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Ask Slashdot: Best Training To Rekindle a Long Tech Career? 162

Posted by timothy
from the choose-his-own-adventure dept.
New submitter SouthSeaDragon writes "I'm a computer professional who has performed most of the functions that could be expected over a 39 year career, including hardware maintenance and repair, sitting on a 800 support line, developing a help desk application from the ground up (terminal-based), writing a software manual, plus developing and teaching software courses. In recent years, I've worked for computer software vendors doing pre-sales support generally for infrastructure products including applications, app servers, integration with Java based messaging and ESB product and most recently a Business Rules product. I was laid off recently due to a restructuring and am now trying to figure out the next phase. With the WIA displaced worker grants now available I am attempting to figure out what training would be good to pursue. I am hearing that 'the Cloud' is the next big thing, but I'm also looking into increasing my development skills with a current language. I wonder what the readers might suggest for new directions."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Training To Rekindle a Long Tech Career?

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  • Android Development (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eljefe6a (2289776) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:18PM (#40276249) Homepage
    Since you already know Java, give Android development a try. I know a few people who have rekindled their love of programming by doing some mobile apps.
    • by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:27PM (#40279167)

      Yep. Doing IOS apps rekindled my love of programming at a time when the endless treadmill of web-dev was pushing me towards contemplating a career change into something not-computers.

      I'm sure I'll grow disillusioned again, but for now, I'm actually enjoying my job for the first time in a decade.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:19PM (#40276255)

    Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

    On the other hand, if you have good hygiene, nice manners, aren't creepy, and are efficient, people might welcome you into their homes.

    So how about being self-employed, going to people's homes and small businesses to help them with configuration / purchase / maintenance of computers and simple networks?

    It wouldn't pay great, but you may have to live with that anyway, given that you're competing with hungry recent-graduates in a depressed labor market.

    • On the other hand, you probably make fewer typos than I do.

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:47PM (#40276519)

      Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

      Only in a law of averages. My observations of old people are they either give up intentionally, the brain freezes up, and they're hopeless, or they keep using the brain and they're more focused than a 20-something. It seems much like muscle mass and health in general as people age.

      The percentage of those who give up in a population increases pretty much linear with age. Look out for the ancient wizard, those guys tend to have scary elite skills. Unless they gave up on tech and went into soft skills and are there just because of schmooze power, the schmooze guys tend toward being a laughingstock.

      People tend to romanticize their youth a bit. At 25 I was trying to date the intern, had no idea what was going on although I thought I was an expert, still wasted time occasionally drinking, basically was an idiot with a huge surplus of energy and motivation. Which is all SOME jobs need, but most need actual skill.

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @03:23PM (#40276785)

        Only in a law of averages. My observations of old people are they either give up intentionally, the brain freezes up, and they're hopeless, or they keep using the brain and they're more focused than a 20-something. It seems much like muscle mass and health in general as people age.

        That's pretty much the ultimate ""your own fault" approach. There is a fairly widespread subset of th epopulation that thinks that any ailment is the sick person's fault.

        Perhaps the giving up happens when the person's brain isn't working as well as it used to. Sometimes stuff like age happens, and despite our best efforts, no one get out of here alive.

        Though it is appealing to think that as long as I do Sudoku, I'll never die or become senile........naahhh, I hate frickin' Sudoku!

        • by Beetle B. (516615) <{moc.liame} {ta} {b_elteeb}> on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:46PM (#40279287)

          That's pretty much the ultimate ""your own fault" approach. There is a fairly widespread subset of th epopulation that thinks that any ailment is the sick person's fault.

          I don't know if there's a formal term for it, but I've heard it referred to as the "Just World Fallacy". People assume the world is fair, and thus if something bad happens to someone, it's his fault - either he took actions that led to his misfortune, or he failed to take actions to prevent it.

          Basically, people who invoke it need to feel secure about the world. They want to believe such stuff won't happen to them.

          Anyway, as for the GP's theories, I've seen research that shows that things like taking care of your health, aerobics, etc are far more likely to help older folks' brains solve problems than keeping them active with technical stuff (mathematics, puzzles, etc).

        • Not so sure about it being the "your own fault" notion, thought there is something to aging. I see several coworkers my age (35-45) just stop learning. What they know is "good enough", they make enough money to be satisfied and stop growing.

          On the other hand, if you eat 4000 calories a day on a 1500 calorie activity level, getting fat is your fault. Don't exercise your muscles, getting weak is your fault. Don't exercise your mind, getting stupid is your fault.

