What Is C++? (And How to Learn It) (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the programming language C++, what it’s used for, and how to learn it.

What Is C++? (And How to Learn It) (1)

C++ is among the top 10 most widely used programming languages in the world [1]. It's a general-purpose programming language (GPL), which means you can use it to build any type of program. The article below further explores the use cases, benefits, and potential drawbacks of C plus-plus. You can use it to determine whether it's the right programming language for you to learn.

What is C plus-plus?

C++ (or “C-plus-plus”) is a generic programming language for building software. It’s an object-oriented language. In other words, it emphasizes using data fields with unique attributes (a.k.a. objects) rather than logic or functions. A common example of an object is a user account on a website. Typically, a user account contains closely related data like first name, last name, and email address. Bundling this information together into an object makes it easy to replicate the process of creating a new account.

Did you know?

Bjarne Stroustrup invented C++ in 1979 to extend C, a procedural programming language. It was designed to offer programmers more control over memory and system resources.

What is C plus-plus used for?

Over time, C++ has become a choice language for building fast and reliable software. Its versatility makes it an excellent match for complex applications, embedded systems, and internet of things (IoT) devices. A few of its most common use cases are as follows:

  • Software engineering. A couple of applications you might use daily that were created with C plus-plus include Netflix and Amazon.

  • Operating system (OS) development. Examples of OS that were created with C++ include Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS.

  • Graphical user interfaces. C++ is often recommended for graphical user interface design or, GUI.

  • Virtual reality (VR). C++ can be an excellent language to learn if you want to develop VR applications.

  • Blockchaintechnology. The well-known cryptocurrency Bitcoin was developed in C++. It can also be used to create smart contracts.

  • Game development. You can develop games and gaming consoles with C++. For example, the game World of Warcraft and the Xbox console.

Should you learn C++?

C plus-plus is a great language to learn if you want to gain a deep understanding of how computers work. It's generally considered to be a good starting point for novice or beginner coders. With knowledge of C++, you may also be able to pick up other languages like Python or JavaScript more easily.

Read more: Python vs. C++: Which to Learn First and Where to Start

Advantages of learning C++

Programming in C++ offers several advantages. Because it is object oriented, you can easily organize and classify the code. Instead of rewriting code from scratch, you can reuse it. You can also use C plus-plus to interact directly with a computer’s hardware. As a result, you'll be able to control how a system uses its computational resources, like software, hardware, and memory.

Read more: Should You Learn Object-Oriented Programming Languages?

Career advancement opportunities

Having experience with C++ can introduce you to job opportunities with high-paying salaries. As of January 2023, Indeed had over 13,000 job listings in the US for C++ developers, programmers, and engineers. Over 8,000 of those jobs are estimated to have salaries above $110,000 [2]. Glassdoor reports that the average yearly pay for C++ developers in the US is $108,260 [3].

Read more: How to Become a Software Developer | 9 Tips

How to learn C++

C++ basics include storing information, repeating actions through loops, and collecting user input.The list below outlines a few key concepts for C++ beginners to explore. Then, check out the next section for recommendations on where to start.

  • Conditionals like “if statements,” “if else statements,” and “switch case statements,” which tell a computer what to do under certain conditions

  • How to assign classes to objects (data fields with unique attributes)

  • How to write code using C++ syntax, the predefined symbols, and characters that determine how a computer reads the code

  • How to compile and link a C++ file, so that the code can run on a machine

Online courses and guided projects in C++

Here are a few beginner-friendly online courses and guided projects to get you started:

  • Programming in C++: A Hands-on Introduction Specialization by Codio (certificate upon completion)

  • Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (certificate upon completion)

  • Introduction to C++ Programming: Create a Tic-Tac-Toe Game by Coursera (approximately 2 hours to complete)

You can practice also basic C++ with exercises like printing “Hello, World,” converting Celcius to Fahrenheit, and performing arithmetic operations.

Joining the C++ developer community

It can be helpful to connect with and learn from other, more experienced programmers. For example, you may consider joining the C++ Slack community. Or, follow questions with the C++ tag on StackExchange. You can also follow relevant YouTube channels like Programming with Mosh. Once you've gained some technical expertise and practiced coding in C plus-plus on your own, you might be ready to apply your skills to a real-life project on a collaborative site like GitHub.

