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Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve

  1. Oct 19, 2010 #1
    Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D


    I have to get some sort of menial minimum wage job in the near future, and I would be okay with this if it gave me the time to study books or think about philosophy (a night clerk/cashier or something, etc.)

    Regardless of what happens with that, time is a finite resource, and I'd rather be spending my time studying math/German/etc. than working at a job that someone with IQ 80 could do.

    So my question is: how many hours would it take me to be good enough at Python to be hired at $12+ an hour for it (be conservative in your estimates please, I'm not a Point A -> Point B thinker, much more of a divergent/creative/relationship thinker (i.e. "right brained") ).

    feel free to ask me any questions or make any statements relevant to my post :-)

    the reason i'm asking about programming is that i can't think of any other subjects that could earn me a decent income without some sort of social certification in the form of a somewhat worthless college degree, but if you can think of anything else (sans entrepreneurial things) then go ahead and give me ideas :/ i know i'm good at many other things, but from what i can tell, programming would offer the greatest reward in the least amount of time, for $, and considering that my situation is time sensitive, this is important

    also, have a picture lol:

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  3. Oct 20, 2010 #2


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    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    I don't see how there is any meaningful way to answer your question. Do you "know" any programming languages already? Have you been exposed to programming before? What kind of things do you imagine you'll be "programming" for $12/hour?

    Hiring a programmer at $12/hour means that the programmer isn't very good, and whoever is doing the hiring would be better off going with a professional at $40/hour because they're going to be able to get the job done in an hour ($40) as opposed to a day ($96).
  4. Oct 20, 2010 #3
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    No, not really, idk.

    I was trying to give the idea of a personally accepted minimum threshold that would represent my idea of gainful employment. If you prefer to, you may think in terms of a minimum threshold that guarantees employment, or something to that effect.
  5. Oct 20, 2010 #4


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    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    If you are looking to be hired and make a salary, you will need a degree. If you want to be hired on an ad hoc basis doing the odd job here and there, the "minimum threshold" needed to do a job will depend on the job and the level of (in)competence the hirer is willing to accept.

    As I said, I'm not really sure if anyone is going to be able to give you a more helpful answer than that. Nothing "guarantees employment." Programming tends to be a field in which you know how to do something or you don't.
  6. Oct 20, 2010 #5
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    from what I've seen, 1/3 of programmers don't have a degree, so that doesn't seem to be a definite requirement

    i'm approaching this from the angle of being an optimal option for a really intelligent introvert who has no degree

    is there some sort of communication barrier as to what I am trying to convey?
  7. Oct 20, 2010 #6
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    I think that 1 year is probably the minimum time required. Python itself is not that complex, but you are starting from the bottom. You will need time to learn the basic concepts and then some to be able to thing easy with these concepts.
  8. Oct 20, 2010 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Why did you choose Python? It seems to me that in your situation, you would want to learn a language that gives you the most "bang for the buck" (where "buck" means "learning time" in this case) in terms of earning potential. What sort of programming jobs do you have in mind where Python is commonly used?

    I haven't been keeping close tabs on the programming job market, so I'd honestly like to have some idea of what commercial/industrial sectors Python is making inroads into.
  9. Oct 20, 2010 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Just as a guess, I would venture that many of the programmers without a degree have been writing code since they were in 7th or 8th grade.
    Some of the things you said I would consider assets toward learning to program, and some I would consider liabilities.
    Assets: math abilities - Being able to think logically and being able to think in terms of hierarchies are important abilities when you are writing the steps for a machine to follow.
    Liabilities: "not a Point A -> Point B thinker", "right brained" - Programming, at least in procedural languages such as C, C++, Java, and the like, involves being able to map out all of the possible paths from a wide set of initial conditions to some desired ending point. If you have difficulties thinking sequentially, programming is likely to be very difficult.
  10. Oct 20, 2010 #9
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Your question isn't really correctly phrased. "How many hours" isn't something you can gauge.

