Let’s be clear: you learn Python to get a job.
Sure, coding is a fun, fulfilling hobby. But at the end of the day, we all dream of getting that developer job and finally putting our hard-earned skills to good use earning a comfortable six figure salary:
- Junior Developer: US Salary $73,537
- Software Tester: US Salary $101,612
- Management: US Salary $95,396
- Machine Learning Engineer: US Salary $139,957
And no wonder, because being a professional Pythonista has an undeniable allure. Python is in high demand and has managed to surpass Java in terms of the average developer salary. With more and more companies jumping on the Python bandwagon, it’s become clear that learning Python is a great investment in the future.
But what about those who aren’t yet acquainted with the language, yet still dream of making it big in the programming world? Can they save themselves years exploring every nook and cranny of Python first and jump-start their careers?
I’ve good news for you: the answer is yes, yes, and yes.
In this guide, we have compiled a few tips on how to get your Python career on track as fast as possible. You don’t need to be a Python master to score a Junior position. Stick to a few ground rules and set out on your professional Python adventure!
Introduction: Why Python?
Let’s kick things off with the basics: why learn Python to get a job? Why not devote your time to another programming language?
You’re on a Python blog, so I’m sure you have reasons of your own already. Still, let’s go through the most important arguments so that you were even more confident in your choice.
1) Python is popular
According to the famous data gathered by Stack Overflow, Python’s been continuously on the rise. It’s been dubbed the most in-demand language of 2019 and it’s not about to stop. This means you won’t have any trouble finding job posts. You’ll also join a rich developer community that will be able to assist you in your initial struggles.
2) Python will give you a headstart
Oh yes, Python is easy. Read the Zen of Python—clarity and brevity lie at the core of the language. Combined with the huge selection of libraries and frameworks, it will get you started in no time.
3) No matter what you want to do, Python will have your back.
So, you want to join a big corporation? Great, because Nasa, Google, YouTube, Reddit and many, many more have Python in their stacks. Or maybe you’re thinking of a startup? Perfect, Python will help you get started quickly and scale up along the way (check out this article: Why Python Should Be The Programming Language for Your Startup). You want to always stay ahead of the curve and be on the lookout for the technologies of the future? Python is the number one choice for machine learning and artificial intelligence. Of course, the list goes on and on.
4) Python is challenging, fresh and fun.
This might sound like a line from a beer commercial, but it’s true. I once talked to a Python convert who decided to break up with Java after a few years of coding in that language. He confessed that what attracted him in Python was the projects that used it. Python is often applied by young, creative companies that look for developers who are all about challenges and constant growth. So, he was driven by the whiff of fresh air that Python projects provided and hasn’t looked back ever since.
Start by answering the two most crucial questions: how much time you can spare for studying and where you want to do it.
To land a Junior position, a working or studying person who has a background in coding needs 6 months to prepare on average. This period might change. It depends on how much basic programming knowledge you need to acquire first, and how much time you spend studying ay. If you’re determined and have a lot of time on your hands, who knows—three months might be enough.
Other than that, you need to decide if you want to enroll in a course or study by yourself. If you want to start earning money as a Python freelancer, check out our free mini-course on the state-of-the-are of Python freelancing.
This choice also depends on how much time you can spend learning. Courses usually take longer to complete. You also don’t have the flexibility that self-study offers.
There are no right and wrong answers here. Some people learn better in groups and with a teacher, but some would rather work alone at their own pace. It all depends on which learning environment works better for you.
The worst thing you can do is choose a course just because you want a diploma. Your actual skills are more important than a piece of paper. Be aware that self-study is a completely valid option. The number of available tutorials, guides, and other resources can take you through the entire learning process.
So don’t worry—a lack of “formal” education won’t hinder your growth if you’d rather set out on your Python journey alone.
Advice for Coding Newbies
If you’re already a practicing developer who’s looking for a career change, feel free to skip this section. But if you’re a beginner who’s never learned to code before, there are some things you should catch up with before you dive head-first into Python.
