June 20, 2024

Python Certifications: Are The Worth It? (15 Hiring Managers Weigh In)

“What’s the best Python certification?”

That’s a common question among programming and data science beginners. In searches, the results can be overwhelming.

Python certifications range from free, to inexpensive Python certificate courses, to bootcamps that cost thousands of dollars.

This article answers three very important questions about Python certifications:

  1. What do employers actually think about them?
  2. Do they do a good job at demonstrating skills?
  3. Which ones are the best?

What Employers Think of Certifications

We spoke with more than a dozen programming and data science recruiters and hiring managers .

When we asked them what they wanted to see from applicants, not one mentioned certifications as a top requirement.

Why Credentials Aren't the Only Thing You Need

While a Python certification is a good step in the right direction, the certification doesn't prove you have the ability to do the work in the real world. This means that certificates aren’t a very useful credential on their own, even if you get one from a highly selective bootcamp program.

A recruiter is going to spend less than a minute assessing your resume. They are going to access the skills you have listed and notice your degrees and certifications, but to stand out, you need to demonstrate real world success.

Despite what you would think, even “big-name universities" are don’t give recruiters and hiring managers the instant connection they need to pass you to the next round.

What Employers Actually Look For on a Resume

So if a Python certification is just the start, what do they actually want to see?

The answer is demonstrable skills.

Showing what you can do is key to impressing employers because it demonstrates that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job.

But how can you show employers your skills if you don’t yet have experience in the field? This is where a project portfolio can help you.

It makes sense when you think about it — your projects are a stand-in for the job experience you may not have yet. Unlike a certificate from some online program a hiring manager may not have heard of, your project portfolio is proof that you have the skills to do the job.

With projects, employers don’t have to trust or assess a third-party certificate-issuing organization; the code is right there on your GitHub or portfolio website.

Need to Build a Project Portfolio?  Start here...

Projects are key to our teaching method here at Dataquest. You’ll learn data science skills while you write code in our interactive, browser-based lessons. And then you’ll put those skills together in our guided projects.

Guided projects help you bridge the gap between the skills you’ve just learned and the data science work you’ll have to do in the real world. They’ll help you get a head start on your job applications, too, since you can include your best work in your project portfolio.

Here are a list of our guided projects that you can immediately add to your portfolio upon completion:

If the Dataquest approach sounds attractive to you, get started today with our free Python for Data Science: Fundamentals course!

Which Python Certification Is The Best?

If you’re still looking for certification-granting training programs to learn Python, then here some tope options for you.


Here at Dataquest, we offer data career-specific certifications in Python for aspiring data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers.

These certifications are different — they focus on helping the learn build a portfolio. Instead, you earn the certifications by completing Dataquest’s online learning modules. Each certification requires completion of a path of courses designed to take you from beginner to job-ready.

Unlike other Python certification training programs, these focus specifically on working with data in Python — they aren’t designed for aspiring Python software engineers or game developers.

Each path also includes relevant data skills beyond Python, including SQL, the command line, and Git. Most courses also end with projects designed to help you apply what you’ve learned and expand your project portfolio.

Dataquest’s premium subscription costs less than $400 a year (monthly option available), which gives you access to all courses and lessons. Most learners reach their goals in less than a year of part-time study.

The Python Institute

The Python Institute offers some of the most well-known inexpensive Python certifications with four primary certificate level exams:

  • Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer (PCEP): $59 (exam only)
  • Certified Associate in Python Programming (PCAP): $295  (exam only)
  • Certified Professional in Python Programming 1 (PCPP-32-1): $195  (exam only)
  • Certified Professional in Python Programming 2 (PCPP-32-2): $195  (exam only)

These certifications are progressive, meaning that you earn PCEP before PCAP (and so on). In many cases, the preceding certificate is required for the next certification exam.

As you might expect, the material covered in each exam increases in complexity. The PCEP exam covers basic topics like Python operators, Boolean values, etc.. By the end of the sequence, the PCPP-32-2 test requires complex skills like integrating Python with SQL databases.

If you pass all four certification test levels, you may also call yourself a Python Institute Certified Expert in Python Programming (CEPP).

These certifications are just exams. The Python Institute does provide some free study resources, but you can learn the material any way you’d like and then sign up for the exam whenever you feel ready.

In this regard, the Python Institute only provides the certification — it doesn’t offer courses to learn Python.


Microsoft offers an entry-level Python certification exam called “Introduction to Programming Using Python.”

The exam costs $127, and, like the Python Institute certifications, it doesn’t include any actual curriculum to work through. It’s only an exam. According to Microsoft, learners interested in taking the exam should have at least 100 hours of experience with Python and should be comfortable with writing, debugging, and maintaining “well-formed, well documented Python code.”

Conclusion: Portfolios > Projects for Python

Some Python certification programs have their merits. But don’t get hung up on them as the key to getting a job. Instead, spend your time building projects. Then, show off your skills with a portfolio that will impress prospective employers.


About the author


Dataquest teaches through challenging exercises and projects instead of video lectures. It's the most effective way to learn the skills you need to build your data career.