54 and Just Learning

Hi Everyone.
This is my first post to the board… So I’m 54 Years old, unemployed and just started with Free Code Camp.
I really have a passion for learning coding, BUT am a bit discouraged when reading posts asking if 30 years old is too to switch careers into Web Development(not programmng)…I do have a BS in Information Technology but it’s from way back in 2003

I guess want really makes me almost want to give up before I start is seeing those “is 30 too old” posts… With that said, and due to my age, I’m wondering if it’s better to go the Freelance route. In other words, once I’ve been through all of the classes and developed my skills and built a solid portfolio, to perhaps use SEO and perhaps some paid advertising to try and attract clients via my portfolio page offering to build web sites for free in exchange for some free advertising etc? Since I know a company itself will never hire me due to my age, I’m wondering if Freelancing is my only option since, since ageism isn’t near as dominating in the freelance industry as it is in the corporate world… Thoughts?

Just wanted to see if there’s hope in what I mentioned above, before abandoning everything all together…
thanks !

My 2nd love next to learning web development is affiliate marketing, and a few good friends of mine are making a full time income with that(a few thousand a month), although 10 hour days are their norm…But at least there is no age discrimination in that area, but still lots of hard work., which most people aren’t willing to put in…

I would prefer the stability of web development though, as affiliate payouts can change or the sites can vanish overnight., thus no job security


I’m 41 and learning coding. Most folks I know do a mix of freelance and working for a company. Strategically you might be better off applying to companies that do web dev in house than an agency or a startup. Working in a team environment can help you learn more about process, organization, communication, and keep up on new technologies. Freelance has some plusses if you are more entrepreneurial but you can put yourself in a corner if your contracts go beyond your capabilities. Personally, I want to work for a company first, develop a software project on the side, take what I learned from my experience as an employee and strike out on my own as an employer.

The best thing you can do once COVID precautions are over is go to dev networking events. You can get a lot of guidance and perspectives in an active group. Once you’re ready to start a job search in earnest that network can help you overcome some of the ageism in tech. Letting your network know what you are looking for can help you get introductions and possibly have some people vouch for your skills and ability to learn.

This is an industry that values learners. Tech gets updated so quickly that a senior engineer might have the same knowledge and proficiency on something as an entry level coder. Both people need to learn to stay relevant and employed. The main obstacle we have is mastering basics so we can take deep dives into those same topics.

Thanks so much for your response and information. Great insight and information you provided…

The more I read on this forum, I think I’m going to hold off on learning web development. It just seems like the odds are stacked against me at my age. And even though I’m unemployed currently, and have 10 to 12 hours per day to dedicate to study, that’s alot of time to commit, if the future is pretty bleak and the odds are highly stacked against any chance of success in the first place. . Man, I wish I was 41 like you are. I only wish I would have thought of this sooner.

Age discrimination makes me absolutely sick to my stomach and it’s a crime that so many companies get away with it. Totally sickening…

some positive vibes…

anyway, if you don’t start now that you want, what will happen in ten years? even if it doesn’t bring to a job, it’s still an interesting thing to learn

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Don’t quit, I’m 51. If you quit I’ll probably be the oldest one on here, lol, and I can’t have that. I’m in a similar boat to be honest, and its not easy, but the thing is, age discrimination is going to come with any job. At least with this field, if we get good enough we can do our own thing and won’t have to work for someone else. There’s really no other fields where you can learn everything online for free, and change careers with no overhead but ownership of a computer and an internet connection.


you are not, a few members that have disclosed their age in a post are in their 70s or 80s


@Driven4Success you are not alone! I’m also in my 50’s and have been working as a software engineer for 11+ years now. I believe you can do anything if you have a passion for it. You are 100% right about ageism in tech ; it’s rampant among hiring managers, recruiters and team leaders. That being said, I know many people in tech who focus on getting the job done - not how old the teammate is.

I’ve been out of work since this pandemic started and interviewing has been a nightmare.
Here are some of the red flags of ageism in the interview process:
First interview is a video interview
The focus is on regurgitating algorithmic computations - not on the technologies you will work with
They request a photo
The job description asks for “recent graduates”
Requesting graduation dates in the education section of the application
Its a start-up and they ask you if late night office parties will be a problem
They ask you how old your children are
The video interview includes the entire team and one person who is your age & gender

Here are a few that are out and out illegal:
Are you married?
How old are you?
Are you healthy?
When did you graduate?
When do you expect to retire?

If this sounds like I know a bit about this, its because I’ve been looking for a job for 8 months now and I’ve experienced all of it.

I have thought about consulting and freelancing as an alternative and that may be the direction I have to go in now. I’ve been successfully contributing to software development for more than a decade with some great work especially in online education and accessibility platforms.

It seems like no one values my experience. The attitude is what work did you do today? Which is fine, if you ask me to make an app; but if you want me to whiteboard some nebulous code to show you I understand a binary search - its not going to be a barometer to show what I can do as an employee.

Okay, rant over.

I love my work and as messed up as this issue is for people in my age group, I don’t let anyone tell me what I can do with my life. If you love programming, stick with it. It’s your life. Opportunities are out there.

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Thanks everyone for all your responses. A few older coder friends of mine told me not to let the “naysayers” get to me regarding my age… People just like to bring you down and “misery loves company” as they say.

Worse comes to worse, I’m an excellent stock-options trader, as I just seem to have a natural intuition for that, and most of the greater traders I know are all over 40, so at least I have that to fall back on if web -design doesn’t work out.

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