    If you're a brilliant left-brained person with 10 years experience in programming, with knowledge of C++, Java, Perl, Pascal, LISP, JavaScript, Visual Basic, Fortran, and C#-- then it will take you a between a few hours and a few days to get decent with it.

    If you've never programmed before, don't have a good memory, aren't good with computers, aren't good with math, and don't know your way around the internet, it would take years.

    Also, being "good enough" is subjective. You have to provide your prospective employer with some sort of evidence that you're "good enough". This can be achieved by appearing knowledgeable in your interview, having a good GPA and a high degree of education, having lots of work experience, having good reviews, demonstrating complex projects that you've worked on, or other things.

    As for needing a college degree? Depends. Most employers don't care about your degree EXCEPT in the initial weeding out. Many employers take the pile of resumes, and throw out as many as they can, until they get down to a handful of candidates that's manageable. They usually don't want to interview all the 14 people that applied-- they'd rather interview 5 or fewer. So one thing they'll occasionally do is IMMEDIATELY toss out anyone without a degree. But if there are only (say) 4 applicants? Your chances are greater that you won't be tossed out for the lack of a degree-- you'll just have to perform during the interview process.

    Your chances are decreasing.

    Most programmers are very capable in a left-brained capacity. Doesn't mean their right brains aren't strong (many are very creative), but you have to have good organizational skills when it comes to thinking about problems. You have to break things down categorically, and follow very logical steps to arrive at a solution. People that are predominantly right-brained don't often make good programmers.

    That said, it depends on the position you're getting. $12/hour is pretty low pay for a programmer. $20/hour is even pretty low (maybe as a starting salary out of college). I would expect $25-$60/hour for most salaried programming jobs, depending on what you're doing-- and even more if you're a contractor. So if you're looking at a $12/hour job, you're not looking for amazing programmers. You're just looking for someone to cobble something together that works-- not something that has to be scalable up to the level of a billion-dollar-company website. And that's certainly more attainable.

  11. Oct 20, 2010 #10


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    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Well from what I've seen, ~98/100 of the programmers in organizations that win contracts from the government have degrees. But hey, maybe your high school experience is more representative of "the real world," I don't know.

    Yes. You are asking people to put numbers on things that are highly variable from person to person.
  12. Oct 20, 2010 #11
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D



    Seems like Python is becoming more and more popular (from what I've seen, go ahead and degrade my opinion if you want to -_-).

    Mark44 sez:

    possibly; keep in mind my admitted intelligence :eek:

    I *can* think in a linear fashion if I force it, but I'm much more likely to immediately notice lots of different possibilities and then weigh them against each other.

    davee123 sez:


    I'm brilliant, just with no knowledge of programming. I do lean strongly towards 'right-brained' activities though, literature, art, music, even Euclid's Elements. :3

    I'm mainly interested in programming for two reasons: 1. possible easy way to make $ until my mathematics/consulting/something else is sufficient to support me easily, 2. programming is an important branch of 'engineering' knowledge that I feel that I should know deeply.

    I have a good memory, just not an active one. My subconscious weeds out a lot of things. :)

    Showing that I'm 'good enough' would be accomplished by putting awesomesauce programs on the web. o_O I don't really see any other way.

    As for employment, I'm thinking more along the lines of freelance work.

    fss growls:

    I don't want to work for a corrupt organization.

    I'm asking about a specific thing, because I realize that my visualization of the situation may not be perfect. I probably know more about even this subject than you would imagine, but I would prefer staying on topic. :)
  13. Oct 21, 2010 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    The word chutzpah comes to mind.
  14. Oct 21, 2010 #13
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    I'm not a Juden. :)

    Also, if you guys all consider it an impossible thing for me to do in a short amount of time, then feel free to provide other ideas. I'm open to suggestions.
  15. Oct 21, 2010 #14


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    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Based on your level of misunderstanding about what you're wanting to achieve I actually think you know less than I'm currently giving you credit for.

    Freelance programming is an extremely difficult way to make money, especially if you don't even know how to program.

