Older coding student - 51 years old

Good day everyone. I’m looking for advice / opinions on what I could expect when I finish my Full Stack Engineer course and ready to explore the job market.

A brief life story: I started coding with Basic on an Atari 800 computer when I was 10 years old. Throughout my teens I enjoyed coding for fun but never considered it as a career so I ended up working in the trades. When the internet was born I began building web sites and became fairly proficient with HTML and javascript and also built some apps with Visual Basic. At this stage I briefly considered making it my career but young kids and an opportunity in a family business changed my mind. Then when smart phones came along I started learning Java so I could build Android apps that helped me manage my goat farm (another side project).

This brings us to the present where I recently sold the goat herd and with my kids grown and out of the house I have more spare time to pursue other interests. The responsibilities of the family business will gradually transition to the next generation. Therefore I have decided to finally pursue coding as a career. I’m 25% into the Full Stack Engineer program and enjoying it. I have a full-stack project planned that would be useful for the family business and will be added to my portfolio. After that I would like to start looking for part-time work since I will still have responsibilities with the family business for the next 3-5 years. At some point I would hopefully be able to work full-time coding.

I have many questions regarding my career plan but the two biggest are:
“Are there part-time coding jobs?” and the biggest question is “Will I have difficulty finding work at my age?”

I’m looking forward to hearing from the Codecademy community.

Thanks!
Blain

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Sounds like you have a varied coding background, which (I think) is good. I think that the annual S.O. Dev Survey is always a good start to get basic demographic info on the dev. community:
https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2021

It also depends on what you want to build. What interests you the most in technology? Where do you think you could have the most impact with your skillset? Contract work is an option and maybe p/t contract work too. Do you think you’d like to mentor students /learners somewhere?

There was just an article in the NYT about a recruiter and closemindedness (ageism) in hiring (on all sides, employer & recruiters). Well, that’s what I gleaned from the comments–there’s a ton of talent out there that is (gasp!!) older than 45! (sarcasm noted). So, ageism, while illegal, does exist–especially in technology (more so for women, sadly)–but it’s difficult to legally prove. So, that can unfortunately be an obstacle. The system is broken and needs to be changed (but that’s a discussion for another forum).

That said, once you’re ready, make sure you have a professional write your resume and if you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn profile. There’s a lot of excellent career advice on sites like Muse and Flexjobs and elsewhere. And, make sure you have a portfolio of your projects and a GitHub account. Saying you can do something is one thing, showing potential employers what you’ve built is better. Make connections on LI, talk to people who are doing what you want to do. Check out Meetup. And, Codecademy has chapters around the world that fit almost every subject in technology: https://community.codecademy.com

Check the forums too. There have been threads where we’ve discussed this very subject with more than what I’ve said here.
Ex:
https://discuss.codecademy.com/t/older-engineer-looking-for-software-programming-direction/402737

I wish you luck!

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Thanks @lisalisaj for the reply.
The stackoverflow survey was very informative. As a male, I was shocked at the low percentage of female developers. I knew it was predominantly male but not by that much of a range.

As for age demographics, it was interesting to see that only 6.6% of respondents were aged 45-54 years of age. I’m guessing a lot of developers move into management/executive positions as they progress through their careers. It would be interesting to know how many developers in that age group are just starting their careers i.e. have 1-4 years of experience. Perhaps there is a way to get that information from stackoverflow. I think I’m in a unique situation since I have coded on-and-off almost my whole life but I have almost no experience actually doing it as a job.

I have joined the Toronto Codecademy Chapter and signed up for their upcoming virtual meetup on March 10 so I’m looking forward to that.

Thanks again for your advice. I think I’ll occasionally update this post as I progress through this experience.

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I think one thing to remember about that survey is the sample pool. It isn’t as diverse as it could be, or, I mean that participation rates could be better. In the methodology section they state that, “Respondents were recruited primarily through channels owned by Stack Overflow”. So, that’s kind of a limited group of respondents. But, it’s a good starting point to get a basic overview of the dev community. And, again, that 6.6% of respondents in that age range could also be influenced by other factors like ageism in hiring.

Keep us posted! I think it benefits everyone to hear all kinds of individual tech journey stories.