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Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Programmer At 40? 314

Posted by timothy
from the late-bloomer dept.
New submitter fjsalcedo writes "I've read many times, here at Slashdot and elsewhere, that programming, especially learning how to program professionally, is a matter for young people. That programmers after 35 or so begin to decline and even lose their jobs, or at least part of their wages. Well, my story is quite the contrary. I've never made it after undergraduate level in Computer Science because I had to begin working. I've always worked 24x4 in IT environments, but all that stopped abruptly one and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy and my neurologist forbade me from working shifts and, above all, nights. Fortunately enough, my company didn't fire me; instead they gave me the opportunity to learn and work as a web programmer. Since then, in less than a year, I've had to learn Java, JavaScript, JSTL, EL, JSP, regular expressions, Spring, Hibernate, SQL, etc. And, you know what? I did. I'm not an expert, of course, but I'm really interested in continuing to learn. Is my new-born career a dead end, or do I have a chance of becoming good at programming?"
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Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Programmer At 40?

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  • Good for you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:04PM (#43676575)

    I'm happy for you and your new career. Get ready for a nonstop list of reasons why you're doomed, but don't listen to them. If you love what you're doing, do it. Make your own success. Ageism is as bad as racism, and just as illegal.

    • Re:Good for you! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:38PM (#43677043)

      The submitter should be aware that career management in any IT role is essential in order to remain relevant. You have a decent employer by today's standards and with effort you have successfully moved into web development. If you are passionate about programming in the general sense and specifically web development including mobile application development, you stand a fair chance of riding this career transition into retirement. One thing you could do to improve the longer term prospects as a web developer is seek small outside contracts which can be worked outside regular business hours preferably from home. Above all you must actively manage your career rather than coasting along until the inevitable termination; it is rare anyone works 20 years for a private firm these days even if they love the organization...the organization won't always love you back. Best of fortune on the career as a web developer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tnk1 (899206)

        This is true. I've found a lot of people who are really interested in "getting into coding/computers/whatever". I then offer to teach them what they need to know. That weeds out 90% of them when their eyes glaze over after I try and teach them 'vi'. The rest of them get weeded out when they realize that the fact that they are 40, and that I am almost 40 doesn't mean that they get my job without the intervening 15-20 years of experience I have since I left college. You're like that guy they kept holding

        • by chrismcb (983081)

          This is true. I've found a lot of people who are really interested in "getting into coding/computers/whatever". I then offer to teach them what they need to know. That weeds out 90% of them when their eyes glaze over after I try and teach them 'vi'.

          I've been programming for 30 years, and my eyes would glaze over, and I would think you were a masochistic evil person if you tried to teach me 'vi.' Why don't you teach them to pole their eye out with a sharp stick while they are at it? Do you also had them a stack of punch cards too?

    • Re:Good for you! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gmack (197796) <{ten.erifrenni} {ta} {kcamg}> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:31PM (#43677721) Homepage Journal

      One of the best programmers I've ever worked with started as an accountant and became a programmer in his 40s first with ASP and then with PHP. What he lacked in advanced knowledge he made in spades up by being careful and methodical. He never tried to show off and when he designed something it was generally right the first time and out of the 20 programmers in our office he had by far the lowest bug count.

      • by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @04:38PM (#43679101) Homepage

        One of the best programmers I've ever worked with started as an accountant and became a programmer in his 40s first with ASP and then with PHP. What he lacked in advanced knowledge he made in spades up by being careful and methodical. He never tried to show off and when he designed something it was generally right the first time and out of the 20 programmers in our office he had by far the lowest bug count.

        Yeah, but who was counting the bugs? Thats right, the accountant!

      • Re:Good for you! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gothzilla (676407) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @04:55PM (#43679327)
        I'm an ex-physics major in my 40's and regularly hang out with 20-somethings who are studying chemistry, physics, and programming. Something I noticed that totally and completely shook the earth I stood on was how much smarter they actually are than people were when I was 20. Kids today grow up with insane amounts of information at their fingertips. They don't have to open an encyclopedia to learn something not taught in school, and they're not limited by the half-page description in that encyclopedia. They were exposed to complex and detailed facts about the world that were nothing more than fantasy or religion two or three decades ago. Their brains grew up with so much information that their brains learned to cope and understand it all in ways my brain never had the chance to do.

