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Ask Slashdot: Programming / IT Jobs For Older, Retrained Workers? 215

Posted by timothy
from the over-22-not-interested-next dept.
12_West writes "I seek opinions from the Slashdot community about entry level job opportunities as programmers (or other I.T. Staff) for seniors who want to switch careers and continue to work full time. I do not want to retire, nor go part time, as long as I can get up and drive myself in to work. I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting for a building products manufacturer. I like the work, but it is becoming hard on my aging body, so, I would like to begin gradually retraining and hope to switch careers in about four years. A lower paying, less physical job would be just fine as there will be pension money coming in. I'm not currently a programmer, but have done some hobbyist level coding in Qbasic and MS-DOS batch files 'back in the days.' I also have some exposure to the Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete. So, I will be retraining whether I switch careers or not."
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Ask Slashdot: Programming / IT Jobs For Older, Retrained Workers?

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  • then go and help to build the cloud
    • I second this.

      While JavaScript get an enourmous amount of hate, at the moment it is probably the easiest way to get into the field.

  • Go up not over (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:40PM (#42799669)

    Personally I would recommend leveraging your experience and finding a role where you can be a project manager or domain expert instead of trying to retrain for a whole new field. You would be in competition with the hoard of young people getting degrees with experience in modern tech who are also struggling to find jobs now if you switch. Whereas there is always a demand for someone who has been intimately involved in a highly technical field for as long as you have.

    Let your management know you are interested in a supervisory role and if they value you as an employee they may well pay for the training to put you where you can remain useful to them.

    • Re:Go up not over (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Motard (1553251) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:22PM (#42800223)

      As an industrial electrician it seems to me that you could get into IT by following the wires. The cloud is going to require a lot of power; If you know how to provide that power there should be plenty of opportunties to get into server rooms. You could be doing the specs for server installations and be spreading your tentacles ever inward..

      • Re:Go up not over (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:56PM (#42800721)
        Even better, go into configuring physical security, the access cards, security cameras, alarm systems and the like that keep the data centers safe. After 10 years doing server and desktop support I made the change and have never looked back. It's great fun. Imagine setting up an intercom to 1) call Security, 2) send a message to the patrolling guards' pager, 3) point a camera at its location, 4) have the camera launch on Security's PC screen, 5) make a link between the alarm event and the camera recording, 6) pop up the map with its location and all pertinent hardware on all Security workstations, 7) record the call. (We're doing all of this right now on an installation.)

        Having said that, avoid ADT and other companies that do home security systems like the plague that they are. Companies that do retail store security as well, they're going to push you for volume over quality.

        Your background gives you an advantage, since you know what a Normally Open relay means, the difference between wet and dry contacts, how cable runs are pulled, and the like. Take a basic server administration class at the community college (yes, you'll be the oldest person there), and learn a little bit about networking. Buy an Axis IP camera on Craig's List and set it up to record your bird feeder with the one free recording license you can get from the Axis web site. Use the camera's relay to hook up a light to go on when the camera detects movement. You now have a portfolio of talent that is superior to most of the ex-helpdesk guys applying for these jobs.
  • Do you... (Score:5, Funny)

    by spazdor (902907) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:40PM (#42799671)

    know how to program a Rockwell Automation Retro-Encabulator? There's good money in that...

  • Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight_Falcon (2432802) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:41PM (#42799677)

    Speaking from honest experience, it's an uphill battle for someone your age.

    Generally, IT companies looking for junior level engineers or programmers want a smart, young person who is up on the latest technology. From there, they can be trained in "best practices," and specific skills for the job. Usually, they are very happy just to get the job and willing to put in 10-12 hour days and learn things as fast as possible. Once they are up to speed, the company gets to keep them for at least a couple years, paying them a low rate.

    Also, there's the political issue of the fact your managers and mentors will generally be much younger than you...and that can be a hard pill to swallow for the young guys (who might behave brashly and arrogantly) and you (who might feel bad being talked down to by someone who could be your son).

    Most young IT workers will have to switch companies to get into a better pay grade. There's not a lot of IT companies hiring 50+ year old junior engineers, so that's another stumbling block.

    Older workers cost more for insurance, benefits, and typically salary; are likely to have families, and not be willing to put in long hours. Also, at age 58, that means an employer can only expect a few years after training you before you retire.

