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Why are Python developers paid so much when it is easy to learn?

Python took me about 6 hours to learn, give or take.

I wasn’t a pro at it that quickly by any means, and that didn’t include heavy use of 3rd party packages, but the syntax was fairly simple, and it wasn’t the first time I’ve used a dynamically typed language, so there wasn’t much confusion.

So why are they paid so much?

Language, for the most part, is just syntax. Of course I, and every other half-awake developer, could point out a ton of exceptions to this, but if you know what you’re trying to do, it’s easy enough to just go look up how to do it in whatever language.

And that’s kind of the point I’m driving to - it’s not that Python developers are paid disproportionately, it’s that software developers are paid well.

Fundamentals are language independent.

When we look at data structures, algorithms, parallelization/concurrency, object oriented paradigms, design patterns, operating systems, scheduling, authentication/security, REST best practices, databases, architecture, etc., you’ll notice Python is not necessarily anywhere to be found.

Yet, to get a job as a python developer, you’ll want to know all of that stuff. That stuff isn’t particularly quick or easy to learn, and it’s at the heart of what is looked for in a software engineer.

Think of spoken language.

If you look at a trained linguist who is learning Spanish for their 7th language, you might think that learning Spanish was quick and easy. It’s a very straight forward and sensible language with many similarities to several other languages, and the linguist could be fluent in no time.

Now take your average American adult with no language training, they don’t even know exactly what they’re looking for. How long does it take them to get to the same level of fluency? Much longer. All the grammar rules, gendered nouns, understand how colloquialisms work, etc. takes time.

Python doesn’t pay more.

Whether it’s Python, C#, js flavors, Kotlin, whatever, an experienced developer can pick up a new language pretty quickly, especially in a professional setting, where they have a team member to bug with a best practice question here or there.

For this reason, the language of use doesn’t have much impact on a developer’s salary in comparison to company, role, level of responsibility, etc.

Probably the most common question I get from people who haven’t worked in the field is “what is the highest paying/best language to learn,” and the answer is always the same. It doesn’t matter.

Different languages lend themselves better or worse for different tasks, but the underlying skills that are independent of language are what companies pay for.