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Software Engineering Is a Dead-End Career, Says Bloomberg

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the commiserate-with-middle-age-actresses dept.

Programming 738

An anonymous reader sends this quote from an opinion piece at Bloomberg: "Many programmers find that their employability starts to decline at about age 35. Employers dismiss them as either lacking in up-to-date technical skills — such as the latest programming-language fad — or 'not suitable for entry level.' In other words, either underqualified or overqualified. That doesn’t leave much, does it? Statistics show that most software developers are out of the field by age 40. Employers have admitted this in unguarded moments. Craig Barrett, a former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., famously remarked that 'the half-life of an engineer, software or hardware, is only a few years,' while Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has blurted out that young programmers are superior."

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Nothing new? (5, Interesting)

marcovje (205102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775119)

I did a Masters Chemical Engineer (didn't finish), and a bachelor in CS. In both older students and alumni warned that you should get out of tech jobs and move into management within 10 years after graduation.

The first time I heard that must have been in the 1992-1994 timeframe

Re:Nothing new? (4, Interesting)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775253)

Cool, so everyone should be a manager? Then what happens when the true fat is cut in an organization and all the middle managers are laid off?

Re:Nothing new? (4, Insightful)

marcovje (205102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775277)

No, just the ones that want to keep a steady progression in wages.

Re:Nothing new? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775515)

Software engineers have ridiculously high starting salaries compared to normal people--why do you need it to keep going up?

Re:Nothing new? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775407)

Dear Pope,

I don't want to sound disrespectful to you, the Holy Father, but I have never heard middle managers being laid off in any corporation that was not shutting down completely.
Could you provide some examples?

Re:Nothing new? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775521)

They'll be needed on the B-Ark.

Re:Nothing new? (5, Interesting)

mickwd (196449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775255)

Strange, isn't it?

If it was surgery, you'd probably pick the surgeon with 20 years experience over the one with a couple of years experience to operate on you.

If is was a builder you were employing, you'd probably prefer the one with 20 years experience over the younger one to build your house.

And whatever Zuckerberg says can probably be ignored, because you just know he's the type that, when he's getting on a bit, will be saying that age and experience are what counts.

Mod parent up! (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775391)

This is going to sound "ageist" but ... the only advantage young programmers have is that they're willing to work 20 hour days and 7 day weeks for months at a time. And do it for less money. []

So you need about 10,000 hours of working in a field to become an "expert". If you believe that article (and I do). And someone who is an "expert" has, hopefully, seen enough mistakes and errors over those 10,000 hours to be able to head them off when they show up again.

That's what you're paying for when you hire the experienced programmers. The knowledge of what errors people usually make and why they make them.

So you get code with fewer errors and fewer re-writes to take out the errors that never got in in the first place.

Re:Mod parent up! (2)

marcovje (205102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775501)

That's the problem in the corporate world. But not every company is a big IT centric corporation

But wages progression also in mid and small companies wages progression for technical (not just IT) staff stalls.

Media have been raving on about the tech/beta deficits for two decades now, but the reality is that a business trainee still gets a starter wages above a tech graduate (whose masters are considered "heavier")

Re:Mod parent up! (4, Insightful)

pelirojatica (533396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775517)

"And do it for less money."

I think you've hit the nail on the head. It seems that "increasing shareholder value" has eclipsed every other goal in modern business, including quality and long-term thinking.

Re:Mod parent up! (5, Insightful)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775553)

yea, and working those hours only exacerbates their lack of experience with stupid mistakes as they slowly burn out.

Thanks, but I'll take a well rested experience programmer at 8-9 hours a day over some kid working 20 hours days and fucking up for 18 of them.

Re:Nothing new? (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775469)

Yes, but the people you are typically dealing with don't think like that. Remember, to them, technology is magic.

Cool, so where do you go next? (3, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775123)

It's not like we make as much money as atheletes, so where do programmers go when they are 40?

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775177)

Our own bloody fault, should have gone into football instead of engineering. Common good and all that.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (3, Funny)

EricWright (16803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775181)

You ever hear of Logan's Run? It was wrong ... by 19 years. Sad to say, I've only got a few more months to go.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775235)

Carousel is a lie! There is no renewal.

