Getting Started in Tech After 40
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.”
— Mark Twain
If you are over the age of 40 and thinking about a career change, you are not alone. According to an article last year on CNBC, nearly half of all employees make a major career change, and 40 is the typical age to pivot.
Changing careers is not a casual decision. Change is hard. It requires effort and determination. On the other hand, going to a job every day you don’t like or that is not fulfilling is even harder. A career change can be good for your health, your happiness, and your relationships.
An over-40 career changer plays by different rules. You have life experience and work history that trumps formal education and expensive degrees. A Computer Science degree is not as crucial for a seasoned worker as it is for a young person with no other credentials.
Think 40 is too late to make a change? Consider: at 40, you have more work years ahead of you than behind you. That’s plenty of time to build a fulfilling career.
A new career in the technology sector is attractive to older workers for many reasons. A tech career offers flexibility, stability, good starting salaries, and exceptional growth opportunities. And keep in mind that many I/T jobs are remote, so co-workers won’t know your age.
Lastly, demand for workers in technology is high across all industries. Traditional colleges and universities can’t turn out enough graduates every year to fill the need, so employers are looking elsewhere.
Consider the following points about a career change to technology after 40.
Work History Is Relevant
As a mature worker, you have what no freshly minted college graduate can offer an employer—experience. You have an employment history that proves your qualifications and your ability to get a job done. Don’t hide your age, accentuate it. Employers are as interested in a solid work ethic as they are in technical skills. Put your work background to work for you.
Be advised, however—experience is important, but don’t make your work history your only qualification. Make sure you have the skills employers are looking for. More on this topic in a moment.
Adaptability is the key to staying relevant in the I/T field. All aspects of technology are in constant flux. You must be constantly learning the latest updates, languages, networks, tools, and systems. If you have been successful at learning and changing in your past jobs, employers will notice.
Use Your Network
While you have been around the block a few times, you have also met people—a lot of people. Your professional and social connections are your best ticket to your new career. Don’t be timid about reaching out to the people you know and asking for leads. The best way to find a new job at any age is to get an introduction from someone who already works in the target industry, and even better, at your target company.
While you are training for your new skills, consider interviewing people in the fields you are interested in to learn about their roles and responsibilities. Most people are happy to talk about their jobs and are flattered that you are interested in their experiences and accomplishments. The more you talk to people, the wider and stronger your network becomes.
Keep building your network with social media accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Keep your profiles up to date and professional. When employers receive your resume, often the first thing they do is look you up on social media. Make sure your social brand enhances your resume.
Think Broadly About Career Options
As you think about your career move, lean on your experience and what it says about your personality:
- Are you a natural problem-solver? Software development may be a natural fit for you.
- Do you enjoy interacting with people? Consider the role of a technical support/help desk engineer.
- Are you artistically inclined? Web design and development rely heavily on visual presentation.
- Does planning tasks excite you? You may be good material for a project manager role.
While considering your future career, keep your options broad. When you are breaking into a new field, now is not the time to specialize. Learn several programming languages, platforms, operating systems, and networks. Breadth is more important than depth when you are starting out.
Invest in yourself. You are the greatest asset you have. Training is essential. As mentioned previously, work experience is an important benefit, but it cannot be your only advantage. You need high-demand skills.
At 40, you face a particular challenge when it comes to changing careers—at this point in your life, if you have a job, you probably can’t afford to take time off to train for a new career. That’s where online training comes in. Online training offers conveniences that will make your education feasible. For example, online training is self-paced—you learn at the speed that best suits the other demands of your life. You are not tied to a semester schedule. Online training also provides for a flexible routine. You can do your training in the morning one day, in the evening on another, during your lunch break, on the weekend—whatever works best for your lifestyle. The location of your online training is also up to you. You are not tied to a brick-n-mortar campus. You can access your training at home, in the library, at a coffee shop—wherever you have access to a computer and the internet, that’s your online classroom.
When talking about skills, certifications are also important. A certification tells a potential employer that you have reached a recognized level of proficiency. The “free” courses and bootcamps you find on the internet do not certify you. You want professional training that gives you credentials and accreditation, so you catch the attention of hiring managers.
To start a career in your 40s:
- Be prepared to start over – your new job may require a pay cut. It will likely be classified as entry-level. But the growth opportunities are exceptional.
- Volunteer – grow your experience even before you land a new job. Look to public schools and your community for opportunities to use your new skills in service.
- Highlight your transferable skills and experience – on your resume and in your cover letter, talk about the universal skills that every employer wants, such as communications, self-motivation, and teamwork.
- Take your time – don’t get discouraged while you are working your network to get interviews. Look for the right fit. Keep talking to people. Continue to increase your new skills.
RemoteMode offers exceptional training in virtually every high-demand tech role. Take a look a RemoteMode’s list of career training programs. Then contact a RemoteMode career advisor right away to put yourself on the path to an exciting new tech career. You’re not getting any young, you know.
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