Want to start a new career in IT at 40? Here’s how to do it
Most people assume there are no opportunities for new careers in IT after 40. If you’ve been considering a career change, now is the time to pick up those old college textbooks and brush off that rusty database skillset.
Here are 7 ways to get started on your next career as an IT professional at 40 or older!
Why consider changing careers in your late 30s or early 40s?
The tech industry is booming and companies need more qualified professionals to fill these new positions.
When it comes to career changes, many people find that the older you get, the more difficult and challenging it is. Because of the high salaries and excellent growth outlook, people are looking to change careers at a later age.
In your late 30s or early 40s, you can find an IT job that suits your needs as well as a career path that is flexible enough for you to switch up if needed. Also, if you’re looking for long-term career stability, this may be a good way to go about it.
Embrace a career change after 40
The best careers to start in your 40s are dependent on qualifications, experience, and interests. When people are considering a career change at 40, they need to know what type of job would best suit their needs. The most common careers for those who are changing direction in their 40s include job satisfaction over income or status; convenience or stability.
However, external forces might be the main drivers behind a change like relocation or downsizing, as it can eventually lead you to find your perfect fit and provide long-term benefits such as financial security and social mobility.
Personal reasons to switch careers
A personal reason for switching careers can be because of an external event, or it could just be that you want to do something new. Many people find themselves spending a large amount of time in their career building up experience and are still paying student loans at 40.
It’s important not to keep doing what makes you unhappy and try out something new!
1) Do you feel worn out?
If you feel worn out, it doesn’t matter if you’re good or not.
Some people may feel emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. They think about work even when not at work and their first career may not be their dream job.
If you feel that you have been doing your best and still are feeling exhausted all the time, this could be an indication of overwork.
2) Is your current work situation not what you want to do for the rest of your life?
If you are considering a career change, there may be personal reasons that make it more acceptable. For example, if your current job is not what you want to do for the rest of your life, then this might be enough reason to switch careers. If you did everything right in your first career and yet wonder if it is the right place for you, then this could also be enough reason to switch careers as well.
3) Are you no longer making enough money in your current career?
Most small businesses, entrepreneurial ventures, and professionals enter into a second career because they no longer feel fulfilled in their current job and think it is time to pursue something else. Those who believe that they belong in the new field have done everything right up until now and it’s time to make things happen for themselves by doing what others have not been able to do before them.
It’s high time you switch careers!!
Challenges of starting a tech career in your 40s
The number of people starting a career in tech as they age is growing. Many believe that it’s too late to start a new career at 40, but this simply isn’t true.
There is no age that makes it too late for you to start working in tech.
Bill Gates may have started programming when he was in middle school, but that’s just one of many possible paths into the world of tech.
1) Fear of starting over
Starting a new career at 40 or any other age is very challenging. The challenges include having to add up all your strengths and skills in order to make you a unique candidate.
However, your personal stories will help you stand out among competing job applicants as they give you a unique perspective on your skillset.
2) Figuring out how to get started
There are 2 billion different options for people to get started in a new career.
If you’re thinking about what to do next, it’s important to think broadly about the kind of work you’d like to do in tech. It can be hard sometimes because there are so many different roles and skills that come into play. However, if your dream is solving problems or learning new things every day then this is probably a good field for you!
3) Finding time and money to make a career change after 40
The change of your career usually depends on qualifications, experience, and interests. Some positions are not very demanding so it can be easier to make a switch in the 40s.
When considering a potential new career after 40, it’s important to consider how long it will take before you can start earning again as well as how much money you’ll need for your day-to-day life.
Many people in their 40s may have experience and knowledge, but they cannot find positions at tech companies due to the lack of hiring managers who are older than them.
Since the tech industry is one of the youngest industries, younger professionals are in high demand. Older professionals can also enter this field with a lot of training and experience via their portfolios.
How to change careers once you’re 40
Experiences and knowledge from previous jobs are still valuable when starting a new career, so don’t sell yourself short with the idea of “I’m too old for this.” You have many skills that are transferable to new fields. You may not even realize what these skills are!
If you’re 40 and looking to change careers, there are a few things that need to happen.
- You have to pick the type of career path or industry where you want your skillsets being used. For example, if you want your IT skillset in healthcare use cases instead of computers then it would be worth considering switching industries from computer technology into something else like medical science or nursing care.
- Career exploration begins with a conversation, not with a commitment. It should be small and bite-sized adventures, where you learn something new about yourself every day. After identifying the possibilities, you can then decide which ones are right for your life and career.