        The one thing though that I have over them is experience, caution, and patience. I have the ability to do something right the first time even though it takes me longer. They are faster but it takes them more tries to get it right and many times my one try is much faster than their 10 tries. You've got to use what you have to your advantage. If my boss needs something done quick-and-dirty style he asks one of the younger people. If it needs to be perfect he asks me. We all have a place here and by combining all of our strengths together as a team we kick some serious ass.
        • Or perhaps 20 year olds that want to hang out with a 40 year old ex physics major are on average more intelligent than the average 20 year old. I for one have met plenty of really stupid 20 year olds.
    • Re:Good for you! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:43PM (#43677865)

      Remember that the first programmers weren't kids. It wasn't a case of 40 year old engineers who created a computer and then said "too bad none of us know how to program it".

    • by t4ng* (1092951)
      #1 reason that anyone, in an career, that is over 40 is doomed... the employer's cost of employee benefits skyrocket on employees over 40. Employers would rather have a bunch of kids fresh out of school, working for peanuts, with very low health and life insurance premiums, than to have any employees over 40 drawing a higher salary and having to pay higher premiums. (Well, except for the over 40 management types making those decisions; they won't lay themselves off)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:05PM (#43676585)

    to ageism.stackoverflow.com.

  • by emagery (914122) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:05PM (#43676587)
    Success has an element of surprise to it, but its not entirely out of your control either. My caveat is the argument that what you learn when particularly young is what you'll be a natural at the rest of your life. Learn a 2nd language before 14 years old and your entire life, new languages will come easily and without notable accent... but learn 2nd after 14 and it'll be hard, most will give up, and even those who succeed maintain a lifelong accent. It's a brain chemistry and stage thing. Programming is an analytical and problem solving sort of thing... if anything you've done during your developmental years is similar, then it shouldn't be hard for you to adapt now, really... and as with french and spanish and italian, the differences between, say, perl, python, javascript and php are not significant enough to deter you... the LOGIC behind them will be familiar... the differences are more in context, strengths, and dialect.
    • Basically agree with this. However, you were able to learn, among other things, Java, Spring, Hibernate... in a year, with no prior real programming experience. That's great. Nevertheless, experience plays an important role in programming, because there are some many different fields that are always linked in some way (eg, you learned Java and do not have to care about C pointers, memory allocation - however knowing how all of that works under the hood (ie like knowing C well) gives a huge advantage when it
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There is a paper about learning programming languages and why it is so hard to teach.
      They found that you cannot really teach programming, and you cannot predict based on education or IQ if someone is able to program.

      They have given people who have never done programming in their life before a test on how simple programs (sequential variable assignments) change the variables. The persons fell into two groups, people who are able to keep a consistent (not necessarily correct) memory model in their head and pe

    • by realkiwi (23584)

      I'm calling BS on this, sorry! I learnt my second language at over 21. I'm learning a third one right now. I have no problem with languages. Accents you work on if you have the time.

      I learnt progamming at over 30. The PC came on the market when I was over 30... I'm still learning. It depends on the individual. Some people can, others can't.

      If I had stuck with what Iearned before 14 I would be a sheep farmer. That was all there was in my neck of the woods.

    • The language learning part is complete nonsense.
      Especially the accent part.
      And also the easy part ... regardless how fluent you are in latin based languages, after a break of 20 years in language learning you will have trouble with russian, german, mandarin or a random african language.

      I hope you dont program in JavaScript like in Perl btw ... your list of languages and calling them similar makes no sense to me either. Especially the LOGIC behind them is absolutely different ...

  • good for you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43676591) Homepage Journal

    Go for it. If you're willing to learn new things, then age should be no obstacle. Indeed, I suggest that even older people (in their 70s and 80s) learn programming, as by exercising the brain, you may prevent certain brain problems (like dementia).
    You might not be able to work as many hours as young folk, but if you're willing to work, and to continually learn new tricks and ways of doing things, then I can't see it as a problem.

    Anyone who says that you are too old is at best an idiot, but maybe someone who just wants to take your job. Don't let them, prove the bastards wrong.

  • I agree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wildtech (119936) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43676597) Homepage Journal

    Go for it. The only one that should be telling you what you can or can't do is yourself.
    If you have a passion for something you will enjoy it and may become very good at it.

    • x2

      I'm 58 and know enough that if I ever sit back I'll fade away. How boring. I change jobs every so many years TO learn new things so I don't get jaded.
      Just don't listen to anybody trying to tell you what's best for you.

