The best Python courses online – 2020

The best Python courses online – 2020

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Learning Python online

There are lots of good Python courses online, so which one is right for you?

Python has been growing rapidly for the past few years. Look at this graph from Stack Overflow Trends showing how interest in Python has surpassed Java and JavaScript. Python has always been a popular choice for learning programming thanks to a relatively easy learning curve, but IT professionals across many industry sectors are getting into Python.

python demand stack overflow

Why is Python so popular? Machine Learning and AI has been the biggest buzzword in IT for 2019 and looks set to continue into 2020. The number of job postings continues to grow. Salaries are growing. There is a skills shortage, which is getting worse as the growth in demand for Python skills outpaces the growth in supply.

See this article about the incredible growth of Python.

There are some great books to get started with Python, machine learning, and data science, but often the best way to really get to grips with a language or a framework is an interactive course.

In this review we’re going to recommend courses available on 4 of the leading online learning platforms:

Python courses at O’Reilly Online Learning

O’Reilly Online Learning is a subscription service that gives you unlimited access to thousands of books. Many people don’t know that your O’Reilly subscription includes access to thousands of videos and live online training. See this O’Reilly Online Learning review and this selection of the best Python books that you can access for free at O’Reilly.

Here are some of the video courses that are available on O’Reilly. There are a great many others available. What we’ve picked here are the ones ranked most popular and that have recent (2019) publication dates.

You should also know that O’Reilly video courses include transcriptions or subtitles and allow you to control playback speed. You can watch any part of the course at your own pace, and O’Reilly has mobile apps that synchronize with your web account so you can start watching at home then pick up where you left off when you get on the train to go to work.

Python Fundamentals by Paul Deitel

Skill Level – Beginner to intermediate
Price – Included in O’Reilly Online Learning
Style – Video
Duration – 50 hours
Published – 2019

Paul Deitel also delivers a live online training course on O’Reilly that we cover lower down. This course is a code-oriented presentation of Python and Jupyter Notebooks and has 50 hours of video.

Yes, 50 hours.

This is a complete start-to-finish course that begins with Python language fundamentals and progresses to big data (Hadoop, Spark, NoSQL, IoT), Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Cognitive Computing, and Data Mining.

The course is divided into five parts. Here’s a very brief rundown of what’s included

  1. Part 1
    1. System set-up and tools
    2. Language fundamentals
    3. Control statements
    4. Functions
  2. Part 2
    1. Sequences
    2. Dictionaries and sets
    3. Array-Oriented programming with NumPy
  3. Part 3
    1. Strings
    2. Files and Exceptions
    3. OO programming
  4. Part 4
    1. Natural Language Processing
    2. Data Mining Twitter
    3. IBM Watson and Cognitive Computing
  5. Part 5
    1. Machine Learning
    2. Deep Learning
    3. Big Data

That brief list doesn’t do justice to the depth of content in this course but I’d be here all day if I typed out the full contents.

python fundamentals course

After you’ve learned the fundamentals of Python programming, here’s a few of the things you’ll do in the later parts of the course:

  • Build a language translator app with Watson Speech to Text, Language Translator, and Text to Speech services
  • Use Tweepy to search Twitter’s live tweet stream, spot trending topics, and map tweets with OpenStreetMap
  • Create word-cloud visualisations and measure text readability

It sounds remarkable that you could tackle projects like those in a Python Fundamentals course. It is incredible, and it’s possibly because of the quality of the teaching and because of using amazing open-source data science and AI tools and libraries that are part of the reason why Python is growing so fast.

Paul Deitel has a very clear speaking voice that is easy to listen to and doesn’t annoy with ums and ers. It’s obvious he knows his material, and he gets straight to the point. When he starts talking about what you’ll learn in the course and what you’ll be able to do, it gets very exciting very quickly. he has a bit of a knack for encouraging you to keep going, that seems to come from his own enthusiasm and enjoyment for machine learning and Python.

He also really understands the need for learners to be involved and active when learning, and so he bases the course around the iPython interpreter to make sure that you learn quickly through engagement.

