DEV Community

Cover image for Sloan's Inbox: Am I too old to get into tech?

Sloan's Inbox: Am I too old to get into tech?

Hey folks! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot. I'm back with another question submitted by a DEV community member. 🦥

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what's up this week...

Today's question is:

I'm 54 years old and considering getting into software development as a career. I really like the flexibility of being able to work from home and set my own scheduled. In the past, I've experimented some with Python, but honestly don't have much experience. I know I have more work to do, but am I a lost cause or is it possible for someone like me to break into tech? Any advice is welcome!

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. 💚

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice? Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (6)

jess profile image
Jess Lee

Is it breaking into tech or software development specifically? It seems like your goal is primarily around having a job with a flexible schedule. There are a plethora of options and likely more roles that don't require 'hard' skills if you are open to finding a role in tech in general. I personally broke into tech first, and then pursued software development via a bootcamp. After graduation, I didn't go into a dev role but into a product manager role instead. And well, I actually never ended up with a dev role and still work in tech with the flexibility of working from home and setting my own schedule :)

montyharper profile image
Monty Harper

Alls I can say is, I'm in the same boat, and I'm giving it a shot. Over the past year or so I've gained some skills, made a portfolio, and now I'm applying for jobs. It's still early days, so I can't say whether this is leading anywhere yet or not. Fingers crossed!

stefanmoore profile image
Stefan Moore

Use the experiences you have gained throughout the 54 years and use that as your strength when applying/interviewing.

Or you never know till you try.

What do I know...I'm changing careers close to the halfway point in life.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

My older brother was in his 40s when he first started coding. He got up to speed really quickly, and I'm certain he could have done the same thing in his 50s.

yogski profile image
Yogi Saputro

I think it is possible to break into tech in any age by managing expectations.
If the main point is work flexibility, I have some ideas:

  • search freelancing websites like upwork or fiverr, learn some niche skills in demand, then start applying
  • assuming you have existing network, reach out to them and offer tech services. secure the deal and learn the stuff later

It is also possible to apply for engineering jobs, just keep in mind you'll be competing with younger people.

late_developer profile image
John H

I'm in a similar situation, age 42 working in healthcare but considering a pivot of career into tech.
I've done bits of HTML, VB, Python etc over the years (as in dabbled here and there for various projects as I've always been interested and gravitated to tech-focussed projects at work.)

I've now enrolled on a full stack engineer career track course via Codecademy so I can study in my spare time. It may come to nothing or I may be able to make the jump, only time will tell I guess. The big selling point in interviews will be the soft skills I can bring to a role - working in teams, managing teams, project management, problem solving skills etc and its those I will likely focus on during an interview.

The tech field is constantly changing so I get the impression everyone is constantly learning as new frameworks come out or new technologies come along. (Spare a thought for iOS developers who get the rug pulled from under them every year when Apple release the next version of the OS and change all the underlying architecture!!) so coming in "late" to the tech party may not be as much of a disadvantage as we think (or that's what I'm telling myself!!)