    • It's no different than being young and being a programmer. If you are passionate about it, and continue learning, you'll master it. If you are doing it for a paycheck, then you'll quickly fall behind and become a useless relic that can't do anything in tomorrow's world. It really is that simple.

  • Go for it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Niris (1443675) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43676605)
    No career is a 'dead end career' unless you're awful at it, or it's just completely unneeded (or over saturated). If you've already started learning the stuff and they're paying you, keep at it.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Often it's about interview techniques, not so much skills. If you don't know how to interview fairly well, such as being very nervous, then during recessions or downturns you may be out in the rain. That's the ugly reality. But then again, almost any career is like that.

      • by Minupla (62455)

        And speaking as a hiring manager, draw on how your IT experience will allow you to develop solutions that will work seamlessly with the whole IT ecosystem at your organization.

        I know I've seen over the years many situations where a development team will say "OK the code is ready!". When I ask them what firewall rules they will require, they just look at me blankly and turn towards IT, because that's "infrastructure stuff".

        Typically we have a name for Development staff who doesn't do that... Senior develope

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43676617)

    Since then, in les than a year, I've had to learn Java, Javascript, JSTL, EL, JSP, regular expressions, Spring, Hibernate, SQL, etc. And, you know what? I did. I'm not an expert, of course, but I'm really interested in continuing to learn.

    Go forth and prosper. Programming is not like professional sports or the ballet, where there are only a few hundred jobs nationwide to go around.

  • What is a dead end? (Score:4, Informative)

    by odin84gk (1162545) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:08PM (#43676643)

    It sounds like you never aspired to striking it rich, nor becoming senior management. It sounds like you want a secure job that will last you until you retire.

    IMHO, this transition forces you to find a family-owned business or a private company who doesn't focus solely on the bottom line. It does limit your options, but who cares? It sounds like you don't want 100x options, but you want a stable job until retirement.

    In that case, go ahead! Keep learning, keep your skills up to date, and you will do great! Just don't expect a high wage, or to get paid like you are an industry veteran. You pay will be comparable to an entry-level programmer (or a bit better). Don't beg for promotions, stay low-cost, and you will do fine.

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:09PM (#43676663) Homepage

    Even someone that is 70 can learn a new programming language and thrive. The only advantage the youngsters have is the ability to adsorb the information faster, they cant learn more, they cant do more.

    Problem is you as an older person will not happily take abuse from management, thus you are less desirable than a young fresh out of college kid that will take epic levels of abuse and not complain.

  • fjsalcedo,

    Kudos to you and your company. Keep learning and exploring programming languages and techniques. But above all else, IGNORE what people on Slashdot tell you. Especially, since you are proving their dumb *sses wrong.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:10PM (#43676671)
    I used to be an electrical engineer, working strictly with hardware. Then, a layoff and lousy job market forced me to make a career change. I went back to school for a grad degree in Computer Science. It was difficult for someone like me who started out without a software background but I've been working as a Software Engineer III for 1 1/2 years now. I'm now working with Java, Groovy, Spring, Hibernate, Solr...just to name a few. IT is a thriving market now and in the foreseeable future.
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:10PM (#43676677) Homepage

    Is my new-born career a dead end?

    Yes. But your old career was a dead end. All our careers are dead ends. Life is a dead end. We all have to deal with it. You can give up, or enjoy what you have while you have it.

    Do I have a chance of becoming good at programming?

    Without knowing more about you, I'd say a slight chance. But I'd say the same for a fresh graduate from some top engineering school. Good programmers are a rare find. The best we can hope for is your maturity and experience leads you to spend more time considering edge cases and maintainability and less time trying to impress people with cleverness and flash.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      All our careers are dead ends. Life is a dead end.

      No, I'm going into cryogenic preservation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Good for you. Your organs* will live on in future rich people.

        * Brain not included.

    • Is my new-born career a dead end?

      Yes. But your old career was a dead end. All our careers are dead ends. Life is a dead end. We all have to deal with it. You can give up, or enjoy what you have while you have it.

      Truly inspiring words.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:13PM (#43676707)

    Your company sees you as worth investing some time/training in. That speaks well of you and of the company. If you didn't at least have some level of competency they would not have been interested in training you, but (and I'm totally guessing here) you apparently show up to work and make a contribution.

    So yes, be a programmer! If you're really cool we'll make you a brogrammer.

  • I see no reason why you can't become a good programmer. I work in IT and I see many people over forty having to learn new skills, because they are familiar with the operational systems and have too little on their plate (that is what bosses always think..).

