“Should I learn Python? If so, when?”
If you’re a seasoned engineer looking to build your skillset or you’re a coding newbie wondering where to start, chances are you’ve asked yourself this question.
Python is a solid choice for a number of reasons, particularly because it’s pretty universal and many popular apps and web pages today are built on it — which we’ll get into later on. Learning Python first also has its advantages for folks trying to build their coding toolbox because it makes learning other languages a lot easier.
In this piece, we’re going to over the basics of Python programming, why you should learn it, and the many ways you can learn it.
From coding “Hello, world!” in a browser to building massive mobile and web-based apps, Python is a cornerstone of software development that you need to know.
An intro to Python
Python is a high-level, multipurpose object-oriented programming language. Unlike some of its fellow languages, Python code isn’t limited to being used for web development alone. Anything that uses lines of code, data, or mathematical computation could implement Python.
Python is also a general purpose language, which means it can be used to create a variety of different programs and isn’t specialized for a specific problem.
Though it was created in 1991, Python has really come into its own over the last decade after the release of Python 3. Even nearly 15 years later, the latest Python software version is only 3.9.5 (where we’re used to Apple releasing an entire new OS every single year).
With the backing of big data and acknowledgement of its simple and reliable efficiency, programmers frequently turn to Python. The Python syntax is straightforward and rarely fussy, and it can be used for everything from small tasks to massive projects.
It continues to see an upward trend, ranking 1st in current PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language standings:
For self-learners or those considering a bootcamp program, finding a course that focuses on Python will give you a solid working foundation. It will also give you the ability to learn other languages in the future.
Python’s Data Structures and Algorithms
For any professional in computer programming — particularly software engineers and data scientists — understanding Python basics and knowing how and when to apply them is key to beginning your studies. We won’t go step-by-step in this article, but it’s helpful to talk about the components of Python in a way that shows you why it’s worth learning early on in your coding career.
Data structures are just that — structures that allow us to store, manage, manipulate, and perform data analysis. Python has four of types of built-in data structures: lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries. It also has three types of user-defined data structures: ques, stack, and tree.
You can also categorize data types as primitive and non-primitive.
Python also uses a a number of different algorithms, but they aren’t specific to Python as they can be used in a number of other programming languages.
Why Should You Learn Python First?
Python programming experts are in high demand.
Like all jobs in software engineering and web development, Python programmers are in seriously high demand. Over one million software engineering jobs go unfilled every year, and many companies use Python in their tech stacks to create mobile applications, web-based applications, and other user experiences.
According to Zip Recruiter, the average national salary for a Python Developer is just north if $125,000 per year. That varies by location and skill level, but experienced programmers in tech hubs like San Francisco, Austin, or New York could see salaries nearing $170,000.
Python engineers aren’t the only ones taking home the big bucks; those with advanced or expert-working knowledge of Python can apply for any number of job titles in engineering, data visualization, programming, and data architects:
It’s (relatively) easy to learn Python.
We mentioned this earlier but, as far as programming languages go, those who learn Python regularly cite how easy it is to use. This ease of use is marked by:
- an easy and intuitive language just as powerful as those of the major competitors;
- open source, so anyone can contribute to its development;
- code that is as understandable as plain English (because it’s written in plain English);
- suitable for everyday tasks, allowing for short development times.
Though Python is executed slowly, forcing the one who’s writing code to work line-by-line, its advantages far outweigh that clunkiness.
Python has many use cases.
“Just to name a few of its most common uses, Python is used in Data Mining, Data Science, AI, Machine Learning, Web Development, Web Frameworks, Embedded Systems, Graphic Design applications, Gaming, Network development, Product development, Rapid Application Development, Testing, Automation Scripting, the list goes on,” says Coding Nomads. If you have career inspirations in any facet of the tech industry, knowing Python is going to be a marketable skill.
Once you do have a thorough understanding of Python, you can use it to build mobile and web-based applications, create video games, understand complex science and math concepts, or automate repetitive tasks you have to do over and over manually.
Examples of Python in Use
If you learn Python first, you’ll have the experience to build real-world applications at some of the industry’s biggest companies:
The app that changed photography forever is famously built on Python. Hailed for having a simple user interface and quick loading time, “Instagram’s engineering motto is “Do the simple things first” – and this is what Python allows developers to do. For them, it’s user-friendly, clean, and favors pure pragmatism. And since it’s so popular, growing an engineering team is a lot easier” (Django Stars).
