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

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the over-22-not-interested-next dept.

Programming 215

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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Hello grandpa! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799647)

It's never too late to get back to coding. I know people who are 60+ and code like there's no tomorrow. LOL, literally speaking.

Re:Hello grandpa! (5, Interesting)

hughbar (579555) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799947)

Yup, I always reply on these threads, I'm 62 and [having had more senior jobs that required a suit and talking rubbish in meetings] I'm usually coding as contractor part of the year. On the other hand, I've been sweating over a hot computer since about 1975 and I enjoy it, so I've been very lucky.

I think part of the secret would be a good niche or target audience. Because I'm a Perl person I do a certain amount of back-end, some glue code, some data cleaning/ETL etc. But I do also have a fair sized personal network, built over the years.

But, one of the great 'virtues' of open source is that pretty heavyweight and marketable skills can be approached by downloading something and building something with it. I didn't really know that much about jquery last year, now, I'm not an expert but I'm 'medium' and lots of people use it for commercial stuff.

May the older folks force be with you! [sort of like the Force but a bit grumpy, especially in the mornings].

Re:Hello grandpa! (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800177)

I work with a consulting company where over half the people are over 40. (The age you can not get an IP job) And I get all the hours I can handle. I recommend looking for a expert body shop, and learning with them. Age brings experience. Both in actual IT work, and in planning a project and noticing details.

Learn JavaScript, AWS & MySQL (1)

Nooface (526234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799659)

then go and help to build the cloud

Get a helpdesk job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799661)

Seriously. Get a job working in tech support. You can sit at a desk all day and your hours are usually predictable. Programming, writing code all day, and having all night coding sessions isn't for someone nearing retirement.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799893)

When was the last time someone had an all night coding session for their job?

Re:Get a helpdesk job (2)

BeansBaxter (918704) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799925)

Two weeks ago.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (2)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800117)

When was the last time someone had an all night coding session for their job?

Been a few years since I did an all night coding session for work... but I did over 160 hours in a two week timeframe back in December to make a deadline.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800377)

When was the last time someone had an all night coding session for their job?

I have to do this all the time, it comes with territory, unfortunately. I blame it on the antipathy towards socialism and unions in the software industry. Strange how people are happy to be worked like dogs to give value to managers and bosses and their products (by getting paid a tiny fraction of the value of that product on the market), yet when someone suggests we might want to put our heads together as workers to get a better deal that person is condemned, by people who believe their interests best lie with the company, PHBs and managers who're ripping us all off.

We're basically being played by shrewd business-people, the latest is all this "Brogrammer" mythos: work yourself to near-death and maybe you'll be considered part of this elite club, who measure their worth by how many hours-straight they can work without passing out at the keyboard.

I think a lot of it is how clever we think we are, because we know software, and how stupid we think business-people are because they don't. The thing is: they're not stupid, many business-people are actually brilliant, brilliant at extracting surplus-value (aka profit) from their software developers. They're brilliant at things like, turning the amount of unpaid overtime developers do into a dick-measuring contest or paying developers to undertake all-nighters in return for nothing more than a (false) sense of solidarity, some pizza, cheetos and Mountain Dew, for example.

My advice to the OP is, if you want to get into software: don't. It's mostly for people under the age of 30, who're daft enough to not realise that working yourself nearly to death for an okay-but-not-actually-that-great-considering-the-circumstances salary is not cool and the bosses who encourage it are arseholes.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800449)

Re:Get a helpdesk job (1)

broggyr (924379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800675)

We are. We still need work, tho.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (1)

nihaopaul (782885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800495)

Lol. Just got out the office. 330am. Going home to continue before my 8am flight.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (1)

Jhon (241832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799977)

Bump this. If pay isn't your be-all/end-all, manning a phone and following a script isn't that hard. Not too many small-medium companies have "help desks" -- their IT guy(s) usually pull double duty. You usually see help desk positions for the larger, corporate shops.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (2)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800333)

Yea! Sounds great on paper. Til you gt the job. Then you find out why it sucks ass. Listening to 10-50 morons a day who are usually already mad and couldn't figure their way out of a cellophane bag. Add on the fact you have to be nice to them and you will quickly see Customer Support Jobs Blow. Fuck Time Warner and their whored out customer service department thru West Telemarketing!!!