    Then again, you are becoming a grunt. You are pushed down from your career path, doing things that twenty-somethings do when they are just hired.

    My advice to you: become really good in something. Pick one programming language you like, and start to design

  • by Quirkz (1206400) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:15PM (#43676739) Homepage

    Most of the ageism seems to come with the hiring company. If you're at a company that's already supporting you, and it appears they are, then you're not going to have problems as long as you stay. Obstacles may only start to crop up if/when you want to move. Even then I think the horror stories are exaggerated - we've got programmers in their 40's or 50's here who were relatively new hires, but we're a smaller and perhaps nontraditional company. I think you ought to still have plenty of options, but you may struggle if you try to pick certain large and established firms with a reputation for ageism, including most of the gaming industry.

    Best of luck to you! I'm actually still pushing back my plans to reinvent myself as a programmer (trying to get through kids before changing career paths) and I know I won't get to it before I'm 40. Despite the general negativity about my prospects, I don't expect that to stop me from eventually making the transition.

    • Have four people on a team of twenty under the age of 35. I guess it all depends... a cool head is needed for corporate development and I think experience is an advantage, but at a video game company not so much....
    • by glop (181086)

      Ageism is everywhere.
      At a previous job I was perceived by our director as a youngster that's a Linux expert.
      One day, the director wanted to illustrate to me how hard it was to handle older people and find new assignments for them due to the changes in technology.
      The example he chose was:"Well, you know, it's not like it's going to be easy to take X and Y and have them learn Linux".
      At that point I had known X and Y for about 9 years and they had been configuring the Linux boxes that shipped in a touchscreen

  • Full Steam Forward (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msmonroe (2511262) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:15PM (#43676749)
    My career is better than ever and I am over 40. Think our society just wants us older people to go away after a certain age. I know a lot of people my age in my profession become PM's, what a sucky worthless job btw. I plan on programming until I drop dead. Just read this study. http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2013/04/30/older-software-developers-may-be-better-than-you-think/ [wsj.com] BTW most of the thoughts about the decline in mental abilities after a certain age are also myths.
  • by trybywrench (584843) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:18PM (#43676803)
    I'm 37 and was recently promoted from senior dev to director of our development department at my company which means I do the hiring/firing now. I think ageism is real in this industry but, at the end of the day, what matters is results. If you can write good, maintainable, best practice code and deliver on time you will always be employable. Another thing that is key is you have to be willing to learn new things and re-invent yourself as technology evolves. Don't you dare get entrenched in one language, platform, or way of doing things always try new things and approaches. When you tell yourself or someone else "well this is just the way i've always done it" that should set off an alarm.

    More tactically, my advice is to read good code and talk to good developers. You can gain a lot of wisdom by just having the guts to ask, expect some odd looks given you're older but all good developers appreciate good code and will help you produce good code. If anyone gives you sh*t about your age write them off as a waste of space and go talk to someone else.
  • by lazarus (2879) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:19PM (#43676811) Journal

    I hire programmers, and frankly at this point I am more inclined to hire an older programmer than a younger. The issue is about focus and discipline. Of course there are lots of young people who have learned how to focus on something for more than 30 seconds at a time, and I'm sure there are also some that have the self discipline to organize their life in ways that make them the most productive. But wisdom comes with age and for my particular management style someone who is self propelled and who has these qualities is desirable.

    I think your only issue is going to be one of experience as you go forward with other job prospects. You'll just need to stand on what you have learned as someone who takes their career seriously, and is paying attention.

  • A lot of tech schools and community colleges offer 2-year computer programming associates degrees (and many other certificate programs). And they're usually pretty cheap and offer night classes too. I suggest you check those out.

    And, no, never too old to change careers. I've done so several times and always ended up smoking my younger competition.

  • In my experience as a programmer, what sets apart acceptable developers from great ones is the ability to teach themselves new languages, frameworks, libraries, and techniques. They're self-driven, and it shows. They don't 'learn faster' - they just learn more often. You take a person like that, and in a few months they can demonstrate value several times greater than a programmer with a decade of experience.