        • That's pretty much the ultimate ""your own fault" approach. There is a fairly widespread subset of th epopulation that thinks that any ailment is the sick person's fault.

          The thing is, for large swathes of ailments, it is true. Think lung cancer, skin cancer, heart disease, diabetes, AIDs, hepatitis, etc. Most of them are "lifestyle" diseases that (for most people - there are always some exceptions) are due mostly to the choices they've made. And there's plenty of other cases. My work offered free flu vaccines this winter. Some people took them, some people didn't - and got the flu when it went around. I know people who avoid doctors like the plague, and so when they do get

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

            My work offered free flu vaccines this winter. Some people took them, some people didn't - and got the flu when it went around.

            Wy too big a simplifiction. I worked with a fellow who got two flu shots, and both times he became ill right afterward with the flu. so while we are assigning fault, was he at fault when he got the shots? Was he at fault when he refused any more if he didn't get the shot and got the flu?

            I know people who avoid doctors like the plague, and so when they do get sick, they don't seek professional help in time to head it off at the outset, and end up much worse off.

            I once worked with a man who's doctor put him on cholesterol reducing drugs for mildly elevated cholesterol. It nuked his sex drive. Was going on the drugs and losing his sex drive his fault? If he went off his cholesterol m

            • I worked with a fellow who got two flu shots, and both times he became ill right afterward with the flu...I once worked with a man who's doctor put him on cholesterol reducing drugs for mildly elevated cholesterol. It nuked his sex drive.

              I wasn't trying to outline a regimen of behaviour to absolve fault. I was just illustrating that, yes, our actions impact our health, and frequently, our health is the result of our own decisions, not factors of a chaotic universe beyond our control. In the cases you outlined above, yes, to all of them. Yes, his actions in taking the flu-shot resulted in him getting the flu. Yes, when he got the flu without it, his lack of vaccination was a factor. Yes, the guy's lack of sex drive were due to his actions i

      • by antdude (79039)

        Did you get find a date and get hitched? ;)

      • by wrook (134116)

        My observations of old people are they either give up intentionally, the brain freezes up, and they're hopeless, or they keep using the brain and they're more focused than a 20-something.

        My observation of me (at 44) is that no matter what I do, my brain is not as agile as it was when I was younger. The main problem is memory. You can train memory to a certain degree, but for me, anyway, it seems to be slowly fading away. When I was in my twenties, I could easily keep the structure of several hundred thousand lines of code in my head. I can not do that any more and I have to rely on notes.

        The next biggest problem is stamina. If I'm coding all day long I get sleepy. I can get a good 8-1

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @03:08PM (#40276671)

      Or he could, you know, find work in a position befitting his experience? Catering to home users is generally bottom of the barrel in terms of pay and probably getting the same PITA phone calls about their network not working because little Timmy downloaded too much pronz.

      There are some companies around that actually value an older guy who's a little humble and knows the ropes. Hotshot 25 y/os may have the cool factor and are in touch with what's hot, but at the same time make a lot of mistakes their older peers no longer make nor have the same perspective.

      IMO, if the guy has any legacy knowledge of systems still in use but no longer sexy, he should leverage that.

    • Unless you're unusually gifted, you're probably learning new things, and thinking, a somewhat more slowly than you were when you were 25.

      On the other hand, if you have good hygiene, nice manners, aren't creepy, and are efficient, people might welcome you into their homes.

      So how about being self-employed, going to people's homes and small businesses to help them with configuration / purchase / maintenance of computers and simple networks?

      It wouldn't pay great, but you may have to live with that anyway, given that you're competing with hungry recent-graduates in a depressed labor market.

      Condescending comments aside, I also agree with this comment. A lot of younger geeks have simply no relation at all to older people. This is a problem, as older people still own and run a lot of small business. This leads to major communication gaps, and misunderstandings. If you have the chops, you may farm out to a few consulting shops as the expert trouble-shooter. Better money, and more interesting work.

      That or learn Ruby. More demand for that than just about anything I have seen in a while.

    • I would caution against trying in-home support unless you live in a well off neighbourhood or can afford to live on a low wage. Problem is there is some young buck, usually the son of a friend of a friend, who gets off on messing with computers and will do it for pocket money. It's hard to make a living wage against competition like that.