    If you can find someone willing to hire you, go for it, but my experience in the industry says that it will be very difficult to start at entry-level at your age. Just an honest opinion.

    • by DiSKiLLeR (17651)

      Also, there's the political issue of the fact your managers and mentors will generally be much younger than you...and that can be a hard pill to swallow for the young guys (who might behave brashly and arrogantly) and you (who might feel bad being talked down to by someone who could be your son).

      ...by someone who could be your grandson).

      • ...by someone who could be your grandson).

        He's only 58, not 78.

        IMO, you'll have to find the right company. They are HR folks who understand that there is value in mature workers who understand hard work, don't bitch about the little shit, and will show up at work without a hangover. That being said, there are plenty of 60+ers out there working in IT who can run circles around the 20 somethings. There is such a social placement on being young is equal to being special for some reason.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          ..by someone who could be your grandson).

          He's only 58, not 78.

          And?? A 19 year old who has a child, who then has a child at 19 allows for a 19 year old grand child, a 38 year old parent, and a 57 year old grandparent -- which gives you a good chance of the great grand parent still being around since that would only be 66.

          Someone who is 58 could easily have grand children in the work force. It's unlikely they'd be in management though.

    • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Informative)

      by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:50PM (#42799803)
      This is an excellent response. The sad truth is most companies handling tech positions are not going to look for someone who has a retirement window in the next 10 years. They're looking for young folks who are largely free of family or social obligations, and who are willing to be on call for weeks at a time, or for programmers who are willing to put in 60-80 hour weeks. While this may or may not describe your obligations, as an older worker, they will assume that this is an issue for you. Combine this with a lack of experience (you mentioned changing into this career), and you are going to find a very unfriendly job market. I would recommend you start helping a bunch of friends with computer issues, train up on some technical certifications, and go into consulting. It will not be steady, but it would let you get some resume fodder if you really have your heart set on such a position. Another option would be to go into a similar position to the one you have now, but at a small office which will afford you the opportunity to handle technical work. Just be careful that it doesn't end up putting you in a "job creep" situation where you suddenly find yourself responsible for two different jobs.
      • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Insightful)

        by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:22PM (#42800231)
        So they do not want an older person who MIGHT retire inside 10 years, but the want a younger person who WILL job hop within 5? It may be true, but not of everyone.
        • by scubamage (727538)
          I think there is also a "silent expectation" that the young person is cheaper to hire, will be more up to date on technology, and will be more malleable since they have less experience and can be taught. Is it fair? Nope. I don't like it either. I could never grasp the rationale behind a lot of decisions HR makes, and that's why I'm an R and D engineer and not an HR person :)
          • I just have to ask, if you're a mage do you still need a tank to breath under water?
          • I think there is also a "silent expectation" that the young person is cheaper to hire, will be more up to date on technology, and will be more malleable since they have less experience and can be taught. Is it fair? Nope. I don't like it either. I could never grasp the rationale behind a lot of decisions HR makes, and that's why I'm an R and D engineer and not an HR person :)

            I never expected it to be fair, but it also is not true. I do not know how many times I have seen on Slashdot that I am beyond the IT hiring age, yet I am still busy as hell...

        • its been my experience that, yes, they want only young workers.

          young workers don't know (yet) about all the mgmt games they can and will play on you. you'll do what you are told, you'll drink the company kool aid and you'd work yourself to death for them, thinking that there is some notion of loyalty or 'spirit'.

          its all BS but they want you to believe that and they are happy to take advantage of younger workers.

          otoh, younger workers really do have a 'fuck it' mentality and are usually not as serious as the

      • by gishzida (591028)

        I would recommend you start helping a bunch of friends with computer issues, train up on some technical certifications, and go into consulting. It will not be steady, but it would let you get some resume fodder if you really have your heart set on such a position.

        Becoming a "consultant" in "friend's computer issues" probably won't won't work either.

        I'm 59 and now on extended under employment... I've spent the last year trying to build a personal computer consultancy... after 16 years as a network admin [Novell, Windows + Some Mac OSX and Linux]. What did I get for a years effort? About $2000 and a lot of folks treating me worse than if I worked for the Geek Squad... You cannot pay the bills that way... especially when as most of you know most IT consultants need to

    • by radtea (464814)

      Speaking from honest experience, it's an uphill battle for someone your age.