If you want to be a true professional, just getting the hang of the language and its frameworks might not suffice. Here’s a list of things you should get familiar with:
- Learn the basics of DevOps. You might be a master of coding from the safety of your own home, but things might be different at work. You have to understand the process of code creation and deployment. Get acquainted with automated deployment tools.
- Take a look at some programming tools. The time before you start coding professionally is perfect to test them out and find the ones that suit you. They will help you boost your productivity, which will make it easier for you to take the first steps at your new job. This list is great to get you started.
- Attend a Python meetup in your area. Networking and the ability to cooperate are important even for developers. A meetup is a great place to listen to the professionals and meet your first contacts. And who knows, you might even get to know someone who will help you find a job. Either way, you’re bound to walk out with a dose of fresh knowledge.
- Learn the basic concepts of IT. Know how the things you do work. Read about data structures, algorithmics, computer networks. It will help you feel in your element.
How to Study Right?
Python is hot. It comes as no surprise that the Internet is booming with Python courses, webinars, and other resources. Even if you opt for a course instead of the self-study, tutorials are a perfect way to gain knowledge at your own pace. Here are a few recommendations:
- For those who are willing to invest some hard cash into their education, Udemy’s Learn Python course is fantastic. It can take you through the entire starting phase. Plural Sight also has great Python tutorials that cover all levels of advancement. Finally, the Python freelancer course teaches you a combination of Python and business skills you desperately need.
- YouTube is bursting with informative and free tutorials, just like this one by freeCodeCamp. Just type “basic Python” into the search bar and browse. And if you crave some theoretical Python knowledge delivered in an accessible way, watch the talks by Raymond Hettinger, one of Python’s core developers.
- When it comes to written resources, cheat sheets are always great. They’ll help you systematize your knowledge and have something to refer to. Blogs, such as this one, can also provide you with answers to the most pressing Python questions. This list will also help you find the best Python blogs to follow.
- Explore the community. Read what other developers wrote, observe, engage in conversations. Pythonistas love to share their knowledge, exchange tips, recommend valuable tools and resources to each other. And again, it’s a great networking opportunity. If you haven’t done it already, set up accounts on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, Github, Dev.to, join r/programming on Reddit.
Last but not least—just code. Write your programs or use Python in your pre-existing ones whenever possible. It might be tempting to wait till you feel you mastered the deepest arcana of the programming language, but the sooner you start writing, the better. We learn best through practice and sometimes, it’s best to just get thrown into the deep end of the pool.
What to Learn and What to Skip?
The previous points might have been more general, but this one is especially important for the job-getters. If you want to get employed fast, there’s a crucial question you will soon face: which parts can you skip to optimize the learning process?
Lucky for you, the basics of Python are easy. If you master them, you can write impressive and neat-looking code even on the junior level. So instead of trying to rush forward and learn bits and pieces of everything, focus on having a solid base.
- Start with learning syntax: how to declare variables and how arrays, loops, and functions work. Read about the OOP (Object Oriented Programming) in Python. Download the OOP cheat sheet here.
- Then it’s time for frameworks—choose a popular one and focus on it. This is just to help you figure out how working with frameworks looks like. You’ll have time to master them in the future.
- Finally, pick a random simple library and try to use it. That will help you get a glimpse of how a developer’s everyday job looks like.
The same thing goes for more specialized uses of Python. I know getting deeper into data science or machine learning might seem tempting, but the time for you to explore the specific areas will come later. Don’t waste time picking up scraps of knowledge you’re not yet sure will be useful.
Another thing you can skip is… theory. You don’t have to cram lines from a coursebook or learn use cases by heart. Recruiters for Python-related positions usually focus on the practical aspects of coding. Likely, you’ll be given a few tasks and no theoretical questions. This stems from the “young and fresh” nature of Python projects. While this isn’t a foolproof rule, it is a trend.