      If this sounds bitter, yes I've tried it. I'm a bit similar to you started my IT career doing assembler programing on IBM 360's , became a systems programer, then starte

    • Right... he's competing against hungry *unproven* recent grads.

      There's a difference.

      Ageism: It's the new tech innovation.

    • Conscientiously re-installing Windows, insuring that no malware and/or feelthy peectures remain, and installing updates and antivirus can keep you busy all week. Surprising how much of this stuff is around. Rinse, repeat... (lots of repeat customers)
  • Direction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:19PM (#40276263)

    I wouldn't recommend learning stuff with the hope of finding a job that uses it. I feel like you should spend some time, look around at various tech projects and languages and applications, etc etc. Find a job you want like "I'd like to work for Amazon S3, it seems really interesting." or something and then figure out what you need to do to get it, training or otherwise. I feel like that would be more fulfilling and have a better chance of success.

  • Be realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:20PM (#40276277) Homepage Journal

    If you have a 39 year old career, that means you are likely just a few years from retirement.
    A company that hires you will likely hire you for skills you have experience with - not any new skills you have no experience with. Those jobs will, unfortunately, go to young grads.
    My recommendation is to take one of the skills you have plenty of experience with and get a formal training in it. Even if it bores you, it will likely boost your employment probabilities more than anything new and interesting like the cloud. Because it is new, companies will be looking for young people who (a) are cheap, and (b) hopefully will stay after gaining experience, so the company can take advantage of that experience down the road.

    Sorry if this wasn't what you wanted to hear - I wish things were different, but we old timers aren't all that attractive for things we don't have experience with.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life. More than likely, he'll never work again as a professional or in any white collar job.

      That is also a reason why disability claims with Social Security have been sky rocketing these last couple of years - older people unable to work so they go for early retirement or disability if they are too young.

      It's a crying shame, too.

      • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:42PM (#40276475) Homepage Journal

        From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life. More than likely, he'll never work again as a professional or in any white collar job.

        There are exceptions, but those are for people with very specific skill sets that younger people are unlikely to have, like Cobol, Fortran, CICS, Unicos, VMS...

        • Fortran is still taught in schools for engineers and programmers, IIRC. Dunno about cobol, but I'm sure it's being taught somewhere.
          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            It is, but it's a course on rarely taken and rarely offered. It's for people who know they plan to work at a bank for example, and will need COBOL to work on some critical system that you can't do anything about.

            Fortran is an extremely rare skill because it's taught primarily to people in sciences who don't go off into industry. They still actively use Fortran in sciences and are professional scientists.

            • by demachina (71715)

              Fortran is NOT an extremely rare skill. Its widely used in engineering and scientific programming.

              • by Cryacin (657549)
                You can learn Fortran, COBOL and all those languages. Wonderful. But a language is not what you get paid for. You get paid for knowledge of the codebases you work on, as it's not the language that you can read from a textbook that's work money, but the unwritten conventions in the code base.

                Remember that old joke, "What? Why did you charge me $10,000 to replace a fuse?!?" "Well sir, $1 for the fuse, $9999 to know which one to replace."
              • by Sir_Sri (199544)

                That what I said. It's rare in industry because they're not off in industry using that information. It's not that it's actually rare, it's just rare to find someone in industry who uses it actively.

          • by kenh (9056) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:58PM (#40276615) Homepage Journal

            It is still used by many major corporations, and many not-so-major ones.

            COBOL, like the Mainframe, has had almost as many funerals as it has birthdays...

      • by akeeneye (1788292)
        The key may be, along with learning the hot skill of the moment (another poster suggested mobile apps which is probably hottest now), to seek out remote work, where, if you only reveal your most recent experience, The Man doesn't generally know how old you are. There's a fair amount of it out there - keep an eye on the news.ycombinator.com forums among other places. I see a lot of work-from-anywhere mobile gigs. Also, small companies - startups especially - want cheap hackers but they also have very shor
      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        From what I've been reading in the business press over the last couple of years, when folks lose their jobs in their 50s or later, they're screwed for the rest of their life.

        Now is the time to go into senior management or similar. Sell your years of expertise training people, that kind of thing.

        You're right, in that any career he was particularly in before is dead and buried unless he can market himself to a former competitor. Training in a programming language is unlikely to help unless he plans to start his own business and start out as lead programmer.

