ programmers make, the following are jobs similar to theirs and the average base pay for each:

Job PositionAverage Salary
Back-end developer$158,313 per year
Full stack developer$119,967 per year
Software engineer$114,164 per year
Software developer$96,040 per year
Software test engineer$95,953 per year
Application developer$85,669 per year
Average developer salaries

Believe it or not, even though it’s no longer considered the most popular programming language, C++ is still being used by a number of well-known tech companies.

Some of them include Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, and Opera. As a matter of fact, both Microsoft and NASA rely on the C++ programming language.

Wall Street and the financial industry also count on C++ for its ease of use in terms of modeling and data simulations, which can come in very handy when trading high volumes at high-frequency levels.

The following are some applications and industries that use C++:

  • Banking and finance
  • Cloud computing systems
  • Code compilers
  • Databases
  • Embedded systems
  • Enterprise software
  • Game development
  • Graphical user interfaces (GUIs)
  • Internet of things (IoT) devices
  • Libraries
  • Machine learning tools
  • Operating systems
  • Web browsers
C++ programming language

Top 8 C++ Learning Resources

There is no denying that C++ is harder to learn than most other programming languages, including more popular ones like Python and Java as well as C, upon which C++ is built, because of its hands-on characteristics.

But it’s a good thing that, due to its popularity, the C++ programming language can be learned through various means.

Mastering C++ is possible in 3 to 5 months provided that you will devote about 10 hours of study per week.

But if the goal is to obtain full proficiency in the programming language, one is expected to study it full-time for about a year. Needless to say, the more formal the training approach, the longer it could take for you to learn it.

Coding bootcamps are some of the most popular alternatives to attending a college just to learn how to use C++ for creating web browsers, operating systems, data structures, games and many others.

According to Course Report, coding bootcamp graduates earn about 51% more compared to their previous careers. The site adds that, after bootcamp, they make an average of $80,943 at their 2nd job and an average of $99,229 at their 3rd job.

But it’s important to keep in mind that tuition at a coding bootcamp costs around $12,000.

Here are some popular coding bootcamps where you can learn the C++ programming language:


It can take 12 weeks at 10 hours per week to complete the Udacity C++ course, which teaches learners how to develop, compile and execute programs written using C++.

Learners can get actual coding experience by coding a total of 5 real-world projects throughout the duration of the course. The online C++ programming language course costs $1,356.

The Tech Academy

Planning on becoming a computer or video game developer?

There’s a game developer bootcamp available at The Tech Academy.

The course involves learning to program using one of the most popular game engines out there, Unreal Engine, which employs C++.

A 22-week full-time course costs $11,660, while a 40-week part-time course costs $14,000.

Developer Bootcamp

Those who have knowledge of C but would also like to learn C++ might benefit from taking advantage of the 28-hour C++ programming course at Developer Bootcamp.

Costing $2,400, the 2-track bootcamp course includes everything from functions, memory management, data handling to object creation and usage.

Other than learning how to program using C++ through coding bootcamps and online courses, you may also consider learning in a more traditional fashion: with the help of books.

It’s a good thing that there are books for every level of C++ programmers, from beginners to advanced professionals.

However, for any programming book to be effective, you will have to stick to a high-quality one, the kind that is authored by someone who knows what he or she is talking about.

It adds that you will also have to put everything you have read in the book into practice — you will have to code, code and code more!

Whether you are planning to hit a local bookstore or log on the web, here are some of the best-selling C++ books in 2023 that you might want to add to your shopping list:

A Complete Guide to Programming in C++

This book is written by Ulla Kirch-Prinz, who, as of this writing, is chair of Database Systems and Data Communications at the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics at the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

It’s so comprehensive that it can serve as a guide for both newbies and experts in the C++ programming language.

You can order the book on Amazon (affiliate).

Beginning C++ Through Game Programming

Needless to say, the book is geared toward individuals who would like to learn how to program games using C++.

It’s written by Michael Dawson, who has worked as a programmer and a computer game designer/producer and has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Southern California, in a way that no previous C++ knowledge is necessary.

You can order the book on Amazon (affiliate).

C++ Primer

Because it gives the C++ standard library and highlights the common functions from the outset, it’s obvious that the book is made for those who would like to learn programming with C++ in no time.

One of its authors is Stanley B. Lippman, who serves as architect with the Visual C++ development team at Microsoft.

You can order the book on Amazon (affiliate).

The Design and Evolution of C++

Those who would like to get to know C++ not only in programming but also as a programming language could benefit from getting a copy of this book, which is written by Bjarne Stroustrup, a Danish computer scientist.

Knowing how the popular programming language came to be can give you a much better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

You can order the book on Amazon (affiliate). Also, this is a book I read first when I learned C++.

Effective C++

Written by Scott Meyers, who is a software consultant specializing in C++, the book provides a total of 55 rules on how one can improve C++ programs and designs.