Re:Get a helpdesk job (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800397)

Most of them don't hire entry-level either. I've been trying to find just such a job for the past 3 years. I'm in a similar boat as the OP. 40 years old, half-way through a BS degree in Information Systems and I the "entry level" jobs are practically non-existent. All the ads I see demand at least 1-2 years experience. Nevermind the 15+ years I've spend doing inside sales and sales support.

Re:Get a helpdesk job (3, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800641)

All night coding sessions while acceptable in start-ups are a major symptom of a business with major flaws in their development practices. Yes development can be unpredictable but if you are having employees forced to regularly stay-up you are scraping by. It might be nostalgic to say we do our best coding then, but we don't and such practices are inviting failure.

I'm 33. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799665)

I feel the same way.

Go up not over (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

Motard (1553251) | about a year and a half ago | (#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..

Do you... (5, Funny)

spazdor (902907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799671)

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

Re:Do you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800571)

I hope you know hope to program the equivalent device in the year 2040. It's coming around fast!

Good Luck (4, Insightful)

Midnight_Falcon (2432802) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Good Luck (2)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799801)

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).

Re:Good Luck (2)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799993)

...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.

Re:Good Luck (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800275)

..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 (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800303)

which gives you a good chance of the great grand parent still being around since that would only be 66.

Doh, I meant 76 not 66.

Re:Good Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800337)

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.

Sure, but at the moment he doesn't know much about IT, and he thinks it will take until about 62 before he has any IT qualifications. At that point, he will still have no real-world experience working in IT, and will be competing with 22 year olds for entry-level jobs. They could quite plausibly be his grandsons (or granddaughters). It's not really a comparable situation to hiring a 62 year-old established, reliable IT developer with a track record.

Re:Good Luck (3, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | about a year and a half ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Good Luck (1)

scubamage (727538) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800381)

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 :)

Re:Good Luck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799955)

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of precious Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michale (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pantaloons.

“I can wear these pantaloons,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pantaloons only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid coont. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights! Drew Curtis told me so!”

“You can’t wear whatever pantaloons you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid coont. You’re grounded from learning about physics for the rest of the day. Now get in the buggy, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. He loves Fark. I love my son. But he terrifies me. A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan -- they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly, homosexual police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney and farking him in the arse for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for zanaxand a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork -- “Were there any difficulties with at what age did your child were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying -- that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

Re:Good Luck (1)

radtea (464814) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799959)

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.

The more hardware-oriented end of network IT is the most plausible option given your experience, and it won't be impossible to make the jump, but be prepared to overcome a lot of prejudice, and think of your job search as "looking for the right person to work for" rather than "looking for someone who will hire you". I can't emphasize enough how poor most managers are, and the ones who reject you are likely ones you don't want to work for. The ones who recognize the value an older worker can bring to the company are the good ones.

Re:Good Luck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800163)

Unbelievable. I'm sorry that you've had bad experiences here... but, as a manager I have a pretty wide age range of employees, from the mid 20's to people in their mid 60's working in the IT Field for me. I find it pretty offensive that you think managers just want employees they can bully. Far from it in my case, I want people that can do the job better then me...otherwise, why am I here?

I know it's easy to generalize, and state that "I've seen it, so it must be this way everywhere - managers suck", but give me a break.

I won't disagree however... being 58, and just trying to get an entry level job in IT/Programming/Software engineering, definitely will be an uphill battle. Not impossible...but, difficult. The problem is if you go for a low level job, say help desk, with reading pre-generated solutions might not be what you want...but, it is easier on your body.

Anyway, good luck on the switch, I wish you well there! (And yes, there ARE managers out there that don't age discrimate, contrary to what you might read here.)

Re:Good Luck (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800469)

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 later realized that because Compaq had grown so quickly during that time many of the supervisors were former line workers that got promoted.

Re:Good Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800313)

I think you're thinking of large corporations and multi-layered IT departments. In small / medium businesses IT ground level workers tend to work under the few suits or even the CEO and those tend to be older people. They sometimes want somebody like their peers to communicate with rather than a younger worker who'd have to adjust to their methodologies.