    It seems like you've already shown that sort of initiative, so I'd say you're already well on you

  • No, programming ability does not decrease with age. I am approaching 60, writing the best code ever, and getting paid well to do it

    Yes, there is extreme age discrimination in hiring. Most companies want young people, right out of college. They don't have health problems or families, and work long hours for low pay

  • My only specific advice to a late bloomer would be: don't sweat the "new" technology and acronym soup that changes every few years. Everything substantial was already done in the late 60's at Xerox Parc, or CERN and the NCSA in the late 80's, but comes out repackaged with new acronyms every time an architecture is refactored to fit the newest hardware capabilities. Focus on what you do well and ignore the rest. If anything, it's much easier to survive as a new programmer nowadays because the coding tools

  • Java, Javascript, JSTL, EL, JSP, regular expressions, Spring, Hibernate, SQL, etc. And, you know what? I did. I'm not an expert, of course, but I'm really interested in continuing to learn. Is my new-born career a dead end

    Programming isn't a dead end. You can move into management, or if you're happy programming you can still program. If you can't find a job, you can freelance. It's not the type of skill that you need a lot of fancy equipment for (i.e.- you aren't flying planes).

    , or do I have a cha
  • Your epilepsy is a 1% neurological condition (99% of people don't have it)

    Your ability to learn and apply new (to you) concepts after age 40 is similarly rare.

    The old saw about "anyone can learn anything if they just apply themselves" is not true for some people, and as people age it becomes not true for more and more of them.

  • by qwijibo (101731) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:39PM (#43677055)

    Being a good programmer is a matter of being a good fit for the role you're performing. If you have expertise in other areas and can use programming to apply that knowledge in a way that the computer can do the work that people do now, you'll never run out of automation work. Look around you at things people do by passing around spreadsheets or pieces of paper. Can you write tools to make that data flow easier?

    I'm don't like telemarketing, spam, junk mail, etc. However, several years ago I got a job where I helped develop a team to implement a data warehouse for direct mail marketing. Knowing some of the traits of these scum up front helped me understand the business needs of the marketing people. I also learned a few things on how to get suppressed from such marketing as well as ways to poison data collected for such a purpose. The people I was working for saw the business value in not marketing to people who don't want the product - a viewpoint I could completely agree with. Just because you don't like something, doesn't mean you can't help someone do that thing in a more responsible and less annoying manner.

    When I interview programmers, how they analyze and solve problems is far more likely to get them hired than what tools they have experience in. If they can solve a problem in their favorite language easily, I don't mind if they don't have as much experience as I'd like in the language we're using for a particular project.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:42PM (#43677101) Homepage Journal

    There are lots of programmers working and making very good livings well after age 35. I'm 43 and just two years ago was hired by Google, with a significant pay increase. I work with lots of other guys who are in their 40s, 50s and even 60s and they're bright, very capable and -- obviously -- highly experienced.

    Of course I'm talking about people who started when they were younger, but I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible to pick it up later in life.

    If you enjoy it, and are successfully making a living at it, go for it. Ignore the naysayers.

  • Agism in the IT industry has a lot more to do with companies not wanting to pay for experience than it does with any genuine lack of skills on the part of the older population. I know many people who transformed their careers from "low level" tech roles to full scale programmers.

    One of the best programmers/Oracle admins I know didn't start working with computers until he was 43, and was then given the opportunity to learn on the job -- and learn he did! Keith knows more about Oracle and it's guts than

  • So you can certainly learn to code, and probably just as well as someone right out of school (that whole "learning is easier when you're young" thing is a crock of shit). The problem is that you will be *perceived* as "over the hill", "set in your ways", "too expensive", or just plain "too old" when interviewing for jobs. Ageism is rampant in the software development world -- I got a taste or two of it before I had even turned 30. That said, you might as well go for it, as it doesn't sound like you have
  • /thread

    (I am a web developer with over ten years of professional experience. Your attitude is great and it sounds like you're learning fast. Don't listen to the know-it-alls who think they're hot shit. They're not, they're just loud.)

  • I am 36 and love what I do. I'm a little different though as I got my first job programming when I was 16, so I've been doing Software Development for 20+ years. I've programmed in so many languages that it's almost a blur now. I've had jobs writing x86 ASM, Pascal, C/C++, Java, Python, and more. I've been a CTO, but, I loved the coding too much so I'm happy as a Software Architect for a major internet company. Who says you can't code at 36 or 40?

    I don't think it really matters when you start, it's h

  • Seriously. In an interview with older guys, the people doing the interviewing want to know:

    You won't be constantly challenging their authority.
    You will be open to new ways of doing things.
    You want to learn.
    You can learn (show evidence).
    You can take orders and carry them out and execute well.
    Won't be cynical and infect others with cynicism.
    You can integrate well with the team (you're not a douche).