Beyond Coding Skills: How to Increase Your Chance of Getting a Job?
You might have the basics of Python mastered. But you still need something to make yourself stand out from the crowd of other candidates fighting for the best junior positions.
What you want are credentials and suitable soft skills.
When it comes to the first point, you’re in luck. As a developer, you can easily prove your skills with a well-prepared portfolio. Keep your repository active. It’s worth it to always do your best while coding. Make everything presentable and neat. Avoid naming your variables curseword1 and curseword2, no matter how tempting it is. That way, you’ll always have something to fill your resume with. The recruiters most likely won’t call you back if they can’t see the examples of your work beforehand.
As for the soft skills, let’s point out the most important three.
- Like any engineer, you need problem-solving skills. You can expect them to be verified during your recruitment process.
- You should also have a good command of English. It’s the language of software development and there’s a high chance you’ll be working in an international environment.
- Last but not least, you need strong communication skills. Forget the anti-social developer stereotype. A modern, agile approach to software development requires you to communicate with your employers and co-workers effectively, often online. So no, people skills are not something you can neglect, even though you’ll spend most of your days in front of the screen.
And remember—honesty is key. By all means, sell yourself, but avoid overselling. Be straightforward about your skills, expectations, and needs. This will only prove your reliability and diligence.
What Types of Python Jobs Are There?
In the previous section, we’ve talked about the knowledge and skills you need to land a Python job. Now it’s time for more practical information—which types of jobs are even out there?
Depending on your education and previous job experience, your opportunities might differ.
Junior Developer: US Salary $73,537
As a technological beginner, you should look into the position of junior developer. It will allow you to improve your skillset and get more specialized knowledge before you move on to bigger, greater things.
Software Tester: US Salary $101,612
Another option is becoming a tester—Python skills are useful for this position, too. But bear in mind this position is rarely Python-specific and you’ll have to gain more testing knowledge as well.
The next set of opportunities requires more skills and experience. But even as a beginner you can keep them in mind while making decisions about your career path.
Management: US Salary $95,396
First of all, you can consider management positions. In software houses, people who are promoted to project managers and above usually have a developer background. Why? Because they’re the ones who know this line of work through and through. You can’t become a manager without a few years of experience and strong management skills.
Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer: US Salary $139,957
Another option is to focus on the specialized fields that Python is used in. Nowadays, these fields are data science and machine learning. They will provide you with the biggest number of challenges, and the biggest salaries.
You can try to enter these fields as a Python beginner, but only if you have an engineering background and proficiency in mathematics and statistics, preferably on a PhD level. Otherwise, there’s a long road ahead of you.
You can get there by investing in your higher education and gaining experience. Look into the field-specific Python libraries (such as NumPy — check out our full tutorial on the Finxter blog) and tools. Educate yourself on your own, no matter what your first job might be.
Where to Apply for a Job?
The nature of your job is not the only choice you have to make. Another important one concerns your future workplace.
You have two options: working for a company or freelancing.
The two main company profiles you should look into as a beginner are software houses and product development companies.
What’s the difference between them? Software houses hire developers to outsource them to other companies. Product companies have their own set of products that they sell. They need developers to develop, maintain and improve them.
Product companies are known for bigger salaries, especially for less experienced developers, but software houses offer flexibility. They allow you to work on a rich variety of products, meet different clients and get well-grounded in the developer world.
The third company type are corporations. Big enterprises rarely search for junior developers, but who knows—you might be one of the lucky few to squeeze in. Corporations usually hire experienced developers. The most valued Pythonistas are those involved in data science.
And here’s another tip: while looking for a company job, don’t limit yourself to your location only. There are multiple companies for which you can work remotely. If you’re okay with changing the scenery, nowadays relocation packages and other amenities are pretty common.
It’s worth to look around—it might turn out that there are more opportunities for you on a different market.
The merits of freelancing are the same, no matter which field you work for. No boss, flexible hours, ability to combine the freelancer job with your current one.
