Is 31 too old to go to college for computer science and get hired as a programmer?

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by VVVVV, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. VVVVV

    VVVVV New Member

    I had settled for factory jobs in my small town while raising my son as a single Dad, but after getting laid off for the 2nd time I have decided that I am tired of starting over in dead-end jobs that go no where. I am definitely going to do some clep exams and start taking classes online in the fall. I have been learning Python the last couple of months and I really enjoy it (btw should I be starting out on a different language to code in for my first?) My main concern is that I will have to take out some student loans and I don't want to get stuck with a degree that I won't be able to find a job with. I know being in my mid 30s by the time i graduate an employer would expect I had more experience and I guess I am just afraid of not being taken serious. I am not sure how hard it is to get your foot in the door in this type of industry so it has worried me a bit, but if anyone has gone through a similar situation or can give me some advice I would appreciate it.
  2. msganti

    msganti Active Member

    After wasting about 8 years in business ventures (in East Africa) that I never liked in the first place, I started my career as a Jr. Programmer at the age of 32. To compensate for the lack of knowledge and experience, I used to pour-in 15-20 hours a day. I started with MS-Access, and slowly moved to VB6 and .NET.

    Today I contract in Architect / Sr. Developer / Team lead positions, and carry about 15 years of experience.

    All this was possible due to my passion for IT, and my family's support. Hope this helps.

    BTW - my bachelor degree is in Mechanical Engineering. I do not have a formal CS/IT background.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    The answer is "NO" if you're willing to start a a junior level. However, I am sure the junior software developer still pays more than your industrial job. There are way to learn to be software developer with your getting a college degree.
    - Harvard University's Computer Science.

    But a Bachelor degree might require job IT job nowadays, unless you have extensive experience.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Python is often cited as an ideal first programming language, so don't worry there.

    And 31 is not at all too old. You're more than three decades away from retirement, you can probably jam an IT career in there somewhere. :smile:

    As much as I like distance learning, let me ask you -- do you have a community college within range? Those are usually the best value when it comes to getting college credit that won't drown you in an ocean of debt. There are schools where you can earn a Bachelor's degree online without killing your budget, but they're not the ones that advertise all the time on TV.
  5. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    It can be done, its a tough road to hoe that is for sure. See the poster above who mentioned the 15-20 hours working on the trade. Programming is a particularly difficult field of IT to get into. Ageism is going to be a factor, it's an acknowledged problem within the IT community, but nothing much is done about it. A 30+ year old programmer (newly minted degree and relatively no programming experience) will be a tough road to take. It can be done of course, but for a guy with a family, starting over at the bottom would be tough. You'll be competing against kids 10-15 years younger than you who are hungry (literally and figuratively) and will work more hours than you for less money. These guys won't ask for time off when Suzy has an appointment at the orthodontist. These guys will actually work 20 hour days plus weekends if you get them a pizza and some Mt. Dew. Will you? Probably not. These guys will think it's cool that the workplace has a ping pong table and pays for you to work two hours a month at the homeless shelter (for community outreach). These guys will be impressed with the green energy rating on the building and whether or not there is a communal garden out back. And they'll take 30% of YOUR salary for the privilege of those "perks". I'd go and check and see what the fellas on Slashdot have to say about it there are a lot of programmers on there with great advice. Make sure to mention which city you are in and where you might be willing to relocate to, that is another big factor. Also, take some time to read about the H1-B Visa problem.

    It can be done, but think hard about it and do your research.

    Good luck to you!
  6. spmoran

    spmoran Member

    My 2 year database/programming students average 39 y.o. and they get hired. My caution would be to select your program carefully so that it meets the needs of the community you want to live in. The vast majority of IT jobs do not require a CS degree. I used to hire CS grads for CS jobs, and IT grads for IT jobs. I hired a lot more IT grads, because that's a MUCH bigger industry than CS. No flames, just my 2 cents after 20 years in the industry.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I think whether it's as hard as 03310151 says depends on where you are. In the Washington, D.C. area if you can program you're eminently employable. A friend of mine works for NPR's digital media department in town, and they simply cannot keep their programmer positions filled. He's actually quitting to go work on a startup, and he's not even slightly worried about his prospects if it doesn't take off and he's looking for a new job in a year or so.

    (Oh, and he's a decade older than you are.)
  8. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    Absolutely it matters where you are. Many career changers are not willing to leave their current hometown (family reasons, nostalgia, moving sucks-a lot, etc). The best career move I ever made was coming back east to work at Ft. Meade in the government IT sector. I'm 42 now, and started my IT career at 37, so it can be done. I'm just saying it is tough. I got training from the military, had a TS clearance along with a MBA in IT Management, and I'm not exaclty burning up the bank with my paychecks. My position seems to be a stable gig with the Army (knock on wood) so I'm happy where I'm at. I just know that it can be a tough industry to break into and programming is more difficult than what I do.

