If you've never had a job and you're 30+ y/o, is it ever too late to build a career in programming fields?

I’ve read a lot of responses around the web that it’s never too late and I’m baffled. Are people just being nice or is it really possible to get into the field if you never had a job and you’re in your 30s

Example: Bob, 36, for whatever reason never had a job. Over the years he started learning to program and he’s pretty good. He has been working on a few personal projects. CRUD and authenticated type of projects (beyond the calculators and “Hello World”). Would he really be able to break into the field having never had a job

The usual answers are about people in their 30s changing careers. Some people I’ve asked also say that their previous work experience didn’t help them at all. Some even say that even if you worked in random jobs it’s not recommended to include them in the CV.

If Bob has a strong portfolio but a blank CV section in the work history section, would his years out of the work remove his chances to get into the field?


My work history by age/title
16-18 gas station attendant
21-26 infantryman (Army)
27-31 student
31+ c++ dev at a trading firm

You can do it.


But does the idea that all through one’s 20s they did nothing change the chances?

LOL never had a job in 30’s? I can hardly imagine that happening. Maybe if someone were born to a rich family who didn’t bother instilling a good work ethic…or maybe if someone’s spouse always made a ton of money and they just stayed home raising the kids or homemaking, but that is a job in itself for sure!

Mind you not everyone’s “college graduates” or born into a “smart” or “well educated” home. Not having a “College” listed can make Career Field (which is what this is); impossible for someone to get in… Personally, I’ve been going through that too… I’m limited to Slave Labor jobs only; maybe marketing oneself wasn’t the right way?

I appreciate this post and this response.

I don’t have much of a background in coding through my work experience or education. I’m in my mid 30s now and I’m really questioning what my future may look like in my current industry (questioning, but still optimistic).

Briefly: I’m worried that my skills will not be valued as much in the future as they are now, so I’m doing what I can to gain more skills.

To the original poster, my recommendation is to commit and be passionate about gaining marketable skills. I believe coding will be worthwhile, so I’m going to give it a shot.

Doing nothing during one’s 20s may raise some eyebrows, but I know there are employers out there who put experience, and the value a potential employee can have over when someone gained their skills, or age in general.

My perspective is, I can’t change my age, but I can gain more skills, and employers want a skilled employee.

To: fight_dragons, do you think that having a degree plays a significant role in in the coding position you have now? (I didn’t finish my degree, just a lot of work experience).
Maybe getting a degree needs to be another step in my near future.

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Hey mikkeyy and others.

I’d like to add my story to this topic. My story seems a little bit similar to mikkeyy’s.

I’m 31. I have a bachelor’s degree in theology (a totally unrelated field to tech). I worked as a minister at a church for 5 years after college. I then changed careers and now work as a letter carrier at the post office. I don’t have much time to learn programming (about 30 hours a week if I push myself). My degree and work history don’t have anything to do with business or anything tech-related. I’m concerned that I may never (or at least not without like ten years of hard work) get a job as a programmer and that all of this time I’m ready to spend learning to code will be wasted.

Is there hope for someone like me with no tech experience to get a job programming?

I should also note that I don’t have money for college. I have a mortgage and other necessity bills that keep any substantial costs toward education out of my reach. Honestly I can’t even afford Codecademy Pro. My parents have been good enough to pay for it.

Any advice or info would be awesome.

Not a barrier in today’s climate. Your degree might have strengthened your ability of critical thinking, a subset of which is common sense and a tolerance for lots of dry text. The belief paradigm needs to shift, though. Believe in yourself above all else. That might be hard to accept but if you don’t then be ready for a world of hurt.

Computer science is like all science, open to everyone to explore. We are all scientists at heart if there is still a grain of curiosity left in our being. From a theology standpoint this might seem like exiling ourselves to the outer limits so that we might stretch that curiosity out of the gaze of our peers. It takes an open mind. Be sure that yours is open wide.