How Long Does It Really Take to Learn Python? (2023 Version)
The frustratingly cliché answer to this question is . . . it depends.
Everybody has different goals, and everyone is working in a different scenario, so the real answer might be much different for each person. Consider the following:
What are you learning Python for? For a university class, for a marketing role, or are you pursuing an entirely new data science career?
Where is your starting point? Do you know Python fundamentals or do you have zero programming experience?
How much time can you devote to practice? One hour per day? 40 hours per week?
If you’re looking for a general answer, here it is:
If you just want to learn the Python basics, it may only take a few weeks. However, if you’re pursuing a data science career from the beginning, you can expect it to take four to twelve months to learn enough advanced Python to be job-ready.
The estimates above come from our students who have taken our Python fundamentals course, and those who have finished our Python career paths, which take someone with zero programming experience to job-ready as quickly as possible using real-world code.
This article will answer some of the most common questions beginners ask about learning Python, like the following:
- Is Python hard to learn?
- Can you teach yourself Python?
- Should you learn Python 2 or 3?
- Why should one learn Python?
- How can you learn Python faster?
And much, much more
Is Learning Python Worth It in 2023?
Yes. From a career outlook, financial return, and versatility perspective, learning Python is certainly worth it.
Python developers are in demand across a variety of industries.
However, Python is particularly hot in the data science industry, where Python is used for everything from basic data analysis and visualization to creating advanced machine learning algorithms.
Indeed.com's HiringLab investigated tech skills trends in 2020 and found demand for Python skills in data science was up 12
Careers that require Python skills can earn salaries well over $100,000 per year in the United States.
Here’s a list of jobs requiring Python programming knowledge — and their U.S. salaries in August 2022:
- Data analyst: $96,323 (become one here)
- Data engineer: $117,917 (become one here)
- Data scientist: $120,610 (become one here)
- Python developer: $113,938
- Machine learning engineer: $124,545
- Software engineer: $117,996
There's an inside joke in the Python community that Python is the second-best language for everything. Of course, what’s best is subjective, but Python is incredibly flexible. It’s the most commonly used language for data science (R is a close second), and it's also frequently used in a number of other industries.
One reason for its widespread popularity is that it’s one of the easier languages to learn and use when working with data. And, fortunately for employers and data scientists alike, it doesn't require years of study to master.
How Long Does It Really Take to Learn Python?
As we mentioned before, the answer to this question depends on your goals. Python isn’t just a programming language — it’s a tool, and you learn how to use it in the context of the problems you're trying to solve.
Here are some scenarios . . .
A Marketer Who Wants a Slight Edge
For example, if you're a marketer who'd like to analyze Google Analytics data more rigorously, you could learn fundamental Python syntax and the required pandas techniques in a matter of weeks. This wouldn't make you a job-qualified Python developer or data analyst, but it would be enough to solve your problem.
Seeking a New Data Science Career
If you're learning from the beginning and are looking for full-time work using Python, you can expect to spend at least a few months studying part-time. How many months will depend on the job you're looking for. Working through our Data Analyst in Python course path, for example, would get you ready to apply for jobs as a Data Analyst. Most learners take at least three months to complete this path.
To be clear, though, you could spend a lifetime learning Python. There are hundreds of libraries, many of them regularly improving and evolving, and the language itself also changes over time.
It doesn't take too long to become capable of solving problems with Python, but to master Python means continually learning and growing over the course of your career.
Exploring Web Development
If you're keen on web development and want to learn Python's role in it, our Python Fundamentals for Web Development course path is a great place to start. In a matter of weeks, you'll grasp Python fundamentals tailored for web development, work with numerical and text data, make API calls to the web, and build your own projects.
Can You Teach Yourself Python?
Yes, it's very possible to learn Python on your own. There are many learning resources available on the web to help you learn Python for everything from web development to artificial intelligence.
Here at Dataquest, we've helped thousands of students learn Python and get jobs in data science, all on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own homes.