- This step will be where you will spend a lot of time. You’ll need to try lots of different things and see which ones have the potential to make a career change.
- When applying for jobs consider what age is required for particular roles within the company. For instance, if a company’s job posting says that they are only looking for applicants who have experience with some type of programming language or software development then this means that the position is not compatible with someone under 40 years old.
- What are the long-term prospects for your desired position? If you want to find a permanent job or stay in one place then it’s worth considering industries that have high turnover rates, such as the restaurant industry.
- Consider what your desired position will be like and how much work it will require. For instance, if you want to be a web developer but don’t have a computer science or related degree, then you might have to work long hours and weekends.
- What is the salary for your desired position? A job that pays well but requires very long hours will not be worth it if you also need to take care of children or other family members.
- How much education is required for your desired position? For example, web developers typically need a bachelor’s degree.
Tips for a career change
If you want to start a new career in IT, there are several factors involved to help you decide what type of position you are interested in.
Tip 1 – Don’t worry about going back to school
Many people have a misconception that you need to go back to school for a computer science degree in order to start your career as an IT professional. Although it is important for an aspiring tech job candidate to have the knowledge and experience required, it does not require a four-year degree. A portfolio and good interview can land you the job without years of experience.
Tip 2 – Earn Industry Certifications
If you are looking to break into the IT world, earning industry certifications is a great way to do it. While getting a degree can take up to four years, certifications can be studied for and earned in just a few weeks.
There are many comparisons between getting a degree or earning certifications, but the degree isn’t necessary for entering the IT workforce.
In order to show potential employers that you have the skills they need, try earning industry certifications. For example, a certification in the Microsoft Office Suite would improve your chances of getting hired over someone who doesn’t have one but has years of experience.
Tip 3 – Before committing to a more expensive course, take free or cheap online classes first.
If you’re looking to change careers, a great option is starting on the cheap or for free. If your company offers online classes that you can take for free or very cheap, consider taking them first before committing to a more expensive course like computer science.
The other benefit of learning this way is that you can make sure you enjoy the subject and career path before investing significant time and money.
Tip 4 – Leverage your past experience
Michele Heyward, the founder of PositiveHire, says past experience is valid even when you’re changing careers.
People usually worry about their former career path. Valuing your work history, even if you have been an engineer is important because it will help frame your past experience in a way that makes sense for the industry and job market. There’s no need to hide any of your previous decades of work; employers won’t be able to tell what you’ve done just from looking at the resume!
Tip 5 – Tap into your existing network
Many people would like to change careers in their 40’s. There are a lot of factors that can make it easier, such as being more experienced and having an extensive network. As you grow older, your network also grows larger and has more connections.
Try networking with people who share similar goals or interests to yours in order to find the right job for you. Expand your network by joining tech groups and attending tech events, online and in-person, if possible.
Follow established techies and influencers on Twitter to get in the culture of the industry. Little by little and when the time comes for referrals you stand a great chance of making it onto the list of top employers.
Tip 6 – Seek out companies supportive of all employees
It’s not always easy to find a company that supports your personal and professional goals. You can start by seeking out companies that are supportive of all employees, have an open-minded culture, support diversity, and have a mission you can get behind.
A good indicator of a company that supports career changers and internal advancement is if employees have multiple past roles or careers, or held different titles at the company.
Companies might share with candidates specific salaries or general information on salary levels. Salary should be based on skills regardless of an employee’s age.
Tip 7 – Start somewhere, and figure it out as you go
One way to make a career change is by starting somewhere. You can’t know what kind of work you want to do before you have even gotten your feet wet. To prepare for the new career, focus on learning skills such as HTML and CSS, Git and GitHub, design principles that are applicable in a huge variety of roles. Think broadly about the kind of work you’d like to do in tech such as UI Designer, Software Engineer, or Web Developer.
To summarize, restart your career at 40 by
1) Taking courses online.
2) Working with a mentor.
3) Looking for volunteer opportunities with companies or organizations where you can learn about their needs and how you could help them.
4) Going back to school and getting relevant industry certifications and degrees.
5) Joining professional associations in the field you want to work in, so you can network with people who are already doing what you want to do.
6) Do some research about what you need to do in order to get a job, and then follow through with those steps!
7) Being creative! Think of other ways that you might be able to start a career in IT, besides the ones listed above.
8) Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. You can do it!
Despite the industry’s preference for younger candidates, you can clinch a role at an IT company if you have the right skills and certifications. All that’s really required is a willingness to learn and a determination to succeed. Remember, anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
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