      This is definitely a thing. The average manager is far more interested in having workers they can feel power over and bully than they are in anything else, and it's difficult to intimidate an older, more experienced worker. There is also the ageist perception that older workers are less mentally adept than their younger, less experienced, more naive counterparts.

      Several people have suggested teaching, but that is a poorly paid job with very high time demands, unless you're wiling to do a really crappy job

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)

        The average manager is far more interested in having workers they can feel power over and bully than they are in anything else,

        This can be compounded if the manager is a poster person for the Peter Principle. While I was going to school for my CS degree I worked at the main Compaq campus. In a very short time I became one of the fastest prep persons on the line. I was getting kudos then I went and asked my manager if there was anything more I could do as I was working through school and was eager to use my new skills. I was too naive at the time to understand the look of horror on her face or why I was let go the next day. I late

    • Older workers cost more for insurance, benefits, and typically salary; are likely to have families, and not be willing to put in long hours. Also, at age 58, that means an employer can only expect a few years after training you before you retire.

      I agree. At 58, you better have decades of relevant experience if you're looking for a job. No one is going to hire a 50+ or even a 30+ year old for an entry level coding job. It doesn't even matter if you drop your wage demands to a level appropriate for your experience, he's not going to get interviews. With education and work experience dating back to the 70's, employers will be able to guess his age. If he leaves all that away, and somehow manages to score an interview, he'll get a very short interview

      • by hackula (2596247)
        Software development experience is tied to familiarity with general techniques and processes, not a particular technology. Who cares if tech goes in fads? Switch every couple years to whatever happens to be paying best. For a competent programmer this should not be burdensome (quite the opposite in most cases, since learning something new is fun).
      • Seems to be a competitionbetween the major political parties who can give away the American Dream the fastest. One faction will have unlimited immigration for those with STEM degrees. The other, unlimited immigration from our neighbors.
  • as long as they could drive themselves to work? Ever hear of work/life balance? Or are you a work-every-day-until-I-die kind of person?
    • by Githaron (2462596)

      Some people like to work. My step-grandpa is over 90 years old and he till does yard work in yard with covered in trees, takes care of chickens, and plants a garden. Up until a few years ago, he had a lot that he farmed corn on with his tractor. He doesn't do it because he has to. He does it because he likes to.

      If I was him, I would take all that saved money and spend it traveling the world.

      • by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:07PM (#42800043)

        Some people like to work. My step-grandpa is over 90 years old and he till does yard work in yard with covered in trees, takes care of chickens, and plants a garden. Up until a few years ago, he had a lot that he farmed corn on with his tractor. He doesn't do it because he has to. He does it because he likes to.

        If I was him, I would take all that saved money and spend it traveling the world.

        I guess he's doing what makes him happy and feel productive.

        One of my mother's Aunts in the UK is 92 and still working half days as an accountant for a local, family owned, small business. She started working for the current owner's grandfather over 50 years ago and since they actually have a delivery service she gets chauffeured to work after lunch and back home in time for Tea. I bet she wouldn't know what to do with herself without the daily routine.

        Amusingly her employer never computerized so she keeps the books the old fashioned way and they were recently audited, the "kids" from inland revenue had actually never seen manually kept books.

      • by Jon_S (15368)

        Some people like to work. My step-grandpa is over 90 years old and he till does yard work in yard with covered in trees, takes care of chickens, and plants a garden. Up until a few years ago, he had a lot that he farmed corn on with his tractor.

        In other words, he is retired.

        I think you just proved the other guy's point. Retirement doesn't mean sitting on your ass watching TV.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:52PM (#42799841) Homepage

      Or are you a work-every-day-until-I-die kind of person?

      That't not as uncommon as you'd think, because a lot of people would get utterly bored and wouldn't like it.

      My father is in his 70's, and he's got his hobbies, as well as keeping a job (it takes certification to do what he does and they don't have a replacement yet, he's still being trained).

      He'd be bored to tears if he didn't have several things on the go. I fully expect that he will work until he dies -- and I believe if someone forced him to stop working, he'd probably die much sooner.

      For now, it keeps him out my mother's way, brings in some income, and keeps him doing things to keep himself busy.

