If I'm over 40, 50, or even 60 years old, is it too late for me to make a career transition into the technological field? This is a question that comes up often at Skillcrush, and it comes from users of all different ages. The answer, in a nutshell, is that it does not matter how old you are since there is always time to launch a successful and profitable career in the technology industry.
Because I made the transition into the field of information technology when I was in my mid-40s, I completely understand it. Worrying about being back at square one in terms of your profession, not understanding how to get started in a new sector, coming up with the time and money to obtain the skills you need, having feelings of self-doubt, and having to deal with age discrimination are all challenges that you may face. These are all legitimate concerns, and they have the potential to prevent you from beginning.
I vividly recall how terrified I was by the concept of entering an entirely new sector at a later stage in life than what was considered to be conventional in the field of technology. But taking that step was easily the most beneficial choice I've ever made for my professional life. My current position as operations manager at Skillcrush is one that I like, and I look forward to maintaining it for a good many years to come. And I can assure you that I am not the only one!
There is no denying the existence of ageism. Many nations, including the United States (although anti-ageism laws vary by state), have enacted legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their chronological age. Despite this, there is no guarantee that businesses will adhere to them. It is unjust to discriminate against older people, and it is about time that the technology industry become more welcoming to individuals of all walks of life.
In this piece, I'm going to discuss some of the lessons I've learned while navigating a community that has the appearance of a "young industry." I am speaking from personal experience, from talks I've had with recruiters who specialize in finding jobs for people who change careers, and from the feedback of Skillcrush students I've spoken with who are also undergoing a career shift beyond the age of 40.
Because that was my experience, I'm concentrating on breaking into the technology industry beyond the age of 40...
However, the true secret is that there is NO age at which it is too late for you to begin a career in the technology industry. It's plausible that Bill Gates began his career in the software industry while he was still in middle school as a programmer, but that's only one of many, many probable entry points into the field.
How I began out in the IT industry after turning 40
It took me close to twenty years to figure out that working in technology was where I belonged. When I finally did, though, it only took a few of months for me to go from taking my first coding class to landing my first job in the technology field.
Even though I had a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Russian and business, I began my profession without any goals other than the desire to work in another country. I worked in customer service for an international company that specialized in freight logistics, but it wasn't a good match for me. After that, I attempted to earn a living as a freelance corporate language teacher for more than a decade until I came to the conclusion that it was not the right path for me either.
I had already had two occupations by the time I was 43, and I was starting to feel hopeless about my future. That is, until I began to think about the activities that I loved doing in my leisure time. It was so much fun for me to create online material for my dancing groups, test out brand new applications and programs, and troubleshoot problems that my friends were having with their computers and phones. It's possible that technology might be part of the answer for me.
I learned HTML and CSS using an online course offered by Skillcrush!, and within a few days, I had built my own website to showcase my work. A few weeks later, I was working on putting up a basic website for the kindergarten where my close buddy worked.
During the period that I spent freelancing, I continued to expand my technical knowledge and also spent a significant amount of time cultivating personal connections. To expand my knowledge of the technology sector, I began to participate in tech meetings, subscribe to relevant podcasts, and follow relevant Twitter accounts. This was essential because, as a result of all of those experiences, I came to the conclusion that being a software engineer would not be the best career choice for me.
I count my blessings that I was able to discover other options for a job in the technology industry outside coding. I began having conversations with other individuals about the ways in which I might combine my experience in customer service and education with my expertise in technology, and before I knew it, I got an offer to become the Customer Support Manager at Skillcrush. After almost three years, I transitioned into the capacity that I am in now, which is Operations Manager.
It's possible that your journey won't resemble mine at all (and it's quite probable that it won't), but I tell my story to demonstrate that it is possible to switch careers suddenly and wind up working in the technology industry in a relatively short length of time. And even if I didn't wind up as someone who spends their days writing code and designing websites, it does not mean that it is not a viable job choice for you.
The advantages of beginning a profession in technology beyond the age of 40
Let's take a look at the potential benefits of switching careers when you're already in your 40s (or later), before we get into the difficulties of breaking into the technology industry at that age.
TRANSITIONING TO A CAREER IN TECHNOLOGY WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH OPTIONS.
You could get the impression that there are less and fewer job opportunities available to you as you become older. However, if you acquire technical talents, you may open doors at a great many businesses, both within and outside of the tech sector.
The chief executive officer of Skillcrush, Adda Birnir, was quoted as saying, "There is the official technology business, and then there is the tech inside every industry." There is not a single business anywhere in the world that would not profit in some way from having more employees who are proficient in digital technology and digital literacy. Only in 2019, there were 4.6 million jobs available in the field of technology, as stated by the Computing Technology Industry Association (link opens in a new tab).
Beginning a career in technology does not need choosing between being a designer or a developer, though. Computer skills are required for a wide variety of industries, including customer assistance (where I got my start in the tech industry), marketing, social media management, project management, product management, content development, and many more.
