What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Python has become one of the most popular programming languages in the world in recent years. It's used in everything from machine learning to building websites and software testing. It can be used by developers and non-developers alike.

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (1)

Python, one of the most popular programming languages in the world, has created everything from Netflix’s recommendation algorithm to the software that controls self-driving cars. Python is a general-purpose language, which means it’s designed to be used in a range of applications, including data science, software and web development, automation, and generally getting stuff done.

Let’s take a closer look at what Python is, what it can do, and how you can start learning it.

What is Python?

Python is a computer programming language often used to build websites and software, automate tasks, and conduct data analysis. Python is a general-purpose language, meaning it can be used to create a variety of different programs and isn’t specialized for any specific problems. This versatility, along with its beginner-friendliness, has made it one of the most-used programming languages today.

According to a study by Statista, Python is the third most commonly used programming language among developers worldwide [1].

Did you know? The name Python comes from Monty Python. When Guido van Rossum was creating Python, he was also reading the scripts from BBC’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He thought the name Python was appropriately short and slightly mysterious.

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (2)

What is Python used for?

Python is commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualization. Since it’s relatively easy to learn, Python has been adopted by many non-programmers such as accountants and scientists, for a variety of everyday tasks, like organizing finances.

“Writing programs is a very creative and rewarding activity,” says University of Michigan and Coursera instructor Charles R Severance in his book Python for Everybody. “You can write programs for many reasons, ranging from making your living to solving a difficult data analysis problem to having fun to helping someone else solve a problem.”

What can you do with python? Some things include:

  • Data analysis and machine learning

  • Web development

  • Automation or scripting

  • Software testing and prototyping

  • Everyday tasks

You can learn Python in just two months while earning a certificate to boost your resume by enrolling in the online program Python for Everybody. If you're not sure whether or not you'll use your new Python skills to advance your career, you might consider auditing the course for free. If you change your mind and would like to earn a certificate, you can always switch to the paid option.

Here’s a closer look at some of these common ways Python is used.

Data analysis and machine learning

Python has become a staple in data science, allowing data analysts and other professionals to use the language to conduct complex statistical calculations, create data visualizations, build machine learning algorithms, manipulate and analyze data, and complete other data-related tasks.

Python can build a wide range of different data visualizations, like line and bar graphs, pie charts, histograms, and 3D plots. Python also has a number of libraries that enable coders to write programs for data analysis and machine learning more quickly and efficiently, like TensorFlow and Keras.

Web development

Python is often used to develop the back end of a website or application—the parts that a user doesn’t see. Python’s role in web development can include sending data to and from servers, processing data and communicating with databases, URL routing, and ensuring security. Python offers several frameworks for web development. Commonly used ones include Django and Flask.

Some web development jobs that use Python include back-end engineers, full stack engineers, Python developers, software engineers, and DevOps engineers.

Read more: How to Become a Web Developer

Automation or scripting

If you find yourself performing a task repeatedly, you could work more efficiently by automating it with Python. Writing code used to build these automated processes is called scripting. In the coding world, automation can be used to check for errors across multiple files, convert files, execute simple math, and remove duplicates in data.

Python can even be used by relative beginners to automate simple tasks on the computer—such as renaming files, finding and downloading online content or sending emails or texts at desired intervals.

IT automation can be a valuable skill to add to your resume. You can learn the basics from an industry leader in technology with the following online program:

Software testing and prototyping

In software development, Python can aid in tasks like build control, bug tracking, and testing. With Python, software developers can automate testing for new products or features. Some Python tools used for software testing include Green and Requestium.

Not ready to take classes or jump into a project yet? Consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter, Career Chat. It's a low-commitment way to stay current with industry trends and skills you can use to guide your career path.

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (3)

Everyday tasks

Python isn't only for programmers and data scientists. Learning Python can open new possibilities for those in less data-heavy professions, like journalists, small business owners, or social media marketers. Python can also enable non-programmers to simplify certain tasks in their lives. Here are just a few of the tasks you could automate with Python:

  • Keep track of stock market or crypto prices

  • Send yourself a text reminder to carry an umbrella anytime it’s raining

  • Update your grocery shopping list

  • Renaming large batches of files

  • Converting text files to spreadsheets

  • Randomly assign chores to family members

  • Fill out online forms automatically

Why is Python so popular?

Python is popular for a number of reasons. Here’s a deeper look at what makes it so versatile and easy to use for coders.

  • It has a simple syntax that mimics natural language, so it’s easier to read and understand. This makes it quicker to build projects, and faster to improve on them.

  • It’s versatile. Python can be used for many different tasks, from web development to machine learning.

  • It’s beginner friendly, making it popular for entry-level coders.

  • It’s open source, which means it’s free to use and distribute, even for commercial purposes.

  • Python’s archive of modules and libraries—bundles of code that third-party users have created to expand Python’s capabilities—is vast and growing.

  • Python has a large and active community that contributes to Python’s pool of modules and libraries, and acts as a helpful resource for other programmers. The vast support community means that if coders run into a stumbling block, finding a solution is relatively easy; somebody is bound to have encountered the same problem before.

Practice your Python skills independently with tutorials

Not ready to commit to a course or a boot camp yet? You can read step-by-step guides for troubleshooting Python basics like syntax, if-else statements, exceptions, and working with loops in Coursera's free programming tutorials.

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (4)

Learn Python today with Coursera

There are several online courses available to start learning or continue building your Python skills.

