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How to become a Python developer

There are several ways, online and offline, to become a Python software developer

Man sitting behind a computer at an office

Python is one of the most popular programming languages among developers today.

It has just reached the number one spot in the top-20 TIOBE Programming Community Index programming languages after occupying the third spot last year, placing it ahead of other popular languages like C, Java, and C++.

You might have been thinking about brushing up on your Python skills, or even beginning a new career as a software developer. You’ve also probably got lots of questions you need answered about this popular programming language.

However, before you take the plunge, it’s worth examining why learning this language is considered such an essential step for most developers to take, even if you don’t end up using it that much.

Why learn Python?

Python is considered to be a great language for beginner coders, thanks to its simplified and clear syntax. It is also widely used across a number of different sectors or industries.

What might attract you to the language even more is the fact that its analytical capabilities and its many libraries make it the preferred choice for data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Python is even popular among well known companies like Spotify, Netflix, Dropbox, or Google, which means that if you manage to become an excellent python developer, you may one day be destined to a career at one of these organisations.

Google, for example, has a number of different languages under its belt but enlists Python for when it needs rapid delivery or maintenance. Incidently, did you know that Dropbox’s server-side code and desktop client is completely written in Python?

What does a Python software developer do?

To summarise this, Python is used as a code or programming language by software developers to construct computer programs.

Python developers' day-to-day jobs consist of working with analytics and data collection to provide insights to key decision-makers. As a python programmer, you might also find yourself using Python to perform tasks like web development, web scraping, automation, scripting, and data analysis.

Scripting involves creating small programs that perform repetitive tasks to help data analysts eliminate dull work. Python's uses aren't limited to automation tasks, though. A developer can also use it to design the framework for new code, build new tools, publish new services and create websites.

How to become a Python software developer?

There are several ways to learn the Python programming language. The most common way is by earning a computer science degree. In a degree programme, you’ll learn web development languages like JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.

If you already hold a bachelor's or master’s degree in another field and want to pursue a career as a Python software developer, consider a coding boot camp.

Let's take a closer look at what the computer science degree and the coding boot camp entail.

The computer science degree

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The computer science degree offers a well-rounded education for aspiring Python software developers, but you can also opt for a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or information science. In these majors, you’ll gain a foundation in mathematics and computer science that’ll help you develop a broader understanding of software architecture, programming and software testing.

Getting a two- or four-year degree in coding requires a considerable investment of time and money, though.

In the UK, undergraduate computer science degrees are usually priced at £9,250 per academic year, or £27,750 for a full time three year course. Master's degrees are more expensive per academic year, usually falling somewhere between £10,000 and £20,000, although they typically only last one year.

According to CollegeData, in the US the average yearly tuition and fees to earn a degree is around $9,970 for in-state residents at public colleges, $34,740 for private colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents at public universities.

On the positive side, a degree in coding is visible proof that you worked hard to learn how to code. Some companies make it mandatory that you hold a degree to be considered for a Python software developer position, but increasingly companies are placing greater importance on certifications and experience.

The coding boot camp

Oftentimes, hiring managers don’t look for a related degree. Instead, they ask for a portfolio featuring your Python programming skills and coding tests. According to Indeed, 89% of employers believe coding boot camp graduates are just as prepared or even more prepared than degree holders.

A coding boot camp is a technical training program that teaches students with little coding proficiency the skills they need to get a foot in the door. Students are taught the essentials of coding and how to apply these skills to solve real-world problems. 

A coding boot camp’s goal is to help students transition into a coding career or software development by teaching them to build applications at a professional level.

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For this reason, coding boot camps can be great for building a strong portfolio and learning the skills to ace employers’ coding tests.

Unlike C.S. degrees, coding boot camps tend to be on the inexpensive side and can help you get in-person guidance and additional resources. The average fee for coding boot camp ranges between $10,000 and $15,000. boot camps are also far shorter than earning a C.S. degree, as they typically take just 12-26 weeks.

In addition to preparing you for job interviews, joining a coding boot camp helps you build a portfolio containing the projects you worked on. You can present this portfolio to potential employers after completing the course.

Although a coding boot camp doesn’t offer you a degree, it does demonstrate you have an educational foundation to your coding experience.

Earning Python certifications

While a degree provides you with an academic title after several years in school, certification courses award you a document stating you’ve completed a specific amount of training for a specific job. Thus, a Python certification demonstrates your engagement with Python and is a major boost to your resume. 

The main differences between degree programs and certification programs are time and cost. 

To earn a certificate, you must first gain experience in Python, which can take a few months to two years of coding in your spare time or attending a boot camp. Once you get this experience, you’re ready to take the exam. A degree takes two to four years, but you gain Python experience through coursework along the way. 

As for costs, a degree can cost an average of $6,880-$129,640, depending on the type of school and program length, whereas a Python certificate exam costs just $59-$295, depending on the level. But, since you need the hands-on experience to pass the exam, you may have to tack up to $15,000 onto that exam cost. 

The core Python certifications to go for include:

The extra cost of a degree comes with some return, though. A degree provides individuals with a greater depth of knowledge than a certificate and teaches specific skills related to the career field through its noncoding cored classes.

How to get a job as a Python software developer?

If you’re already hunting for a job as a Python software developer or about to complete a coding boot camp, these tips will help accelerate your job search.

  • If you’re a novice, get familiar with the Linux/Unix command line. Regardless of which language you pursue, most employers expect you to be familiar with this.

  • Work on open-source Python projects. “Open” in this context means anybody is free to use, study, modify and contribute to the project.  Such projects will help you improve your skills and gain demonstrable experience for potential employers.

  • Maintain a website or a LinkedIn profile. If you find creating a website too time-consuming and expensive, go for a LinkedIn profile. It can lead to networking opportunities and might even help you land a job without searching elsewhere.

  • Learn a bit about other languages. One of the biggest things employers look for in a developer is his/her interest in continuously expanding their knowledge. Java and C++ are good options, even if Python is your focus.

  • Attend industry conferences and events whenever possible. They’re great networking opportunities. You might get a chance to talk with managers and CEOs you'll interview with in the future.

Preparing for a Python software developer interview

With the shortage of Python software developers, you might think landing a job is all about showing up and answering a few basic questions about Python. That’s unlikely to be the case. If you’re  looking to break into the Python developing space, here’s what you should do to prepare:

  • Effectively prove you can code. Build a portfolio and add everything you’ve done in a public forum to describe your experience. Most developers prefer Github for creating profiles to showcase their example projects.

  • Master the common Python algorithms and data structures. These include dictionaries, lists, tuples, and how to create classes. You should also be able to compare and contrast basic Python data structures and describe how you use an existing data structure to implement the functionality of a stack. The stack is a list of all the technology services used to build and run a single application.) 

  • Being an efficient Python developer isn’t just memorization. It goes well beyond just committing the language syntax or commonly used algorithms and data structures to memory. The thing that’ll help you stand out from the crowd is your ability to comprehend and solve problems through well-developed soft and hard skills. Put in a lot of practice and get exposure to various problem-solving issues. 

Python software developer salary

According to Indeed, the average Python software developer salary in the US is $111,080 per year or $52.96 per hour. Keep in mind that these averages include higher-paying regions and workers with years of experience.

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