February 12, 2018

Am I too old to do a coding bootcamp?

I'm 34 years old and worked in banking for 10+ years. I'm now at a decent salary in a management position.

However..I've grown an interest in becoming a web developer and thinking what is the best way to make a career change.

Do you think doing a coding bootcamp is still a good option in 2018?

Am I too old to make such a switch? Not sure if I can picture myself as an entry level developer taking orders from a 25 yr old..

I know it sounds a bit childish, but I think it is a reality that older folks just don't fit in well in this younger tech scene..

Any advice would be helpful, thanks!


  1. 9

    I'm 60 years old and just launched my own venture to provide thoughtful software for busy people - Go for it.

    1. 1

      Wow! That's awesome.

  2. 8

    Never too old. Do it!

    As for taking orders from a 25 year old. Eh, you'll have to get over that if you want a job as a programmer at a company. If whatever bank you worked for hired a new CEO and he was 26 years old. You'd have to deal with it. I think that's more of a personal ego thing. Sooner you realize it, the easier it is to overcome.

    I have faith that you can get over it :)

    Finally, you don't necessarily even ever need to get a job. You can learn to program while keeping the cushy salary from the bank. Eventually start your own side projects. All while working at the bank.

    Quit the bank when those side projects replace bank salary. You'd never have to 'answer to a 25 year old'.

    Two routes, your choice. Either way...

    You're not too old to learn to program. It's the best decision I ever made. Btw, I learned by going to a bootcamp. No CS degree or experience in anything computers prior.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for the motivation!

      Did you find going to a bootcamp far superior to trying to self-study?

      I am also thinking about the side project route, but I'm not sure how adept I'll ever be without being around other programmers and working in a professional environment.

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        Well, I can happily answer this for you as I went down the same road prior to joining a bootcamp. The answer is:

        Don't waste time fooling yourself into thinking you can just read some books and articles and hack your way into a good programmer. At least good enough to start a side project.

        I'd really recommend going to a bootcamp. There is nothing like getting structure and guidance from mentors. It allows you to learn the right way.

        Also, to answer the last part. That's false because I started a "side project" (it's a full blown SaaS model). I've never had a programming job.

        From knowing absolutely nothing to feeling comfortable enough to launch a business coded from scratch in about 20 months.

        Plus i'm confident I can hold my own as an engineer if I were to get a job.

        I really recommend a bootcamp.

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          That's amazing. So you did the bootcamp mainly to just learn and do your own thing right after? No interest in getting a job?

          Which bootcamp did you attend, if you don't mind me asking?

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            Well, i'm really entrepreneurial. So I went to bootcamp with the main focus of being able to start and grow SaaS projects. My goal is to one day have a SaaS business doing $30k+ MRR with little to no involvement.

            I figured if i wanted that, I would have to learn to code. This is after I had a bad run in with developers to build a SaaS 1 year prior over upwork. Left me $20k in the hole and a year of lost time from run around. (ill eventually have to blog about this story).

            But that's what made me decide. Well, if im going to be in this for the long term. I should just buck up and learn to do it myself. Now I seriously love programming.

            I do have interest in getting a job and just started searching. At least until my SaaS revenue outweighs what i can make while working.

            As for the bootcamp. I went to thefirehoseproject.com .

            Phenomal bootcamp. Great learning experience. If you want I can put you in touch with the founders of the bootcamp. They're great, really involved in their students learning and keep friendships and helping you learn long after the bootcamp has ended.

            Not sure if it's like that at other bootcamps (I doubt it). But i can most certainly vogue for this one.

            p.s. - I'm not an affiliate for them or anything. They honestly changed my life. So i'm glad to promote them.

            I'm happy to answer any more questions you have.

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              What programming language did they teach in the bootcamp? I know a lot of them teach rails..but is that still relevant in 2018? seems like everyone is moving towards javascript frameworks

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                Yeah I learned Rails. Now im learning VueJS. I don't see how rails is irrelevant because it's 2018. I can code and deploy a SaaS app the same as anyone else. That's how I view it atleast.

