Switching Career from Journalism to Developer/Engineer

I’m 30 and a tech journalist with 5 years of experience. While I like my job, I have doubts about its future, as technologies like ChatGPT are coming out. Besides writing, I the only field that interests me is programming, which brings me to the question:

Is 30 too late to start programming and start my career in programming/coding/engineering? If not, what’s the right approach to get a job, considering I don’t have a formal education in computer science?

Thanks in advance!

Hi @elliot.alt !

Welcome to the forum!

I started learning how to code at 29 and got a job and year and half later.
It’s possible.

Quincy also wrote an article about those who switched in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s

When you go down the self taught road it will typically take longer to land that first job then without a degree.
I have a degree in music and never took computer science classes before starting to learn programming and it took me a year and a half of learning and building projects before I landed my first job.
Everyone’s situation will differ but typically it won’t be a few months like bootcamps and most youtube videos try to make it seem.
It is also important to note, that the degree will carry more weight in certain countries over others.
In the states, for example, a lot of employers won’t be as strict about a degree if you have some good projects to show them and can show that you are are willing to learn and be challenged.

My advice to you would be to start with the freeCodeCamp curriculum and learn the fundamentals really well.
Then start building projects outside of a course curriculum.
you don’t need to build the next million dollar app, but you do want to build some projects that take a few weeks to build.
Think about ideas or apps you would like to use and start figuring out how to build that.
Taking that initiate to build projects outside of a course that took some time to build will impress employers.
That will show you are not afraid to challenge yourself.
Plus it will give you something to talk about and help you stand out from the crowd.

The self taught road is not an easy one but it is worth it if you stick it out.

I would suggest reading through other post in the Career Advice section about how to learn and get that first job.
I would also suggest checking out Danny Thompson’s videos and Leon Noel’s videos on jobs.

Good Luck!

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Is 30 too late to start programming and start my career in programming/coding/engineering?

I started in my mid 40s, so, no.

If not, what’s the right approach to get a job, considering I don’t have a formal education in computer science?

Self-taught - learn and build things for 1-3 years. Start applying after the first year.
boot camp - sign up for a bootcamp and work your butt off and hope they can help you find a job.

There is a Visit the Curriculum button in the top left of this screen - a free curriculum to learn a MERN stack for web development.

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Hi Elliot!

Thanks for sharing your questions :slight_smile:

I’ve changed from psychology to programming at 28 and after 7 months studying (self-taught), I’ve landed a job. So yes, you can do it, you just need to be consistent with the study and that relies on a good planning, especially when you’re doing it by yourself.
I would suggest to play around with simple and initial courses, something practical, fun and creative, to give you an overview of the different areas of IT and programming overall logic. After having more insight, choose what you like and start investing studying it :slight_smile:

Here’s some cool intro courses:

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Like most AI implementations today, they are built on things that aren’t actually new. The main advancement is the large sets of data used to train these AI. ChatGPT is no different. However the underlying theory is essentially the same.

Because of that, all modern AI has similar pros and cons. The pro is they are great at pattern recognition. The con is they are still technically stupid, they are just great at acting smart. In a sense AI is mostly “artificial” rather than “intelligent”. This is especially true in situations where the “correct result” is mostly open ended and outside of a given context.

For example, modern chess engines will always beat a human opponent. This is because chess is a game with clear context and victory conditions. ChatGPT on the other hand can still give out incorrect and flawed information. Most use-cases have this issue as well, which is why ChatGPT would be a bad choice in a number of situations where the results are* subjective, or require additional context.

The future for AI is mostly oriented toward the practical applications of them to help a person with specific problems, not so much a be-all-end-all.

For example, even with the code realm technologies like github’s copilot can easily seem like they are “job taking” capable, but practically most code it writes is incorrect, so a human still needs to be involved to provide the correct context.


The job of a journalist is to investigate/experience/break a story isn’t it? ChatGPT can’t do that. It can only give you a bit of copy similar to other articles that have already been published. Even at writing copy it’s helpful but not perfect, it would just give you generic sounding stuff. But the help it offers allows you to focus on the core of the job, i.e. finding the story.

It’s a similar deal with code. It rarely produces code that actually runs and does what you want it to, but it offers helpful broad stroke solutions that are 70% there, allowing you to fill in the gaps yourself and focus on the more important aspects of building an application.

In answer to the question though 30 isn’t too late. Think I started at 27/28? There are people on here with successful careers that started in their late 40s and beyond.

Also as you’ve probably seen in the media the tech sector isn’t exactly in a great state atm. There’s not really any additional security in this industry compared to any other. I wouldn’t let job security be your motivator for a career transition into software.

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I was also a journalist who knows anything about computers or coding. As journalist jobs sucks I started to see youtube videos and learning about coding. Recently i get my first job on it, it took 6-7 months BUT in a very hard rithm is normal to be years struggling with it.
Learn about frontend and backend, try to see a begginer tutorial for both and check was look easiest for you. Then pick a set of technologies, the courses of the curriculum in freecodecamp are nice but they begin with front technologies (best choice in my opinion) but you also have a lot of tutorials in freecodecamp yt channel about java, node even about the basis of coding and core concepts of computers

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