You should ask Jessica 6 in HR about a transfer to Sanctua^H^H^H management.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775303)

You get frozen in ice, just like... Fish, plankton, sea greens... protein from the sea!

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (2)

EricWright (16803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775363)

Already been passed over for management twice in the past five years at my current job... pretty sure that ain't going to happen here. Finding a management job elsewhere with nothing but senior level programmer/analyst roles hasn't been very successful so far either.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775205)

Most large firms with software developer divisions tend to push developers into increasingly managerial positions as they mature.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775309)

Which makes sense. You don't have the energy or focus to program in large stints as you get older, and finding people who can judge whether a project is doable, and by how many people requires people who've been there, done that, and are reasonably familiar with how these things work. It doesn't do anyone any favours to have clueless people setting projects and project goals. Somewhat unlike traditional engineering where there are years of history and minor improvements, in a rapidly changing field you need to rapidly change your management teams and their knowledge.

And that knowledge is never going to come from an MBA, because it will be at least 4 years out of date by the time the person starts working. Programmers are at least only a year or two removed from doing the work themselves.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (0)

xmundt (415364) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775397)

Greetings and Salutations;
          Well, as a 57 year old, I have been told by a number of folks that Walmart is always looking for greeters.
          Pleasant dreams

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775399)

Usually they teach if they haven't moved up the ladder

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775423)


Have you been keeping up with new technologies and languages? Are you as proficient in them as the new grads who studied them in school and have two high-selling smartphone apps? Then you'll do fine.

Are you still insistent that the best way to do anything is in C? Are you completely crippled by the thought of doing anything over the internet? Then you're screwed, and probably deservedly so.

This article only somewhat reflects reality. There's a huge amount of respect and jobs for people who have been in the field for a long time, but ONLY if they're also current in their knowledge. This is a field you just can't stagnate in.

Re:Cool, so where do you go next? (4, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775557)

I have to agree... While I'm not 40, yet, I'm getting closer (37), and I haven't had much trouble finding work at all since the .com bust around '01. I've done a lot of programming work and have kept up with the trends... though it's impossible to have an in-depth knowledge in everything, awareness is very useful in decision making. Beyond this, I have dabbled in the more trending languages (Python, Ruby) and one of my favorites is the language of the day (JavaScript). You have to spend a fair amount of time reading/learning/tinkering. That's the only way you can stay marketable in this field... You can't rely only on everything you knew 10 years ago to get by today.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775131)

complete bullshit.

I'm under 35 too.

Re:Bullshit (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775187)


Statistics show that most software developers are out of the field by age 40.

So, is that a cause, or an effect, and what of, in any case? Yes, a pile of BS it is.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775585)

Maybe its regional but here in New England I have mostly worked with software engineers who are over 40. Only recently have I worked on teams that had more members under 40 (barely) than over.

First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775133)

Damn, too slow.
I must be over 35...

senior software architect (2)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775153)

Sound like that's because you should be able to graduate to a higher level software develpment role by then.

Re:senior software architect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775331)

I've met some "architects". Instead of writing in C, C++, Java, etc. they write documents in Word or Powerpoint. Nobody reads that shit, but the PHBs require you to write it.

What's the difference between a programmer and an architect? The programmer's code compiles; the architect's doesn't.

Sadly, the architect makes more money.

Re:senior software architect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775433)

That is a totally unfounded accusation. Their code does compile; it also displays "Hello World!" quite nicely.

Re:senior software architect (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775439)

What should the ratio of software architects to software developers be? I have a feeling there aren't nearly enough architect jobs to go around, which means most developers would need to transition to something else.

Explains Software Quality (5, Interesting)

clonehappy (655530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775163)

So, by the time you really know what you're doing, you cost too much and don't "think outside the box" anymore (read: write sloppy ^W innovative code), so they can you.

Really explains a lot about Facebook as well, actually!

