How to Become A Programmer After 30 Years Old?

How to Become A Programmer After 30 Years Old?

We would like to share with you guys a story a friend of mine that wanted to become a programmer even in his thirty and over.

His name is Dan, and his 35 years old. Previously, we often heard that a programmer is a profession for young people. Nevertheless, last summer he received an invitation from Google and moved to work in the USA.

In this article, we would like to touch upon a question that was repeatedly discussed: how realistic is it to be a programmer after 35–40 years? Not a leading Architect, not a Team Lead, not a Project Manager, but a Programmer? We do not agree with the opinion that programming is a lot of the young. We consider it harmful and now we will tell you why.

There are several reasons for this myth. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Explanation 1. Requires nerves and reactions

We are told: “Programming requires energy, which is inherent only in the young. In adulthood, this is simply not enough strength.”

Programmers like to make a compliment, putting them on a par with test pilots and astronauts. By the way, it was not by chance that we started talking about pilots. Ladies and gentlemen, look at this man:

Chesley Sullenberger

This is the famous Chesley Sullenberger, who at the age of 58 became the hero of the United States by landing a plane on the Hudson.

For the sake of fairness, we will say: in programming, there really are areas where after forty it is difficult, but not because everything is too abstruse and hard, but because of the specifics of these particular areas. For example, the gaming industry, which is often crunching: people work more than 100 hours a week. If in youth this can still be pulled, then at 40 years old health is unlikely to allow. However, here the question is rather to companies that practice crunches. A programmer can write games even at the age of 40, just not in such an exhausting and harmful mode.

Explanation 2. Learn, learn and study again

We are told: “The knowledge of programming is constantly becoming obsolete, and by the age of 30–35, what you studied at a university may already be unnecessary, and it is too late to relearn”.

Again, it sounds flattering. The profession is so intellectual and elitist that you constantly have to be at the forefront of progress.

But there are other professions where you need to continuously learn. And 40-year-olds from there nobody drives.

Recall lawyers. The legislation is constantly becoming obsolete. This is the norm. Moreover, their situation is even tougher than that of programmers. With the release of the C++ standard, no one will dismiss those who wrote in the previous standard, they will not require them to relearn immediately. And the lawyer has no choice: with the release of the new edition of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, he is obliged to read, remember and use it.

The same can be said about doctors: they have to constantly update their knowledge. To make it clear how old a surgeon should study, for example, read the opinion of the country’s chief cardiac surgeon Leo Bokeria:

With regard to doctors, this has always been the case: people want to be treated by an experienced doctor. Cardiac surgeons, say, in America, are only allowed to come to the table at the age of 37, and it will take place by the age of 40 as an independent surgeon, this is still a big question. This applies to doctors, scientists, teachers, people of intellectual labor, as well as highly skilled workers.

  • Pay attention to the “people of intellectual work” – programs are among them, we hope? So, the experience is as important here as in any other intellectual industry.

How much can a person learn new things in adulthood? We are not teachers, not a psychologist or a neurobiologist, in order to professionally answer this question. However, as practice shows, this is quite possible. The mass of people is at the forefront of progress and after forty. If we ignore the IT industry.

There is also implicit knowledge. They cannot be obtained at the university and gleaned from the literature. It will take more than one year (and sometimes even more than one decade) to work in a particular industry. A programmer in 40 years knows how to program, and also (if he participated in so-called hopeless projects) – how not to program and what errors should be avoided when choosing software architecture and writing code.

Explanation 4. Are you still not a leader?

We are told: “A programmer is only the first step in a career. By thirty, at thirty-five at the latest, you must be a leader if you have brains and abilities. ”

This is the most offensive explanation. Like, you can indulge in programming through youth, but after thirty you have to do something serious.

It is easy to understand the absurdity of this point of view if you try to apply it to other professions. Try saying to a 50-year-old lawyer: “Do you still not have your own law office?” Try to say to a 50-year-old surgeon: “Are you still not the head of the surgical department? Normal people at your age have long owned their own airlines. ”

  • A programmer and an IT project manager are different professions, although managers often grow out of programmers.

