Reality of learning in mid-30s

Hi all,

Have a hypothetical for you, based completely on my actual life:

I’m 34 and I have a great job currently in the biotech industry - no complaints with it whatsoever, however I have always had an interest in coding and I’m finally taking the time, about an hour a day, to learn it here on freeCodeCamp. I may also be able to integrate it into my full time job.

I have experience in business ownership and I would like to combine that with (hopefully) gaining enough experience over the next couple of years in coding to engage in a sort of side-hustle, possibly developing apps, offering help to local businesses/startups or what have you, and consider making a leap into coding full time. I also have a network of friends that work as software engineers and developers who I may be able to lean on as mentors. (Yes, I could ask them this, but I think asking total strangers is better :slight_smile:)

At the very least, I believe having experience in and knowledge of coding would be very valuable in business, even if I was not a full time coder.

Do you believe this is actually a possibility, to gain enough experience with a few hours a day, to make a jump into such a career over a few years, beginning at the age of 34? Are you or do you know anybody who is actually pursuing this?

Any thoughts would be great, thanks!

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this is absolutely possible!

From my personal experience, I learned the basics of coding with FCC. I learned enough to be able to read HTML, CSS and JS and build simple apps. From there I started working on my own project where my learning really took off and actually transitioned into full time software development.

A couple more things:

  • I think career goals like this are also extremely helpful in motivating someone through the tough parts of learning to code.
  • Consistency is really important, it really is like learning a foreign language.

There is really only one way to find out if this is something that you can do. Do it! :grin:


side-hustle, possibly developing apps, offering help to local businesses/startups

Yes and no. I’m thinking of a recent quote from Kyle Simpson, “I don’t think anyone ever really knows JS, not completely anyway.”

His sentiment is because the JS ecosystem is growing so quickly, that there’s no way any one person can know it all, and as a result there will be certain things you can really only do if you’re giving them your full attention.

However, there are tons of things you can do before you need that commitment! So, don’t expect that you’ll be able to build a robust competitor to in an hour a day, but you should definitely be able to do some side-hustles, smaller apps, etc!

making a leap into coding full time


In many ways, I think it may be best to work at it in small increments until you know that it’s something you want to do all the time, by which time you’ll have a good idea of what you’re getting into, and have some baseline knowledge to build off of.

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Yes, anything is possible.

I started learning web dev around 1996/97, working a few hours at night, after my day job. I was 29.

I quit my day job at 32 when income and work load from my then side hustle became big enough and also had a guaranteed contract from a big client I landed.

Soooo … been running this web dev business from home for the last 19 yrs now…

I’m 50+ now, and still learning… continuing to learn new tech just to keep pace. I don’t know all the latest tech out there, but know enough and what’s important/relevant/applicable for my clients to keep them happy and coming back.


There is no doubt that coding can complement any career in science. Understanding the process, workings and limits of computing can yield new insights or lead you to imagine new tools and solutions.

It is wise, however, to look upon it as a side-hustle. Much of the programming community (particularly apps/startups etc.) is either high-risk, or based on a gig economy. To succeed, you need an entrepreneur mindset. Not everyone’s cut out for it, and regular paychecks, job benefits and a pension are compelling reasons to keep the day job (I’ve freelanced for nearly 30 years, I know of what I speak). Plus, skill is only part of the picture, particularly since remote workers from around the planet are swimming in the same talent pool.

But in terms of age, I don’t think it’s a factor at all if it brings you joy. It doesn’t sound like you shy away from learning new things and thinking in new ways, and passion can help achieve great things.

There’s only one way I know of to find out if you are a natural developer: roll up your sleeves and get cracking.


i never understood that stuff, does age really matter in learning
i suppose it matters in looking for a job though lol

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Yep, it matters, just because of time. The older you get, [in general] the more responsibilities you accrue, and those responsibilities steal time. Kids being the most obvious example. Time starts to vanish at an increasing rate. It’s not in any way an insurmountable problem, it just tends to get more difficult the older you are. You just have to accept that encroaching mortality matters and figure out ways to work with that. It is definitely easier to acquire strong skills the younger you are.

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This discussion has reminded me of this quote.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.


Depending on where you work in biotech, you may be able to really exploit your position by adding software skills (I think it is certainly possible). You already know what that particular industry needs for things like data collection or data processing or day to day operations, so that is one advantage already. You could potentially carve out a niche job. There is also bioinformatics if you work with the biology side of things.

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