Python for Beginners: Learn Python Programming (Python 3) by Jason Cannon

Skill Level – Beginner
Price – Included in O’Reilly Online Learning
Style – Video
Duration – 2 hours
Published – 2018

For a bite-sized intro, this is a good choice. In this course you’ll set up Python on your machine then learn the fundamentals of the language in a practical manner complete with examples, quizzes, and exercises. The course covers:

  • Strings and variables
  • Numbers and Math
  • Booleans and conditionals
  • Functions
  • Lists
  • Dictionaries
  • Tuples
  • Files
  • Modules

It’s an introductory course, presented clearly and without waffle, and as with everything on O’Reilly if you get through this quickly there are plenty more advanced courses and books you also have access to.

python for beginners course

Introduction to Python: Learn How to Program Today with Python by Arianne Dee

Skill Level – Beginner
Price – Included in O’Reilly Online Learning
Style – Video
Duration – 8 hours
Published – 2019

For a slightly chunkier introduction, this course covering the language fundamentals is presented by a trainer who specializes in teaching beginners. It starts out much more gently than the other courses listed here, so if you’re completely new to Python and a relative beginner in programming then this is an ideal starting point for you. The courses is divided into 7 lessons:

  1. Introduction to Programming and Python
  2. Python and Programming Basics
  3. Control Flow with Conditionals
  4. Lists and Loops
  5. Advanced Language Topics
  6. Introduction to Data Analysis in Python
  7. Introduction to Web Development in Python
introduction to python course

Python Programming for Beginners – Learn in 100 Easy Steps by Ranga Karanam

Skill Level – Complete beginner
Price – Included in O’Reilly Online Learning
Style – Video
Duration – 11 hours
Published – 2019

Another beginner course for those with limited coding experience who are new to Python. It’s a clear and simple progression through the language. The instructor has an accent but is clear and easy to understand, and obviously informed and enthusiastic about Python.

The whole style of this course is “step-by-step” and effort has been made to present things in an easy to follow manner. It also explains how what you’re learning applies more generally in programming, so this is a great choice if you’re new to coding as well as to Python.

python for beginners course

O’Reilly Live Training Python courses

Here are some of the live online courses that are coming up on O’Reilly. Most of the courses repeat frequently throughout the year. The great thing about O’Reilly is that one subscription gives you access to ALL of these courses, every time they run, and ALL of the books and videos on O’Reilly, for an entire year.

Arianne Dee has 3 upcoming Live courses at O’Reilly:

  • Introduction to Python Programming
  • Object-Oriented Programming in Python
  • Programming with Python: Beyond the Basics

These are 3 to 4 hour courses that run in O’Reilly’s excellent Live learning platform.

Matt Harrison runs several Python courses on O’Reilly:

  • Getting started with Python 3
  • Getting started with Python’s pytest
  • Visualization in Python with Matplotlib
  • Hands-on Machine Learning with Python: Classification and Regression
  • Hands-on Machine Learning with Python: Clustering, Dimension Reduction, and Time Series Analysis

Matt runs MetaSnake, a Python and Data Science training and consulting company. He has over 15 years of experience using Python across a breadth of domains: Data Science, BI, Storage, Testing and Automation, Open Source Stack Management, and Search.

Each of these courses is a 3 or 4 hour Live course and they run regularly through the year.

There are lots of others. I won’t go into them in detail here because one O’Reilly subscription gives you access to all of them, and many similar courses on all manner of other topics. Here’s just some examples:

  • Python for DevOps
  • TensorFlow Extended: Model build, analysis, and serving
  • Introduction to Statistics for Data Analysis with Python
  • Python® Data Science Full Throttle with Paul Deitel: Introductory Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Cloud Case Studies

All of those live courses and more are included in your O’Reilly Online Learning subscription.

machine learning with python live course image

Python courses From Udemy

Now let’s have a look at the best Python courses on Udemy. Udemy has a lot of Python courses at different levels, some with specialist focus on machine learning or data science, some for beginners, and some from top instructors that are ideal if you are serious about a career in software development with Python.

Here’s our pick of the best of the bunch.

For beginners

Python Programming MADE EASY

With a 4.9 star rating this is the most recommended Python beginner’s course on Udemy. Why not preview the course for free?

python programming made easy course

For professionals

There are a lot of “Complete”, “Bootcamp”, or “Masterclass” courses on Udemy. They can be pricy, so keep checking CodeThump for the latest discounts, and choose carefully.

There are many courses with very high student ratings, so an easier way to choose is based on the instructor. Tim Buchalka is one of the best known trainers in IT and has been making a career out of teaching Python, Java, and Kotlin for years. You just can’t go wrong with a Tim Buchalka course.

If these full prices look frightening, just go and take a look at the current price because there are frequent discounts available.

Learn Python Programming Masterclass

learn python masterclass course

The alternative is the highest rated complete Python course

Complete Python Developer in 2020: Zero to Mastery

With over 21000 students and a 4.7 star rating, this one is worth a look. Go and preview it for free.

