Are you 40 years old and frustrated with your job? Yes, it’s possible to consider a mid-life career change. It’s not unusual for people to do so. Most people desire a different job hoping for better salaries or a more fulfilling feeling of getting things done. It’s never really too late to start something new.
However, you should not believe that it would be easy to do so. The job market has probably changed from when you first started working, even if it was only five or so years ago. Most modern careers require a certain level of technical expertise. Unless you are willing to spend money and go to school again, it’s difficult to land a good job in a new career.
However, if you truly want to have a chance to start a new career, you should start by learning to code. Whether you are a medical technician or an app developer, modern employers demand that you know how to master software. Coding is how computer programs get written. You may not realize it but more jobs now than ever require coding skills.
The Importance of Coding
Most jobs don’t directly require people to know how to code. But the skill can be a big plus on a resume. Coding is not just important for building giant software like Ms Office. Coding skills are helpful when people handle sophisticated software often used in financial, medical and business fields. Even little recognized jobs, like being a blogger, can benefit by learning how to code. Most freelancers need to know how to use advanced content management systems (CMSs) like Drupal, which is easier to use if you know how to code. So, a potential employee who knows how to code will always be valued over someone who doesn’t. Therefore, even some basic coding skills can get your resume to the top of the pile.
If you are thinking about moving to a new job in a different field, your resume will be considered more seriously with knowledge of coding skills. Keep in mind that you will be competing with candidates with more experience in the field than you. Even if you have been working for a while, an employer may take your lack of experience in the particular industry as a negative. Including a skill like coding, therefore, will help you get jobs in fields like accounting, web design, graphics design, among many others.
Learning How to Code
Essentially anyone can learn to code nowadays online. If you have access to a computer and an internet connection, you can learn coding for free online. There are loads of introductory coding classes offered by institutions like codeacademy.org, Kahn Academy, Coursera and so on. What you will need is time and dedication. Also, if you own an old laptop, you may want to upgrade. Some coding classes will ask you to download programs like Python (which is free). And you will need a laptop with the required amount of processing power. Also, coding means typing a lot, so you will need a computer with a comfortable keyboard as well.
What You Need: Time and Patience
Okay; it’s easy to get carried away by enthusiasm. Keep in mind that you will need a lot of time and patience to master the art of coding. Working over the weekends will be enough if you have a job. But, it’s not something that you can absorb right away if you have never coded before. You will need to work hard and keep on trying. Coding involves a significant amount of algebra and arithmetic. You will need to employ your best problem solving skills as well. The trick is to start slow, absorb the fundamentals and then move on to bigger things.
When you code, you sort of learn a new language. Unlike a spoken language, you will learn a programming language based on math. Commonly used programming languages include HTML, CSS, Java and C+. Beginner programmers usually start coding in Python. This language will help you understand coding, but you will need to learn a more practical programming language, like HTML, for a job. Once you understand the basics of coding, learning a language like HTML will be easy. But, you will still need to dedicate time for that.
Experience will be Important
Learning to code is not enough. You will need experience applying the skills you’ve learned in a real world setting. So, once you are confident about your coding skills, take on a minor project that requires you to code. You can try a non-programming task that requires only some coding skills as well. It will help you master your skills beyond the classroom. You will know for sure that you can code when you do it in a real-life setting. Plus, you won’t be able to handle what your employer wants you to handle without an experienced grasp of a programming language.
Understand that You Won’t Make Money Right Away
Learning to code is not a lottery ticket. Learning Java will not allow you to instantly make loads of cash. The IT field is very competitive. It will be quite tough to find a permanent job right away as a coder. Instead, it’s more pragmatic to use coding as a supplemental skill to boost your resume. Don’t quit your current job to learn to code thinking you will get your money’s worth later. What most people do is that they find a paying job, and while doing so learn to code online as well.
Don’t expect your career transition to be smooth. As mentioned before, there will be significant changes you will have to get used to in the job market. In addition to coding, you can learn other skills as well, like a second language that will give you an advantage in competitive market. If you are an older worker hoping to switch career paths, then learning to code will definitely be beneficial. It will put you in the same category as younger job seekers who are usually more tech savvy than older counterparts.
Think of learning to code as a start to the career change you eventually hope to have. Just don’t have unrealistic expectations, especially financially. It will take some time until you are fully comfortable to start a new career path. Don’t give in, and be resilient, and you will eventually find your way.