The practical approach used to teaching the well-known programming language allows readers to easily comprehend good practices that professional C++ programmers abide by.

You can order the book on Amazon (affiliate).

C++ certificate

C++ Certifications Worth Getting

My opinion is that certifications help, especially when you are just starting and don’t have too much experience in the field.

I remember when I was just looking for my first job, I had to take some programming tests in the Robert Half Technology office (recruiting agency), and when I passed it with more than 80%, I immediately had a number of interviews.

So, what should you do?

There are plenty of free C++ courses. But because they come without charge, just about anyone can take and complete them, including those who are not that serious about gaining mastery of the programming language.

This is when the huge advantage of earning a C++ certification comes in. I think, they totally worth it.

Working on a certificate in C++ or any programming language, in most instances, involves not only formal exams but also some coursework, the length of which can vary from provider to provider.

So, in other words, having one means that the individual has been proven to have completed the assignments and passed the skill test, which is more than enough to make his or her resume a complete standout.

After all, it’s not enough that you inform a hiring manager that you can program using C++ — you will also have to provide a supporting document.

C++ certifications are commonly offered by non-profit organizations, private companies and even colleges and universities. But no matter the provider, a C++ certificate can help you validate your skills and start or advance your career.

The following are some examples of C++ certifications that you might want to check out:

Introduction to C++ Certification From edX

Planning on learning advanced C++ programming but have absolutely no knowledge of or experience with C++?

Consider going for the introduction to C++ certification.

Some of the things you will learn include C++ development, creating functions in C++ and preparation for advanced C++ in follow-up topics.

Because it’s designed as an introductory course, the certification is self-paced, which means that you can progress at a speed that works for you the best.

Provided by edX, it comes free of charge, although the optional upgrade doesn’t.

IBM’s C++ Programming Essentials Professional Certificate

Here’s a more advanced certificate from edX, too: IBM’s C++ programming essentials professional certificate. Made up of 3 skill-building courses, it’s designed to help you transition from an intermediate to an advanced C++ programmer.

Here are the topics covered in the course:

  • C++ Programming
  • Object Oriented Approaches
  • Data Structures & Algorithms
  • Data Types
  • Operators
  • Control Structures
  • Arrays, Pointers, and Functions
  • Inheritance
  • Polymorphism
  • Operator Overloading
  • Exception Handling
  • Algorithmic Design

You can take your time in completing the courses, which are administered by IBM-authorized lead and senior instructors, as they are self-paced, which makes them excellent for people with various levels of C++ knowledge.

Lasting for 5 months, the certificate costs $357.30.

CPA – C++ Certified Associate Programmer Certification

According to the provider, the C++ certified associate programmer certification measures your ability to complete coding tasks related to basics of C++ as well as the fundamental notions and techniques utilized in object-oriented programming.

So, in other words, it’s an entry-level certification for C++ programmers.

You will need to have a score of at least 80% to pass. There are 55 questions to answer in a span of 65 minutes. But before you take the examination, you will have to go through a 10-minute tutorial.

The exam tests your knowledge in the following areas:

  • Introduction to compiling and software development
  • Basic scalar data types, operators, flow control, streamed input/output, conversions
  • Declaring, defining and invoking functions, function overloading
  • Data aggregates
  • Strings processing, exceptions handling, dealing with namespaces
  • Object-oriented approach and its vocabulary
  • Dealing with classes and objects, class hierarchy and inheritance
  • Defining overloaded operators, user-defined operators, exceptions

The C++ certified associate programmer certification costs $295.

Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) Certificate in C++ Programming

The PCE certificate in C++ programming is offered by the University of Washington, which is the flagship school of the 6 public universities in Washington.

According to the provider itself, approximately 74% of those who earned their certificates are working at top companies such as Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft, making an average salary of $110,140 per year.

However, it’s important to note that the C++ certification is designed for experienced software developers and IT professionals — those with less experience might want to take a foundational course beforehand.

Costing $3,999 for all 3 levels, the course, which is administered online, takes 8 months to complete.

Just Before You Learn C++ And Complicated Memory Management

Yes, it’s true that C++ is not the most popular programming language. But given that it’s already 4 decades old and still regarded by both TIOBE Index and IEEE Spectrum as the third most relevant, things aren’t looking bad for C++.

And if you still are thinking, “Is C++ worth learning or not“, think about this. So many industries and applications still rely on C++, which gets an update every 3 years since 2012, it makes perfect sense to learn how to program C++.

You can choose to first learn C, upon which C++ is based, or not — it’s totally up to you. However, one thing remains true: when it comes to C++, it still is worth learning.

One last note from a developer: both C and C++ languages are difficult and painful to learn.

There are other languages, such as Python, that are easier to grasp, especially when it comes to memory management. So, if you want to become a programmer or a data science guru and you have never had to code before, then maybe C++ is not for you just yet.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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