It may seem like IT — information technology — is a career only for the young, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. Besides, almost by definition, “young people” don’t have “long experience”.
The kids may make the news, but those of us of a certain age (hint: I’m 62 as I write this) should not be counted out.
More specifically, we shouldn’t count ourselves out.
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Am I Too Old to Start a Career in IT?
- No! You’re not too old!
- It’s never too late.
- Passion and logical, methodical thinking are key elements.
- Certifications may be important in the job market, but the best way to learn is by doing; focus on or make those opportunities first.
- Don’t let your pre-conceived notions around age hold you back.
It’s never too late…
In my opinion it’s never, ever too late.
It’s not just a young person’s career, and it’s not just a career for someone with lots of experience. IT is a career for people with passion, interest, and specifically with interest in learning new things.
LOTS of new things.
Honestly, one of the reasons I love my career is that it’ll force me to keep learning and stay mentally active until the day I die.
When I was hiring people for Microsoft, and when I talk to people today, my focus is mostly about passion.
If you love doing something, then you’ll probably enjoy doing it, spend more time doing it, and get better at doing it. You’ll eat it up.
I’d never say “No, don’t bother,” because a career change can come at any time in life — Colonel Sanders’ first Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) opened when he was 62!
Passions can change or be discovered at any time in life.
The IT skill set
Obviously, I don’t know your full skill set.
IT, computing, or “coding”, as they like to call some aspects now, really boils down to logical, methodical thinking. There are a ton of details along the way, of course, but my take is that anyone who can follow directions — or perhaps anyone that can write directions others can follow — has an opportunity.
Most of IT is, after all, supplying directions for the computer to follow.
I don’t rule any of it out based on age. I believe there’s always time, and there’s always the ability to change careers and learn new things as long as:
- You believe you can.
- You have that passion to follow through.
I’m not big on certifications in general. I know some jobs require certain certifications, and perhaps after you’ve determined what appeals to you — what lights up your passion — you can investigate what certifications, if any, might be required to get a job doing what you’ve chosen. But it’s not where I’d start.
I’m much more of a hands-on-learn-by-experience kind of person. I find certifications to be more a form of book learning, which, when you get down to it, isn’t really as helpful as having done the actual work.
So I would look for opportunities to start doing what you think you want to do. Start learning by doing and take it from there. Take some introductory courses, perhaps — online or at a local community college — and see what sparks your interest.
Then dive deeper by doing: make up your own projects to do in your own time, volunteer your skills if they’re something that non-profits might benefit from; basically, find or create opportunities to start doing what interests you right away. Doing so builds your skill set and adds to your credentials.
As far as I’m concerned, you and I, we’re young! We’ve got lots of opportunities ahead of us, and there’s no reason to think any other way.