      I've known many people for whom 'retirement' mostly meant start drawing your pension and then find another job since you can't fathom not working. (And put up with less bullshit at work because you can always leave. ;-)

      My father will fully retire when he wants to, but so far we've seen no evidence he wants to.

      • Or are you a work-every-day-until-I-die kind of person?

        That't not as uncommon as you'd think, because a lot of people would get utterly bored and wouldn't like it.

        Yes, this.

        My father retired from mould-making about a year ago, and has spent the last few months looking for something he can do part-time, like working in a hardware store.

        Partially, because his now-fixed-retirement-income isn't quite enough to fund his hobbies, but mostly because he's going out of his head with boredom.

    • Work is for people without either (a) money or (b) hobbies. It sounds like he has (a) covered, which means he suffers from a lack of hobbies. An young person with a safe financial stream and the desire to work generally starts to invent or innovate on his or her own with the ideal outcome generating lots of income. The risk associated with spending time on a pet project is not a financial concern. It should follow that someone with a great deal of experience would have a better shot, if a more limited caree

  • by CoolCash (528004) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:41PM (#42799687) Homepage
    Check with your local state universities, many of them offer programs for people who have been out of school for a while. It allows people to get the proper training and job placement. Also, why not seek a management position in your field of expertise?
    • by rjune (123157)

      I think that a 2 year college would be a better bet. In Wisconsin, they are called Technical Colleges. Check out the equivalent in your area. I'm in the second class of an IT Project Management certificate program (3 courses) There is not a single "traditional" student in the class. All of us are currently employed with at least 10 years experience. One of my group partners last year had grandchildren -- it's never too late to go back. Good luck!

  • Become a teacher (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:43PM (#42799709)

    It sounds cliche, but how about sharing that hard-earned knowledge with the next generation? Understanding industrial control systems and how to debug them (safely) is not something that is easily learned - if you are good at what you do, consider teaching at a local college or trade school. It will probably be less hours, definitely less stress on the body, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that in the future someone will be carrying on the trade, the right way.

    • This is called retirement, because teaching pays dick. (who in turn pays the teacher NOTHING, which is worth considerably less than it used to be)
  • Use your strengths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morcego (260031) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:45PM (#42799743)

    Maybe you should look into a teaching position. Your life experience puts you in a better position to relate to students and help them learn.

    The key here is to use your strengths. Being a senior, you have a big advantage over young people in several areas, like teaching, quality control (Q&A), or project specifications.

    Also, since you worked as an electrician, maybe computer maintenance might be something that will interest you, or network infrastructure.

    • I would second the suggestion that you look into Networking. Networking seems to be the one space in IT where you can find older and wiser workers, especially at the senior level. If you have the time, money, and desire you can work towards a CCIE. It's one of the few premium certifications that pretty much guarantees you a job.

    • "Maybe you should look into a teaching position. "

      Is that the advice you would give someone with no knowledge or experience in brain surgery? He is planning on gradually retraining and hopes to switch careers in about four years. I know there is a saying that those who can do do, and those who can't, teach, but that's taking it a bit too far.

      My advice to the OP is that you should change plans. Look at my SlashID. This is not a kid telling you this. I've been in the game for decades. You will waste fou

      • by morcego (260031)

        "Maybe you should look into a teaching position. "

        Is that the advice you would give someone with no knowledge or experience in brain surgery? He is planning on gradually retraining and hopes to switch careers in about four years. I know there is a saying that those who can do do, and those who can't, teach, but that's taking it a bit too far.

        Wow. Just ... wow. That was impressive what you did that. You completely distorted absolutely everything.

        He is saying he is going to train for 4 years before switching careers. There are several entry level courses that a good teacher can teach with 4 years of training and, because he is a good TEACHER, he will do a wonderful job. One could easily say that those who can, teach, and those who can't, do. Being a teacher and a technician require a completely different skill set and, if you don't know that, I h

        • "And you are 100% wrong. I have a friend changing fields right now, and he is working on his CCNP+Sec certification and already has 2 job offers waiting for him as soon as he gets it. He live in NYC, and is currently a photographer."

          ... and he's in his sixties, right? If you claim that he is, then you'll understand why I don't believe a word you say.

          "He is saying he is going to train for 4 years before switching careers. There are several entry level courses that a good teacher can teach with 4 years of t

          • by mcmonkey (96054)

            You don't even begin learning anything useful until after you get into the job market, and from there it is a long haul before one is actually qualified to teach. Sure, he could be an incompetent teacher, who thinks he is qualified, but he certainly won't actually be qualified.

