How to Learn Python

Python is one of the most popular languages in the world. Used for data science, scripting, web development, and more, it is hard to think of a more flexible programming language that even complete beginners to programming can easily learn about.

In this guide, we’re going to talk about the basics of learning Python. We will start by discussing what Python is and what you should learn about Python. Then, we will spend some time looking at top Python resources online.

What is Python?

Python, released in 1991 by Guido van Rossum, is a general-purpose programming language. This means Python can be and is used for a range of purposes. The language uses the object-oriented architecture which means data can be stored in objects whose structure is based on classes. The language is used for data science, mathematics, software development, and more.

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The Python programming language is known for its syntax. Said to resemble English in many ways, the Python syntax is easy to read, which means that beginners can easily understand the contents of a program. In addition to the simple syntax, Python is well documented. You should have no trouble finding an answer to a Python question you have by searching for an answer online.

Jobs that Require Python Skills

There are plenty of jobs that require Python skills. This is because Python has proven to be a powerful language and it was not designed for any one purpose. Whereas R, for instance, was designed specifically for data analysis, Python has no one “best purpose.” Here are a few jobs in which you could apply your Python skills:

  • Software engineer
  • Back-end web developer
  • Full-stack web developer
  • Data analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Data engineer

You may also use your Python skills to a lesser extent in other technical careers, such as systems administrator or database administrator.

What Industries Use Python?

Python is used across industries because the language has a general purpose. You will see tech startups, tech giants, and businesses in other sectors aside from tech using Python in some way. Here is a list of some industries that use Python in some way:

  • Healthcare
  • Social media
  • Gaming and media
  • Cybersecurity
  • FinTech
  • Finance

This list is based on a 2016 survey by HackerRank which tracked which coding languages various types of employers were looking for in prospective employees.

Salary for Python Developers

Developers who are skilled in Python can expect to command an excellent salary. According to PayScale, the average Python Developer earns $79,395 per year. You can expect to earn much more if you specialize in an area related to data science, where Python skills are valued to a greater extent due to the complexity of the work.

The salary you earn will depend on your seniority. Junior Python developers may earn a bit less than the average mentioned above. Senior Python developers, who usually have years of industry experience, may earn significantly more than the salary mentioned above.

What Skills Do I Need to Master Python

To become a proficient Python developer, you do not need any background in programming. A propensity for thinking critically or analytically will go a long way because programming often involves thinking about multiple solutions to a problem and choosing the best one. Problem solving skills will help, too.

As you learn Python, you will naturally pick up more skills that you will need. For instance, if you decide to become a back-end web developer you will probably pick up what you need to know about the architecture of websites as you study.

Where to Learn Python

There are hundreds if not thousands of online courses that cover the Python language. This is reasonable because Python is an incredibly popular language, so much so that many high school computing classes now teach Python. To help you start learning Python, we have compiled a list of top Python courses, which you can find below.

Learn Python 3 

  • Author: Codecademy
  • Price: Pro membership ($19.99/month)
  • Type of Resource: Online tutorials

The Codecademy Learn Python 3 course teaches you the basics of coding in Python. You will start by writing a “Hello, World!” program and then you will gradually work your way up through concepts like using if statements, working with lists, and using loops.

This course features an interactive coding environment so you can follow along with examples as you learn. You will work on a total of three portfolio projects that will let you demonstrate your skills to other people, including prospective employers if you decide to pursue a career using your Python skills.

Introduction to Python Programming

  • Author: Udacity
  • Price: Free
  • Type of Resource: Course

Produced by Udacity, this course will guide you through everything you need to know about the basics of Python. This course covers why you should learn Python, the various data types supported by Python, working with functions, and scripting.

Alongside this course there are quizzes and interactive exercises in which you can participate. These exercises will help you apply the theory you have learned and become more familiar with the Python syntax.

