Once you start in IT, you may be wondering whether you will need to be able to program in the future. Many people have a fear of programming because they think writing in code is some sort of a superpower. If that describes you, here’s some good news: you do not need to recuse yourself from entering the IT field because of this fear! A programming language is simply the language that a computer speaks. So in order to communicate with it, you would need to understand what it’s saying, right?
But, there’s still no need to fear! Just keep reading, and by the end of this post you will hopefully be eager to start writing code. Today we begin with an introduction to the most popular—and easiest—programming language to learn, called Python. Here to help us is Natalia Atif, a QA Lead with over ten years’ experience in Quality Assurance.
Natalia, why Python? Why not Java or C?
- The first and the main reason to start with Python is that it is much easier than other programming languages. In fact, it mimics human language, so it is a big advantage for beginners. The syntax is simple, and you can start writing basic code in a matter of minutes. In fact, it is advised to start with Python as your first programming language due to its simplicity.
- Another reason is that Python holds the number-one spot in the popularity ratings for programming languages. It is a widely used language and all kinds of IT professionals use it. So if you know Python, most likely you won’t need to learn another language unless you want to. We will discuss later in this article who might benefit from Python and why, but the fact that it is a “one size fits all” language makes it a desirable choice for many.
- A third reason is that Python is a general-purpose language, meaning that it has no limits of use. You can apply Python to literally every project that you work on. Even if you switch jobs, Python is still useful for many different companies and products. Basically, it is the language that suits every need, and you can use it for life. In my professional experience, I’ve used it for web development, QA automation tasks, data analysis, and general system control. By running a simple Python script, for example, you can easily override system settings.
- The fourth reason is that it’s an open-source language, which means it is available to anyone. There’s no need to pay for expensive frameworks or tools in order to start using it. Just install a simple package and you’ll be writing your scripts right away.
- And finally, the fifth reason is that Python is a good base if you decide to learn another, more complex programming language. Many people who started with Python and felt like it was too simple later moved on to a more complex language. My brother is a good example of this. While working in stock trading, he learned basic Python for his own automation tasks, just to simplify his daily routine on a stock exchange. In a couple of years, when he transitioned into an IT role as a QA Engineer, he continued to use Python for a while, until he decided to add Java to his knowledge base. Later I asked him about his experience learning another, much more complex language, considering that he already knew Python. His answer was, “I am glad I didn’t start with Java as my first language. It is so complex that I could have easily gotten discouraged by it! In fact, I am pretty sure I would not have even started learning Java after seeing the complexity of it. But since I knew Python, it greatly helped me to proceed with Java. Though they are quite different, I was able to understand some Java concepts just because I knew Python. I definitely suggest anyone who wants to learn programming to start with it.”
Who can use Python?
Now let’s see who can actually use Python in their daily job. I will give you a few examples, but there are actually many more out there.
The first thought that comes to mind when you think of someone who codes on a daily basis is web developers. These are the people who program every day and thus deal with coding all the time, eight or more hours a day. They are your best resources to ask questions if you are a newbie too. They can be of great help in the beginning and usually are able to address all the issues that a new developer or QA—or anyone else—is likely to face while learning to program on their own.
But it’s not only developers who code. Here are a few other IT professionals who have to write scripts using Python or other scripting languages:
- QA Engineers use python scripts in order to test a system. For instance, they can set the parameters under which they want to test. It can be anything, such as overriding the time settings or creating a new user, just to name a few examples.
- QA Automation teams write all their tests in Python or other languages in order to run them continuously. With automation, a QA Engineer basically “translates” manual tests into the coding language in order for a computer to understand it.
- Data Analysts use Python to run huge datasets and organize, read, or manage them. These tasks are impossible to do by hand due to their size and the amount of information that needs to be processed.
- System Engineers usually utilize Python for their infrastructure management.
- Data Scientists also run scripts on a daily basis for all kinds of tasks.
- Cloud Engineers and Architects use it to build and control their infrastructure.
Now you can start to see how many teams are using this one language to maximize their efficiency and build high-end products. Python can serve as a simple helper for routine daily tasks, like assigning passwords for new users, or as a way to run a machine for an entire end-product infrastructure. This is what makes Python so desirable for many—you can do literally just about anything by using one simple programming language. Adding Python to your resume will position you well for many IT jobs, giving you a better chance to be considered for your desired role in the company.
At this point, you may be wondering how long it takes to learn Python. Since everyone is different, there is not a set time; it really depends on your goals. If you would like to start automating simple tasks, your learning time can be pretty short. Many people can write simple scripts in a matter of just a few lessons. For more advanced tasks, you would need to spend time practicing while constantly improving and increasing your knowledge.
Remember, Python is a language, and like any other languages that you speak you need to use it or lose it. When you learn to “speak programming language” the rules are the same as learning any other language: start with the basics, keep learning, practice all the time, and master your skills. Do this and you will be ready for a high-paying career in the IT industry!