            I don't think the suggestion is change fields, then become a teacher in the new field. The suggestion is, rather than try to find an entry level programming position, leverage his experience by becoming a teacher in his current field.

            • Re-read the OPs post, especially this line:

              " Being a senior, you have a big advantage over young people in several areas, like teaching, quality control (Q&A), or project specifications."

    • The trouble with that idea is that there are almost no entry level teaching positions. I have well over ten years of hardware experience, starting in Copier, and fax, repair and moving on to networked printers with a stint in network administration. I then went back to college and got my MBA with the intent of teaching. After that I spent four years teaching in a college in China so that I would have experience teaching college age students.

      It turned out that thee are, simply, no jobs for teachers other tha

      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        The trouble with that idea is that there are almost no entry level teaching positions. I have well over ten years of hardware experience, starting in Copier, and fax, repair and moving on to networked printers with a stint in network administration. I then went back to college and got my MBA with the intent of teaching. After that I spent four years teaching in a college in China so that I would have experience teaching college age students.

        Why did you get your MBA? Why not Master of Education or something more related to teaching? And what sort of teaching jobs are you looking for? You say no jobs for teaching other than STEM. Are you looking at technology or engineering teaching jobs? You know, the T and E in STEM? Sounds like those would be a good fit for your background.

        I mean, if you're a 45 year-old MBA with years of experience in copier and fax repair sending your resume out for kindergarden and elementary schools jobs, you are go

  • There is a ton of old code out there that no longer works properly with more modern operating systems. An older coder who has retrained in .NET or J2EE or mobile programming, can really clean up right now with long term contracts either keeping the older stuff working until it can be converted, or converting the older stuff to newer patterns and languages.

    • Yes. And don't forget the time capsule so he can go back and become an old coder in preparation for the retraining.
  • If I had to make a suggestion, I would say start with a little mobile app development. Write for Android or the iPhone or something. Draw from your experience to come up with something to write - maybe an electrical debugging tool? Or a training application for someone junior? Doesn't have to be novel, even; just build one or two apps for a phone. And, if possible, try to get one out onto one of the app stores.

    A couple of advantages that come from this:
    1) You get some practice doing real programming

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:51PM (#42799819) Journal
    There are the programmers and the in-house folks, of course, but network field engineers are doing physical work. I've technically got a desk job and yet I'm often crawling across the floor dragging network lines, hauling servers and workstations up and down stairs, and contorting my body to fit into tight spaces to check lights, cables, etc. Whatever you do, make sure you're not getting involved in stuff that's as much work as what you currently do, or else your career will be a side grade, not an upgrade.
  • Robotics or AV (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:54PM (#42799869) Homepage

    Dont waste your time with Programming for PC's you have PLC background and Electrical. so take classes on Robotics. all your skills transfer. you can easily learn AB programming and enjoy seeing your code do something instead of just display thins on a screen or send a tweet.

    Corperate AV also is a field that is exploding. AMX programming, Crestron programming currently is a very hot field right now. Plus you get to work with stuff that 99% of the guys on slashdot can only dream of ever touching in their life.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Mod this up, this leverages your existing experience into a growing sector.

    • Corperate AV also is a field that is exploding. AMX programming, Crestron programming currently is a very hot field right now. Plus you get to work with stuff that 99% of the guys on slashdot can only dream of ever touching in their life.

      Having set up with a Crestron or two during my days as a roadie-for-hire, this statement puts a good ol' fashioned shit-eating grin on my face :D

      Take that, microbiologists!

    • by dschl (57168)

      If he can do PLCs, I'd hire him tomorrow for water utility work. Wonder if he wants to move to Canada?

      Small utilities and municipalities do not usually have in-house instrument technicians, and in some areas, the local instrument tech companies have a virtual monopoly. Every water, wastewater, and traffic light system is run with PLCs and SCADA, and it all requires constant maintenance, updating, and improvements. We probably spend 60-80k a year on our contracted instrument technicians, and we're a small ut

    • you get to work with stuff that 99% of the guys on slashdot can only dream of ever touching in their life.

      For example, female anatomy!