Not going to happen (1)

rve (4436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800499)

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 followed by "don't call us, we'll call you".

You keep reading alarmist reports about a shortage of techies, particularily programmers, but there is no such thing. There is a shortage of people willing to do that kind of work for minimum wage, 70 hours a week, with no benefits, which is what some managers without a technical background really feel they ought to be paying their digital janitors.
If anything, the IT business has been a buyers market for several years now. Rates have been dropping, especially at the "more experienced" side of the equation. There is always a matter of diminishing returns with experience, and especially so in such a rapidly changing field. There's noone out there with 10+ years of iOS experience, and very few with 5+ years. The 25+ years you previously had with obsolete technologies usually aren't worth the extra cost.

TL;DR -> Op, keep programming as a hobby, but find a new job where your experience matters.

Why would someone not want to retire? (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799685)

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?

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799717)

His wife cuckolded him so he's gotta pay for her upkeep for when the niggas come by to play.

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799823)

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.

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (4, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799841)

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.

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800155)

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.

Re:Why would someone not want to retire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799933)

1) Because without a job many people would get bored. You have to find a lot of hobbies to keep you entertained every single day. Some people actually enjoy working / their job!
2) Pensions don't necessarily pay out enough to keep you at the standard of living you want, so you might work part-time to supplement it. They're generally only expected to pay a living allowance once you've paid off your mortgage not pay for a mortgage and/or luxuries. And you never know he might have become a father within the last few years, he may have dependants to support too.
3) There are quite a few studies that have suggested that when people retire and stop using their brain so much that may be what triggers some of the rapid mental decline in later years.

Sounds like he's wanting to be able to take it easier, but not become completely inactive. I'd suggest contributing to FOSS projects (or getting other hobbies) but I suspect 2 is a consideration too.

Retirement today isn't retirement of the past (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800061)

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 career time to develop.

State Universities. (4, Insightful)

CoolCash (528004) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799687)

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?

Re:State Universities. (1)

rjune (123157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799813)

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!

I'd recommend system administration (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799695)

Seems like a pretty close mapping to what you're doing now, and there are always shortages.

You old farts and your pensions (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799697)

Who exactly do you think will pay your pension?

Re:You old farts and your pensions (1)

Motard (1553251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799793)

Um, his pension fund?

Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799703)

Tech changes everyday be ready for continual training don't be help desk unless u like being under desks or long hours and for coding be prepared to do a lot of small projects before even looking for job. Oh and keep retraining I've been in IT for 14 years and everyday I learn and retain something new. IT isn't easy and creating batch files are nice but that's something all IT people should know already... Sorry tough love and get ready for RTFM....

Become a teacher (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Become a teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800595)

Teaching is definitely something to look into. I've a couple of friends, commercial electricions who do so teach.

Use your strengths (4, Insightful)

morcego (260031) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Use your strengths (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800007)

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.

Re:Use your strengths (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800067)

"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 four years. Nobody is ever going to hire you for an entry level IT position. I have a better chance of seeing Jimi Hendrix play at Woodstock, which has always been one of my dreams.

I'm sorry for the brutal honesty but I'd rather poke you in the stomach than see you shoot yourself in the foot.

Re:Use your strengths (1)

morcego (260031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800243)

"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 have to say I'm sorry for the teachers you had.

And I would be perfectly comfortable to giving this advice for someone that was going to teach First Aid, field medicine and several other subjects, since you want a medicine analogy.

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.

Re:Use your strengths (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800401)

"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 training and, because he is a good TEACHER, he will do a wonderful job."

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.

Re:Use your strengths (1)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800239)

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 than STEM. BTW, there are no entry level jobs for 45 year old MBAs' in "business"occupations either. So far, with over two months of searching daily, the only job offers I have gotten are as an entry level security guard.

It's not going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799769)

Like it or not, age discrimination is alive and well in the tech industry. By the time you're ready at age 62 with no significant skills or experience, you will find literally zero open doors - if you were a lifer in some obscure niche product that was still in demand somewhere, you might be able to get an interview as a last resort candidate for a fixed term contract. I'm not saying this to be mean, but it's time to be realistic... age discrimination is very strong in this industry, and guys with valid experience over 50 are getting shut out - at 62 with nothing, I can't see any scenario worth pursuing for you.