Re:Explains Software Quality (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775223)

Bloomberg sees everything through their beancounter goggles and can't imagine such a thing as "engineering passion" to save their lives. Sure, if you are dead from the neck up you better plan your exit by age 35. But if you have passion to stay on the cutting geek edge you only get more valuable as your engineering discipline matures.

Re:Explains Software Quality (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775251)

Of course someone like Zuckerberg prefers kids that don't have a life, will put up with any crap their fed by the boss, and won't contradict management.

The same goes for your other bean counters.

Re:Explains Software Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775545)

I'm the bean counter who demoted myself to sysadmin (from CTO) to save on taxes and fix all the highflyer crap code from below. I'm 44.

But then, I always sailed my own ship and counted the beans just prior to eating them.

Re:Explains Software Quality (2)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775555)

Of course someone like Zuckerberg prefers kids that don't have a life, will put up with any crap their fed by the boss, and won't contradict management.

The same goes for your other bean counters.

True. Unless you are pre-IPO you better regard orgs like Facebook and Google for that matter as just a pit stop to pick up the resume item. Optimal in-out time is roughly two years. Wait for your full vest and you'll look like a lamer while your pals are rolling in trajectory goodness.

Re:Explains Software Quality (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775523)

I rather hope that as passionate software engineers grow out of their enterprise value range, they'll pursue open source projects.

And if they can't get into management, the world can always use network engineers.

Re:Explains Software Quality (2)

marcovje (205102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775333)

But if you avoid such thinking at all cost, and you are the American and European industries in the face of Japanese competition in the eighties, that kept banging on about their quality, while the Japanese sold their cheap products by the million. That's the way of the dinosaur.

The balance is somewhere inbetween. Progress, but in a sustainable way.

Re:Explains Software Quality (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775425)

Beat me to it. This attitude explains quite a lot. Everything from why the industry wants to keep reinventing the wheel to how the same mistakes keep getting made over and over again.

The people who know better are "too old". They're also too likely to tell management that management was just sold a bill of goods by a vendor, and managers who think they have a fucking clue what they're talking about certainly can't have that.

I agree with Bloomberg (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775179)

Unless you are one of the recognized leaders of your field, you become "obsolete" to your employer after about 15 years even if your skills are not. Why keep a stubborn old programmer on board, when you can replace them with a younger less stubborn programmer at lower pay.

It's important to have an alternative career path. For example, I went to college for Computer Science, but have always been interested in computer security.

I took the computer programming skills I learned and put them to use in the computer security field instead.

I don't write code anymore, and I'm ok with that. Instead, I figure out what security issues others created in their code, without even having the source code in front of me.

Unfortunately, at least when I went to college, they never taught secure coding techniques. I had to learn all about that on my own.

Re:I agree with Bloomberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775267)

You are still a technologist, which is what the word 'programmer' is being used for in this article.

I don't (1)

Grelfer (2580321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775549)

Who the hell has a software job for 15 years? I've been doing development full-time since 1979, and the longest gig I've had was for three years. A few I would have liked to last longer, but not many. Something always changes to make the job I liked not so attractive any more, and I start looking again. Rarely have trouble finding the next one.

Not bloody likely (5, Insightful)

Grelfer (2580321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775189)

Got my first software-development gig at 25. Been doing it full-time since then, and now I'm 58. Still going strong.

What are those Bloomberg assholes smoking?

Re:Not bloody likely (2)

dabooda (412228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775279)

I want to hear more posts like this!

Re:Not bloody likely (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775381)

Me too!

(2 points to whoever gets the reference)

Re:Not bloody likely (4, Informative)

richieb (3277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775401)

Hey, I'm 56.... started coding in the 70s. Still code everyday for a living. Note that the Bloomberg News piece is written by some CS professor for the Opinion section of Bloomberg news.

Re:Not bloody likely (5, Informative)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775413)

OK, I'm 62 and still going strong. I'm up to date on my skills and respected by my (much younger) colleagues.

But I have known people in their 40's with good backgrounds who couldn't find work in the field.

Re:Not bloody likely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775527)

I've had trouble finding work off and on, who hasn't? Mostly it's the global economy that affects my employability, not my age (I was job hunting at 32, 38, and 42).