Despite its simplicity, those who learn Python know it’s capable of working with huge amounts of data, like that of what’s on Pinterest. Millions of “pins” housing high-res images, videos, URLs, and other types of media are shared and uploaded every single day. Pinterest still relies on Python today to help deal with all of that data and has since its creation.
Another key characteristic of Python is its compatibility with multiple operating systems. Dropbox is a universal storage tool for teams and companies across the globe, and it speaks to Python’s flexibility that nearly every organization can find a use for Dropbox. The creator of Python, Guido Van Rossum, actually worked for Dropbox until his retirement in 2019. His mission was to make Dropbox’s tech stack not only the most powerful in the world, but the most efficient.
We’ll defer to Netflix’s own technology blog for why they love Python:
“Developers at Netflix have the freedom to choose the technologies best suited for the job. More and more, developers turn to Python due to its rich batteries-included standard library, succinct and clean yet expressive syntax, large developer community, and the wealth of third-party libraries one can tap into to solve a given problem.”
Engineers everywhere applaud Netflix’s approach to its tech stack, and organizations like this that are encouraging newcomers to the tech space to learn Python.
Music lovers revere Spotify’s user experience and virtually non-existent buffering delay. While the web app is built on WordPress, nearly 80% of Spotify’s mobile app is built using Python.
With all of the personalization that Spotify offers listeners, there’s a ton of data and processes to manage. Spotify’s tech team appreciates how Python can manage these features easier than other languages.
Ways to Learn Python
Learning how to code is becoming more of a universal skill than one reserved only for software engineers and data scientists. Some languages and frameworks are more useful for different industries or projects than others, so it’s important to first determine what your goal is and research the types of skills you should learn to meet that goal.
If that goal involves anything in the tech industry — say, you want to become a software engineer or do anything in web or mobile app development — choosing to learn Python first will give you a solid foundation and help you pick other languages up much easier.=
There are so many options available to people interested in learning Python, including returning to college for another bachelor’s or a master’s degree. That takes a lot of time and money, though, and with how rapidly things change in technology, it’s recommended that you take a shorter, more thorough approach.
Learn Python with Bootcamps (like App Academy!)
Anyone who’s serious about becoming a software engineer should consider a bootcamp for a number of reasons. Sure, we’re a little biased, but the data is too hard to ignore, when 72% of employers consider bootcamp graduates just as skilled and employable as college graduates with computer science degrees.
Our Online Immersive Bootcamp course takes students through about 24 weeks’ worth of hands-on, industry-standard material. It is, however, a mastery-based learning experience, meaning you can retake concepts or modules that you haven’t fully nailed down.
It’s a Python course within an entire framework of other languages and skills you’ll be able to apply as you’re building a portfolio and applying to jobs.
Not only will you leave our program with a portfolio full of Python projects and other examples of applicable work, our Career Coaches help you understand important interview questions, talk about your experience, and negotiate offers.
Learn Python for free (DIY).
Nowadays, there are countless free Python tutorials available, plus ones you can use for learning all types of programming languages.
Some, like Codecademy or FreeCodeCamp, teach you particular frameworks or languages in a silo, where others — like App Academy Open, our own free program — incorporate languages and other skills into a full-stack tutorial.
Our Python curriculum is currently in beta-testing, but the current curriculum teaches Ruby on Rails as its main framework. This is another language that’s relatively easy to use and helps students learn other important skills with Ruby on Rails as their base. You’ll also learn OOP (object-oriented programming) and SQL.
At any rate, a free program like App Academy Open is the perfect crash course. For budding programmers and other tech professionals alike, it’s worth signing up for (after all, it doesn’t cost a thing)!
We’ve compiled a list of our own favorite learn-for-free programs, and many of them include Python in their curriculum or offerings.
Conclusion: Learn Python to open up new doors
Choosing to learn Python is a smart choice for anyone interested in a career in tech. For software engineers looking for new opportunities, having Python under your belt will put you in a good position to get hired, as it’s a commonly used framework at large tech companies.
If a career in tech is something you’re interested in and you’re considering a bootcamp to help you become a viable software engineering candidate, learn more about our 24-Week Online Coding Bootcamp program.