How To Start a Tech Career Mid-Career

A middle-aged woman with dark brown hair and glasses is seated and looking at a laptop. A glass of lemonade is sitting on the desk to her left. To her right is a stack of books and an assortment of colorful pens.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace environments were changing drastically. With people retiring later in life, the idea of changing career goals during one’s 30s, 40s or 50s has become increasingly realistic and achievable. If you’re seeking a sea change, a mid-career switch to programming may be in the cards.

What is the Best Career Change After 50?

Before setting out on your new path, it’s best to first know of the best mid-life career changes available. Some jobs most conducive to mid-career shifts include those in health diagnosing, sales, advertising, marketing, motor vehicle operation, finance, and, of course, computer programming.

According to the AARP, computer occupations rank in the top ten best careers after the age of 50. Computer tech roles are also consistently included in U.S. News & World Report’s top jobs listing. Computer occupations involve a wide array of talents and are available full time, part time and remote.

Know the Right Time to Switch Careers

Before making the decision to switch to a programming career, you might want to ask yourself some important questions about your current job:

  • Have Lost Interest in Your Current Job? – If you are bored or dissatisfied with your job, a career change can reinvigorate your work morale and general life outlook.
  • Are You Stuck in Your Position? – Upward mobility is a significant factor in considering any career change. Are you already a director of a reputable company? If you have already reached the ceiling at your current workplace, it may be time to switch careers.
  • Is Your Job Overly Stressful? – If you’re experiencing burn-out, this feeling may be a result of years of working in a stressful work environment. It’s estimated 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.
  • Is Your Income Capped? – Although many companies offer routine raises, some organizations rarely issue salary increases.If your answer to most or all of these questions is ‘yes’, you might be due for a career change. Computer programming occupations offer exciting development experiences, lucrative salary ranges, flexible work arrangements and opportunities for advancement. 

Research Programming Positions

As with any field, computer programming positions vary considerably in both expected responsibilities and required credentials. For instance, data scientists need to showcase different skills than project managers. According to Indeed, the top tech positions available for job seekers from ages 40 to 64 are: 

  • Vice President of Information Technology (IT) – This higher-level position entails organizing and implementing a company’s IT systems.
  • Director of Information Technology (IT) – This role involves leading and coordinating an IT team to complete projects, secure company cyber assets and execute technical operations.
  • Chief Software Engineer- A chief engineer is responsible for ensuring compliance, managing tasks and assignments, communicating project specifications and determining technology requirements.
  • Director of Security – Leaders of cybersecurity teams, these professionals manage budgets, develop cybersecurity plans and continually strategize security improvement.
  • Director of Product Management – These supervisors oversee the development, marketing and promotion of products.
  • Director of Quality Assurance – Whether analyzing recruitment or administrating incident reviews, directors of quality assurance establish and implement quality systems to ensure that an organization’s services, infrastructure, staff, practices and policies comply with proprietary standards and industry regulations.
  • IT Manager – These supervisors ensure all company hardware, software, networks and other digital assets are updated and functional. They also train new employees, help manage budgets and implement new practices.
  • IT Project Manager – This position involves installing hardware, updating software, evaluating IT system risks and executing critical changes.
  • Lead Architect – A senior-level engineer responsible for blueprinting, designing and building digital structures.
  • IT Architect – Designers of IT solutions and services who possess extensive business, software, hardware and system creation experience. 

The above roles are just a few computer programming positions available to mid-career job seekers. It’s crucial to do more research on these positions and other opportunities in the computer science sector to identify your ideal job.

Consider All Desirable Options

After researching some computer programming positions, weigh the roles you’d most likely enjoy. Dig deep to identify what you like most about your current job or liked about past positions, and match those experiences to information you gather about potential openings. Write down requirements outlined in notable job listings and consider which skills you possess that satisfy these needs.

Also, make sure to review your current skills and accurately update your social media profiles to reflect these talents. Not only will you appear in targeted recruitment searches, you will gain a better idea of your strengths and opportunities for development. Lastly, update your resumé to include key abilities in your work experience sections. Integrate words you extracted from job listings previously to improve your resumé’s chances of appearing in automated recruitment systems.

Learn Required Skills

While reviewing your skills, if you do not identify talents required for your desired position, that’s perfectly fine. Numerous effective and accessible education resources now exist. It’s recommended to identify knowledge sets needed for a role and take courses corresponding to those requirements. For instance, if you’d like to apply for a coding position that requires HTML fluency, make sure to embark on an educational path that will lead you to accomplish this goal.

Set Realistic Goals

The most vital component to successfully switching to a career in programming is to be realistic. If you do not have the skills to build a backend database for a company, strive for a different role that can bring you equal satisfaction. Perhaps your leadership skills enable you to efficiently manage important programming projects.If a role requires more specific experience, don’t be afraid to experiment and offer your talents as a contractor. The more successful projects under your belt, the more likely a tech company will place value on your experiences.

It’s Never Too Late

If you are planning a mid-life career change, stay persistent and be confident. You most likely have a wide array of life experiences that can contribute considerably to the success of an organization. Be mindful you may encounter younger co-workers and company leaders. Take the time to review your most valuable skills and put in the effort to pursue educational opportunities to learn more.  

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