How old is too old to start down this path



  • The idea came up in a thread with @scottalanmiller on another, unmentionable site today. How old is too old to start in IT and be able to compete? Most everyone I know started working with computers, as a child, and moved down the path of working on them for family by the age of 10 or 12. Scott has said on more than one occasion that you really need to know the basics of computer programing by the age of 12 to be competitive. I know he was working in the field by 13.

    That being said, does IT have an age limit? I have a buddy who is a OK home computer user. Can scrap together a home system and install an OS. He is currently 27. He is former Military and wants to get a long term career going, but is a little lost as far as direction. He sees me doing well in the IT world and wants the same. I try to push him in the right direction, but this content just comes more naturally for me, as I have been doing this my entire life. Is there a point where you get to old to get serious in IT? Is it different for Development vs System Admins vs Help Desk? Does it take to long to catch up vs getting into another career path? Does age have anything to do with it, and is it more about being a life long learner?



  • Never too old, that kind of thinking is just self defeatist.

    Hard work and dedication will get you exceptionally far.



  • If he is good at working on and building computers, I'd start him down the path of a helpdesk tech. Once he gets tired of that, maybe then it will be time for him to move up to higher and better roles.

    Also, +1 what @MattSpeller said!



  • It was for programming that it came up in the other forum, and for that I'm a firm believer that you basically need to catch people before age 12. Programming is like being a musician, all the best musicians were playing instruments before that age. Your brain needs to develop to handle the way that you need to think for these things. It's not that programming later in life is impossible, it is that you never get to change your brain the way that you need to. Same for learning foreign languages. Age matters a lot.



  • IT is different. IT doesn't require different thought processes. IT is common sense, it's integrated with life, it's just another part of business. So I think getting into IT when older is fine.



  • @scottalanmiller said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    IT is different. IT doesn't require different thought processes. IT is common sense, it's integrated with life, it's just another part of business. So I think getting into IT when older is fine.

    That is what got me thinking, is programing fundamentally different than It? I think it is, and I agree with you, I'm just throwing the question out the universe for the purpose of discussion.



  • @MattSpeller said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    Never too old, that kind of thinking is just self defeatist.

    Hard work and dedication will get you exceptionally far.

    The downside to this is that you have limited career length. People getting into IT in their teens, say at 14, have fifty or more years to build a career from start to retirement. Starting at 24 gives you a decade loss on momentum and makes learning harder. You can do it older, but there are more and more challenges. IT doesn't require a different way of thinking, like programming, but it does involve a LOT to learn. So the sooner you get learning, the more experience you get and the more learning you can do.



  • @s.hackleman said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    @scottalanmiller said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    IT is different. IT doesn't require different thought processes. IT is common sense, it's integrated with life, it's just another part of business. So I think getting into IT when older is fine.

    That is what got me thinking, is programing fundamentally different than It? I think it is, and I agree with you, I'm just throwing the question out the universe for the purpose of discussion.

    Yes, very much so. Compare these two activities that I would say are similar...

    • Playing violin (programming)
    • Selling insurance (IT)

    One type of activity requires special brain development outside of the norm. The second does not. It is not that one is harder than the other, but one requires "different" thinking and the other simply requires being smart and applying common sense and common knowledge well.



  • Programming is different. You need a high level of abstract thinking and - at least that's my opinion - you must be creative. @scottalanmiller said something very true, programming is like paining or playing an instrument. There is some, hell, how to say... There's a hidden picture deep behind tens or hundreds of thousands of lines, something you can actually feel at times. Sounds stupid, I know 😉

    IT in terms of administration, deployment and similar tasks is also a big thing, where analyitical and problem solving skills are required, but it's not like (real) programming. Remember: Programming != ("Coding" || Webdesign || Printers) 😛



  • @thwr said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    Programming is different. You need a high level of abstract thinking and - at least that's my opinion - you must be creative. @scottalanmiller said something very true, programming is like paining or playing an instrument. There is some, hell, how to say... There's a hidden picture deep behind tens or hundreds of thousands of lines, something you can actually feel at times. Sounds stupid, I know 😉

    IT in terms of administration, deployment and similar tasks is also a big thing, where analyitical and problem solving skills are required, but it's not like (real) programming. Remember: Programming != ("Coding" || Webdesign || Printers) 😛

    Scott Hanselman had a podcast a few weeks ago about code smells. I think that is the feel you are referring too.



  • @s.hackleman said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    @thwr said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    Programming is different. You need a high level of abstract thinking and - at least that's my opinion - you must be creative. @scottalanmiller said something very true, programming is like paining or playing an instrument. There is some, hell, how to say... There's a hidden picture deep behind tens or hundreds of thousands of lines, something you can actually feel at times. Sounds stupid, I know 😉

    IT in terms of administration, deployment and similar tasks is also a big thing, where analyitical and problem solving skills are required, but it's not like (real) programming. Remember: Programming != ("Coding" || Webdesign || Printers) 😛

    Scott Hanselman had a podcast a few weeks ago about code smells. I think that is the feel you are referring too.

    Probably, yes 😉

    Back to your original question: I think your friend will be fine when he starts with 27, that's not really old. I'm just not sure about the programming part. Just to name a number: I've sold my first real application (warehouse inventory database) when I was 14 years old.



  • @s.hackleman said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    @thwr said in How old is too old to start down this path:

    Programming is different. You need a high level of abstract thinking and - at least that's my opinion - you must be creative. @scottalanmiller said something very true, programming is like paining or playing an instrument. There is some, hell, how to say... There's a hidden picture deep behind tens or hundreds of thousands of lines, something you can actually feel at times. Sounds stupid, I know 😉

    IT in terms of administration, deployment and similar tasks is also a big thing, where analyitical and problem solving skills are required, but it's not like (real) programming. Remember: Programming != ("Coding" || Webdesign || Printers) 😛

    Scott Hanselman had a podcast a few weeks ago about code smells. I think that is the feel you are referring too.

    YEs, that is it. Standard term "smells" believe it or not.


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