Python is one of the world's most popular programming languages, used across a broad range of industries. In addition to its prominence as a generalist language, it’s increasingly used in specialized pursuits such as data science, where it’s swallowed up market-share for more specialist languages such as R. It's created a whole ecosystem of Python certifications, classes, online tutorials, and much more.
In January, for the second time in a row, the TIOBE Index (which attempts to rank the world’s most popular programming language) named Python its language of the year. Organizations everywhere ask that technologists know Python, which leads to a key question—if you want a job working with Python, do you need a certification?
Does Python have an official certification?
Although there isn’t an “official” certification, there is the Python Institute, which is widely known and offers organization-specific certifications, including ones in general-purpose programming and data analytics.
The Python Software Foundation is the official Python development organization, and although they have considered offering official certifications in the past, they haven’t yet done so.
Matthew Deneroff, vice president of technology talent solutions at IT Staffing and talent solutions company Robert Half, explained how tech professionals who are interested in earning a Python certificate will find a lot of options with different organizations and institutions.
"Microsoft and the Python Institute are great places to start if you're interested in getting a Python certificate," he said. "Microsoft is a well-known company, so the name recognition lends itself well to quite a bit of credibility. The Python Institute is another reputable organization for this type of training, and it offers a range of certifications to kind of fit the bill for programmers with various career requirements or skill sets."
At the present time, Microsoft's sole Python certification is the Technology Associate 98-381: Introduction to Programming Using Python, aimed at programmers who can recognize and write syntactically correct Python code and recognize data types supported by Python.
If you're going to go through the Python Institute, Deneroff points to the entry level PCEP ((Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer) as an ideal place to start, followed by the associate level PCAP ((Certified Associate in Python Programming). The PCPP (Certified Professional in Python Programming) is the highest Python certification offered by the Institute, which comes in the form of two certifications, PCPP 1 and PCPP 2, and measures a candidate's proficiency in various coding tasks related to advanced Python programming.
"Earning those certificates demonstrates advanced coding and programing abilities in Python and related technologies," Deneroff said.
Is it worth getting a Python certification?
While certifications are not required to be a Python programmer, Deneroff noted certifications demonstrate to potential employers a willingness to learn outside of just the day-to-day tasks. “It gives you the opportunity to show a genuine interest in the topic and that you're committed to elevating your understanding,” he said. “Of course, it may also lead to higher salary depending on the employer's programming requirements.”
Can you get a job with a Python certification?
Ultimately, the individual's coding skills—certificated or not—are the most important element of the job hunt. Even so, having those certifications may help you stand out in a tech job market that might soon become much more competitive.
“There are way too many Python certifications offered by third parties,” says Yehuda Rosen, senior application engineer at nVisium. “Just about any vendor ranging from the aforementioned Python Institute, to Microsoft, to SANS, to GIAC, can and does offer some type of certificate. This doesn’t even include places like Udemy where you can earn a course-specific certificate.”
Like Deneroff, he agrees that no one specific certification would necessarily be the “best.” However, having a name such as Python Institute on a resume could help an applicant stand out.
Rosen points out that Python is easy to get started with, since all the documentation is online. “At nVisium, we seek engineers skilled in Python and focus on coding experiences in Python rather than just any certifications,” he says. “For advanced topics including security or networking, a certificate in those specific areas could be helpful—but no specific certification is really in demand.”
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