Again if these full prices look frightening, just go and take a look at the current price because there are frequent discounts available.

complete python developer course image

For data science and machine learning

Python for Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp

python data science boot camp course

Another top-rated course, this time for machine learning and data science.

The instructor has years of experience as a professional instructor and trainer for Data Science and programming. He has publications and patents in various fields such as materials science, and data science technologies. Currently he works as the Head of Data Science for Pierian Data Inc. and provides in-person data science and python programming training courses to employees working at top companies, including General Electric, Cigna, The New York Times, Credit Suisse, and many more. 

When your instructor has those sort of credentials and works full-time as a professional trainer, you can expect the course to be extremely good. Go and take a free preview.

Python courses from edX

Individual courses

Again, there’s a lot to choose from on edX. For a self-paced Python beginners course, choosing your instructor is important. Our pick of the edX courses for beginners is this one from Microsoft.

Introduction to Python: Absolute Beginner

There are several other Microsoft Python courses that you can take to build on this one, but for beginners this is where to start.

microsoft absolute beginner python course image

The course is free but I really urge you to ramp up your motivation by paying for the verified certificate. It’s such a simple way of forcing yourself to commit to finishing the course, and getting that certificate at the end brings a real sense of satisfaction.

Have you ever started an online course and not completed it, even though you knew it was what you should be doing to boost your career? I have. I do a lot of these courses, and my completion rate used to be less than half, which often meant wasting hours or days getting part way through a course but not taking anything lasting away from it.

Even better, join the Professional Certificate program of which this course is a part, and then at the end you’ll have an achievement that is definitely worthy of going on your CV. 363,837 people can’t all be wrong…

Professional certificate courses

My other top selection for a Professional Certificate in Python is provided by IBM.

IBM Professional Certificate in Data Science

This superb course is self-paced and would require about 6 months if you only did 3 to 5 hours per week. 3 to 5 hours is really not very much. Just think about watching TV for 1 hour less than usual each day and that’s 7 hours right there.

The program includes 5 courses that take you from Python basics through analysing and visualising data, and on to machine learning. It finishes with a hands-on project in machine learning.

ibm professional certificate data science python course image

This hands-on project is not just a brilliant way to properly reinforce everything that you learn, so that you truly understand it and can apply it at work, but also makes this certificate carry even more weight. A Professional Certificate from IBM that requires submitting your own project work is a valuable qualification. You will never put “I watched some YouTube videos about Python” on your CV. At least, not if you’ve any sense…

Study programs

Some people may be thinking about trying to get into IT, or wishing they had opportunity to get into IT. Maybe you’re already in a related field or you’re something liek a junior tester or an analyst without much coding experience and you’d like to get into the coding side.

If you’re looking for a genuine way to break into a software development carerer then a formal course from a top University is the answer. you probably don’t have the time or the money to go back to university, but these days you don’t have to.

Now, courses like this are a serious investment in your career, but there’s three important things to think about. First, IT is a lucrative career and the top salaries are in coding. Second, Python and data science are the hottest topics around, and it’s not just a fad. Demand is only going to keep growing. Third, if you’re working in an IT environment and want to move into coding, it’s quite possible that your employer can offer support with the costs of this kind of course, or if you’re a contractor, remember that it’s an allowable business expense.

Our pick is this:

MicroMasters program in Statistics and Data Science from MIT.

Any qualification from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is going to serve you well. I urge you to take a look at the course details and read about the MicroMasters programs at edX.

mit micromasters data science image

Python courses from Coursera

Individual courses

Coursera also has lots of courses to choose from. the best one-off course for beginners is the one offered by the University of Michigan.

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)

university of michigan getting started with python course

The Coursera platform is one of the best there is, and the course providers are professional educators and instructors with vast experience and great reputations.

This course has a 4.8 star rating from 72k students. That’s all you need to know about the quality.

Professional certificates

The above course is also part of a specialization delivered by the University of Michigan

Python for Everybody Specialization

This is a series of courses building to a valuable qualification. Look at these claims from the University of Michigan about people who took this course:

39% started a new career after completing
12% got a pay increase or promotion

That’s quite remarkable, but also entirely consistent with my own experience of learning on Coursera when you commit to a verified certificate or a specialization program, and finish it, instead of just passively watching an individual course or not completing a free course because you’re not motivated to get what you paid for.

You can start with a free trial so go and take a look.

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