    Perhaps you'll remember that when your higher education and/or research is subsidized by the same "corrupt organization."
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  16. Oct 21, 2010 #15
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    If you're going for freelance, and for $12/hour, that could be the best way. IE, most large firms won't touch you-- the places that want freelance programmers, especially Python programmers, are probably small businesses that know absolutely nothing about what makes a good programmer, a good website, or anything else. They won't care what language you can write in (unless they've read a whopping 1 article somewhere that says "PHP is the best!"), all they'll care about is whether or not you understand them, whether or not you say you can do the job quickly, and how much you'll charge.

    If you want to impress prospective employers at large companies though, you'll probably have to pass some technical-level questions, which is a good way to make yourself seem good enough. If you can answer the questions on a basic level, then ok. But if you can go into detail, showing you're aware of all the considerations, you can appear VERY impressive. And obviously, if you start floundering, that's when the truth often comes out about interviewees-- we've had that happen on multiple occasions, where people show us some kick-*** website that "they wrote", but then when it comes to asking them about some of the particulars, they're either clueless, or refer to things like the utilities that did the hard part for them. Anyway, for the programmer, a technical interview is often very telling.

    But if you're going for freelance with small businesses, chances are they won't have anyone technical that can interview you. They'll just wantonly look at whatever credentials you can provide, and you've got to be a good enough salesman to sell yourself.

  17. Oct 21, 2010 #16
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Meh, perhaps. I've already stated that I'm open to alternative ways to make $.

    The government is the reason I have to wait a year to start uni, along with many other things I've suffered. Oh, I also live on less than $10K a year.
  18. Oct 21, 2010 #17
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    I'm not talking about learning enough to bluff my way through an interview or something. I learn pretty quickly...But hey, I prefer a universal -> specific learning pattern, so maybe programming isn't a good idea for now, until I learn logic, discrete mathematics, and some CS.

    I know that web stuff is easier, btw. >_>
  19. Oct 21, 2010 #18
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Hard to say. You come off sounding arrogant and haughty, but hey, who are we to say that it's not deserved? I don't see any actual evidence one way or another. You want to try programming? Sure, give it a shot. Here's something to try-- see how far you can get with what you know about whatever type of language you want to use:


    It's probably a reasonably good test to see if you're cut out for programming. The first bunch are easy, then it starts to get more challenging. The first problems are pretty straightforward, and require some very basic programming knowledge. Then, it requires you to start needing to come up with inventive techniques and using math and logic in order to achieve the result. Eventually, it turns into extremely difficult challenges that only the top-notch programmers can solve.

    I dunno-- The web stuff isn't really any easier, per se, it's just so much more accessible. A well-written website is actually reasonably challenging if you're writing it from the ground up. If you're using some pre-packaged product, you can make a website with NO technical skills or programming ability. But writing an executable program for a desktop machine, an iPhone app, or what-have-you? There aren't a lot of pre-packaged things to help you build your own custom software. So if you're technically incompetent, you can't make a Windows executable, but you COULD make a website-- you just couldn't program it.

  20. Oct 21, 2010 #19
    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    I'm an undeveloped genius, of course I'm going to come across as arrogant. I've lived my life so far in a manner which has hidden my abilities, and nothing has come out of it. I may as well be honest and improve my odds of attracting the attention of someone who can actually be helpful. =/ You can call me an attention whore, I don't really care. What I do know is that I deserve much more out of life that I'm getting, because I'm now willing to assert my superiority.

    I already know about projecteuler. As I've said, I have a very strong tendency to focus on universal and go to specifics over time, so idk how well I would fare at many of the problems, because even though I am sure I could comprehend the problems, I wouldn't have a good working knowledge of how those problems developed. I think in terms of context and environment, not objects themselves. o_o

    From pretty much everything I've seen, website development/maintenance is easier than writing stand-alone programs.
  21. Oct 21, 2010 #20


    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Stupid Question about Python Learning Curve :D

    Although the word is Yiddish, it is universally applicable.
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