Python prospects for the self-taught?

Hi, FCC community!
I’m a beginner programmer, switching careers in my mid 30s after some health problems left me unfit for my previous, physically demanding career. I didn’t know where to start or what to learn, and Python came up again and again in Google searches. I’m very much into puzzles, and the process of creating algorithms in Python was immediately appealing. After a few months of learning, however, it’s starting to seem like the kind of jobs available with Python are largely in fields that will require a degree, which I don’t have and am not in a position to get at the moment. Is there a market for self-taught programmers using Python, and if so, where should I be putting my focus in order to hone the most valuable skills? Otherwise, would I be better served by completing the FCC curriculum and learning web development with JavaScript instead? Or is there a secret option C that I should be aware of? I won’t be losing much ground by starting over now.
Thanks in advance for your advice!


I started out by learning python because it is really a fun and easy language to learn. I moved into javascript mostly because of the job opportunities.

With that being said, back end development with Django or flask seems to be very popular. and it never hurts to have more than 1 programming language on your resume


Job prospect wise Python is gaining traction in the data-science field, and automation fields as its the most beginner friendly language out there, while still being very powerful and useful for a number of different cases.

Almost all languages will look for a degree for almost all jobs, this isn’t limited to just Python. Since most of the newer Python jobs are data-science related, these jobs usually always come with a degree necessary due to the complexity of the field.

Generally, degrees are secondary to raw skills. So if you have 2+ years doing Python data science at a professional level, you are probably more hireable than someone straight out of college with a data-science related degree, and limited experience. With that said your resume can still be dropped simply because you don’t have a degree.

If your goal is to get a dev job soon, I recommend looking out at what jobs are out there near you. Its possible Python jobs are hard to come by, and C# is more popular. You should focus on learning the language and skills that are most popular and in demand near you. FCC teaches full stack web development using the MERN stack, which is in demand in most areas, and teaches you a wide range of web development skills that will only become more in demand as the web becomes more and more prevalent.

I would not recommend thinking of picking up another language as “starting over”, programming is more than syntax. Picking up another language will help re-enforce existing concepts, which will carry over between languages. I started out learning Java, and learned Python on the side as it was very much “anti-java” in my mind. Learning both helped me understand the concepts much better than just knowing 1 language, and having the concept “tied” with the syntax of that 1 language. Picking up new languages is easier if you have a good grasp of the underlying concepts, then its more just learning syntax of the new language

Finally, If you goal is to learn first to figure out what kind of job you want todo I recommend sticking with python, and trying to build something with it ASAP, build a wide range of things so you can learn programming first, and gain experience with the different kinds of things you can build :slight_smile:

Goodluck :smile:


Degree highly depends on your area … over here EVERY programmer job, no matter the field, states in the worst case “computer science or equivalent experience”, most normal standart programmer jobs and especially web have normally no statement about degrees at all (where I live, the demand is high)
So always inform yourself how the market is looking … people also told me online that the market for frontend is oversaturated - my local jobboard speaks another language.

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There is a lot of “depends” for this answer.

I used to work as a developer for over 10 years in London (now moved out), I was involved in multiple hiring rounds and I can tell you we never, ever looked at degrees. We always looked at professional experience and what a person could actually do, vs what their CV claimed.
And this is most likely your problem, you have little to no experience to talk about. Sadly, not many places want to hire people who are brand new developers. It is not just for self taught but also brand new grads, unless said grads have experience via internships. This is where they get advantage, as many big organisations have internship program working with various universities, and as such, someone with a degree is likely to also have some sort of experience to talk about - and this, more than degree, speaks for them.

Of course there are other markets, perhaps some other places look into degrees more (esp. if the job market is generally quite poor), but that simply wasn’t the case in the circles I was.

What can you do in such situation? Ultimately, remember what the employer is looking for: a person who can do the job, OR learn quickly, having basics already. You are more likely to find local jobs than remote (for remote it’s difficult when you need to train someone). How is your local job market for python, what kinds of jobs are there? Data science jobs are likely to require a degree, but “normal” python developer jobs should not. Just keep applying and try to convince them, with your CV and cover letter, that you have good basics and you learn fast. Show evidence of these claims (all side projects, FCC achievements, anything that shows what you’ve done).

If you still struggle to find anything, try working on a small project for free, maybe for a charity? Build a website for them, or a tool they need? It’s important that you are able to put it on CV and link to your contribution directly, so personally I wouldn’t necessarily go for open source, unless it was a very clearly defined feature or project you could easily point out “I’ve developed this”.

Also, in your market, are there recruiters involved? Some of them will not even pass your CV on, but some, especially smaller ones, might try to help you, so it’s a good idea to try and find the few good ones and establish a relationship.

Best of luck!

This is Very informative to anyone who needs motivation