    Don't badmouth previous employers. Don't come off like

    • by mbeckman (645148)
      I have to laugh at this. Somehow young guys always come off like they're never going to be an "older guy". Most of the fears you list result from immaturity; as you grow older, you learn to respect people first, rather than challenge them, and to do all the other things you list (learn, take orders, eschew cynicism, integrate with a team). It's the young bucks that typically lack these skills.

      BTW, I'm being specifically sexist here. Virtually all of the woman software engineers I've been privileged to w
  • ^^^ That was a joke.

    Good luck with your career change. Contrary to what you might have heard, programming is not just for young people. There are qualities you gain with age. While you might not want to go up racing against kids for who can stay up longer coding, you've solved many more problems in life than they have. A large part of programming is problem solving. So you have an edge there.

    There are many other things that get better with age, but I'm not going to change the subject.
  • by jitterman (987991) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:22PM (#43677627)
    I say go for it. I'm 39 and have just changed FROM programming into something different, but my father was an Air Force pilot for 20 years, programmer for 10 years after leaving the military, was out of programming for 10 years in another industry, and has recently (as in, four weeks ago) gone back to programming at the age of 62. He was hired because he has proven over and over again that he is adaptable and capable of learning. In an economy that saw my negative-minded, high-school-only 56-year-old mother-in-law look for work for over 40 weeks, my father found his new job inside of a month, without knowing anyone within the company who hired him.

    I'm not saying it's easy-peasy, but if you have skills and desire, you're likely to do well. Best wishes!
  • I highly recommend joining the Association for Computing Machinery [acm.org], which is the preeminent computing society for software engineers (hardware engineers can play too). It's $200/year and worth every penny. You get access to a large online course library, a huge subset of O'Reilly's Safari Online books, and the entire history of all ACM computing journals, which often have landmark articles available nowhere else.

    It's also worth seeing if a local ACM chapter is near you. You can connect at one of their
  • Ok, so I didn't start as late as you did (early 30's) but I turn 50 this year, and my career has advanced steadily during my life as a software engineer. If you like it and you're pretty good at it, I don't see any reason why you should worry. You may run into a company or two that could have a problem with your age, but my current employer placed a premium on experience. I *DID* work at an internet start up that seemed to buy into the idea that younger programmers were a better bet, but a friend from a pre
  • True, I'd been scripting automated testing systems in C++ for 3 years prior to that, but at 40, was forced to learn vb.net and vbscript. Vbscript begat powershell. Vb.net begat C#. And these days, at 55, I just work through whatever syntactic abomination is thrown my way, no matter how fundamentally unnecessary and pointless (I'm lookin' at you, WPF).

  • That programmers after 35 or so begin to decline and even lose their jobs, or at least part of their wages

    This is FUD spread by people who are covering because they are not (and probably never were) very good at their jobs... or by people who are young and can't really say for sure... or who knows who else. I personally know several guys in their 40s/50s who have been making better strides then myself (20s/30s) ... it comes down to experience, personality and capability.

    Employees and careers are not square

  • You're not in the worst situation you could be in.
    Our industry and the career options of our field change so fast, you have to learn new stuff each year, no matter how old you are. If your company keeps you around and basically pays you a salary for you to learn programming, what's you problem? Obviously they trust you and your valuable enough as a progger to them.

    Most productive code is of low to mediocre quality anyway and no one cares, as long as it's finished before the deadline, so don't sweat it.

    Good

  • I know plenty of people that start martial arts with 35, 40 or 50 or much older.

    With 3 - 4 trainings a week they make their first black belt after 4 - 5 years, sometimes faster, sometimes a bit slower.

    The second black belt they make 3 to 4 years later. If they do continue and don't stop they make the fourth after 20 years of practice. In case of the 40 year old, that is obviously about the age of 60.

    If you start martial arts with 60 you perhpas have no 20 years left of fitness ...

    How does that relate to pro

  • People tend to generalize however from what you said you should have no problems with your career. The over 40 issue in my experience is that programmers either get burnt out on doing the same thing for a long time, or refuse to keep up with current trends. You will get people that say they have been writing shell scripts on unix for the last 30+ years, well thats great, but what else can you do since not every thing is a unix shell. The fact that your actually looking to improve your knowledge makes you ev

Do not simplify the design of a program if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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