How to Start Learning Data Science for Free
Dec 17, 2020
man on computer

So, you’re thinking about a career in data science. Great news: you have an exciting path ahead of you! Data science is a complex, challenging field of work that has practical applications in nearly every part of our lives. It powers those spot-on Netflix recommendations that keep you watching for hours on end, matches you with your soon-to-be significant other on Hinge, and serves up Instagram ads for the comfiest WFH sweatpants you never knew you needed. For an industry that relies heavily on math, coding, and analytics, data science is one of the sexiest jobs in today’s workforce — just ask the team at Harvard Business Review

A career in data science requires deep technical ability and an understanding of the underlying theories that guide each line of code. There’s a lot to learn — but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? If you’re not yet ready to dive into a rigorous program like Lambda School, there are plenty of low-commitment ways to cut your teeth in the world of data science. A great place to start is with a free data science bootcamp, which can help you build the foundational skills and knowledge to get you started on the right path. 

Try a Free Coding Bootcamp

Starting a career in data science will require learning a variety of programming, scripting, and markup languages. According to StackOverflow, the most commonly used languages among developers are JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, and Python — of these, the latter two are the most essential for data scientists. Of course, learning a new programming language demands significant focus and time, but you can definitely get a head start with minimal investment.

There are countless online resources available — some better than others — to kickstart your learning and build a foundation. While a free coding school probably won’t cover all the nitty-gritty details of each programming language, it’s an excellent way to dip your toes in the water before committing. Here are some of our favorite resources to learn the most useful data science languages: 


Topping the list of technologies developers are most keen to learn, Python is a well-loved, oft-used language. It’s also one of the most versatile tools for data scientists, as it can also be applied to software engineering, web development, back-end development, system scripts, and more. Check out these free Python courses to get started: 


One of the most important tools in a data scientist’s toolkit, SQL (Structured Query Language) is used to build, maintain, and interact with relational databases. SQL will allow you to manipulate data and pull insights from massive sets, seamlessly integrating with Python and other business intelligence tools. It’s relatively easy to learn, and these free courses should help you get a head start: 

In addition to these free coding bootcamps, you might also consider introductory courses in data visualization, natural language processing, and machine learning. Of course, a more intensive online program that’s geared for professional development — like Lambda School — will address each of these core tenets of data science, but sharpening your skills in advance can’t hurt.

In your quest to start learning data science for free, you’ll also undoubtedly want to hone your math skills, and there are plenty of free courses to help. 

Brush Up on Math for Data Science

Data science is a game of probability and modeling. So, if you’re considering this field as a career path, you’ll need to get comfortable with both mathematics theory and its practical applications. Linear algebra, calculus, and statistics all come together to help data scientists build tools like prediction-based models and machine-learning algorithms (you know, like the code powering those eerily accurate Netflix suggestions we talked about).

Though a background in math isn’t a prerequisite for pursuing a career in data science, every little bit of knowledge helps. Among the free data science courses that will be useful are a handful of introductory math lessons. If functions, variables, differential equations, and derivatives aren’t second nature just yet — or if you never took advanced math courses in high school or college — you could probably use a quick overview. Here are some tried-and-true courses that will help get you started: 

Building a basic knowledge of these core mathematics fields will definitely give you an advantage in the next steps of your data science career. And paired with a cursory knowledge of coding, you’ll be ready to take on the next steps toward a new job. 

Get Started in Data Science

These online resources are a great way to learn data science free of charge, building your basic knowledge of the most fundamental aspects of the role. 

That said, though free data science courses are a great place to start, they’re unlikely to provide the in-depth comprehension and skills training needed to launch a career as a data scientist. When you’re ready to commit to the next step, the Lambda School data science course is a hands-on, immersive program that’s built to prepare students for real-life jobs in the field. Our lesson plans were built in collaboration with tech hiring managers, with a focus on developing the data science skills and knowledge you’ll need to launch a career you love. 

And here’s some even better news: you don’t have to begin the course — or pay anything! — to start learning with us. Once you create an account as part of your application process, you’ll get access to our proprietary data science precourse work. This coursework will help you get familiar with the basic concepts you’ll be tackling in class, building on your existing foundational knowledge. 

So, yes, there’s a whole host of ways to start learning data science for free. And when you’re ready to take a dedicated step toward a career in data science, we’ll be here for you. 

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