There a lot of Python jobs for grabs out there, just check Upwork or any other freelancer network. In the beginning, it might be hard for you to find exciting offers, but the number of opportunities will grow with your skills. In this guide, you can learn in detail how to become a Python freelancer.
Application Process. How to Prepare for a Job Interview?
Okay, so you managed to learn Python sufficiently enough to get that job interview. What now?
Every company is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all, foolproof formula that allows you to nail every interview.
But there is a pattern most companies follow. Take a look below. You can expect to come across at least two of these elements during every recruitment process.
1. Recruitment task
First, you might have to solve a recruitment task at home. They’re usually sent by email. You’ll have to write some code, sometimes even a short program.
The tasks might vary in size—sometimes they’re short, sometimes a whole day’s work. Unfortunately, without completing them, you won’t be able to take part in recruitment.
2. Soft Interview
After your resume is positively received and you manage to enter the recruitment process, you’ll have a soft interview. A soft interview is conducted by the HR team to verify if you fit into the company.
You will be asked in detail about your experience, motivation, strengths and weaknesses, expectations, and other things that might help judge your personality. The infamous “what would you do if you were God for one day” question? Yeah, that’s when you might hear it. Your language skills might also be verified at this point.
3. Technical Interview
If you pass your soft interview, you will be invited to the technical one, where your actual programming skills will be checked.
There are a few ways to do it. You might be asked to solve test-like, short Python tasks. You can find a list of practice questions here.
Pair programming is another popular practice. You will be expected to code alongside one of your interviewers. One of you will be writing (most probably you), and the other reviewing the code as it is being typed in. Don’t panic. Not only your skills are tested here, but also your ability to cooperate, respond to critique and apply changes.
Mastering the basics and learning to code neatly will pay off at this point. Python makes it easy to show off the finesse you’ve acquired.
You might also come across theoretical questions, but it’s unlikely you’ll have to recite definitions. What you can expect is “practice in theory”—“if you do x, what will happen”?
It’s also possible you’ll receive a previously prepared piece of code to talk about and review. Expect requests to search for mistakes, seek room for optimization and give your opinions.
And here’s an important tip: don’t give up, even if you don’t know the solution to a problem. Depending on what type of task you’re solving: google the unknowns, ask for help, or explain exactly what your doubts are to the recruiter. Chances are your communicativeness, resourcefulness, and determination will tip the scale in your favor.
4. Meeting with the team leaders
In some companies, after successful soft and technical interviews, there’s still one step ahead of you—a meeting with your future team leaders.
This meeting might take many forms. You might be asked some programming questions again, or it might just be a casual conversation.
In any case, this meeting has one goal—the team wants to see if you fit in. Make sure to be communicative and straightforward. Try to find a common tongue with your interviewers.
And keep in mind that this meeting is supposed to benefit you as well. If all you feel afterward are bad vibes, maybe you should search for a different company?
5. First days at work—what to expect?
You slam-dunked your interview and you got offered a job. What’s going to happen now?
Your hard work may allow you to skip the junior level and move straight to a regular developer. But it’s not always the best idea, especially if you have no programming experience. The junior position will help you step into your new role more organically. And if your knowledge surpasses that of a junior’s, you are bound to get an early promotion.
Don’t get discouraged if at the beginning you find yourself lacking some knowledge, skills, or general Python prowess. As they say, practice makes perfect—now that you’ve started an actual job, you’ll catch up in no time.
That would be the end of our guide on how to learn Python to get a job. But it’s just the beginning of your bright future as a Python developer. Remember, getting that job is only step one. As a developer, you’ll be learning new things throughout your whole career. But hey—Finxter will always have your back with the freshest tips on how to expand your Python knowledge. You can also find a full set of Python resources on the STX Next blog.
If you have any good resources for beginners or tips on how to ace the job interview, let us know.
Good luck in all your future endeavors!