    • Re:Be realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:31PM (#40276367) Journal

      Embezzle as much as you can from your current employer. You'll end up in a minimum security federal prison. You get three hots and a cot, plus free health care. There's a gym and a library. It's probably better than you'll get in your retirement. Our country is more willing to spend money on its criminals than its elders, might as well take advantage of that.

      • He must also consider the danger that he might NOT be caught, and could end up spending the rest of his life on a big pile of money.
      • Embezzle as much as you can from your current employer. You'll end up in a minimum security federal prison.

        Only if you rip off a small amount. Embezzle enough and you'll get his job.

      • It's not just for eldars. We're also more willing to spend money to lock 20-something marijuana smokers in jail than to send them to college or job training.

        It's some system we've got going: pull funding from education, imprison the youth, then offshore labor or import it from other countries because "there aren't enough qualified applications", even while the number of unemployed goes up.

        Yay!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Our country is more willing to spend money on its criminals than its elders, might as well take advantage of that.

        Wrong.

        I don't know about you, but I've been in jail.

        Three hot meals is correct, if you can manage to swallow it. The food has to be as bland as possible, because they don't cook with any salt or spices or anything tasty in case someone has heart issues or is diabetic, etc. Trust me, putting salt on your food after it is cooked makes a huge difference (i.e. it doesn't help). Most people mix all of the meal together in one big pile in order to get even a modicum of flavor. If you want something tasty you have

        • by Cryacin (657549)

          Oh, and at the end of your tenure you are tendered a nice fat bill to pay for your stay (~$30 a night). Pretty sure a $900/month retirement home would be a better choice.

          Not to be rude, but can I get a citation for that? Would be an awesome factoid for dinner conversation.

    • Re:Be realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @03:31PM (#40276895)

      That's HIGHLY Insightful.

      When I was training WIA students who were highly "experienced" at being (repeatedly) unemployed due to the economy I learned a lot from them.

      Take the LONGEST most useful course you can AND see if the school will call multiple courses some "hyphenated" SINGLE course for you. If your Unemployment will last through this, ensure your expressed preferences via the unemployment office "protect" you against being coerced to take jobs you don't really WANT. A great way is to pick a distance from home which excludes potential employers.

      Milk it, get the papers, and use the time. You might even channel schooling into obtaining a teaching gig. Schools KNOW students take courses they could probably teach. They get paid so they are fine with that.

      Make faculty friends! It's a club and it's a club where being an Old Fucker is a sign of stability! (I'm an Old Fucker, BTW.) Use that human networking kung-fu young noobs think they don't need because they are Unique Snowflakes. You know TEAM behaviours.

      We work to serve our elite masters who milk us like cattle, so use every opportunity the system gives you. THEY DO. It's every man for himself.

    • Because it is new, companies will be looking for young people who (a) are cheap, and (b) hopefully will stay after gaining experience, so the company can take advantage of that experience down the road.

      This is an ironic statement since most tech departments I have seen have a mean seniority of 1.5 years or less. Younger people are more likely to take the risk and job hop, while and older employee may just keep going on.

    • After 39 years, you likely should be retiring. I retired after a 38-year career, and it was the best thing I ever did!
      Go apply for Social Security and begin tapping into those IRAs and 401Ks. You are set.

      If, after you retire, you still feel the urge to do something creative, Get involved with an open source project or go help some local community-service organization with its website or something like that.
    • by deodiaus2 (980169)
      Stick to your tools and tech. I am sure that there are established projects which need some tweaking. Maybe you can convince someone to port those to the cloud.
      Your competitive advantage is your established experience and tools. Chose your battles wisely. It will be hard to land a job where they want young whipper snappers, but I bet there are lots of ongoing projects which need you. You have to find and convince people of that. Its not that hard. Managers are RISK ADVERSE like HELL.
    • This is actually the best advice I have seen here. Yes, there is age discrimination. But usually only in the fields where HR people PERCEIVE that young blood is needed. (The facts don't really matter.) So, as with everything else, the best bets are to play to one's strengths or to one's interests. As the OP is asking for direction, it appears he has no overriding interests. So that leaves playing to strengths. There is nothing wrong with that. Then, although the OP may not get a full-time job doing said str
  • Teach (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Java is still a very popular language - Could you get a job teaching the basics? You can't beat the perks of being a professor.

