There used to be a time when a person went to college, studied, and committed to a job or industry until retirement. However, over the last decade, things have changed; with rising costs of living and people working for longer, many people are enjoying more than one career in their working life.
Rather than seeing retirement as the end of work, today it can be seen as the end of one career path and the opportunity to begin another one. Similarly, while tech jobs used to be seen as the younger person’s career choice, there is plenty of scope now for people in their 40s and beyond to pursue a career in tech.
Making the move to tech
In today’s digital world, there are plenty of programming jobs available, which makes it a relatively safe career option for people of all ages. What’s more, rather than allowing your career to slowly fade out as you age, pursuing a career in tech will allow you to do something meaningful, varied and well paid while also offering you the flexibility to work from home or work hours to suit your lifestyle, potentially allowing you to enjoy semi-retirement while still having a successful second (or third!) career.
Research the opportunities.
If you are unsure of whether a career in tech might be right for you, it can help to have a look around at the different tech jobs that are available. This will give you a good idea of the opportunities that are available right now, as well as the working hours, flexibility, pay and other benefits that you can hope to expect if you decide to train for a programming job.
Assess your skills.
You may not have a wealth of experience as a programmer, but as an older person, you will possess a wealth of experience that someone straight out of college is unlikely to have. Make a list of your skills, starting with your previous encounters with technology (depending on your previous career you may have more tech experience than you realize), before looking at the attributes and skills that you have which will help you to be an effective programmer.
Consult a tech recruiter.
Once you have a good idea of what you might like to do, and your existing skillset, get in touch with a tech recruiter. They will be able to take your strengths and experience, confirm the opportunities that are available to you, and advise you of any gaps in your knowledge and skills that you need to address prior to making applications. Programming jobs are unusual in that they don’t require college degrees; there are different routes to getting the right experience that you need, and a tech recruiter will have a great insight into what employers are looking for, as well as what they are happy to teach on the job.
Define your expectations.
If you were a senior manager in your previous career, it can be tempting to look for jobs at the same level in your new career. It is a good idea to manage your expectations and recognize that as you are starting a new career, you may need to aim for entry-level jobs with the plan of working your way up again. However, bear in mind that previous skills and experience may mean that you progress more quickly in subsequent careers than you did in your first one.
With an idea of what is available, what skills you have, and what kind of job you would like, you should have developed a good idea of what skills you need in order to get the jobs that you want. There are different training options available, including formal college training, online courses, apprenticeships and self-teaching. A tech recruiter will be able to tell you what most employers in the industry tend to prefer.
Actively seek employment
Whether you are retired already, or looking to switch careers, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the employment market throughout the process to see what opportunities come up, which jobs you feel are best suited to you and your lifestyle. Once you are ready to make the move towards your new career, it is time to move from general research to the active searching phase. If you have skipped speaking to a tech recruiter until now, it is definitely worth getting on their register as they will know of current and future opportunities that will be a best fit for you.
At a time when there are more programming jobs available than there are skilled programmers to fill them, a new career in programming could be a wise choice, regardless of your age. As long as you are willing to learn and are committed to providing the same level of hard work and commitment at the ages of 40, 50 or 60 as you did at the age of 20 and 30, there is no reason why you can’t have a fulfilling and successful career in tech.