In addition to that, the technology sector is one that encourages working away from the conventional office setting. According to what Adda had to say about her personal experiences working as a freelancer in the IT industry:
In the field of technology, there is a wide variety of work that may be done entirely from home, including freelance, full-time, part-time, and contract positions.
YOU CAN BOOST YOUR SALARY AND IMPROVE YOUR JOB SECURITY
It's possible that by the time you're in your 40s or older, the demands placed on your finances will be greater than they were when you were in your 20s. If this is your situation, then you probably do not want to spend years at low-paying positions in order to "pay your dues" in a new field. To our good fortune, incomes in the technology industry are often rather high, even for many entry-level positions.
A few examples of median incomes are included below for your reference:
Visual designer $ 72,000
76,000 dollars for a WordPress developer
UX designer $100,000
Front-end developer $108,000
Developer using Python, 119 000 USD
And in the not too distant future, there will be hundreds of thousands of new opportunities accessible in the field of technology. According to studies conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in the technology sector are forecasted to expand by 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much higher than the average growth rate for all professions. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (link opens in a new tab), "these professions are predicted to create around 546,200 new employment." Even when the economy is in a slump, it is possible to find work in the technology sector (opens a new tab) (as they are now, during the COVID-19 crisis).
YOU CAN (AT LONG LAST) ACHIEVE WORK SATISFICATION
If you're anything like me, making the switch to a job in technology might be the answer to your search for professional fulfillment. Because I was able to work from home from the very beginning of my position at Skillcrush, I immediately knew it was the right one for me. This allowed me to continue living in the area that I like while still maintaining my career.
You could be thinking about making a career change to anything in technology because you need to improve your job stability or because you want to pursue something that is more fascinating and creative. Or maybe you are looking for a career that will allow you to contribute to a cause that is more meaningful to you.
Getting a job in the computer industry might seem like a "finally" moment for people who decide to switch careers later in life, despite the fact that similar work can be found in other sectors of the economy. The tech sector really provides a lot of alternatives when it comes to diversified and flexible employment.
Changing careers into technology beyond the age of 40: advice and resources
1. DON'T BE ANXIOUS ABOUT REGISTERING FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
It is vital to remember that in order to be eligible for a career in the technology industry, you will not need a costly four-year degree. Because it is not required to have a degree in computer science, the technology industry is an excellent one to enter beyond the age of 40.
You may instead learn by taking courses in person or online, and you can expand your skill set and gain experience by becoming active in the community of people who work in technology. You don't need expensive degrees or years of experience to get a job in technology; all you need is a strong portfolio and an impressive interview.
2. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE (THE TIME YOU SPENT ON IT WAS NOT A WASTE!)
When I talk to Skillcrush students in their 40s and beyond who are interested in changing jobs, one of the concerns that I hear people repeat is that they have "wasted" decades in a previous career path that does not bear any relevance to the position they are looking for now.
You shouldn't be so eager to write off the things that happened in the past.
Even if you're switching jobs, the experience you've gained in the past is still valuable, according to Michele Heyward, creator of PositiveHire (opens in a new tab), who observes that this is the case. She adds that a person's past experience is valuable despite the fact that they lack knowledge in the technology field. "Many women have trouble grasping this concept, particularly when it comes to formulating their value offer," According to Heyward, appreciating a person's job history may be difficult for anybody, even women who have worked as engineers.
You can always find a method to explain how your job (and life) experience is relevant and valuable in the IT industry, regardless of what you've done in the past or how you identify yourself. Learning how to place your current experiences within the context of your history is a vital step.
We have just released a guide on how to set up your LinkedIn profile in order to make a shift in your career, as well as an article on how to update your professional online presence. Both of these resources may assist you in determining how to tell your narrative and present your work history.
Although you may be tempted to conceal your age in such things in order to avoid being judged unfairly, I do not advise you to do so. There is no need to conceal your prior decades of labor in your professional materials. There is also no need to follow suggestions that I deem insulting and alter your look, style of speaking, or interests in order to seem younger.
3. To find opportunities, make use of the connections you already have in your network.
One of the benefits of being in your 40s is that you have likely already developed meaningful relationships with a large number of individuals. Even if you may only consider former colleagues or managers to be part of your professional network, the fact that technology is pervasive in today's world means that anybody you know might be your connection to a new line of employment.
For instance, I had only been attending my first Skillcrush session for a few of weeks when a buddy of mine introduced me to my very first customer. Your link may be a member of your family, a neighbor, an alumnus from your institution, the salesman at your favorite store, or someone who you have been speaking with in an online interest group.
The main idea here is that as you reach your forties, you may get a great deal of value from cultivating professional relationships with those you already know. Make sure that others are aware of what you are doing and the goals that you have set for your new job. Increase the size of your network by signing up for tech organizations and going to tech events, both online and in person if you can manage it.