    If development classes don't float your boat, how about teaching a Systems Analysis and Design course? You've got experience with requirements gathering, project management, System Design, etc.. you could make a great Professor with that experience.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:34PM (#40276397)
    One of the things that many companies struggle with is delivering on projects. A good PM helps with that. What makes a good PM? Someone that knows and follows all the stupid paperwork around PM, but also has a well refined BS meter, for all the worthless twits who will always say "I can get you that by Friday" when it's a 6 month task (in IT, I find many people have superhero complexes and will never say "I don't know" or anything like that). So, someone with a well rounded background who is interested in PM will make a better PM than all the people who decide it's the non-technical way to get into IT for all that lucrative IT cash, and can't ever deliver anything.

    On the other hand, if you are wanting to just continue as an IT grunt, VMware is what most managers think of when "the cloud" is mentioned, so go take a VMware class, or SAN or something like that. Look at the jobs available in your region (or where you want to work) and see what's being listed now and what pays in your expectation range.
  • Either

    1) Do something completely non-tech like management training and find something in at a tech company. Or accounting.

    2) Do what you find interesting (I'm learning Scala by doing Project Euler tasks, because I want to. No other reason). You're asking /. so I'm guessing you don't want to do anything in tech. Which is fine. You may never find a job in the field. Assuming you're in the US, there are fewer employed full time workers every year so you may never have another job, at all. But at least y

  • roll with that.

    seriously.

    get a job appointing support consultants to do some shit ass oracle consulting for businesses that use enterprise support sw(read: every fucking big corp). swim in money. go for it.

  • In the "Cloud" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:42PM (#40276479)

    Cloud + "Big Data" are happening things these days. I am a 64yo professional and started a new career at the first of the year in telecom. Cloud + Hadoop + Big Data are serious issues these days. I'm gaining my chops in that area (main emphasis is performance engineering), and there is a LOT of interest in anyone with "Big Data" (Hadoop + MapReduce) type of experience.

    • by Lorens (597774)

      Cloud + Hadoop + Big Data are serious issues these days. I'm gaining my chops in that area (main emphasis is performance engineering), and there is a LOT of interest in anyone with "Big Data" (Hadoop + MapReduce) type of experience.

      Second that. Want to learn a new language? Pig [wikipedia.org].

  • by ZeroPly (881915) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:42PM (#40276487)
    If you have been steadily going up the pay scale during your career, you might have to take a significant pay cut - maybe 40% or more, to get another job. As I'm sure you've heard often enough, IT is not kind to those over 50. And nowadays 45 is the new 50. If you have specific niche skills, those are what you should try to market. There is still a considerable amount of legacy hardware and software out there, and it would be better to look there, and hopefully replace someone who is retiring, than live a pipe dream of "reinventing" yourself as a Java/Android/HTML5/Node.js/Hadoop expert.

    I do not believe training will help much at this point in your career. Your age will work against you much more than any shiny new certification will work for you. All the twenty somethings are all over the hot new fads. But they will probably not be applying for jobs that involve AS/400 control language, or VAX/VMS.
  • Sounds like you've done a lot on making different pieces of the IT puzzle work together on the infrastructure side. Maybe there's something there?
  • A lot of companies are complaining that they just can't find good tech folks. IT and programming seem like damned hard positions to fill. If you wanted to brush up on Java web application programming for a month or two, I don't think you'd have a problem finding a job. If you were feeling lazy, you could probably go into software quality testing (automation is more fun than manual) with no training whatsoever and coast to retirement. Depends on the salary you're looking for, of course.
    • The original poster probably doesn't count as a "good" tech person in that context. I.e., he's not willing to work the wages that are offered to H1B guest workers who can be effectively deported at the whim of their employer. And he's probably not willing to work 60 hours/week for unwritten promises of future wealth.

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:57PM (#40276603)

      A lot of companies are complaining that they just can't find good tech folks ...

      ... for $10/hr no benefits, or mandatory 80 hour per week overtime, or intern unpaid jobs, or "pay you in shares" startups, or ridiculously over specified.

      Pay in peanuts, you get monkeys.

      I see no evidence of an actual shortage.

      I know its discouraging, but just trying to keep it real. Its not 1999 all over again. Or even 2004.

      • by Greyfox (87712)
        I've had a swarm of recruiters offering $40-$60 an hour for manual testers lately. Hardly peanuts. A lot of that is contract work, in which you actually get paid for any overtime worked (1040 work through a contracting company.) Even at rates like that they seem to be having trouble finding qualified people. From my network of software engineers, no one's actually looking for work right now. That's hardly a scientific sample size, but from my perspective there is a shortage of qualified people and the econo
  • Get hip-deep in heavy networking knowledge. Use the grants to get Cisco certs; that's a hard thing to get into, otherwise.