    Yes, mobility helps....a lot.

  9. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    I would learn a programming language with job opportunities in your area. While Python might be a good language to learn, you are better off with Java or C# for job opportunities. Check out, Monster, etc. and see what demand there is for languages in your area
  10. Gau555

    Gau555 New Member

    I agree with what jam said here. My company mainly hires .net and java developers. There are plenty of jr spots available. These jobs usually are maintaining code and making minor upgrades. An excellent way to see how the overall structures are built and therefore slowly ramping up knowledge and xp towards an engineering job.

    Good luck on your pursuit of programming. It's never to late to start. You still got 30+ years of work left in you. :)
  11. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    If you cannot find employment in programming; there are ways you can make money. For example, develop Apple iOS, Android, Google, Microsoft apps, who knows you might be millionaire or billionaire one day. You can either sell your app for a dollar per download or free (making money through advertisement). Making youtube videos teaching people how to program, and make money through YouTube ad partnership program or Good ads.

    - Example: Instagram, Angry Bird

    ----a Vietnamese guy is from Hanoi develops a simple game FLAPPY BIRD and has over 3,000,000 downloads. It is free, but he makes money through advertisement.
    URL: Flappy Bird Soars On App Charts (VIDEO)
  12. RobStand

    RobStand New Member

    The answer to your question is "no." There is a shortage of tech talent in this country (I assume you're in the US). There may not be a lot of demand where you live (a small town), but if you're up for moving, there are tons of opportunities.

    My advice is to find a passion and pursue it. Don't think about which programming language. Instead, think about the kinds of problems you like to solve and go for that. You will need to be multilingual anyway, and Python is a good start. Check out sites like to see what kinds of problems programmers work on, and where they specialize. Do your research.
  13. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards Member

    00111010111011 yes 1001010110111
  14. 03310151

    03310151 Active Member

    Nope, no shortage of tech talent at all. Don't listen to Bill Gates or Zuckerberg when they tout this crappy line. They are lobbying hard for more H1B Visas, cause they're cheaper than hiring US tech workers.

    Study finds there may not be a shortage of American STEM graduates after all - The Washington Post

    "The EPI study found that the United States has “more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.” Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they’ve been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry"
  15. michaelwarne

    michaelwarne member

    If you are interested in programming and wants to join the college of computer science then age age doesn't matter. I will suggest to go for it dude and best of luck........
  16. RobStand

    RobStand New Member

    There are 324 open IT jobs in Des Moines, IA listed on There are 3041 open IT jobs listed for the Dallas metro. There are 2244 open IT jobs listed for Seattle. And so on. (Of course, some of the positions are dupes and some are the same job listed by different recruiters.)

    Political discussion aside, there are lots of open IT positions out there at multiple skill levels. Should you go to Silicon Valley at 31 with a fresh degree from TESC? I wouldn't. But if there's a mid- to large-size metro near where you live, there are opportunities, especially for people with business knowledge. In the case of Des Moines, for example, there's a lot of demand for people who can combine business analysis with programming.

    All of that is to say no, you're not too old. Is getting a degree the right course of action? I don't know. I personally wouldn't do it. Instead, I'd use Pluralsight courses for practical training and Khan Academy or Coursera for the more academic stuff. But if you want a degree, it's not too late, and you'll just need to be prepared to work hard.
  17. paggy

    paggy New Member

    Very inspiring one .
  18. bing

    bing New Member

    IT can mean anything and everything. From coding to requirements management to Internet architecture and DBA. But, this guy is asking about programming, in particular. I would say that the older you get the more companies don't want to hire you to do a programmer's least not to start a career. I've seen older, in their 40's, but most of the programmers have moved to other positions within IT by that time. Many have moved into business integrator or business analyst jobs by then. So, it is knowing the programming AND the problems of the customer community that might get one hired. Don't let that stop anyone from pursuing what they want to do, though. Anything is possible. If someone is a good programmer, even at age 45, they can get hired somewhere. I was once asked by a WalMart manager, "Can you code?" When I said, "Yes." I got an interview...and eventually a job offer...but turned it down. Now I manage teams of programmers but some of them can't code. I'd take anyone who can code, regardless of age. That's my 2 cents. YMMV.

  19. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    Agree with much of what Rob says. Get some skills, then certifications (depending on IT field), then a degree. If you have a few weeks you can give up, check into Cook System's FastTrack'd program (Cook Systems International - FastTrackD).
  20. instant000

    instant000 Member

    31 is not too old. If 31 was too old, I would not have any degrees. :)

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