I can think of plenty of careers that "pay good money" in your 20s that you wouldn't want to even think about doing when you're 60 - programming is pretty posh for codgers.

Re:Not bloody likely (1)

Grelfer (2580321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775421)

Why, what did that one sound like?

Re:Not bloody likely (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775429)

The underlying problem is that PHBs are embarassed to tell someone older than themselves what to do - so they prefer not to employ them. If the result is a ton of badly written, unmaintainable code, well, the PHB gets paid anyway, so WTF.

I know a few people who write good code over the age of 50, but they employ themselves. They know they are better value for money than the young and foolish, who can outperform oldies on SLOC, but not on functionality and usability.

Re:Not bloody likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775507)

I'm 47 and had my first professionally paid programming job in 1983. I've been going strong except for a few years following 2001. I got back into programming in 2005 and hadn't had too much of a problem.

I'm now looking and don't like what I see that is available for anyone of any age.

Re:Not bloody likely (5, Interesting)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775441)


I started software development at 22 and I'm turning 58 next month; I've spent a grand total of about 12 months out of work due to layoffs. I haven't been back to school since I got my master's in CS in '87; everything I've learned since has been on the job or on my own time. It's not that hard.

Frankly, it is more difficult to land a new position when competing with younger workers who are freshly trained in current technologies, and who don't have family obligations eroding their work days, but I still bring something to the table, most especially experience that helps prevent making old mistakes new again. At least twice in the last few years, my past experience with assembly helped me resolve issues that had my co-workers scratching their heads even after I explained it to them.

Current expertise: Objective-C (OS X and iOS), C++, and picking up Qt and Ruby. Java is getting a little rusty now. My skills and the language. ;-)

It does help that I love what I do.

Re:Not bloody likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775491)

I studied Electrical Engineering, graduated with a MS in 1990 - in the last 22 years, I have been employed as a programmer (with various titles) for 20 of those years.

Yeah, it's a dead end, that's why my current salary is 4x what it was in 1991, benefits are better, and I can walk to another job across the street if this one gets old.

i know you are but what am i (5, Insightful)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775193)

you could say that about any professional career... I am sure doctors are pretty dead end too...
I guess unless you can hedge fund your way to making billions by exploiting millions... you are in a dead end career.

Re:i know you are but what am i (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775593)

Any career is a dead end... eventually...

If it's false, it's false. If it's true... (5, Insightful)

He Who Has No Name (768306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775201) won't end well, now, will it?

People don't just magically stop having bills after 35, individuals are getting married and starting families later in life, and software / tech careers are becoming the linchpin of what's left of the American middle class.

Effectively cut them off from their career fields at such a pivotal point in their lives, en masse... see what you reap. You may not be doing much hiring of any kind when they're done shoving your dumb, pathologically stock-price-obsessed ass effectively out of society.

Awesome... (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775209)

I'm on the other side of 45, and getting ready to start looking again in a few months, after being out of work for a few years. It's not going to be a fun time, but I have to believe I can do something other than make fries. Is this what I want to do long term? No, but I have to eat, as well as take care of some family; though thankfully not my own family.

Um, I think some important facts are being ignored (5, Insightful)

bodangly (2526754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775217)

Software engineering as a private sector job is fairly new in the grand scheme of things. Programmers that are 40+ years old probably aren't even all that common, certainly nowhere near as common as programmers younger than that. I am not so sure programmers starting today will face quite the same challenges having grown up in the midst of the technology revolution. Furthermore, in ANY job you probably will see the older workers doing much more management compared to younger workers. I don't get how this is supposed to be news. Sounds like pointless fear-mongering to me.

Re:Um, I think some important facts are being igno (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775293)

TFA points out that it takes *longer* for the older programmer to find the job. This has nothing to do with how many older guys are out there.

Re:Um, I think some important facts are being igno (3)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775589)

Which could mean that a young person will stupidly take the first job offered while an older person will wisely shop around? Or maybe that an older person has stricter job requirements (such as not moving, good school district, spouse's job, etc, etc.) which inherently make it more difficult to find a job irrespective of age.