Teaching yourself Python does take time, though. You also have to be sure that you're writing code and applying what you learn in real-world scenarios, rather than just watching lecture videos and answering multiple-choice questions.
Taking the right approach to learning Python can also be the difference between success or failure when you're learning through self-study.
Is It Hard to Learn Python?
No, Python isn’t hard to learn for most people. In fact, Python is considered one of the easiest programming languages to learn. While anyone can learn Python programming — even if you've never written a line of Python code before — you should expect that it will take time, and you should expect moments of frustration.
Do I Need to be Good at Math to Learn Python?
No, you don’t need to be good at Math to learn Python. While the conventional wisdom has long been that having natural talent for mathematics makes learning programming easier, a recent study suggests that's not the case.
In fact, if you've learned a foreign language, you might actually find it easier to learn Python than a "math person" would.
We've seen learners from a variety of backgrounds work through our courses and succeed, so don't let your own background stop you from giving Python a try!
Should I Learn Python 2 or Python 3?
You should learn Python 3 instead of Python 2. While some outdated learning resources still teach Python 2, this version of the language is no longer supported, and security vulnerabilities won’t be patched.
You should learn the most up-to-date version of Python, which is Python 3.
Why You Should Learn Python
Here are three reasons you should start to learn Python for your work life, personal life, or both . . .
1. You Can Automate Tasks
Python is a versatile programming language, which means there's something in it for everyone. Once you learn Python, you'll be able to do the following:
- Work with massive datasets easily.
- Scrape data from the web and access APIs
- Use it to power-up your work in Excel
- Automate all sorts of tasks.
Learning to automate tasks on your own can be incredibly powerful because your time is valuable. Let the robots send your emails and fetch data from the internet. And if you're feeling extra ambitious, you can even create the next coffee delivery app so you can easily get your caffeine fix every morning.
(That may take a little bit more work, though.)
More likely, you'll be able to start finding creative solutions for the people and companies you work for. When you learn Python, you’re literally learning a new language that is built on identifying and predicting patterns. As you find patterns, you'll be able to communicate those findings in a way that makes a big impact in your industry and the world.
2. You Can Impress Your Boss
Learning Python is also a great way to impress at work (or get that promotion you've been vying for).
To those who can't code, the ability to program sometimes seems like a superpower. Programming gives you the ability to leverage your knowledge and multiply your output. With it, you may be able to get ten times as much work done in the same amount of time.
As we mentioned above, when you learn Python, you'll be able to gather data quickly and "translate" the numbers to real-world solutions.
For example, in a business setting, you could add value by doing things like web scraping, sending emails automatically, or even analyzing supply chain production to find missed opportunities for cost savings or quality control.
If your boss has mentioned that understanding data science could help you move toward your career goals, a self-paced Python course that helps you learn Python online could be the perfect way to balance a data career and personal development.
3. It Creates Exciting New Career Opportunities
If you're looking for an entirely new career or maybe aren't feeling fulfilled in your current job, you've come to the right place.
Demand for Python developers, especially in the data science field, has never been higher. Data science is rewarding, and it pays exceptionally well.
These opportunities are sometimes available remotely, so you can work from anywhere for a U.S. company without being tied to a U.S. location. Data science is a relatively new field, and with that freshness comes modern hiring practices. An emphasis on understanding your craft and being able to drive results is slowly beginning to trump the need for a four-year degree and an office down the hallway.
We've seen many of our alumni find rewarding careers (either in an office or remotely) after completing our Data Science paths. In fact, we’ve structured our courses to help you leave with a leg up on the job hunt. You'll have experience working with real-world data and a portfolio full of finished data science projects .
For human resources offices evaluating your resume, this can be far more important than your degree.
How Can I Learn Python Faster?
If you're learning Python on your own, creative time-management habits will be very helpful — especially if you want to learn Python sooner rather than later. While five hours may seem like a lot to fit into your already-busy weekly schedule, it's very achievable for someone working a full-time job — or with a full calendar of school commitments.
Here are a few ways you might find the spare hours . . .
