Java vs Python: Which Programming Language is Right For You?

Liz Eggleston

Written By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on September 28, 2021

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Java and Python are two of the most powerful programming languages on the market today. They’re both well-documented and backed by strong communities that have made them mainstays for over 20 years. But which should a beginner learn first? And how are Python and Java different? Brook Riggio, co-founder of Code Fellows, explains what Python and Java are used for and how the modular curriculum at Code Fellows covers these two powerful languages (along with JavaScript and ASP.NET)!

Meet the Expert: Brook Riggio

  • Brook majored in engineering in college but transitioned into software after graduating, as it allowed for more rapid iteration in creating cool stuff.
  • Before Code Fellows, Brook built a consulting firm that created web applications to make a positive impact on his surrounding community.
  • Brook co-founded Code Fellows, which is where he is the VP of Education and currently leads a team of instructors who teach students Python, Java, ASP.NET, JavaScript, and Cybersecurity!

Java 101

Java is a high-level, object-oriented programming language. It’s a long-established language that was released in 1996 by Sun Microsystems. Java was created as an open-source tool to support the premise of Write Once, Run Everywhere (WORE)—making software more readily available across a variety of platforms. A program written in Java is converted into “bytecode”, which is like a generic executable that allows it to run on any Java-enabled device. 

It’s often referred to as “opinionated” or “strongly typed” because of how it enforces concepts. For example, Java doesn’t let a developer change the data type of a variable. We as humans know that a name is going to be a string of letters and a person’s age is going to be a number, but a computer doesn’t make that distinction. 

Java programming language enforces that concept: if the computer stored a 42 as a name or “Tiffany” as an age, the program would know that there was an error somewhere and raise an error saying, “Is this really what you want to do?”.

Python 101

Python is a lightweight programming language that was created in 1991. It’s often referred to as a scripting language because it’s interpreted as a script as it’s running in real-time instead of compiling into an executable file.

Python can handle object-oriented coding, but it doesn’t require it like Java. Python is well-designed for readability and flexibility as well as general-purpose programming. It’s been heavily adopted by the scientific community and there are a lot of amazing libraries where you can connect your code to leverage the results of other people’s research.

Python has also become popular in the world of task automation from small scripts to help an IT department to managing large deployments of computer networks. It’s also gaining popularity in the world of cybersecurity.

Python used to be considered more of a hobby language, but these days it’s known for being broadly utilized across a wide range of sectors. Besides being a go-to web development tool for many companies, it’s used in fields like science and research as well as finance. It’s useful in many fields where a non-programmer needs to reach for a programming language due to its accessibility.

5 Ways Java and Python are Similar

  • Java and Python adopt an object-oriented design.
  • They are both high-level languages.
  • They were both inspired by C.
  • The syntax of the two languages has similarities in structure.
  • Both languages are open source.

5 Ways Java and Python are Different

  • Java is dense and more verbose with a steeper learning curve.
  • Java requires object-oriented programming where Python doesn’t.
  • Python doesn’t compile before it runs, unlike Java, so errors in Python code may not be found until you are running the code.
  • Python is white space sensitive and indentation matters.
  • Python is slower, so has limited scalability where Java has high scalability.

While Python and Java are both programming languages, it’s difficult to compare them in the same light. It’s similar to comparing a 4x4 truck (Java) meant for heavy lifting to a sports car (Python) meant for weaving through tight turns. They’re both cars, but their intended purpose and application are different.

Should I learn Python or Java first?

Many people that are new to coding agonize about which language they should learn first. When it comes down to it, it’s hard to go wrong. Between Java and Python, it depends on why you want to learn to code.

Java has a steep learning curve which can deter some students, but it’s a useful language. If you’re interested in going into mobile development or Android, you probably want to focus on Java. 

Python is a flexible language and there are a lot of use cases for it. At Code Fellows, our 401 Python class teaches the Django web application framework which is gaining a lot of steam lately. It has Python running the server-side and delivering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to the user. 

Web development with Python is a strong use case, but there are specialty areas that it’s useful for as well. Anyone interested in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, DevOps, and other similar fields will benefit from learning Python.

Which Language is More Established?

Python was actually created before Java, but it wasn’t until more recently that it has seen widespread adoption. In the past few years, Python has proven to be an excellent and reliable language to support a wide variety of industries.

Both languages have been around for over 20 years, but Java was definitely adopted earlier. Java’s ability to easily translate across different operating systems was a defining factor in its establishment as a core language used by large companies. Some aspects of the Java world feel old and can be inflexible at times, but it’s still widely used for many different projects.

