There are many routes to becoming a Python developer, but all require mastering certain skills and technical knowledge. Here is a comprehensive guide with 7 steps to help you become a Python developer—including key skills, job roles, and responsibilities.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
If there’s one skill that has seen an increase in demand, it’s developing. And what better way to break into the tech world than by learning Python? Currently, Python is third in popularity among programmers and developers, just behind C and Java. Even though it’s a powerful digital building tool, it’s also one of the easiest coding languages to learn and write. Regardless of where you are in your career—whether you’re a seasoned tech expert, a fresh high school or college graduate, or someone looking to switch career lanes—it’s never too late to learn Python.
The journey towards becoming a Python developer is by no means hard or long. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some level of commitment and dedication—a bit of passion can also be helpful. It’s important to note that there’s no one right way to learn the Python programming language. After all, Python is highly versatile.
But if you need a road map, here is how to become a Python developer.
As a programming language, Python is a means to an end. While it’s possible to branch out into various areas of expertise, it’s best to start with one. For instance, do you want to develop applications and software using Python? Or do you want to become a data scientist or data analyst? Within Python data science itself, you can even specialize in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Regardless of what type of Python developer you want to be, you’re going to need to learn and master Python fundamentals. Python is a high-level programming language, meaning it’s closer to spoken human languages than machine languages. In fact, if you open up any beginner Python code, you’d be able to read it and guess what it does, at least to some extent.
Being able to read and write basic syntax starts with understanding the data types Python utilizes—binary, boolean, variables, and sequences are all essential. You also need to understand and practice conditional operations, how to manipulate numeric and text data, functions, and how to import and export files.
You’ll also discover the treasure that is Python libraries—something that Python is praised for. Libraries are collections of open-source Python code and syntax made by other developers that are pre-programmed to perform certain tasks and operations. These can save you a lot of coding time, as you won’t have to write an entire operation if you have the library for it.
Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is the type of programming Python is known for. Learning OOP means you’ll no longer need to write your code primarily using functions. Objects in Python are chunks of reusable code that replace redundant and lengthy functions.
With OOP, you'll start to see some progress with the work you’re doing. Learning OOP is mainly done by writing simple programs that perform tasks and solve problems through automation. While that’s sufficient, you should also go through other people's OOP-based code to see how things look in a finished program, as this can give you valuable insight into your own programming.
This is where picking the type of Python developer you want to be, matters the most. As you start following tutorials and recreating Python programs through videos and blog posts, you’ll want to do it in the field you’re looking to specialize in.
For instance, if it’s data science using Python you’re after, start analyzing publicly available databases for trends, anomalies, and insights. For machine learning and AI, you can train a program to recognize the colors in a picture or predict stock prices based on past trends. While you shouldn’t expect immediate success from your first few projects, those can still lay the groundwork for your Python portfolio.
Once you’re comfortable with the basics of Python and able to create simple programs, it’s time to start studying advanced Python. If you’re into web development and web applications, this is when you’ll start working with advanced Python libraries like Flask and Django to design application programming interfaces (APIs). And you’ll work with Pandas and NumPy libraries for data science, analysis, and machine learning.
At this point in your journey, you’ll be able to deploy your applications onto target third-party web services and servers—moving past a screen full of code and into a fully functioning app or software that actually works.
Polishing your code is a skill you can never stop growing. Even if your code works perfectly, you can still improve upon it by shortening it and making it more efficient. Not only is concise code a sign of advanced skills and experience in the programming world, but polished code is also easier to debug, update, and it improves overall readability for other coders.
Your Python portfolio is a collection of your best work using the Python framework. It’s what you'll use to showcase your technical skills along with your polished and easily readable code—and even land a job. Your portfolio should be the perfect balance of creative, flawless, and functional.
There are a handful of skills you need to become a successful and sought-after Python developer, including:
If you’re studying Python full-time, you can expect to become fully versed in 10 to 15 weeks. But you should note that learning is a continuous process and there will always be new Python libraries concepts—or even new Python versions altogether—for you to learn.
When learning Python on your own, you may encounter obstacles that threaten to derail you. Opting for an online or in-person Python Bootcamp can expedite the learning and transition processes, all while supporting you when you come up against roadblocks.
An entry-level Python developer in the U.S. can expect to make no less than $70,000 with a median of $88,000. After a few years of experience as a mid-level Python developer, your salary may rise up to six figures and average around $110,000 a year. Senior Python developers can expect anywhere from $120,000 to $135,000 a year—although top earners can bring in just over $160,000 a year.
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