Re:It's not going to happen (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800191)

Exactly. At 60+, there aren't even any open doors if you are skilled.

There's talk -- you can get interviews -- but you won't be hired.

Here's how corporations really see it:

Older workers screw up insurance plans, are assumed to expect higher salaries (or to be discontented even if they claim they'll take a lower one), they have more extended families, they get sick more often, they take more time off, they're more chatty/garrulous, they won't integrate well with "the kids", they pose higher slip and fall risks, it's more difficult/stressful for them to travel, their knowledge tends to be stale... and you probably look like crap in a miniskirt.

Automation obsolete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799785)

I really wonder why you are saying :

Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete

do you mind explaining?

CONVERSIONS! (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799805)

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.

Re:CONVERSIONS! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800101)

Yes. And don't forget the time capsule so he can go back and become an old coder in preparation for the retraining.

Try some mobile app development (1)

phamlen (304054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799815)

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 with a modern language and modern environment.
2) You get to see whether you really like programming as you're older.
3) It's easy to learn on your own (lots of tutorials out there)
4) You'll have a great differentiator when you do apply for jobs (because we all know age discrimination exists and you've got a great sales pitch around 'well, I've got a few Android apps that I wrote and sell.'
5) You might even make a little money on the side.

Good luck!

How about a role with minimal programming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799817)

In my opinion one practical avenue will be to get a job in in the on-call support role. Big companies like Microsoft and Amazon prefer to shield their software developers from the support kind of work (responding to trouble tickets, stuff like that), and let them focus on the development as much as possible. For that they hire support people that work as a first line of defense for any kind of trouble tickets. They usually follow SOP, and need some programming skills, but don't need to be programming experts and won't be grilled during the interview on programming skills. But you probably need to show that you had some experience in this role before, so starting in some smaller company or something like that is a good idea.

Not all IT is a desk job (3, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799819)

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 (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799869)

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.

Re:Robotics or AV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799965)

Mod parent up!

Too bad I'm too lazy to even log in :P

Re:Robotics or AV (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800055)

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

Re:Robotics or AV (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800205)

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!

Re:Robotics or AV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800249)

You could also look at building automation programming. Low Voltage automation stuff would be a much closer crossover to your current experience. Tridium Niagara and Honeywell EBI are a pair of many that you could review.

Re:Robotics or AV (1)

dschl (57168) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800307)

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 utility with less than 15 staff.

As far as older workers, maybe I'm an aberration, but a 58 year old guy has a ton of experience to add, and isn't going to be job hopping. I'll get a solid 7 years, rather than a variable 1-10 years from an inexperienced 25 year old.

Re:Robotics or AV (1)

FrankDrebin (238464) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800335)

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!

Entry Level (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799871)

Unless you will be eating catfood otherwise, why not leave the entry-level jobs to those that actually need them to start their careers?
This seems to be a point that many older employees forget, or simply don't care to consider.

Denver Galvanize (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799879)

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.

For quick entry ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799897)

Study "Gorillas.bas" and you'll be ready in no time to develop in Linux!

Virtualization (1)

holiggan (522846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799913)

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 virtualization. Besides, as anything related to infrastructures (both IT and non-IT), it looks easy to do, but it's hard to master.
With IT, as you might know, the constant wish to learn and evolve is a must. As long as you have it in you, and you keep it during your (hopefully) successful career, you will be fine :)
Good luck!

Stay away from IT! (1)

trevc (1471197) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799915)

It sucks! Try and enjoy some personal time while you can.

Why IT? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799927)

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?

Go MOBILE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799943)

Learn to code for Android or iOS. Learn how to use a smart phone. Write a decent application and sell it. It's a little more complex than that, but I won't go into the details.

First, join the ACM (www.acm.org). They have program where for $100/year you can read books from O'Rielly and Books 24X7 for that price. That will give you access to almost any technology that you need to learn to be a mobile programmer. It will also give you access to pretty much any other technology you want to learn.

I know that's a lot, but lately I've had people want to interview me for a mobile app position and they didn't care that I'd never done a professional application.

IA and ISSO work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42799979)

Information Assurance....there's a huge demand for ISSOs (Information System Security Officers).....

Are you willing to work at it? (2)

Shinks (2833667) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799987)

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 question is are you willing to put in the work?

Specialize. (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42799999)

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 programming environments and programming languages you have to work in to make them to the special stuff, configure them and so on.

You should simply get into doing stuff closely related to you current field. You should now the brands and vendors of 'building products' that need regular programming and maintenance and your experience 'in the field' should give you an extra advantage on top of that, if it only is bragging rights and resumee fluff.

Moving from QBasic into stuff like serious web or mobile development is something you probably would fail at. And trust me: It's something you do not want to do anyway. Doing semi-embedded stuff coming from the MS-DOS times on the other hand is just right up your alley.

Good luck.

My 2 cents.

Object Oriented programming may be too much (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800003)

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 won't likely find any programming jobs unless you get really lucky and are able to do something that doesn't require OO. I've worked for two companies that have hired senior programmers around your age (including my current employer) and both companies were pleased with the hires. Basically if you can do the job, they'll hire you and being willing to work cheaper than others may actually be an advantage. But on the downside, a lot of programming has impossible deadlines. The programmers where I work now who sit somewhat close to me are really tired because they are working on a fairly new product we are selling and it's got aggressive deadlines. As an older guy, you may find the constant demand for 50-60 hours a week of work to be too much. One programmer told me somewhat recently that he has to work every Saturday too and he feels lucky if he gets a Sunday off - sometimes he doesn't.

Re:Object Oriented programming may be too much (2)

LionKimbro (200000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800291)

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 have been talking about that in different ways, for at least a thousand years.

Technical thought is broad and deep. Back in the early 80s, people were talking about "Structured Programming," (within the "procedural" world,) and they really hammered in the concepts of encapsulation and cohesion -- much before the popularity of OOP (itself derived from Alan Kay's ideas) in the 1990's. If there are deep ideas in Object Oriented programming, the deep ideas are ideas that share across technical domains of all kinds.

So I don't think "Object Orientated Programming" is any kind of real barrier.

Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800037)

Barista! Plus you get free coffee... granted I think everyone should do this.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800075)

Those are our jobs. NOT yours.

Open Source (1)

jandar (304267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800085)

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.

Switching fields may not be the best idea... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800111)

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 sticking to your own field, or a closely related one. Move to a supervisory position, or management, or consulting, or teaching. With lots of experience under your belt, one or another of those should suit.

Building Automation and Infrastructure Monitoring (2)

gorodish (788476) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800153)

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 infrastructure monitoring. If you can talk your current employer into letting you play around with this stuff, then you both win, and you are doing fun stuff that is less physically demanding.

Rockwell Programming (1)

Zmobie (2478450) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800165)

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 used in other automation areas, i.e. expands your opportunities). As long as your can do decent programming with it most companies are fine with doing additional training for other PLC programming.

Post lacks bel-airing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800181)

Expected to see, under the "click to see the rest of this post" link, something to the effect that you got scared and sent your son off to live with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air. Didn't see it (or, barring that, anything at all relevant to the thread topic). Post disappoints.

Use your network (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800221)

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 favor switching into IT, although youth-obsessed workplaces may not agree with me:
- You probably have a better handle on troubleshooting, which is my #1 complaint with newbies in our field. 70% of this job, especially on the IT side, is figuring out what's broken in a methodical, logical way.
- You also probably have more discipline than someone straight out of school to design a system or application in such a way that it doesn't need to be babysat 24/7.
- You can probably document what you do clearer than younger people (although that's subjective -- I know a lot of older people who refuse to document their work, and 20-somethings who write perfect docs.)
- It also sounds like you're lucky that you're not going to be the guy constantly begging for raises in a job where salaries are contracting overall.

The problem. as I'm sure you're aware, is that not every employer sees your age and experience as strengths. I'm very lucky to be working as a systems engineer for an IT company that services a very mature industry. Most of the guys on our team are around my age or older, and experience is highly valued. Some of the stuff we do is proprietary, but the vast majority of it is implementing off-the-shelf IT stuff for our customers. This means we're constantly learning new things, or at least enough of those new things to get things done. The flip side of this would be a place like Google, Facebook, Zynga, or any Silicon Valley startup. Those places are all about youth and time-to-market, and are much less likely to take someone older regardless of skill set.

So, given the age problem, you can either selectively cut things out of your resume, OR, you can fall back on your network of people if you have one. I learned a few years ago that the best chance of getting a non-crap IT job is to call someone you worked with and ask them for help finding something. Even if they don't work in IT, they'll be able to find someone who does and get you past the cold call resume HR filter. My experience with this was good - a company I was working with for a while decided to move their IT department to Florida, and I was told to move or be laid off. I hate the heat and sun, so I called up one of my former managers and asked if anything interesting was brewing. 6 weeks later, I had a job and never had to be unemployed. And I don't have to deal with 100% humidity and 95 degree temperatures for 8 months of the year. So yeah, networking is a good thing.

The other problem you face is this - entry level IT is shrinking as well. I started out doing help desk work. These jobs can still be had, but with so many companies contracting out basic IT services like helpdesk, network and systems management, they're more consolidated than they were and the pay is lower. This means that you may have fewer choices about where you work, and you're going to have to deal with very low pay until you have that magical experience under your belt.

So what would I recommend doing?
- If you're really interested in IT, get yourself hands on experience. Pick a specialty (software development, sysadmin, etc.) and learn on your own. Amazon EC2 is giving away compute power for new customers to get started. You can download VMWare ESXi for free and build a whole lab on spare hardware at home. It's easy to train yourself now, much more so than it was.
- Stick to more predictable, established companies that don't have a culture that prizes youth over experience. Since pay is less of an issue, and the hiring process is much more open, I'd even recommend state or federal government work.
- DON'T pay for training classes, certifications, etc. outside of taking the exams if you want to. I've seen so many people who come out of these training schools and spend tons of money without learning much. DO get some basic vendor certifications in your specialty of choice. They're not cure-alls, but they get your resume a second look especially if you don't have a degree.
- Accept the fact that your first job or two is going to be pretty miserable, low paid work even if you do have a ton of work experience.
- This is just my opinion, but SW development might not be a good fit. There are just too many places that expect all-nighters and constant firefighting, and have zero work/life balance. Systems stuff is much better, IF the place you're working isn't totally chaotic. Chaotic places are the home of 24/7 on call duty and 2:30 AM phone calls.

Good luck! Hope I haven't scared you away. :-)

Code for Android (1)

technomom (444378) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800253)

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. Congratulations.

Become an Independent Contractor (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800255)

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.

I don't think it's your passion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800271)

You can do a quick test to find out whether you love programming. Find any open-source project on sourceforge.net that you like, and download the source code. Compile, run, and use the program until you're familiar with it.

Here's the test: Find any bug that's listed in the program, and try to fix it.

I do NOT expect you to solve the bug. (If you do solve it, then you're ALREADY a programmer.) But I want you to watch how you react to the search:

If you're energized by trying to understand code, by bouncing back and forth between a half-dozen different levels, by searching out documentation on the language or the libraries or the plug-ins, then you'll succeed as a programmer.

If you consider the exercise torture, then you won't succeed as a programmer.

Good luck!

Where do you live? Can you relocate? (3, Interesting)

mr_mischief (456295) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800357)

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).

Fiverr and other micro-project sites (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42800413)

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 schedule.

Once you have a proven track record with those sites, you'll have verifiable skills that you can use for a full-time job.

Go into Quality Assurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800509)

Possibly as you get older, you find you can do the more mechanized type of work required for Quality Assurance. Learning the tools, creating the design framework, and integrating pieces can be a huge undertaking without the excitement and vigour of youth. Ensuring a system works as per spec might be more up your alley.

SCADA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42800521)

What about looking into a SCADA operator/analyst position? It dovetails somewhat nicely with your work experience.Our local "big" power company has a whole mess of SCADA people sitting in watch floors and providing support services.

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