      2. 1

        I taught myself how to program through side-projects and have worked for about 3 years as a software developer since(I've even helped out at some bootcamps' hackathons). While I think many people can teach themselves how to code, bootcamps give you a lot of valuable structure and guidance. It took me a year to get to the point where I got a job, but if I did a bootcamp I probably could have shaved 6 months or so(and a lot of struggling).

        One thing to be aware of, and this is difficult for a beginner, is make sure the bootcamp instructors actually know what they're teaching- there are many out there essentially run by novices. So make sure the instructors are real senior engineers. Also the best bootcamps are fairly selective about who joins- often there's a test involved. Which is good, since you want your cohort to have motivated, capable people. If they don't have one then I'd consider it a red flag.

        And 35 isn't too old, I've met a couple people who were around that age and went through a bootcamp, and emerged as good programmers.

  3. 5

    but I think it is a reality that older folks just don't fit in well in this younger tech scene..

    I am 46, still coding and loving it :)

    You don't have to "fit into the tech scene" to be a developer. If there are certain types of events you don't like, then don't attend them. You can be a very good and successful developer without being in the middle of the tech scene - go read Scott Hanselman's post on Dark Matter Developers

  4. 4

    It's not so much about the age, but the motivation.

    If you are motivated to learn, just go ahead, there is more benefit than harm. While you are learning, then you have a better understanding about coding and whether you like them, or not.

    But if you plan to quit your job to join a bootcamp, I would advice against it. Too much uncertainty, expectation and stress will worn you out.

    You can learn something and build something without quiting your job. Once you get a hang of it, then you can decide how serious you want to go with it.

    Learning to code by bootcamp might not be the only way. Some prefer books, some like online courses, some learn by doing, and I like self learning by googling. Find a way which suits you. I remember someone learn by building a simple website every day for 365 days.

  5. 3

    I was 33 when I went through a coding boot camp after almost 16 years of being a Fire Fighter... That was 4 years ago. It was one of the best decisions that I have made in my adult life. I had similar thoughts as you prior to making the jump. If you are sure this is what you want to do just do it, my friend, I think you'll be glad you did.

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      thanks! which bootcamp did u go to? and what did you do afterwards?

  6. 3

    I'm currently in an online coding bootcamp and I'm 36 years old.

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      Which bootcamp are you in?

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        Lambda School's mini bootcamp.

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          cool, how's that going so far?

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            I have no CS background, so it's very challenging. :)

  7. 2

    You can certainly do it!!! I started teaching myself how to program when I was 27. Got into a bootcamp when I was 29. Now I am 30 and I am working as one. It's never too late. If you think web dev is the right path for you to take, then you should take it. Don't let the age limit you.

    1. 1

      which bootcamp did u go to and how was the experience? and how are u enjoying working as a developer?

  8. 2

    I'm I to old 62

    1. 2

      No. 87 is not too old.

      I'd argue that a 94 year old would probably live longer trying to learn to program, so much brain exercise ;)

  9. 2

    No way !! , i know someone that started to code at age of 48 he was Accountant also. and fell in love with code throw building complex excel scripts

  10. 1

    @maker1234 no way!

    I was working in event management, until I took Treehouse ($100 investment in total, you can imagine the ROI of 4 years of developer salary) courses for 4 months and landed my first web development job.

    Have been working as a programmer for the past 3-4 years and it has given me amazing opportunities, both in terms of standard of living, as well as financial resources to bootstrap my apparel business.

    Definitely go after it, if you feel it, regret is a serious thing 👍

  11. 1

    I'm 39 years old. left IT 20 years to join the family textile business. 20 years later, im itching to get back in to qbasic and pascal... oops those technologies don't exist anymore! Im now learning javascript/vuejs/firebase/cloud functions to build my saas application -- solving a problem/pain I faced in the textile trade industry. got for it, just do it.

  12. 1

    Hi @maker1234 ,

    Disclaimer: I have not attended a Bootcamp, but have many personal friends who have. The ones I've seen glean the most from Bootcamps are the those that dabble in some form of software engineering beforehand

    I'm 30 and I've spent the last year learning how to code (primarily front-end - Vanilla Javascript/HTML/CSS). Ultimately, I may decide to go to a Bootcamp, but felt it was important to test the waters and make sure I really enjoyed coding first. It REALLY helped me to work on a project that I was interested in. I've also worked alongside a friend who is very computationally competent (Masters in CS), but there are a plethora of resources I've used include along the way including:

    Hope this is some helpful information for you!

