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7 steps to learn Python: from beginner to advanced

Mar 07, 2023 - 8 min read
Sadia Suhail

Python consistently ranks as the most widely used programming language according to the TIOBE Programming Community Index — and it’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

As a high-level, open-source, object-oriented programming language, Python is a popular language among both novice and experienced programmers. The language is prominent in the software development field, especially for machine learning, data science, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and web development. Python’s user-friendly syntax, easy-to-learn structure, vast collection of libraries, automation tools, modules, and community support make it a very accessible language to learn. To add to its appeal, becoming a Python programmer can be a lucrative path. According to Indeed, the estimated average salary for a Python programmer in 2023 is $111,837 [1].

If you’re looking to learn Python, you’ve made a great choice! Even if you’re a total beginner, this article will guide you on the steps to becoming a proficient Python developer.

Let’s get started!

We’ll cover:


Step 1: Learn the fundamentals of Python

Getting started with Python is a relatively straightforward process. First, you need to install Python. To do this, simply go to the official Python website and download the latest Python 3 version. Once you have it installed, you can start coding immediately using an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) like PyCharm or even on your computer’s bash/shell terminal.

During this phase, you should start thinking like a programmer and learn how to build logic. You can build small functions while talking through your problems, collaborating with other programmers, breaking down coding problems into smaller steps, and reading documentation.

Next, learn Python’s syntax and basic components, like data types, variables, data structures like arrays, tuples, dictionaries, functions, and conditional statements, since they are the foundation of all programming languages. Use them to practice writing simple scripts and experiment with different libraries like NumPy, Lambda, JSON, and modules to see what they can do and how they can work.

Timeline estimate: We can’t give you a specific time estimate for this step because everyone takes their own time planning their path. Nonetheless, allow some flexibility in your plan since even the most meticulous plans can go awry. So be patient with yourself, and remember to embrace plot twists in your learning journey.

However, if you attend a structured educational program like a coding bootcamp, this phase would take 1-2 weeks. But with Educative’s online interactive platform, you can learn Python programming fundamentals with our Learn Python 3 from Scratch course in only 10 hours.

Step 2: Start building projects and establish a portfolio

As you continue to hone your programming skills, it’s important to work on projects that you can add to your online portfolio on a site like GitHub. However, be sure to only work on worthy projects, i.e., ones that can showcase your skills and demonstrate your proficiency in using Python to solve problems.

Tip: When selecting projects, focus on those that capture your interest and challenge you. They will ultimately keep you engaged longer, and you will be motivated to complete them. For example, building a cat-feeding reminder app can be ideal if you’re interested in cats. Other examples include gaming apps if you are an avid gamer.

After completing a project, share it with others to receive feedback to help you improve. This feedback will help you iterate on your app while establishing a presence in the Python programming community, which can ultimately demonstrate your expertise to potential employers, clients, or even investors.

Timeline estimate: You should ideally budget at least a few weeks to several months to build projects. A simple Python project, like a command-line utility desktop app, could be completed within a few days or weeks. However, a large-scale project with advanced functionality can take several months to complete. In addition, be mindful that the completion time of a project depends on factors such as your comfort level with Python, the resources available to you, and the project’s requirements.

Step 3: Dive deeper into advanced Python topics

Don’t just build a simple tic-tac-toe or calculator app and call it a day. You must dive deeper into advanced topics such as software design patterns, object-oriented programming, and data structures and algorithms. Make sure to work through exercises and projects to deepen your understanding of these topics so that you can apply them practically to any personal or open-source projects. This will also come in handy during technical interviews, since interviewers commonly ask about these topics today.

Timeline estimate: Many learners choose to attend a coding bootcamp, but it can be faster, less expensive, and more flexible to work through online interactive courses like the Educative platform provides. You may find the Grokking Coding Interview patterns in Python an excellent place to start with if you want to learn more about data structures and algorithms. The course takes an estimated 70 hours to complete, but can vary depending on your comfort level with Python.

Step 4: Get involved in online communities and attend meetups

As Helen Keller famously said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This underscores the importance of having strong community support. Connecting with like-minded individuals enhances your overall learning experience, giving you access to new ideas, perspectives, and opportunities for collaboration.

You can join forums, programming communities like PySlackers, local Python meetup groups, and social media groups, all focused on Python programming.

Timeline estimate: If you’ve found an in-person gathering or meetup group, aim to attend 2-3 gatherings per month. Each meeting can last a couple of hours, translating to 2-8 hours per month. As for online communities, you can allocate some time each week to participate in discussion forums, and social media groups focused on Python programming. This could typically take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours per week.

Step 5: Participate in hackathons and coding challenges

You want to challenge your skills and showcase them to the community, and a good way to achieve this is to participate in hackathons and coding competitions such as Kaggle’s data science competitions. This is a great way to test your coding skills while gaining valuable collaborative experience. While working on Python projects, you can learn from others and explore fresh perspectives to solving problems.

Additionally, these events offer excellent networking opportunities with other participants, which can translate into meaningful connections with potential employers (and even investors—if you’d like to launch a startup).

Timeline estimate: Preparing for hackathons and coding competitions can be time consuming depending on your level of expertise. Therefore, aim to attend those hackathons that match your skill level. The typical duration for most hackathons is between 24 to 48 hours. If you set a goal of attending three hackathons in six months, you would generally need to budget for six days within that time frame.

Step 6: Continue learning by earning professional certifications

Another effective way to demonstrate your proficiency and expertise in Python programming is by preparing for and obtaining certifications, such as the Certified Associate in Python Programming (PCAP) or the Professional Certified in Python Programming (PCPP). While this is mostly optional, certifications help showcase your abilities and commitment to future employers, while also distinguishing you from other candidates in the job market.

Timeline estimate: The time it takes to obtain popular Python programming certifications varies depending on your study habits and Python proficiency. For example, completing IBM’s Data Science Professional Certificate takes 3-6 months with a consistent study time of 3-5 hours per week.

Step 7: Keep abreast of the latest industry trends

Alongside gaining Python certifications and participating in hackathons, staying up to date with developments in the Python world is essential. You can follow popular blogs, social media accounts, and podcasts, and the online communities we mentioned in Step 4 will also help you stay informed. Furthermore, you can maintain and continually grow your Python skills by attending advanced training and continuing education opportunities, like conferences (e.g., PyCon, PyData, and EuroPython, etc.).

Timeline estimate: You should allocate at least 1-2 hours per week to read relevant blogs and news articles to stay in the loop with current tech trends. You should also follow popular podcasts since they can provide valuable insights into the latest developments in the Python community.

Ready to master Python?

You should now have a general understanding of how to progress from a beginner to an advanced level in Python.

If you are completely new to programming or Python, there is no better starting point than Educative’s comprehensive skill path Zero to Hero in Python. This path starts with a fundamental introduction to programming concepts and syntax in Python, and progresses to more advanced concepts such as loops and functions. The second half of the path delves into object-oriented programming (OOP), providing an in-depth overview of creating scalable, modular, and more organized code. Additionally, you will receive practical training in commonly used algorithms and data structures. By the end, you will be able to create a complete web application and be well on your way to becoming a proficient Python developer.

As always, happy learning!

WRITTEN BYSadia Suhail

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