Learn C++ with Coursera

Start building a strong foundation for your programming career today by enrolling in an introductory online course like Coding for Everyone: C and C++ Specialization by the University of California Santa Cruz.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The time it takes to learn C++ depends on several factors, including the amount of experience you have with programming languages in general, the kind of course you take to learn it, and the amount of time you devote to it on a regular basis. If you are a beginner, expect to spend about two to three months learning the basics and six to 12 months learning to solve complex programming problems. To get a sense of how long it will take you to learn C++, examine the syllabi or content outlines of different C++ courses for beginners and reflect on how much time you can spend every day or week.‎

You can learn C++ without the live assistance of an instructor or mentor. That said, you will likely need to find courses, tutorials, and other educational resources to learn concepts and skills in the sequence that’s most conducive to learning. For extra support, join C++ community forums to ask questions and find solutions to programming challenges.‎

For those new to programming, it’s important to know that C++ syntax is more advanced than other languages. Experience in other programming languages such as C or Python may make it easier to learn C++. At the same time, taking on the challenge of learning C++ first can provide a strong foundation for learning other programming languages.‎

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Coursera Staff

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

What Is C++? (And How to Learn It) (2024)


What Is C++? (And How to Learn It)? ›

C++ (or “C-plus-plus”) is a generic programming language for building software. It's an object-oriented language. In other words, it emphasizes using data fields with unique attributes (a.k.a. objects) rather than logic or functions. A common example of an object is a user account on a website.

Can I teach myself C++? ›

Yes, you can learn C++ as a beginner, but it will take longer than if you already have a firm grasp of programming.

Is C++ harder than Python? ›

Python's syntax is a lot closer to English and so it is easier to read and write, making it the simplest type of code to learn how to write and develop with. The readability of C++ code is weak in comparison and it is known as being a language that is a lot harder to get to grips with.

What is the basic knowledge of C++? ›

C++ is an object-oriented programming language which gives a clear structure to programs and allows code to be reused, lowering development costs. C++ is portable and can be used to develop applications that can be adapted to multiple platforms. C++ is fun and easy to learn!

Is C++ harder than Java? ›

Most experts will tell you that Java is easier to learn. It's a newer language than C++ and isn't as complex in its principles or execution. However, there's more to consider than a language's learning curve. Selecting a programming language comes down to what you want to do with it.

What is the average salary of a C++ programmer? ›

The average salary for Developer C/C++ is ₹7,80,000 per year in the India. The average additional cash compensation for a Developer C/C++ in the India is ₹80,000, with a range from ₹46,250 - ₹1,00,000.

Is C++ a dying language? ›

C++ is still a highly demanded programming language in 2022, with its performance, versatility, and reliability making it a just as valuable as any other programming language today. Because of how old C++ is, many wrongfully believe that it's headed towards extinction and tend to underrate its capabilities.

How long does it take to learn C++? ›

Is C++ hard to learn?
Programming levelTime it'll take
Absolute beginnerAt least 3 months
Already a programmer1 - 3 months
Building mastery in C++2 years - forever
Feb 8, 2021

What should we know before learning C++? ›

A great way to get started with C++ is to learn about its history. C++ is one of the oldest programming languages, so there are many different versions. Having a sense of this history will situate you in the community of C++ programmers and give you a sense of its capabilities.

What is the hardest coding language to learn? ›

What are the hardest coding languages to learn?
  • Haskell.
  • BrainF**K.
  • WhiteSpace.
  • Malbolge.
  • COW.
  • C++
Mar 27, 2024

What is the hardest part of learning C++? ›

One of the main reasons C++ is so difficult to learn is its syntax. Unlike other programming languages, C++ has a lot of rules and exceptions that can be hard to remember. For instance, C++ has strict rules for declaring and using variables, and it requires a deep understanding of memory management.

Which coding language should I learn first? ›

Python. Python is always recommended if you're looking for an easy and even fun programming language to learn first. Rather than having to jump into strict syntax rules, Python reads like English and is simple to understand for someone who's new to programming.

Is C++ alone enough to get a job? ›

C++ is one of the most popular language, so it shouldn't be a big problem finding a job. If you have enough free time I think it is a good idea to start studying another language, like Java or Python. Try to search for your ideal job on internet, to see what employers/companies are looking for.

Can a beginner start with C++? ›

Both Python and C++ are popular, beginner-friendly programming languages. For some, choosing which of these general-purpose languages to learn first is a matter of personal preference. For others, one may be more beneficial to learn for a specific project.

Is it still valuable to learn C++? ›

C++ is a primary language for game development, and the gaming industry continues to grow. Learning C++ is valuable for those interested in pursuing a career in this field. Embedded Systems: C is commonly used in embedded systems programming, where resources are constrained.

Do I need to be good at math to learn C++? ›

C++ offers a wide range of functions that can be implemented using logic and for that, you certainly need to have a basic concept of maths. Besides this, the majority of the functions that are being used in C++ have been derived directly from mathematical operations. So, the answer to this is a definitive YES.

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