  • In Denver, Galvanize [galvanize.it] offers training and, I believe, guaranteed job placement. You can see if there is something similar where you are. Or just self-educate on Drupal and hang out a shingle, starting on nights and weekends.
  • Just abstracting a bit from the age factor (as I believe some other "comenteers" will address that in much competent ways than I), I would advice you to get your hands on virtualization. It's starting to become ubiquitous in all sorts of companies (big and small) and there is much to be done in terms of management, best practices, designing, troubleshooting, etc.
    Your "outside" view on IT can be a good thing, as sometimes the skewed view on this-or-that-operating-system can hinder a bit the work on virtualiz

  • Of all the careers you could pursue late in life, IT is probably going to be near the top of the "not gunna happen" pile.
    You'll be up against people fresh out of school who work cheap and people (only) half your age who have tons of experience.
    Where would you fit in? What makes you appealing to a potential employer given the choice of you or the other guy?
    I truly believe the best advice is to reconsider this idea altogether. Try management?

    • Nonsense. I switched to software development from chemical engineering when I was 50. Right now I'm almost 63 and work as a senior Java/C++ developer for a defense contractor. I could retire but I enjoy what I'm doing.

      If you have real skills you can get a job. That's the real obstacle this person faces - building up a skill base that will interest an employer.

      While there are a lot of employers and managers who have the idea that programming is only for people right out of school, there is no question that t

      • by LodCrappo (705968)

        1 - The market was quite different 13 years ago
        2 - 50 is quite different than the OP's age. He is proposing this change around 62. Thats 12 less years of work in the eyes of any potential employer.
        3 - The exception proves the rule, you're very special, and so on...

  • I also worked in Qbasic back in the day, but I would never mention that to an employer because it would make me look dated. There is a shortage or programmers out there and ANYONE can get a job in the field if they are willing to work at it. You can download free programming software such as Visual Studio Express from http://www.asp.net/get-started [asp.net] They also have free tutorials and videos. If you spent an hour every night learning this for a few months you would be an entry level programmer. The questi
  • Age discrimination will be a problem, as people have mentioned allready. Allthough, "discrimination" against people who simply aren't good enough is going to be your problem aswell.

    However, if you want to move to the desk doing smart work, I'd suggest you learn to programm stuff that is close to your current field. What are those 'building products' you talk about? AC, climate controll, heating, intercom devices, etc.? Those need programming and network admining don't they? And the probably have specialized

  • You've had some good answers. However, I want to point out that for the most part programming these days is all object oriented. This is a huge change from the procedural based programming you learned years ago. To give you an analogy, it's kind of like studying Russian 20 years ago and now being asked to study Mandarin. They're pretty different from each other. Basically nothing you did in the past will help you to learn OO programming. You will either get the concept or you won't. If you don't, you
    • I've been a professional programmer for ~15 years now; What you've said here strikes me as fairly odd.

      Object Oriented Programming is nothing mystical. "Associate methods with your data structures by type." There's half of it. "Now inherit the methods in subtypes." There's the other half of it. We could talk about interfaces and polymorphism as well; It doesn't take long: "You can plug a lot of different things into the wall to get electricity, if we share the interface to the wall plug." People hav

  • If you hit a wall because of your age, what is with contracts to enhance OSS? No one can deny the opportunity to work within this field.

  • I've been in IT for 30 years; not having actively programmed for 10 years, I wouldn't even try to get back into it in any serious way. Technology moves too fast, and most companies are looking for younger programmers anyway. Coming from outside of IT, I really don't think you have a chance as a programmer.

    If you have some related experience at it (as you may, being an electrician) you might be able to retrain as a network technician, or something along those lines.

    Really, though, I think you'd be better off

  • See if you pick up some of the interface technologies for the equipment you're already familiar with: UPS, ATS, Air Conditioner, Generator, PDU, remote sensors. Most modern infrastructure like this has hooks for SNMP or Modbus, and few vendors (even the folks who manufacture these items) know what to do with these, or even what *can* be done with them. If you can also pick up an open source monitoring system like Nagios, and some basic networking, and a bit of Perl, you can put together inexpensive infras
  • If you have some experience with RSLogix and already do electrical work it might not be a big step for you to get into electrical engineering and do mostly system automation. You are right that Rockwell is not used near as much, but the airline industry actually uses it pretty heavily still for things like bag room automation. If you get your foot in the door with that you can probably segway into some Siemens PLC programming in Step 7 as that is used in some airports as well (but is much more heavily use