How are Java and Python Used in the Real World?

Java and Python are both heavily used in a variety of situations and they can sometimes be used for similar tasks. Here are a few real-world applications of Java and Python.

Examples of Java in the real world

  • Java is used in Android development to build mobile apps. Java is extremely popular with mobile developers!
  • Many embedded systems in appliances use Java.
  • Stock trading companies and banks use Java because of its robust security features.
  • Java is used extensively on the back end of websites due to its scalability and performance capabilities.

Examples of Python in the real world

  • Python is the base for Django, a popular open-source framework that can be used to build almost any type of web application.
  • Python is a popular choice for writing scripts for automation and machine learning in fields like data science, finance, and medicine.
  • Python is frequently used to build the back end of websites.
  • Python is used heavily in cybersecurity because it’s easy to learn, quick for development, and there are many different libraries with already available tools.

The Job Market for Java Developers vs Python Developers

Java has long been a popular choice for web and mobile development and it’s still one of the most widely-used languages today. Python was less popular until fairly recently, but its adoption has exploded across different industries. It’s highly flexible, so it’s able to accommodate many different types of tasks. Python has become a staple in tons of different fields populated by people that aren’t coders by trade (ie. data science and FinTech).

Java grads at Code Fellows and other bootcamps go on to get job titles like Android Developer or Mobile Developer. Graduates from both Java and Python bootcamps will go on to become Web Developers

Microsoft and Google both use the job title, “Software Engineer” and Amazon uses “Software Development Engineer.” Python grads might see a title of DevOps Engineer, Data Engineer, or Site Reliability Engineer (SRE). The pay scale is pretty similar between Java and Python engineers and depending on location, they can make around $79K yearly in an entry-level role. At Code Fellows, graduates go into a wide range of careers using the skills they learn from either of these tracks.

Java Companies

Google uses Java extensively, especially when it comes to the development of Android as a platform. Amazon is also a heavy user of Java with its AWS cloud services and customer-facing e-commerce products being powered by Java. Many large-scale companies including Apple, Tik Tok, Uber, and Airbnb utilize Java internally.

Python Companies

Google is such a large company that it uses several different languages internally, including Python. It’s famously used to create Instagram, as well as Netflix and Reddit. Another interesting example of a company that uses Python is Industrial Light and Magic. This special effects house uses Python to manage their specialized rendering, graphical rendering, and special effects creation.

How to Start Learning Java and Python

Learning to Code at Code Fellows

Code Fellows curriculum is modular, which means it’s designed to meet you at your current skill level whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Students have the ability to test in at the appropriate level ensuring they are learning with similarly skilled learners. Regardless of where you start, they will ensure you have the skills you need to meet the needs of the tech industry. 

Their modular curriculum is not only flexible but also covers the most sought-after skills in the industry, thanks to a team of fully dedicated curriculum developers who work with top tech companies to ensure you are keeping up with the demands of the industry.

Additionally, the modular course structure allows students the option to pick the language they desire to specialize in at the advanced levels, while ensuring beginners learn the foundations of web development in the lower-level courses before moving on. These courses focus on teaching HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (including React), as well as core CS fundamentals before choosing which stack they would like to specialize in.

At the more advanced level, students who complete Code 301 or test-in from other bootcamps, or CS programs can choose to specialize in Java, Python, ASP.NET and C#, or JavaScript. Students interested in Cybersecurity can learn more here.

ASP.NET and C# are created, maintained, and advanced by Microsoft, which makes them popular choices for people interested in the company. Our course was built in partnership with Microsoft to help train up recent CS grads and apprentices for their software development roles. C# is also a great choice for those interested in Unity, a popular framework for games and AR/VR apps.

The JavaScript 401 is our most popular course. It’s a full-stack JavaScript course that goes deep into React focusing on the surrounding ecosystem of other tools like Redux and Thunk, as well as React Native. We also do back-end development with Node.JS, ExpressJS, and PostgreSQL in that course and learn about creating RESTful web APIs.

How to Get Started

You don’t need to go to a coding bootcamp to figure out if you want to code! Here are a few resources to help get you started.

Find out more and read Code Fellows reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Code Fellows.

About The Author

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp. Liz has dedicated her career to empowering passionate career changers to break into tech, providing valuable insights and guidance in the rapidly evolving field of tech education.  At Course Report, Liz has built a trusted platform that helps thousands of students navigate the complex landscape of coding bootcamps.

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