1. Set Your Alarm Clock for 30 Minutes Earlier
The best time you can set aside to learn Python each day is in the morning.
Biologically, your best, most productive time is around the first two hours of each day. You don't want to sacrifice any sleep, but you may want to get to bed earlier so you can practice a bit before work.
It's a commitment, for sure. But, if you set aside your clothes the night before, have your coffee ready to go, and already know what aspects of Python you are going to work on, it's a bit easier. Tell yourself that you can't look at your phone or emails until you dedicate 30 minutes to learning Python, and make it a habit!
The time it saves and the advancement in your career will be worth the extra effort. As an added benefit, you'll feel extra healthy when you get a productive head start on your day.
2. Log Off Your Evening Netflix Habit
If you already wake up at 5 am to get to work each day, waking up earlier may not be the best option for you.
In that case, you might take the first two hours when you get home from work each day to learn Python. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of finding two hours between your commute, gym, dinnertime, and downtime, spend a week really looking at how you spend your evenings.
Write down exactly what you did each day this week:
- How much time did you spend on Netflix?
- Did you waste a few hours on social media?
- Did you get lost scrolling through Amazon?
- Can you prepare your meals on Sunday to cut back on weeknight cooking?
Leave the Fortnite battle bus behind for one night, and remember those reasons you wanted to learn Python to begin with.
Or, you can bookend your day with data science. After reserving your morning hours for your most important projects, you can review your work or participate in forums before bed to help your mastery.
3. Take Advantage of Quiet Saturday Mornings
We've seen that practicing every day is the best way to master Python as quickly as possible.
It's important to be consistent, but sometimes life gets in the way. That's what weekends are for. If you're completely booked from 5 am to 6 pm every day, you can keep yourself on track by putting in extra hours on the weekend.
Plus, this is a great way to find uninterrupted time in a space you've dedicated just for learning Python.
One thing to keep in mind: studying two hours a day is far better than ten hours in one day on the weekend. If you have other commitments during the week, even ten minutes each morning will make a difference compared to only looking at Python materials once a week.
4. Join A Community of Python Programmers
Joining a community of Python developers will help you stay on track toward your goal to learn Python.
Python meetups are fairly common on Meetup.com, and you'll get recommendations from other members of these groups. Additionally, Dataquest's students use our Members community to network and discuss Python problems, troubleshooting, and data science portfolio projects.
If you carve out a few minutes each day for networking, you'll complete your coursework with a new skill and a new network as you enter the job market!
5. Compete on Kaggle
Kaggle hosts data science competitions. Signing up is free, and members submit Python scripts to find the best model for a given dataset. You'll find a lot of competitions with objectives similar to the guided projects in your Dataquest portfolio.
If you're one of those Fortnite fans we mentioned above, collaborating with other Dataquest students on Kaggle competitions can help replace some of your game time in a way that helps you learn Python without losing that competitive fix!
6. Read Python Books
There are many guides written for both general and specific applications of Python, and we've highlighted a few that you can read without paying a dime, as long as you don't mind scrolling through digital copies.
You can use these books to supplement your Dataquest courses, where you'll learn this information and more, specifically tailored to data analysis and data science. This is perfect for students who want real-world context for the skills they learn in our data science paths.
Ready to Learn Python at Your Own Pace?
All data scientists have tips and tricks that helped them along the way. Some people may boast that they've learned Python in only a month, while others take several years to reach the level of mastery that they're looking for.
Be gentle with yourself, and allow yourself the time to learn Python at the pace that works best for you. It's better to take a little extra time than to rush through everything without building a solid foundation in the fundamentals!
Having great instruction in the basics of Python will help you automate your life and work, excel in your current job, or even allow you to start a new one. Dataquest's interactive courses offer instant, hands-on learning and a community of fellow students who will help you on your journey.
If your goal is to not only learn Python for data science but also to truly master it, Dataquest is the place for you.
By the time you're finished with our free lessons, you'll already be well on the path to learning Python. Get started today on our Data Scientist path completely free, and you'll have your first lines of code finished in minutes!