The ageism question

Hello everyone! Long time subscriber. First time caller.

I’m needing a career change at 41. I’ve been a paramedic for almost 20 years. My physical and mental health are needing relief. I love the job, make decent money, and am higher up in the food chain these days… but the stress is really getting to me.

I’ve been coding and playing with computer science for several years. I’m working on some apps currently and love learning new concepts and ideas.

My question is, “is it too late to change careers?”

I’m contemplating earning a second bachelors degree in computer science. My hopes are that with a degree (hopefully the accelerated WGU program) and a portfolio would increase my chances in gaining employment.

What are your thoughts or advice? What concentration should I check out?

Thank you!

Over the years, there have been a lot of good discussions on this forum with people from 24 to 60 asking “am I too old?”. I do think it’s worth looking through those responses.

A few highlights:

  • Programming is one of the fields where a career change later in life is more common.
  • Yes, agism exists, as does racism, sexism, and ablism (to name a few). It’s not something we like to acknowledge, but it’s there.
  • It can also be surprisingly stressful and alienating to be mentored and managed by people half your age. You might feel isolated, even if your team is doing their best to make you welcome.

As for the question of getting a second bachelor’s vs a path with less tuition and time committment, that’s a very individual decision. I chose to go back for a second BS in Computer Science, and I can think of at least 4 friends or classmates who did the same. For me, it was a path to success that was worth the investment. I didn’t keep in touch with all those other non-traditional students, but I do know that all of them found good programming jobs very quickly. Older students who return to shool tend to have some significant advantages over the young’uns That was before the emergence of bootcamps, etc though. I don’t know if I’d make the same choice if I was doing it today. To my mind, the most significant advantage of attending a university in this particular situation is the access to career resources. You are elligable for internships while your a student, giving you actual experience on your resume. This semi-professional experience is definitely preferred over a personal-project portfolio. The school is also a way to connect with recruiters who are specifically looking to hire entry-level/early-career programmers. In my experience, someone who attends a college career fair with maturity and professionalism can absolutely wreck the 22 year old competition.

I have the same question… I just turned 60 and have been working on independent projects for decades programming in 4D (a rather unknown language and database system). Staying busy full-time as a one-man0band is getting harder… Looking to diversify my skillset and possibly join a company full-time where I could further my IT career. Suggestions?