Explore the basics with Duke University's Python Programming Fundamentals course. In less than 23 hours, you'll learn conditionals, loops, mathematical operators, and data types, and then will develop a Python Program from scratch.

Build your skills with the University of Michigan's Python for Everybody Specialization. Over five courses, you'll go deeper into data structures, accessing web data, and using databases, culminating in a hands-on project to create your own applications for data retrieval, processing, and visualization.

Practice career-specific Python applications with these top-rated courses:

  • Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate

  • Introduction to Programming with Python and Java Specialization from the University of Pennsylvania

  • Applied Data Science with Python Specialization from the University of Michigan

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Learning the basics of Python can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on what you want to learn and how frequently you learn. But since Python has so many uses—and tools to support those uses—you can spend years learning its different applications.

Knowing what tasks you want to accomplish and whether you want to use Python in a professional capacity can determine how long your Python journey will be.

Read more: How Long Does it Take to Learn Python?

Of the hundreds of programming languages out there, Python remains a popular choice among numerous companies and organizations. Some familiar names that use Python include Google, Meta, Venmo, Spotify, Netflix, and Dropbox.‎

Since python is a general-purpose language, it’s used across a variety of fields and industries. These are just a few job titles that may use Python:

  • Developer
  • Data analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Ethical hacker/penetration tester
  • Software engineer
  • Data journalist
  • Cloud architect
  • QA engineer‎

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide (2024)

FAQs

What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide? ›

Python is a highly favored programming language used extensively for software and website development, task automation, and data analysis. As a general-purpose language, Python is not tailored for specific issues, allowing it to be utilized in developing a wide array of programs.

What is Python used for for beginners? ›

Python is commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualisation. Since it's relatively easy to learn, Python has been adopted by many non-programmers, such as accountants and scientists, for a variety of everyday tasks, like organising finances.

How should a beginner start learning Python? ›

The best way to learn Python is by using it. Working on real projects gives you the opportunity to apply the concepts you've learned and gain hands-on experience. Start with simple projects that reinforce the basics, and gradually take on more complex ones as your skills improve.

Is Python a good start for beginners? ›

Yes. Python is a great language for programming beginners because you don't need prior experience with code to pick it up.

What is the basic idea of Python? ›

Python is a multipurpose, high-level, object-oriented programming language — three properties that make it popular with coders and developers. Python is multipurpose because it can be used to create software and apps, design websites, and automate repetitive tasks.

Can a beginner directly learn Python? ›

Yes, you can learn Python without any programming experience. In fact, Python is so popular in part because of its easy-to-use, intuitive nature. For people without any coding experience at all, Python is actually considered the perfect programming language.

What is Python best used for? ›

Python is a computer programming language often used to build websites and software, automate tasks, and conduct data analysis. Python is a general-purpose language, meaning it can be used to create a variety of different programs and isn't specialized for any specific problems.

How many days will it take to learn Python for a beginner? ›

Read on for tips on how to maximize your learning. In general, it takes around two to six months to learn the fundamentals of Python. But you can learn enough to write your first short program in a matter of minutes. Developing mastery of Python's vast array of libraries can take months or years.

Is Python easier than Java? ›

Learning Curve: Python is generally considered easier to learn for beginners due to its simplicity, while Java is more complex but provides a deeper understanding of how programming works. Performance: Java has a higher performance than Python due to its static typing and optimization by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Is it difficult to learn Python? ›

Is Python Hard to Learn? As one of the easiest programming languages, Python is super beginner friendly and a great coding language to jumpstart a new career path. With a syntax similar to English, Python is easy to read and understand, making it perfect for anyone new to writing code.

What should I learn first before Python? ›

HTML & CSS

Python programming is essential for both development and data science. If you plan to use Python in a development role, consider getting some HTML and CSS basics under your belt first. Whereas Python is relevant in back end development, HTML and CSS are both essential to front end development.

Can a Python beginner get a job? ›

No, Python alone is not enough to get a job, but knowing python basics and other soft skills and a good educational background certainly help you. So, what else do you need to do to get a job after learning Python? Here are the top five things you must be aware of to secure a job.

How do I start Python for the first time? ›

Now that you've installed Python, you're ready to run your first Python code!
  1. Open up Terminal if you are in Mac OS or Command Prompt if you are in Windows. ...
  2. Type in python , and you should see information about Python come up with a >>> ...
  3. Next, type in print("hello, world!") and press enter; see what it returns.

What is the basics to learn Python? ›

You'll often work with multiple values in a program. In Python, you can group data together by using lists. In this module, you'll learn how to use lists and what the most common tasks with lists are. With Python, you can use while loops to run the same task multiple times and for loops to loop once over list data.

What is Python in simple words? ›

Python is an open-source programming language, having features like object-oriented, interpreted and high-level too. It is a dynamically typed programming language, which is easy to use with redable and user-friendly syntax. It has huge libraries, frameworks and large community support.

What is the main purpose of Python? ›

It can automate tedious tasks, including checking information in databases, data visualisations, financial analysis and much, much more. Learning Python will allow you to save time throughout your life, and it has the bonus of being one of the easier programming languages to learn!

Which is better, C++ or Python? ›

C++ duel lacks a clear winner, as the better choice depends on individual preferences and project requirements. Python excels in quick learning and the rapid development of small programs. In contrast, C++ is suitable for large projects and exploring multiple languages, although it requires more time to master.

What is the difference between Java and Python? ›

One of the major differences between Java and Python is that Java is a compiled and statically typed language, whereas Python is an interpreted and dynamically typed language. This is why learning Java is more difficult than learning Python.

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