Age is no barrier to education, and the saying "better late than never" always applies to people who want to expand their knowledge. Yet, returning to school at 40 might sound challenging since you likely have more responsibilities than the average college student.
While pursuing a degree isn't your only option, you might wonder if it's possible to pursue or expand a career in tech at the age of 40 – especially if you haven't had any prior experience in the industry.
Well, if you were concerned about that, we have insights to cheer you up!
You CAN start a career in tech at 40
According to Executive Coach Tim Madden, you might already have skills that transfer to the tech space without even knowing it.
"If you've previously worked in the healthcare or financial services industries, switching over to their high-tech equivalents might not seem so daunting. But if you come from a completely different sector—such as energy or food and beverages—you might doubt that you have what it takes," he said.
He says that any success you had in a previous role was probably not due solely to your "book smarts" but having transferable skills like:
• Team Work
He says now is a great time to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the tech industry but also warns not to let time slip away.
"With so many opportunities up for grabs right now, there's almost no reason to not give it a go. However, things may not be this way forever, so take advantage of the fast-paced growth and lack of entry barriers while you can."
What are some reasons for returning to school or attending bootcamps at 40?
- Career switch
- Salary hike
- Personal fulfillment
From financial to personal reasons, people at 40 (or over) seek out career and continuing education opportunities for a variety of reasons.
Changing Careers to Earn a Higher Salary
Is seeking a higher salary a good reason for a job change? Why wouldn't it be? According to Pew Research, it's one of the top reasons Americans quit their jobs. Plus, from April 2020 to March 2021, they saw 54% of job switchers experience an increase in real earnings.
In our experience with students, Thinkful grads have reported an average salary increase of $17,000.
Choosing the right path to make a career change
As an adult learner, you'll likely have to consider other responsibilities in making a career change. These could involve holding a full-time job, having the responsibility of a child, or being a primary caregiver.
If you have a spouse, partner, or children, you should have an open conversation with them before making any decisions. A career change might impact family time or other tasks in ways that require additional planning.
Since a degree plan or tech bootcamp are two primary options to pursue a career change, you should know what path is best for you. Consider the essential questions, such as:
• What are the benefits of a bootcamp or degree program?
• What do you want out of your coursework?
• What meets the requirements of the job you want?
• How much time can you spend on a program?
• What type of personal support is offered along the way?
Let's examine how college degrees or tech bootcamps could influence the answers to these questions.
Finding the right college
The needs of individuals at 40 tend to differ from students between 18 and 22. So, search for colleges with a proven track record of assisting working adults.
Finding the right bootcamp
Nasdaq suggests considering several factors when finding the right bootcamp, including:
• Does the bootcamp require you to apply to a specific number of jobs per month to meet the terms of their guarantee?
• Do you need to meet a minimum income limit to satisfy the bootcamp's guarantee?
• If so, what happens if you find a job that doesn't meet the minimum income limit?
• What happens if you don't find a suitable job?
• What are the terms of paying off your bootcamp fees?
• Will you be allowed to turn down jobs that you feel are unsuitable?
• Will you be required to relocate to accept a job?
Cost considerations for college
Going back to school or enrolling at a bootcamp at 40 is an extra expense. Therefore, you should explore your options and develop a financial plan.
There are many scholarships available for people who are 40. The Sophie Greenstadt Scholarship for Mid-Life Women, The Talbots Scholarship Program, and The Adult Student Grant are available for older students.
If you want to move into a tech position at your current job, some organizations allow their employees to enroll in educational programs and reimburse a percentage of the cost. You could check with your employer regarding any possible reimbursement plans.
Some financial institutions provide educational loans for people who want to pursue studies at any age and help them pay their academic fees. You can consult with them to learn how to qualify for an offer that meets your specific needs.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the average cost of tuition for the 2022-2023 school year is:
• $39,723 at a private college
• $22,952 for out-of-state students at a public school
According to EducationData.org, the average cost of an online undergraduate degree is:
• $37,920 for public (in-state) institutions
• $58,960 for private institutions
The average cost for a master's degree is:
• $81,100 in a private school
• $54,500 in a public school
Cost considerations for enrolling in a tech bootcamp
While the cost can vary, one way bootcamps address cost concerns is by holding tuition payments until a graduate finds a good job. This not only takes the pressure off the student but also makes everyone equally invested in the student's career success.
The time needed to complete a degree program
Getting the degree will depend heavily on your ability to remain organised and successfully manage your schedule. Generally, people break down the time spent on an online degree by the credit hour. If you take a 3-credit hour course per 7-week class, Arizona State says you should probably expect to dedicate 6 hours per credit hour a week – or 18 hours a week.
Depending on variables like in-person or online degree programs, availability of accelerated courses, and a student's weekly time, it can take anywhere from 2-6 years to complete an online degree.
How much time will I have to invest in a tech bootcamp
Many bootcamp students can complete their programs in less than a year. For example, our bootcamps last between 5-6 months. You would need to dedicate 20-30 hours a week in one of our tech bootcamps focused on software engineering, UX/UI design, data science or technical project management.
What type of support will you get in a degree program
Obviously, on-campus schools have advisors, faculty and student advisors to help people of all ages succeed. Some schools hire teacher assistants or academic coaches for an online degree to help students complete courses and remain engaged.
What type of support will you get in a tech bootcamp
If you're making a significant career change and decide to enroll in a tech bootcamp, you shouldn't feel like you're on that journey alone. Along with your peers, a career coach, academic success advisor and mentors are here to support you.
In fact, one of the most common things we hear at Thinkful is how much students appreciate the mentors that support them along the way.
"My favorite part of the curriculum were the mentors. Having them really changed learning for me. I never had any prior experience with a mentor who knew how to code. So having someone who not only had experience but was extremely proficient at coding helped me with my confidence tremendously." - Ted (a personal trainer who became a web developer)
Entering the Tech Industry at 40: Is it possible?
Yes, it is not only possible to enter the tech industry in your 40s; you have options for making it a reality. If you want some other meaningful stats to inspire you, According to Zappia:
• The average age of a Software Engineer is 40+
• The average age of a User Experience Designer is 37
• The average age of a Computer Programmer is 46
The key to figuring out your path to pursuing a new or improved career path in the tech industry depends on the student's needs. If you're considering a boot camp at 40, here is a list of questions and answers for you and a way to reach out to us if you have specific questions about your particular needs.