We consider the position “Programmer is a profession for young people” very harmful because it significantly reduces motivation. You must admit that it is quite difficult to study hard for five years at a higher educational institution if you think that later you will stay a programmer for a maximum of five years, too. Imagine that you are forced to study for a doctor for eight years, but at the same time they say: “A doctor is a profession for young people, after thirty you have to switch to senior positions”. What is the point then to study hard all these years?

Where did the myth “Programmer – a profession for young people” come from?

At one time he tried to find out and identified two sources:

  • The early era of programming. Those are the most romantic years of writing programs, not even in assembler, but on machine codes, and not in a normal IDE, but on punch cards. The software development was much more time consuming than it is now. And we readily admit that it was the young who were the easiest to sustain such a process.

However, now the situation has changed. The yard is no longer the fifties, the development is not so hard.

  • The golden age of the Runet came to zero: the IT sector was booming, everything was automated, every enterprise got its own workflow automation system, foreign offices came to the country … In addition, it was a glorious period of victories in ACM contests. Then the industry really developed rapidly. It was possible to work as a programmer for a maximum of five years after the diploma and then grow to the project manager. Perhaps it was then that the conviction was made that the programmer is a transitional stage in his career.

However, now the situation has changed. There are many reasons for this, but the most important, in our opinion, is the demographic failure. We had the opportunity to teach in a provincial university and work in provincial IT offices. We can testify personally: in the regions already in 2010, the shortage of personnel was very acute. The number of young people was much smaller, and universities simply could not supply the necessary number of programmers. Maybe in New York and St. Washingotn DC, this is not felt, but in other cities, everything is exactly that. There is no one to replace all 30-year-old programmers. Obviously, they cannot go to other positions – who will be programming?

The demographic failure has led to the fact that the age limit for a programmer in the regions has begun to imperceptibly, but steadily increase. Whether this happens in the capital is an open question.

Tips for students of IT specialties

How to treat your profession? What to learn so as not to be left out in the thirties and not regret the time lost at the university? Here are our thoughts.

  • Do not take your profession as temporary – otherwise, you will have hard times. It’s hard for a programmer to learn, but it’s not hard to learn what you don’t consider as a matter of your life: when you plan to give him about five years at most, and then you’ll do really interesting things like project management. Decide whether you’re really going to be a programmer all your life. Consider that if you perceive your profession as a purely temporary one, then the probability that you will master it superficially increases dramatically.
  • Do not neglect low-level programming like assembler and such language as C/C++, especially pointers. If you have not mastered it, then you automatically cut yourself off from a number of development areas. The most striking example is OS development. If it seems to you that this is a very niche area, then think about computer graphics for games: there it is too. Or about drivers for modern devices.

Yes, and things like nginx will be problematic to write. In terms of work, do not forget that in almost every enterprise – that we have, that abroad – there is a mass of microcontrollers, and they are unlikely to be programmed in Python in the near future.

  • Do not neglect functional programming. For a long time, especially in the nineties, in the heyday of the PLO, this style looked like something academic, which in practice does not occur in the work of an ordinary programmer. Everything has changed from about the middle of zero, and Twitter will authoritatively confirm that Scala can be developed and highly loaded systems. In general, functional programming concepts are used much more widely than many students think. Almost all programming languages ​​that have appeared in the mainstream in the past 10 years contain elements of functional programming. His concepts for a long time will penetrate into different areas. From ourselves, we recommend the course of Abelson and Sassman.

This is a classic course MIT eighties, after which modern languages ​​are mastered much better.

  • Try strength in sports programming. To be honest, this is the most controversial advice. Sports programming because of its features (the program passes a set of automated tests with a time limit, but no one checks the style and thoughtfulness of the architecture) encourages careless writing of code. However, on the other hand, a more intensive acquaintance with the algorithms can hardly be invented. Remember how many lectures about the graphs and the search algorithms for them you had in high school? Two or three? How many times have you applied this knowledge? Also two or three times? Do not compare with the experience gained in solving a couple of hundred problems. As in any job, you become an expert as a result of practice.


After thirty-five, it is quite possible to be a programmer and get a job – and not only in some factory to support the old system, but in modern IT companies. The main thing is to develop, not to be afraid of the new and to love your business.