Re:Um, I think some important facts are being igno (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775343)

"Programmers that are 40+ years old probably aren't even all that common"

Are you on crack?? The Apple ][+ was released in 1979 and people started commercial programming (for the home user) around this time. Don't even get me started on those old Cobol programmers. Get back to dragging widgets around your VBasic app sonny!!

Re:Um, I think some important facts are being igno (2)

PylonHead (61401) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775419)

Yeah, I'm over 40, and my father was a software guy before me (still working for Adobe).

Re:Um, I think some important facts are being igno (5, Interesting)

t4ng* (1092951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775365)

Say what? I started programming in the mid '70's. There were already "software engineers" and "computer scientists" back then. Computers were around long before "personal computers" and needed programming.

The only way I get work as a programmer now is as an consultant. It is not because I haven't kept up with tech, languages and tools. Around 10 years old head hunters started telling me it would be easier to find work for for me if I rewrote my resume to hide my true age and years of experience.

The majority of my clients are through referrals, they've never seen me in person and have no idea how old I am.

garbage article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775225)

no facts, just an asshole opinion.

I'll bet it's hours. (5, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775227)

I think what they're really saying here is:

"Programmers in their 40s have wives, kids, and hobbies, and that means they won't put up with the 50-60 hour week bullshit we can get the 20-year-olds to eat." Also, they expect raises and vacation, and we just can't have that.

Work isn't your life. Work is what you do to pay for your life.

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (2)

lozo78 (2595485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775275)

Work to live, don't live to work.

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775305)

Actually, what they're saying is that Facebook and other major software development firms engage in illegal age discrimination [] , but that rather than complain about it or get the EEOC or other agencies to do something about it, we should just roll over and accept it.

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775477)

Mod parent +1: Captain Obvious

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775481)

Mod parent up.

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775581)

Invoking the EEOC is anti-free market, un-American, and otherwise despicable commie scummish, isn't it?

Re:I'll bet it's hours. (1, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775455)

I think what you're really saying here is:

"Bloomberg is correct. After a few years, programmers are too self-impressed and preoccupied to do a good job and be valuable to their employer."

And you're probably both right for a subset of self-impressed, preoccupied programmers who can't make up for their lack of job-focus with extraordinary programming skill. If you're not a genius, you need to try harder. If you're not going to work hard, you better be a genius. If you're neither a hard worker nor a genius, don't expect much success at work.

Bloomberg (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775263)

So, around the new year Bloomberg the person was a champion for Codecademy, giving them some (imho deserved) press, and initiating conversations here on /. about how the world would be better off if more people knew how to code.

Now Bloomberg the media claims it's a terrible profession to go into.

I guess the world would be better if we all knew how to cook a nice, healthy, well rounded meal. Or how to change the oil on our cars. Or how to gut a fish. And, maybe we all shouldn't be trying to be chefs, mechanics, or fishing guides.

When I started I thought I had a point. I guess I don't. Coding is a great skill to have, and as a champion for liberal arts education, I believe many things make us well rounded, better thinkers, and more productive than narrowly doing only that for which we hope to get paid. It seems to me that there should be enough work to go around (every jackass has an app idea they can't write), and ageism seems a little... simplistic. Experience does have rewards, doesn't it?

Thats rich, coming from Bloomberg (1)

Marrow (195242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775265)

Don't they mostly cater to the financial industry? Pretty much a dead zone now isnt it?

Re:Thats rich, coming from Bloomberg (1)

Shamanin (561998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775459)

Actually, they have one of the greatest large scale software architects (IMHO) John Lakos on staff not too mention some of the most advanced Quants and data informatics groups in the country. Considering they control most of the media (catalog / archive / mine) I believe they are ripe for the big data age. And, no I don't work for them, I'm too old!

Re:Thats rich, coming from Bloomberg (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775591)

Check out the stock chart for CitiBank (C) - pretty much the definition of flat-lined.