  • First, welcome. You're probably going to get a lot of comments telling you you're too old, but I don't think that's true. I'm in my late 30s and have often worried about what happens when I have to (or want to) completely retrain for something new down the road. And believe it or not, the 25 year olds will eventually run into this problem too. I love IT work, but if I ever win the lottery, I'm going to go back for my PhD in chemistry and be a scientist when I grow up. :-)

    I can think of a few things in your

  • Pick up a couple of cheap Android phones and start learning how to code for it. You can do the same for iPhone, but Android cost of entry is cheaper. Sift through one of the many good tutorials on the internet and pick up most of the basics. Pick one of your hobbies and write a small app for it. Pass it along to friends and learn what they like/don't like. Finally when you think it is ready for Prime Time, release it onto the Play store. Now you're a business owner with an application. Cong
  • Why not go the I.C. route? That way, you get to set your own hours, pick and choose which jobs you take, and also have the opportunity to learn about new technologies then subsequently implement them. Fun fun.

    Hell, were I not in a station in life that basically requires a steady paycheck, or if I had the client base to make a real business out of it, I'd still be doing IC work myself.

  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:30PM (#42800357) Journal

    Seriously, if you want a helpdesk job at a place that trains people and promotes from within to administer Linux servers and you live in or want to live in Houston or Austin PM me. Also, if you know enough to be an entry-level Linux application troubleshooter or mail/web/DNS admin definitely let me know. Relocation assistance is possible for some positions. I could definitely use another referral bonus, and we're always hiring (just some times more than others).

  • I know you don't want part-time work, but you admit your skills are out-of-date. But I think you'd be great at Python coding. It's easy for a BASIC programmer to pick up (any programmer really) but it feels "QBASIC" to me.

    I would also recommend you foray yourself into Linux administration based on your DOS skills.

    Once you've updated your skills to that (or even beforehand) I'd list yourself on Fiverr.com or elance.com and start picking up jobs. You can bid on jobs at your level of expertise and set your own

  • Due to my age.

    I think they dump my resume due to too much experience, and not enough in the new technologies (that you won't be taught in school).
    Probably also because my manager might be younger and less experienced than me and see me as a threat.
    There is also the fact that due to my experience they may not see me as mold-able as a young eager to please "I'll do anything" Newb.
    They probably don't want to waste their time pitching me for a substandard wage and working conditions that they know I won't be ha

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:07PM (#42800835)

    I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting

    You are getting some pretty poor advice about working on help desk telling kids how to plug in a mouse and useless stuff like that. And start writing android apps, wtf?

    LEVERAGE your massive and unusual electrician skills. So you don't want to pull cable while hanging from a ladder 50 feet in the air, or wrestle 0000 gauge spools around... I didn't either (well, I was wielding cat-5 and singlemode fiber, but I sympathize) and that was when I was 22.

    You'll hear clowns complaining about there being no manufacturing in the USA but they're wrong.

    First of all you've probably been wiring power to CNC gear and PLCs for decades, now figure out how they work past the power wiring. google for linuxcnc. Buy a manual Sherline mill like I did and CNC it as a basement project, then make 30 little "somethings" on it and take them to your next interview at a CNC plant. Lift a simple PLC off ebay and some software from "where-ever" and make the worlds most elaborate christmas light system on the front lawn.

    You wanna go in describing yourself as the electrician troubleshooter for their company. No longer will they have to waste money installing things that'll never be approved by inspectors, you've been doin it right for decades and know all the tricks. And you know how to do it fast and safe, which they don't. No longer will they be mystified about NEC grounding regs, or delta vs wye, or three phase wiring. You're going to save them fat stacks of cash because you know how to wire stuff. Just because you don't want to pull the cable anymore, doesn't mean you can't tell some kid how to pull the cable correctly... Why pay an outside electrician $45/hr plus trip charge when I'll handle it all for you... meanwhile learn all you can or want about various cnc control software, cad software... the thin edge of the wedge is the power lines you'll be the local expert about, but in the long run you may end up sitting at a desk doing CAD if you want, or programming PLCs out on the floor or who knows.. once you sneak in...