Python for Everybody Specialization

  • Author: University of Michigan (on Coursera)
  • Price: Free
  • Type of Resource: Course

This course, which requires no prior programming experience, will walk you through the basics of Python. You will start by learning the syntax of Python. Then, you will learn about data structures such as lists, dictionaries, and tuples.

Later in the course, you will learn how to access data through APIs using Python and how to interact with databases in your Python programs. At the end of the course, you will be tasked with completing a capstone project designed to bring all the skills you have learned so far into one challenging project.

2021 Complete Python Bootcamp From Zero to Hero in Python

  • Author: Jose Portilla (on Udemy)
  • Price: $60.00
  • Type of Resource: Course

This course starts at the very beginning and helps you set up a coding environment. You will then learn about using Python data structures, using methods and functions, and more. Toward the end of the course, you will explore more advanced features like generators, modules, web scraping, and working with PDFs and CSV files.

This course is designed to take you from being a beginner to Python to feeling comfortable writing more advanced programs. Although, having a few weeks of experience with Python before you take this course may be a good idea: the course moves quickly so the more background knowledge you have, the better.

Learn Python Programming Masterclass

  • Author: Tim Buchalka and Jean-Paul Roberts (on Udemy)
  • Price: $60.00
  • Type of Resource: Course

This course, which features 61 hours of video and 32 coding exercises, is designed to help beginners get started with the Python programming language.

You will start by setting up your programming environment. Later, you will learn about lists, tuples, and working with functions. Toward the end of the course, you will take a good look at object-oriented programming in Python, which is an essential topic beginners must learn about.

A Guide to Learning Python

The Python programming programming language may be friendly to beginners but that does not mean the language is not used for more advanced purposes. Today, companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Dropbox all use Python.

But what do you need to know to master the basics of Python? We have compiled a short list of topics you should look at as you learn Python:

  • Hello World. The “Hello, World!” script is the most basic Python program. This script will introduce you to the Python syntax and get you up and running in the Python programming language.
  • Variables and Data Types. You should learn about how numbers, strings, and lists are stored in Python. You should also learn how values are assigned to variables.
  • Program Flow. Learn how to use if…else statements to decide when a line of code should and should not run.
  • Lists. Spend time reading about how to store and retrieve items from lists. You should also learn how to manipulate the contents of a list.
  • Loops and Functions. Learn how to use for loops to automate a repetitive task. You should also learn how to use functions to reduce repetition in your code.
  • Dictionaries. Dictionaries are a way of storing data that is mapped to a key name. You need to know how to work with dictionaries and change the values in a dictionary.
  • Classes and Objects. You should learn how to create a class in Python and create an object of that class.

These are only a few of the many topics beginners to Python should learn. We also recommend you spend time looking at:

  • Manipulating strings
  • The operators you can use with if statements
  • Working with files
  • Lambda functions
  • Working with modules
  • Debugging

With a solid understanding of all of the concepts mentioned above, you will be on your way to becoming a proficient Python developer.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Python?

Assuming you study for an hour or so a day, you can reasonably learn the basics of Python within a month or so of starting to learn. If you want to become a professional Python developer, expect to spend about six months refining your skills and preparing for the workforce.

These numbers are just estimates. It is impossible to say exactly how long it will take you to learn Python. But because the language is so well-known for being friendly for beginners to learn, the right attitude and a willingness to study will take you a long way.

Should I Learn Python?

The Python programming language is used around the world for data science, web development, systems development, and more. The language is not exclusively used by technology companies: it is not difficult to find a tech-driven company in other industries who use Python in some way.

Python is a great investment in your career. The language is much easier to learn than other programming languages, meaning learning Python can be a good way to get your foot in the door before you explore other technologies. And there are no signs that indicate Python will be any less important in the future.

Ask yourself: do you want to learn how to code? Do you want to work with data, or help build the logic behind websites, or help create software? Asking yourself these sorts of questions will help you make an informed decision about whether you should learn Python.

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