  • Five years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenh (9056) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:55PM (#40276579) Homepage Journal

    Are you honestly looking for suggestions on training to take that will be good for the next 5 years?

    First off, in this job market, don't expect to sail into an upper-level position, so you are likely looking at a grunt-level job.

    My advice would be to learn either network security OR virtualization - your diverse skill set will augment either of those two areas, and in security you may have an advantage not being a twenty-something with dubious credentials (AKA self-taught). I think you are honestly at the end of your career, or at least, you can see it from where you are - your greatest strengths are your previous experiences, look for a way to build on them in a growing segment of the industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am 68, probably older than you. IOW, my age-related observations come from living them, not from seeing them portrayed on TV.

    I have gone into business for myself and have a cloud-based service I wrote at http://www.TelephoneMessagePad.com

    It is not a major money maker ... yet. However, it is growing and churn is low. With expected age of death in early 90's (!) for those in their 60's now, what you need/want is a long-term solution. I don't think hanging on for a few years until social security kicks in

  • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak&speakeasy,net> on Sunday June 10, 2012 @03:21PM (#40276775) Homepage
    . . . .you obviously know IT, can code, and like being productive. You've got both experience and maturity, and likely a good work ethic. Might I suggest a different tack ? Get into CNC Machining [wikipedia.org]. Consider it the industrial end of the Maker movement, industrial-style. People are needed, it pays well, and if they need you to work overtime. . . .you get paid for it. Plus, at the end of the day, you'll have a tangible result of your work. And, with the depth and breadth of experience you already have, picking up CAD/CAM shouldn't be a problem, and you'll likely become a floor lead or shop chief in a relatively short time after attaining mastery of your new skills. . . .
    • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @05:29PM (#40277757)

      Very true words the parent wrote. My father just retired from a long, well-paid, career as a CNC programmer in the aerospace industry and I'm currently doing electro-mechanical R&D at a start up (and being paid decently with benefits!) partly because of my diverse skill set. They commented that you don't often see Electronics Tech, Java Programmer, Network Admin, and CNC Machinist on the same resume. I've heard that some idiots ask "What's your vertical?", like everyone needs to be a super specialist in something. I've found that having a broad range of skills makes me valuable to quite a few people, some that are more than willing to pay a consulting fee.

      Check out consulting while going through classes. It looks like you already know your stuff well enough that people would be willing to pay you. If you live in an area that isn't "tech heavy" like the coastal areas of the US, you may find people doing start ups that need tech explanations and guidance. My wife does a lot of that for her bosses (she's the IT Director for a multi-million dollar start up).

      Going back to school is also a good move, in the meanwhile. Most schools (especially tech schools) have people whose role is to build relationships with local businesses and place appropriate students with them. They love older students with high tech backgrounds and experience. They are easier to place, and more likely to get other students from the school in the door of where ever they go.

  • If you've had customer face-time, and worked in a large company, or visited large companies and worked in them, your understanding of the corporate world is not to be underestimated.

    Young clowns right out of school typically take years to understand how corporations work, how to navigate, how to handle the politics, how to communicate, hell, even how to dress. You probably want to focus on getting back in to corporate work, or perhaps consulting with corporations.

    As another poster mentioned, you'll be hired

  • CISSP (Score:2, Funny)

    by i.r.id10t (595143)

    Get your CISSP cert https://www.isc2.org/CISSP/Default.aspx [isc2.org]

  • SouthSeaDragon:

    As your post points out, it's obvious that "the Cloud" is a valuable skill. That term means many things, but although I've been hearing the same things for the last 5 years I've only had the chance to mess with running virtual machines on the public cloud for the past couple months. Why? Time didn't permit me the luxury of exploring it myself, and only recently has my employer decided to it's a priority and paid me to work on it. My bet is that a lot of technology professionals feel that wa

  • by drgroove (631550)
    Get your ITIL v3 Expert / Manager certification. Jobs for ITIL Experts / Managers start at about $150k and work up from there.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @04:29PM (#40277329)

    Your skill list is probably good enough. What you need placement help. Check with local technical placement agencies.

    Still, if you feel like learning something new check online resources like careerbuilder, craigslist, monster and the like. Look at the jobs that interest you and see what the requirements are. You'll find the holes in your resume pretty quick that way.