    Another way to go is project management. If you don't want to be a supervisor that's fine, project management is not necessarily that hands on. But big electrical projects need a guy who can tell when the kids are trying to BS them, and who better than an old timer from that very field... they can get away with telling a 22 year old girl who's never held a screwdriver that its gonna take an extra week to ship in some frequency grease and a left handed crescent wrench, but they are not going to get away with that kind of BS with you. You're gonna save them tons of money by expediting wiring projects because you know this industrial electrical stuff backward and forward. You know what kind of prints electricians need, you know if you're getting BSed, you can look at see if they are doing a good job rather than relying on a paid inspector as the only QA/QC. You're gonna save them fat stacks of cash. So you gotta learn some computerized project software, maybe some other tools, thats OK. Maybe someday you'll sit in a cube updating GNATT charts all day and sending update emails, but today you'll be their secret weapon against full time electricians.

    If you wanna move, there's a lot of CNC and robotic manufacturers in the USA all over the place. They have, and need, guys on staff who know about wiring stuff. The problem is I donno if, or how, your license if any would transfer to, say, the Tormach manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. But they surely need someone who can talk to other industrial electricians and knows the NEC etc etc.

    I think you might be pigeonholed into contracting, if there's about ten local CNC companies all needing about four hours per week, that's not so bad on average. Depending on how you feel and your health and attitude you can hire and fire yourself as you please. Wanna work 60 hrs, that can be arranged. Wanna

    • google for linuxcnc. Buy a manual Sherline mill like I did and CNC it as a basement project, then make 30 little "somethings" on it and take them to your next interview at a CNC plant. Lift a simple PLC off ebay and some software from "where-ever" and make the worlds most elaborate christmas light system on the front lawn.

      This.

      You might even find that making "little somethings" is exactly what you want to do. Then, figure out how to sell what you create on Etsy or local craft markets, antique stores*, miniature fairs, whatever.

      *yes, I know he won't be manufacturing antiques, but there is a market for dodads and stuff to store and display antiques.

      • by vlm (69642)

        yes, I know he won't be manufacturing antiques, but there is a market for dodads and stuff to store and display antiques

        I got my start in the machine tool hobby by making parts for my father's antique radios. That console radio's shot because its pot metal pulley in the dial mechanism cracked? No problemo I'll make a new one outta brass. I did some weird stuff with phono players too. I still hate making gears. I also replaced a lot of bushings and bearings and bent shafting. Old radio gear was surprisingly mechanical. I would advise that this is definitely hobby level income here I probably never even broke even on co

    • by vlm (69642)

      Whoops I forgot my best idea. Data centers. Holy cow do they use a lot of industrial electrical wiring. You want a job where a data center needs a guy who knows wiring, but spends most of his time... doing WTF data center guys do. So you're the only "remote hands" tech who can wire a NAS for the correct 3-phase. So you're the only "remote hands" on staff who can speak "electrician" when somebodys got questions. Study up on your UPS and HVAC and fire suppression stuff... In the long run you may transi

  • by ewrong (1053160) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:44PM (#42801293)

    Location is a factor but in my world (web & JavaScript development in London, England) there is such a shortage of talent for the demand that many companies will hire just about anyone who demonstrates a basic grasp and enthusiasm.

    Some on this thread have obviously had worse experience of ageism but I'd actually tend to err on the side of life experience when hiring a developer. Or at least I'd like a good mix of youthful exuberance and wily know how on my team. I've frequently worked with guys in your age bracket and generally find them much easier to communicate and compromise with (there are always some compromises when a team builds software).

    Pick a language. Personally I'd chose a 'web' language, JavaScript, c#, ruby, python, hey whatever... and I'll maybe attract some ire here but that's where the money is and I'm confident it still will be in 4 years time.

    Get dabbling/learning and start pushing some small open source projects up onto sites such as http:www.github.com [github.com] coupled with a http://www.linkedin.com/ [linkedin.com] profile and you may well find that job comes knocking before the 4 years are up.

    Good luck & enjoy.

  • Get into project management, or documentation & training, or something in between. There should be some way to leverage your awesome experience.

    It's great that you want to learn more programming or something more "white collar". But a lot of that stuff is a tool, not a trade. And sitting around programming all day is actually pretty hard on a body.

    And I don't think industrial programming toolkits really ever go obsolete, or even advance enough for the skills to not be transferrable. So don't be afra

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