4. SEARCH FOR COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE SUPPORT TO ALL OF THEIR EMPLOYEES
In a perfect world, each and every workplace would provide protection and support for employees of all ages, genders, races, and other characteristics. However, according to Adda, "part of the process of looking for job in this day and age is, sadly, rating firms for how inclusive they are."
When you are searching for a career, you should prioritize employers that provide a just working environment for their workers, who value diversity, and who have a vision that you can get behind. The following are some of the methods that may be done:
MAKE INCLUSIVE USE OF JOB BOARDS
Using a diversified job board such as PowerToFly is one method to increase your chances of finding employment with a company whose policies, purpose, and values align with your own, as suggested by Aleia Walker, a Digital Media Specialist at Skillcrush.
LOOK FOR RED FLAGS & EVIDENCE OF INCLUSIVITY
In addition to that, you should be on the lookout for any red flags that indicate a firm is suffering from age prejudice. Be on the lookout for phrases such as "digital native" and "recent graduate," both of which are ideas that are used to discriminate against candidates who are older.
If a web application asks for your date of birth or graduation, you should carefully consider whether or not to provide it. Also, be aware of queries that may be used to discriminate against you on the basis of your age, such as those that inquire about your caregiving position or your retirement plans.
Besides the job post itself, conduct your homework about the firm. Check out their website as well as their social media accounts. What do they discuss on their about page, and what do they choose not to discuss? Are there a variety of people seen in the staff photos? Are all people represented in the pictures and allusions made to their workplace culture? Do they publish a diversity and inclusion report, or any other information on diversity and inclusion-related topics?
CONSIDER THE PERSONNEL THAT IS ALREADY WORKING FOR THE COMPANY.
Investigating the workers of a firm and the fields in which they work is yet another method for determining whether or not it is an employer that welcomes and values individuals of all ages in its workforce. (You may discover this information by doing a search on LinkedIn or by visiting the website of the firm.) Look for examples of people who changed careers as you did, as well as proof that there are prospects for advancement. It's a positive sign that a firm encourages workers to switch occupations and promotes from within if they've had several titles at the same company during the course of their employment there, or if certain employees have held numerous positions or careers in the past.
You should inquire about the age diversity of the workforce directly if you have a connection at the firm or the opportunity to participate in an interview. If you feel at ease doing so, you might even inquire as to whether or not the individuals you are dealing with are typical of the organization as a whole.
CONSIDER BOTH YOUR PAY AND YOUR BENEFITS.
Examine the issues of wages and benefits through the prism of ageism as well. A corporation may provide to applicants either particular wage information or generic information on compensation levels. Salaries should always be based on an employee's degree of expertise, regardless of their age.
If a firm offers benefits catered to a variety of life phases, this is a strong indication that they welcome employees of all ages. Things like:
Allowances for dependent care that are not restricted to children
time off work that is not contingent on the needs of the family
Strong advantages associated to retirement eligibility
Work schedules, times, and places may be adjusted as needed.
5. JUST GET STARTED AND DECIDE WHAT TO DO NEXT AS YOU GO ALONG.
to decide what type of a career in technology you want to pursue, it's easy to become stuck in a decision-making rut. Bear in mind, however, that it is almost hard to determine with absolute confidence what sort of job you want to undertake before you have even begun to dip your toes in the water.
Instead, put your energy towards mastering essential skills that can be used in a wide range of settings, such as HTML and CSS, Git and GitHub, and design principles.
In the meanwhile, Heather Coll, a career counselor at PowerToFly and a recruiting consultant at health technologies DLH Corp., suggests that you give extensive consideration to the kind of job you would want to accomplish in the technology industry. To be successful in development positions, issue solving is an essential skill. Or, if you have expertise providing customer service or excellent people skills, they are transferable abilities that may be used in client-facing professions such as user experience or digital marketing.
If you want to go into technology later in your career, some of the alternatives that you have include digital marketing, graphic design, front end development, and WordPress development. Each of these might be a fantastic match for you. Schedule informative interviews with individuals who are already doing what you intend to be doing soon, learn from them, obtain and follow their advise, and do all of this as you get more active in the world of technology. Even better would be if all of this networking led to an opening where you could offer your services as a volunteer to assist with a project.
If you're anything like me, you'll have to go through a process of trial and error in order to discover the ideal job for you. You'll have to acquire new skills, take on freelancing customers, deal with failures, and network with other people who work in the technology industry until you find your niche.
Coll told the tale of a person who began their career in marketing and public relations before taking a total of 15 years out from the field due to the demands of raising a family. She was able to get a position as a user experience (UX) designer for a startup technology business after she revised her strategy, gained some new abilities, and updated the materials she used in her job search. According to what Coll had to say about her, "She is still in this job now and quite content with the course she selected at this life stage."
Do not, under any circumstances, allow your age to prevent you from beginning a new career in technology. Coll acknowledges that ageism is still prevalent and adds, "I know it. On the other hand, I've seen that IT businesses are starting to comprehend it. They're telling me that some of their more senior workers are some of the best employees in the company. They are understanding how the things you've done in the past may be combined with technology.