  • I know my stuff, and have a good education. But I can never get an interview anywhere. I sent out thousands of resumes on Monster.com over two years, and only got 1 Interview from it. After years of searching, I gave up and started programming my own games. This is what I'm doing now. Anyone have tips for someone who's career never started, but is still super talented in what they do?
  • Rekindle (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    or you want to say renook?

  • A: Find your oldest skill and try to find an industry that still needs it and has trouble finding people able to maintain old common lisp/cobol/PL1/... code using codasyl databases and such stuff... (boring but might bridge you to retirement).
    B: Find a job in the Gambling industry it has low "ageism", they want people they feel they can trust (funny isn't it)..
    C: Create your own company doing anything you like to, and people will expect you to be "old" since you are the big kahuna, and they do not have to k

  • by meburke (736645) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @05:05PM (#40277595)

    ...if you know you couldn't fail?

    I've been doing computer-related stuff for 47 years. I've rotated between hardware, software, sales, and just about anything in between. The bigest kick I get is making something work. Tech work worked for me for a long time because I was continuously getting called on to make things work. The longer I've been in the field, the more complicated the problems and, until about 6 years ago, the more I got paid to solve them.

    My income has dropped 80% in the last 8 years. Part of it was due to an illness I contracted, but most of it was due to the economic situation. I have a small advantage over most techs, but the truth is that any fairly competent tech with a couple of year's experience could do 80% of what I do, and those techs are selling their services for $35/hr instead of the $110/hr I usually charged my corporate customers. It makes sense; It is usually cheaper to hire the cheaper fella and only call me in if he screws it up. That's OK with me, too, because I love being the hero. But it is getting harder and harder to make a living this way.

    I'm 64 now, and I'm not ready to retire. (I spent all my money on wine, women and song, and I wasted the rest.) If my business doen't pick up by October I think I will see if can get into an Electrician's apprentice program. There is always a need for electricians, it is solid work, and lots of the low-voltage work in security, home automation, solar electric, etc. is fascinating. Plus, you don't have to re-train yourself every 4 years to keep up with your field. Cause and effect are pretty clear (most complex systems have failure built into the design) and the requirements analysis is pretty straight forward.

    Another question might be, "What would you do with your life if you had so much money that you never had to work for a living again?" My hobby is robotics and I do some serious stuff. If I could make a living doing that I would probably be as happy as if I had good sense.

    I would suggest reading, "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber before making a decision. http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/dp/0887307280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339362079&sr=1-1&keywords=e-myth [amazon.com]

    Even if you are not interested in having your own business, the first three chapters on figuring out how you want to live your life are very useful.

    Good luck.

  • You should make a list of contacts and get in touch with them, find out if they know of any needs that you might fill, either as an independent consultant or as an employee.

    I also strongly suggest using linked-in and building your contact network, your resume, getting recommendations, joining groups that might be useful, etc. It's an excellent business networking tool.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You meant "renook a long tech career", i guess

  • by plopez (54068) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @06:42PM (#40278143) Journal

    First answer that question. What do *you* really want to do? The proceed from there. Don't just chase after the latest fad, they come and go and have the shelf life of fresh fruit. And fads can often end up as dead ends. Find out what you would be happiest doing. Even if it means a career change. Get career counseling if you have to but explore that question first.

  • If you're still interested in coding, learn Scala! You'll leverage your existing JVM knowledge, and have exposure to a few currently-hyped trends: Functional programming, actor-based concurrency, etc.

    • I just flat out turned down a gig at a shop where I immediately run into some young Scala fanboy coders. Truth is the entire operation was a complete mess with multiple stories of down time problems and stability horrors.

      I had made up my mind 15 minutes into the interview that this shop would be like watching a train wreck in progress.

      You cannot build stable production software using beta quality development tools. Years of experience is what teaches one these valuable life lessons.

  • You've been in an office long enough. Go do some field work. Bring up circuits at field offices and stores. I did that and I never want to go back to the office.

  • Maybe you could get a teaching degree? Teach kids computer and programming skills?

    Also, sorry to ask, but with a 39 year career in and around the tech industry, why are you still working? What went wrong with retirement? I ask only because I'm in the same industry and don't want to work for 39 years (even thought I like what I do). If you made one critical mistake that cost you your retirement and wish to share it, many of us here could probably benefit from your 20/20 hindsight.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

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