  13. 1

    When I saw the title I assumed you were going to be in at least your 60's or 70's. I'm biased as I work for a developer bootcamp as my day job running their online instructional team, but you're definitely not too old.

    To share thoughts (mine only, not my employers):

    • If you've got a problem working for a 25 year old, that's going to keep you out of a lot of cool jobs whether or not you learn to code. I'm 48, started my first company at 22 and I'm currently working for a number of people in their 20's or early 30's (I'm old enough that I can't tell the difference any more!) and loving it. I bring experience, they bring passion, it's awesome.

    • You may make less money. Entry level for bootcamp grads is about $65k nationwide in the US and it could be 3-4 years even in a major metro before you break $100k. I think it's worth it, but it depends how much money you're making and how much you love your current gig.

    • I think once you get into your 50's and 60's (maybe 40's in SF/SV) you need to have a strategy to not be "just another programmer", but many of the great tech companies are awesome to work for. As long as one of the founders has a kid, they "get it" and can deal with us oldies :)

  14. 1

    I'm 71, and I program every day, and I'm damn good at it. There are very many rumors about low regard for older programmers in this business, and I reluctantly believe that we are, indeed, held in low regard.

    Beginning with web work, you could set up some superior demo websites as examples of your work and seek work online without mentioning your age, or at least delaying the mention of your age until you are well into the negotiations.

    Your age gives you an advantage with your emotional stability and practice dealing with adversity. Especially trade on your knowledge of the banking business. Present yourself as mature, confident, and possessing special knowledge of your client's business.

    Use your first projects etc. to build a network among startup folks and financial workers. Networks are very important. Aggressively pursue then; then jump on an especially relevant startup when the opportunity presents itself.

  15. 1

    It's easy to become a Web developer. I don't understand why people make it so difficult. It's easy because it's exciting. You know what's hard, boring stuff, becoming a banker is hard. Becoming a Web developer is easy...

    Having said that, if you want to learn Web dev to earn money. Not sure if that's a good goal....

    If you want to learn Web dev to implement your ideas. There are a lot of tools available where you can create websites without coding...

    If you want to learn it because it excites you, then go for it. As tim ferriss says, with enough discipline you can become a master in atleast 2 fields every year.... So fuck society and don't search for approval externally. Its only brings in confirmation bias... Look for people who are good but shouldn't be. Look for great mentors.

    Oh and I am a 26 year old CTO. Not sure what image you have of my kind but we are not that bad...

  16. 1

    You are absolutely not too old to do a coding bootcamp. I did one in 2015 and there was a 50-something-year-old and 40-something-year-old in my cohort. At least a few more in their 30's.

    Ultimately, it depends on how you best learn. I am no good all on my own, reading books. I learn through discussion, and needed the structure to get me started. It's also really nice to be with lots of other people who are as beginner as you. I never wanted to feel bad or guilty for asking a "stupid question," and when you do a bootcamp, everyone in the room (aside from the instructors) are also asking that same question.

    Ps. There are lots of people in tech who aren't in their 20's.

  17. 1

    Hey there @maker1234,

    I work as a software developer (looking to build a company). first I want to say that you are not too old and Its probably going to be a tough commitment, but if you have the right determination and diligence you could 100% be a developer. I haven't yet worked for someone that is under 35 so I think you'll be fine. I think navigating through the fear in change is going to be your toughest obstacle on this journey. I believe that you can do this!

    second, bootcamps are an excellent way to get you started. I tried self learning, but its really hard without the guidance and structure there to help you achieve those aha moments. I've heard you comment a couple times about your worries about Ruby on Rails and the language Ruby itself and its relevance. Those articles really mean nothing, Rails is an excellent framework and is being used all the time. There are plenty of great framework choices and usually you don't decide what to use on 'relevance', you go with what you like or what fits the project. I love Rails and still use it to this day.

