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Want to learn Python? We found 5 online coding courses for beginners

Knowing how to code can unlock new job opportunities in a digital economy.

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Getty/Aksonsat Uanthoeng/EyeEm

Millions of Americans are facing unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but tech companies like Apple and Amazon are still hiring. If you're looking to make a career move, learning to code can help you get your foot into a new digital position, even if you're working from home for a while. And there are plenty of online classes you can take to pick up that new skill. 

Before you get started, it's important to know that the programming language you'll want to learn -- Python, JavaScript, C#, or one of hundreds of others -- hinges on what you want to do with it, like build a website, an app or a game. If you're looking for a language that is versatile and often used in business settings, we recommend starting with Python, which is frequently ranked as an in-demand and relatively easy-to-learn programming language.

Here are five online classes that can help you learn Python right now:

Read more: Learn cybersecurity with these 5 online classes  

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

No previous coding experience is required for this course. Jack Donaldson is a game designer and programmer who'll teach you the fundamentals of Python. You'll need a laptop or desktop computer, and will start by installing Python and PyCharm, an integrated development environment used to help build software applications. Both are free to download.

Donaldson first takes you through the basics like variables, data types, condition statements and manipulating strings and texts. He also covers more complicated topics like loops and functions. In his class description video, Donaldson says his course relies heavily on "doing" -- expect lots of projects and walkthroughs to help you build a foundation in Python.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Coursera/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python course, offered on Coursera through the University of Michigan, explores the basics of Python, writing your first program, and using variables and core programming tools.

The programming foundations course is part of the five-course Python for Everybody Specialization. You can enroll in a single course to get started and earn a certificate, or audit the class and review the materials for free. 

The Python for Everybody Specialization is considered a beginner specialization, and if you subscribe to one course, you'll be included in the whole specialization. According to Coursera, the first two courses are aimed at those with no programming experience. 

The course requires a laptop or desktop computer to learn Python, which is free to download.

What it costs: Coursera operates more like a traditional online college course with enrollment windows. Sometimes the certificates you earn can apply as a credit at an institution, but it has to be stated. When you sign up for Coursera, you get a seven-day free trial, and then it costs $49 a month. You can also choose to audit the class for free, which lets you read and view the course content only. 

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This class from a professional software developer aims to provide complete coding beginners with an understanding of Python fundamentals over 363 short lectures. You'll learn skills that can be applied to specific branches like machine learning and data science as well as other programming jobs centered around Python. 

The course primarily focuses on Python 3 (the latest release being version 3.8), but you'll also learn how to work with Python 2. You can view and download active Python releases on Python's main site. As you learn more about the programming language, you can read up on the changes that have been implemented in the change logs. 

What it costs: Udemy's course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. This course costs $110, which is steeper than most of the others listed, but it has a lot to offer.

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Python in 90 minutes class on Skillshare is a bite-size crash course on the coding language if you're pressed for time or in need of a refresher. The instructor efficiently packs the essentials of Python into 25 lessons along with extra materials, reviews and practice sheets. It's aimed at beginners, and will teach you the fundamentals. Like the others, you'll need a laptop or desktop to work on.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Great Courses/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This Python course from Texas A&M University Professor John Keysor starts with the basics and takes a deep dive into the coding language over 24 lessons. Each lesson is about 30 minutes, and builds upon the last to show you practical applications for Python. In the course description, Keysor notes such applications coding for games and graphics, analyzing sports statistics, simulating retirement funds and basic robotics. 

What it costs: The Great Courses doesn't have a flat subscription fee like Skillshare. Keysor's course costs $50 on instant video or $70 on DVD. At the time of publication a sale was happening on The Great Courses website. 

When you make a Great Courses account, you can stream the course for free with trial with The Great Courses Plus. The content can then be accessed over the iOS or Android app, or on your TV via the Roku app, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

To learn more digital skills, check out the free classes you can take through Microsoft and LinkedIn Learning. And for more, check out five Masterclass classes to become a filmmaker, and other online classes to help you learn to play guitar, learn to code and learn to draw.

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