What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Python has become one of the most popular programming languages in recent years. It's been used in everything from machine learning to building websites and software testing. Developers and non-developers alike find it useful.

[Featured image] Woman at computer working on programming

Python, one of the most popular programming languages in the world, has created everything from Netflix’s recommendation algorithm to the software that controls self-driving cars. Python is a general-purpose language, used to create a range of applications, including data science, software and web development, automation, and improving the ease of everyday tasks.

This versatility is one reason the Times of India reports Python has repeatedly won the TIOBE Programming Language of the Year award, most recently in 2021 [1]. Let’s take a closer look at what Python is, what it can do, and how you can start learning it.

What is Python?

Python is a computer programming language often used to build websites and software, automate tasks, and analyze data. Python is a general-purpose language, not specialized for any specific problems, and used to create various programmes. This versatility and its beginner-friendliness have made it one of the most used programming languages today. In 2020, more than one-third of Indian IT professionals said Python was their preferred programming language [2]. It continues to top lists of the most desired programming languages in the country.

Did you know? The name Python comes from Monty Python. When Guido van Rossum was creating Python, he was also reading the scripts from BBC's Monty Python's Flying Circus. He thought the name Python was appropriately short and slightly mysterious.


What is Python used for?

Python is commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualisation. Since it’s relatively easy to learn, Python has been adopted by many non-programmers, such as accountants and scientists, for a variety of everyday tasks, like organising finances.

"Writing programs is a very creative and rewarding activity," says University of Michigan and Coursera instructor Charles R Severance in his book Python for Everybody. "You can write programs for many reasons, ranging from making your living to solving a difficult data analysis problem to having fun to helping someone else solve a problem."

What can you do with Python? Some things include:

  • Data analysis and machine learning

  • Web development

  • Automation or scripting

  • Software testing and prototyping

  • Everyday tasks

Here’s a closer look at some common ways Python is used.

Data analysis and machine learning

Python has become a staple in data science, allowing data analysts and other professionals to use the language to conduct complex statistical calculations, create data visualisations, build machine learning algorithms, manipulate and analyse data, and complete other data-related tasks.

Python can build various data visualisations, like line and bar graphs, pie charts, histogrammes, and 3D plots. Python also has many libraries that enable coders to write programs for data analysis and machine learning more quickly and efficiently, like TensorFlow and Keras.

Web development

Python is often used to develop the back end of a website or application—the parts that a user doesn’t see. Python’s role in web development includes sending data to and from servers, processing data and communicating with databases, routing URLs, and ensuring security. Python offers several frameworks for web development. Commonly used ones include Django and Flask.

Some web development jobs that use Python include back-end engineers, full-stack engineers, Python developers, software engineers, and DevOps engineers. 

Read more: What Does a Web Designer Do (and How Do I Become One)?

Automation or scripting

If you perform a task repeatedly, you can work more efficiently by automating it with Python. Writing code used to build these automated processes is called scripting. In the coding world, automation can be used to check for errors across multiple files, convert files, execute simple math, and remove duplicates in data.

Relative beginners can even use Python to automate simple tasks on the computer—such as renaming files, finding and downloading online content, or sending emails or texts at desired intervals.

Software testing and prototyping

Python can aid in software development tasks like build control, bug tracking, and testing. With Python, software developers can automate testing for new products or features. Some Python tools used for software testing include Green and Requestium.

Everyday tasks

Python isn't only for programmers and data scientists. Learning Python can open new possibilities for those in less data-heavy professions, like journalists, small business owners, or social media marketers. Python can also enable non-programmers to simplify certain tasks in their lives. Here are just a few of the tasks you could automate with Python:

  • Send yourself a text reminder to carry an umbrella anytime it’s raining

  • Update your grocery shopping list

  • Renaming large batches of files

  • Converting text files to spreadsheets

  • Randomly assign household tasks to family members

  • Fill out online forms automatically

Python is popular for several reasons. Here's a deeper look at what makes it versatile and easy for coders to use.

  • It has a simple syntax that mimics natural language, so it’s easier to read and understand. This makes it quicker to build projects and faster to improve on them.

  • It’s versatile. Python can be used for many different tasks, from web development to machine learning.

  • It’s beginner friendly, making it popular for entry-level coders.

  • It’s open source, which means it’s free to use and distribute, even for commercial purposes.

  • Python’s archive of modules and libraries—bundles of code that third-party users have created to expand Python’s capabilities—is vast and growing.

  • Python has a large and active community that contributes to Python’s pool of modules and libraries and acts as a helpful resource for other programmers. The vast support community means that when coders need help, finding a solution is relatively easy; somebody has likely encountered the same problem before.

Practice your Python skills independently with tutorials

Not ready to commit to a course or a boot camp yet? You can read step-by-step guides for troubleshooting Python basics like syntax, if-else statements, exceptions, and working with loops in Coursera's free programming tutorials.


Ready to get started?

Python is a valuable skill for professionals in all industries. Whether you have a computer coding background or are taking your first step into this field, completing a certificate like Google’s Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate on Coursera can help you build the technical skills needed to enter the expanding world of computers and software. With this certificate, you can choose to enter an entry-level role in data analytics or continue building your skills for more advanced roles such as computer programmers, software engineers, web developers, and more. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources


The Times of India. "Python is TIOBE's Programming Language of the Year 2021, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/python-is-tiobes-programming-language-of-the-year-2021/articleshow/88853232.cms." Accessed August 21, 2023. 

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