    I completely vouch for launchschool.com, I was working as a software developer before I attended this because I felt I was lacking understanding in so many areas. They have the most in depth study I have yet to find and it was not nearly as expensive as most other bootcamps. I promise I'm not a affiliate, just someone who loves understanding what they're doing, this place helped me a ton!

    Remember that programming is a craft and once you learn the fundamentals you will understand that it isn't about learning Rails, Django, and all other frameworks. It is about learning the fundamentals, from there you can use any stack, any language, and in any domain. Saying Rails is irrelevant is like saying brushes are irrelevant for an artist when you could easily just use photoshop. What is your medium/tool of choice to express yourself with?

    anyways, I'm happy to chat with you about your bootcamp search and any help you need with your coding future. Please don't hesitate to reach out!! Good luck!

    p.s. - launchschool.com teaches Ruby, but if you dig a little deeper you'll see that the whole school isn't focused on Ruby, they focus on fundamentals and Ruby is just a tool they use to teach that. some of the students have given talks on Elixir and functional programming, just an example.

    1. 1

      How long did you study with launchschool? Were you working full time while attending?

  18. 1

    You’re not too old, but this might be a problem:

    “Not sure if I can picture myself as an entry level developer taking orders from a 25 yr old.”

    Ageism cuts both ways.

    I’m older than you, btw.

  19. 1

    I'm 33 and currently in a bootcamp in NYC. As for the age thing, theres a 55 year old lady in my cohort, she comes from a "legacy code" back ground but seems to be on fire crushing code all the time. lol . For me the major thing is that studying 2-4 hours of code a day isn't enough of a learning curve. So here I am doing it mon-fri 9-5 and at least 10 hours on the weekends. Enjoying it but its a challenge.

    1. 1

      which bootcamp are u attending and how r u liking it? also is the work really from 9 to 5 or do u have to stay afterwards to put in extra work. i ask because i have a newborn baby..and cant commit to after hours

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        I am currently attending Galvanize in NYC. The hours are really 9 - 5 mon through friday. If you miss a day , youll fall behind fast since there is just soooooooo much to cover. You'll see the time fly out the everyday! But myself, I usually go home at 5 and study / practice another 2 - 3 hours. It depends on the individual. Some are much faster learners than others. I have to practice , practice , practice a bit more than others. I had no problem running through node, express, npm packages, middleware, postgresql databass / relational database css , bootstrap ect. Buuuuuut right now i'm having a hard time wrapping my head around redux. But like i said, you'll see some student excel in very different areas. But practice, focus and patience is pretty much key.

  20. 1

    Hi Maker1234, I started to learn to code 4 yrs ago. I'm now 35. I don't think you're ever too old to learn something new. As far as taking orders, who cares how old they are. I'm sure you can learn something from them. If you have a passion, I say go for it! Don't let age deter you. I went to tealeaf academy(now called launchschool) they place an emphasis on building a strong foundation. Also, the price isn't bad at all. They've stepped up their game from when I attended. https://launchschool.com/

    1. 1

      nice what did u end up doing afterwarda? do u think bootcamp is far superior to self study?

  21. 1

    Go for it :)

    I would recommend trying to build something that interests you and that shouldn't be so complicated to build. It doesn't matter what it's or what tech stack you use as long as a) it's something that interests you b) you can figure out how to make it by googling your way out

    This is a less-risky way to see what it's like to be a web developer without quitting your day job or dropping money on a coding bootcamp.

  22. 1

    Thirty-four! Oh you precious little baby! I was older than that when I was made redundant for the third (and final!) time and decided to take the future into my own hands!

    There has never been a better time to learn and there have never been more opportunities.

    Attitude of mind is far, far, far more important than chronological age. If you have the mindset that looks for, spots and seizes opportunities, you'll be fine. If you haven't, then having youth on your side really won’t help you at all.

    As for "taking orders", my attitude has always been "respect the expert". I have asked 18 year olds for their opinion where they have the expertise. I have asked people much older than myself if they are the ones who know what I want to know. The other thing to bear in mind is that you would not be an entry level developer for long (how long is largely up to you). Think of it as a short-term apprenticeship before you move onwards and upwards to other things.

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      great advice!

  23. 1

    I wanted to join a Coding boot camp. I took their online exam and passed. