The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2022, an extra 133 million job roles will be generated globally by industries requiring the interaction of humans, machines, and algorithms—such as AI, Machine Learning and robotics. In 2020, there are already 17% more job openings in tech than there are workers to fill them. This presents a unique opportunity for those considering changing careers at 40 or beyond.
This points to the huge skills gap in the IT/Tech industry. If you’ve got in-demand tech skills, chances are that you can easily and quickly build a lucrative career in next to no time.
But you might be worried about your prospects especially as an older person making a career switch. Will companies be willing to hire someone close to their prime? And how do you even begin on this new path?
Changing career paths is always challenging. Doing so while everyone else in your peer group seems to be hitting their stride? Downright terrifying. Still, with over 60 million jobs impacted by an evolving IT landscape over the next decade, investing in a tech career now, not only seems like a pretty safe bet, it’s just a smart move.
For those over 40 looking to join the party, the IT skills gap is driving an unprecedented amount of ground-level opportunities and opening up rapid advancement for more mature workers with experience in soft skills and IT business management.
Here are some of the concerns you may have about building a career in tech after 40, and the reasons why you should absolutely go ahead with it.
Transitioning to Tech After 40: Concerns and Answers
1. Learning Pace
If you have little or no knowledge about tech, you’ll need to learn a fair bit from scratch.
But what if you’re unable or unwilling to pursue a four-year degree program in an IT-related field? Shorter certification programs could also be too rigid to juggle with your current job or lifestyle. What’s more, many IT courses are fast-paced — designed for younger people who tend to absorb information more quickly.
These obstacles are surmountable. You actually don’t need a university degree to land a tech job. IT companies are more interested in your ability to get work done. There’s a lot of material on the web that you can learn from, including YouTube videos, how-to blogs, and ebooks.
However, employers often prefer candidates who have certification in relevant fields. Some platforms, such as SkillUp Online, offer flexible certification programs that allow you to learn at your own pace.
2. Challenges With Learning to Code
Many people think they must learn to code if they are going to work in tech. But this isn’t necessarily true. It does help if you know how to write programs, but there are many tech jobs that don’t require this.
If you would rather not write code, you could consider a career in web analytics, visual design, UX design, tech support, software sales, or any of the other non-coding roles that exist.
3. Possible Ageism
Tech has one of the lowest median ages of any industry. Research from Statista shows that the average age of employees at top tech companies in the US ranged from 27-39 years. Tech businesses are often inclined to hire younger professionals because they seem to adapt better to the fast-paced, volatile nature of the tech industry
However, there’s also evidence that companies are more than happy to employ older persons if they have the relevant skills to fill vacant roles. With the right training and portfolio, you can make an impression that’s strong enough to get you hired. Your chances of getting a job are also boosted by the shortage of labor that still exists in many niches.
One way to surmount the age barrier is to show your prospective employer how your experience in a previous career will help you perform better in a tech role. For example, if you have management-level experience in construction, retail, or health, you could leverage your experience to land a job as a project manager in a tech company.
4. Financial Stability
If you are 40 years or older, you may worry about the impact that changing careers will have on your ability to pay your bills and support your spouse/family. After all, you will likely be starting with a relatively junior role that pays lower than the average for people your age.
In reality, the pay for tech jobs is actually higher than what’s offered in most other industries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the median annual wage for people working in high tech industries is about $70,230. Meanwhile, workers outside of IT earn just about $34,800 on average.
Also, you can climb the career ladder fairly quickly. It’s not uncommon for people to get more senior roles within a few years of commencing a career in tech. This usually comes with more responsibilities and better pay as well.
How to Start a Tech Career At Age 40 Or Older
Here’s how transit into your dream tech career as an older person.
1. Learn: Take courses relevant to the job you want, and get certified. At SkillUp, you can find useful learning resources for fields like software development, data analysis, DevOps, big data, and IT support.
2. Network: Connect with others who are making the transition to a career in tech. Link up with people who are already working in the space. Tap into their wealth of experience, and be encouraged by their persistence and success.
3. Test Your Skills With Projects: Look for side projects in the niche you have chosen. At this stage, you should be taking on projects to test your skills and build a portfolio, not necessarily to earn formal-level pay. You can offer your services to non-profits, or find short term gigs on freelance portals.
4. Establish an Online presence: Build a portfolio site that shows visitors your best work. Set up a professional Linkedin page, and begin interacting with people in the industry and within your specific niche. It’s possible that you’ll find a job opening there or link up with an employer who’s looking to hire someone with your skills.
5. Be Persistent: Be open about your age. Emphasize your experience, and how it makes you a good fit for the job you’re seeking. Present your certifications and point to the projects that you have already completed. If you stay persistent in your hunt, you will eventually find the job you are seeking.
It’s never too late to pursue a career in tech. You don’t even need a four-year degree to launch into it. All that’s really required is a willingness to learn and a determination to succeed. Despite the industry’s apparent preference for younger candidates, you can clinch a role at a tech company if you have the right skills and certifications.
You can begin your journey to an IT career on SkillUp Online’s learning platform. Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence to Data Science, Cloud, Data Analysis or IT Support, we provide you with educational resources to get you started in your tech career.