With articles like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775283)

Is it hard to imagine why even a forward thinking youth doesn't want to bother with STEM education when the STEM career field comes off like this?
As for Zuck? He's a web developer who was at the right place in the right time. What does he know about real engineering?

schizophrenic industry (5, Informative)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775287)

First, the jobs move overseas and we get told it's a "good thing": []

Then, there is complaining that the industry can't find any programmers: []

Next, the industry tries to figure out where all the programmers went: []

Finally, they realize they've castrated themselves and simply claim it's a dead-end career. Nice.

Re:schizophrenic industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775359)

This is it in a nut shell. Bloomberg sucks as mayor so does his rag. And Zucker , well maybe one of these times they might figure out how to use a database.

Conventional wisdom? (4, Insightful)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775295)

I spent over 15 years of my life as an electrical engineer before I decided to make a career transition into application software development. I went back to school for a mscs and recently got my first entry-level software engineer position, 4 months before (and 4 credits shy) of graduation. I did it at age 41. That flies in the face of the Bloomberg schmuck's article.

"young programmers are superior" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775323)

Yeah they're better at working 16 hours a day.

Shouldn't have bought all those blank punch cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775325)

and fan-out paper.

Why we can't have nice things. (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775339)

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has blurted out that young programmers are superior.

"Willing to put up with abuse" does not mean "superior", however much employers might like to conflate them.

As I approach the FP's end-of-career age, I find myself far, far more efficient than a decade ago, in not just my coding-for-coding's-sake work, but in my ability to address what the business wants out of my code. The beancounters don't care about skinnability, about what buzzword technologies went into the app, about how fast (beyond a very loose "fast enough") a program runs. They care if it answers their questions, and does so accurately.

Unfortunately, they can't easily see past how much I cost - Yes, at this point in my career, I make in the ballpark of twice as much as an entry level dev. And yes, I do provide that much more value to the company than I did fresh out of college (I'd even go so far as to say I provide far more than merely 2x the ROI, but will stay on the conservative side for now).

Important point to note about the FP... It talks about Intel and Facebook; TFA additionally mentions Microsoft - All companies that do tech for tech's sake, not as a means to satisfy a non-tech-related business need. Your time in Silicon Valley, your chance to strike gold in a startup, your 60 hour weeks and the glares for cutting out early when you need to attend Grandma's funeral, may all end by 40. But your career doesn't need to, as long as you've spent those first 15-20 years picking up the skills that matter outside the tech hubs.

Cool - thats why my tool uses 6 different language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775355)

Yep, that's why my tool uses 6 different programming languages (all running under Window XP)
Just to keep management and new hires confuses for years to come.

Who's Zuckerberg to judge? (4, Insightful)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775357)

From TFA:

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has blurted out that young programmers are superior

And his great achievement as a programmer, that gives him the right to judge programming abilities, is ...?

Bloomberg says? (3, Informative)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775361)

Or Norman Matloff, in an op-ed on, says?

I don't buy it (1)

Shadowhawk (30195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775371)

Maybe I'm outside the norm, but I had two different offers the last time I looked for a new job (6 months ago), despite moving from another state and being just shy of 40. Of course, I keep up with new tech and had an app in the Android market, so maybe I seem young.

So when you are mature enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775375)

So when you are mature enough to stop programming like an asshole, it's time to move into management. Where you treat people like assholes until you are mature enough to retire. Maybe get a teaching degree and work part time with children. Since you had such much prior experience managing child-like programmers?

You have to reinvent yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39775385)

Worked in the industry for 37 years for 7 corporate owners but never in the same role for more than about 4 years, flitting back and forth between hard core tech and management and then back to tech etc. Everything from hardware interface to web applications, software packaging, teaching, customer support, corporate decision teams, product management, cost estimation, mainframe, mini, PC. What I think I had going for me was that I was viewed as flexible, non-dogmatic, willing to work on what senior management needed. Learned something in every job and it wasn't always the language of the day.

More of the same from Norm Matloff (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775389)

This article would be more credible if the author weren't Norm Matloff, a statistics prof who's been bemoaning the invasion of H1Bs into the software business for over a decade. Now that the demand for cheap labor has left the building, I guess he's turned to stomping sour grapes, "You shouldn't have wanted the job anyway".

