How long does it take to learn Python

Ann Fraser
6 min read
updated: January 8, 2021

In this post I want to elaborate on how long it takes to learn the basics of the Python programming language.

Content Overview

What is Python?

Python is a powerful, dynamic, and flexible programming language. It has an elegant syntax that is easy to read. It supports multiple programming paradigms, including functional, object-oriented, and procedural.

Its design philosophy emphasizes code readability, and its syntax allows programmers to express concepts in fewer lines of code than would be possible in languages such as C++ or Java. The language provides constructs intended to enable clear programs on both a small and large scale.

The language was conceived in the late 1980s by Guido van Rossum during his work on the ABC programming language, though it began to take its current form in 1990. Van Rossum's aim was to create a "highly readable" programming language that would also be successful in an educational setting (the original ABC was based around the concept of teaching programming as a second language). In 1989, Guido van Rossum created the first implementation of this new programming language: originally named "Python", but renamed "Python 1" before its public release. This initial implementation was written in C and ran on Unix workstations (although not on any Unix kernel versions released earlier than 2.2).

You can use Python to do just about anything from web development, systems administration, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and scientific computing.

It’s also commonly used for scripting applications and creating desktop applications.

Why Python?

Python is an excellent language for beginners in computer science. It's free and open-source (as opposed to commercial languages such as Java) so there are no licensing fees. You can get started with Python easily as it comes with an interactive shell (known as the Python interpreter).

It's readable, which means that the code is easy for anyone to understand, even if they have no background in programming.

Python has the concept of “batteries included” which means it comes with modules that are pre-written and ready for use right out of the box. And it's object-oriented which helps programmers organize their code and think about problems from multiple angles.

Python also has a very active community of developers and users. Every new release of Python has improved the performance of the language. Python runs on Windows, Mac OS X/macOS, Linux/Unix, and many other platforms.

Additionally, since Python is used by Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and Dropbox, for example, there are plenty of job opportunities for those who learn the technology well. This probably isn't going to be your only programming language - most developers are polyglots who know several languages well - but it's a great place to start!

How long does it take to learn Python?

In general, around 8 weeks. It depends on the amount of time and effort you’re willing to put into learning the language, as well as your prior programming experience. Python has a very friendly syntax, so it's easy to get started. But if you want to be a serious Python developer, you'll have to constantly learn and sharpen your skills.

With that said, if you are capable of committing between 10 and 15 hours per week for about eight weeks to learn Python, then you will likely learn enough of the fundamentals to be productive with the language within that time frame. You should also expect this learning curve to improve your computer programming skills in general.

Here are some tips for when learning Python:

  • Learn how to use the interpreter. You can simply type "python" in your terminal and start playing with it.

  • Learn how variables work.

  • Learn about classes, methods, and functions.

  • Understand the basics of OOP (Object Oriented Programming). If you don't know what that means, don't worry! It will all make sense later.

  • Learn about lists, dictionaries, and tuples. Those are some of the most common data structures used in Python programming.

  • Understand basic list operations such as slicing and concatenation (combining lists). That will save you some time when writing code!

  • Practice making your own programs from scratch! Don't just copy-paste code from tutorials or Stack Overflow answers into your projects without understanding what they do!

  • Get familiar with common errors like SyntaxError, IndentationError, NameError, AttributeError, TypeError, etc… These errors are usually caused by typos or bad syntax – so make sure every line of code is correct before moving on with your program!

  • Use IDEs like PyCharm or Spyder for easier editing / debugging / testing of your programs.

  • Learn how modules work in Python – Modules are files containing classes/functions/variables that can be imported into other python scripts/projects.

Why Python is a great choice for beginners

There are many reasons why Python is a fantastic choice for beginners:

  • It is easy to learn and use.
  • It is powerful enough for most applications.
  • There are lots of resources available.

Let’s take a look at the reasons above in more detail:

Easy to Learn and Use
Python was designed with an emphasis on readability, so it is easier to learn than many other languages (including C++). It is also free of some quirks and oddities that make other languages difficult to learn (such as C++’s unneeded complexity).

In addition, Python has an active community that contributes to documentation, tutorials, and other educational materials to help new users get started quickly. So you can spend your time learning Python instead of fighting it!

And when you do run into problems, there are plenty of people who can help you out on the internet.

Powerful Enough for Most Applications
Python has all the power needed for most common tasks: You can read and write files, access databases such as MySQL or Oracle, create GUIs, parse XML or JSON data, handle email messages or network requests, etc.

However Python doesn’t have some features that are often used in low-level programming (e.g., pointers), so it is not appropriate for every application domain; in particular, it may be too high-level for systems programming or graphics programming.

But this isn’t much of a limitation since there are good alternatives for these domains. And if you do need something that Python doesn’t have, you can always use a lower-level language (e.g., C) in conjunction with Python.

Lots of Resources Available
There are lots of resources available to help you learn the language: You can find lots of tutorials, books, and other educational materials online. And there are many communities where you can ask questions or get help when you run into problems.

I hope you learned that Python is a great choice for beginners and that you can learn the basic concepts in a short period of time if you are willing to put the hours in. However, if you want to become really good in Python, much as in other programming languages you have to constantly learn and adapt!