Funny how every time I say the same thing.. (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775411)

Funny how every time I say the same thing I get an argument, or more likely, some putz who says that "where they work" there are "lots" of older workers!
But the problem is that to the 12 year old who is trolling, people over 30 look old, where to me they look like kids!

I kind of think this article vindicates my position.

Priced themselves out of the market? (4, Funny)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775415)

As Wadhwa notes, even if the 45-year-old programmer making $120,000 has the right skills, “companies would rather hire the younger workers.”

I took over as a developer on a project lead by a "hot young developer" (how the management saw his skill set). He and I graduated around the same time. Guess what? Dude didn't even know what primary or foreign keys were. He also had no defaults, not null or unique constraints. Most of his code was a steaming pile of dog crap expressed crudely in Java. When I got on the project and saw the code, my eyes felt like they were on fire it was that bad.

But hey, he's got the "latest skills" right?

Repeat the same story with PHP, Python or Ruby replacing Java and you get a snapshot of where this leads.

and when they need to rehire the people with old s (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775445)

and when they need to rehire the people with old skills that the new people don't have or they don't know how that old system that is in place works then they some times have to pay X2-5 there old pay to get them back to get the older stuff working.

Statistics Don't Support That BS (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775463)

As a study that was linked to right here on Slashdot not long ago shows [] , ageism in software development is nothing more than arrogant bullshit.

And Zuckerberg is nothing more than a PHP script kiddie who both got lucky and cheated others to achieve his success. His word is hardly to be taken seriously.

a bachelor’s degree in CS does not tech you (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775467)

a bachelor’s degree in CS does not tech you to code but a tech school or own your own does.

CS is loaded with theory and lacking in skills.

age into what? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775505)

The article states that senior software engineers price themselves out of the market. This implies that they are turning down high-income development jobs because they can make even more elsewhere - but where? Sales? IT? Freelance consulting? They can't all become managers. Anyone have a good feel on what careers developers tend to age into?

We'll find out: I'm 50 and looking for new work (4, Interesting)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775509)

Subject says it all.

Contact me if you want to see my resume.

Interviews have been coming at a steady rate so far, and in one shop I'd be one of the younger people if hired.

I think it depends on the industry (3, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775525)

I think all of this depends on the industries. In certain industries, banking, government, etc. "old" programmers are very much in demand. Why, because these industries value consistency, tradition and the like. In new industries, that change overnight, it is out with the old and in with the new.

When I was the DP manager for a large government agency, we found that taking employees who understood the business aspects of the agency and training them to program was much more effective than hiring programmers and teaching them the business. I haven't seen any data to suggest the same wouldn't be true in the private sector.

Software engineering != computer programming (3, Interesting)

mbaGeek (1219224) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775531)

I think of software engineering as being a higher level funtion than computer programming. a code mokey might get hired as a computer programmer, but then grows into a software engineer...

In his book ("iWoz") - Woz tells a story where "when he was young" he was able to lock himself in a room for a week and come out with a completed project. As he aged he found that he lost that ability/motivation (and he could just pay someone to write the code)

regarding Zuckerberg's comment, that guy who used to run Microsoft (Bill Gates I think) basically said the same thing - i.e. young minds have better/more ideas (read "Breaking Windows" to see when Bill Gates hit that wall).

anyway, the human brain changes as we age - which may not be "fair" but ... ummm, what was I saying...

Yeah, I don't agree. (2)

fdawg (22521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39775575)

"(Norman Matloff is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis. The opinions expressed are his own.)"

Ya know, If I was a prof of CS at UCD, I'd probably think my upward mobility was limited too. I interview fresh college grads and senior professionals alike in my software company. I, personally, am equally likely to pick either. Age isn't as much of a metric for ability as ability is. 20somethings have lots of energy. 50somethings have lots of experience. A good team needs both.

Facebook is an experiment. It's unclear how successful they will be as a company. I do know people that work there and youth is a highly regarded trait.
MSFT is a failed experiment. A company like that is where talent goes to die, in my opinion.

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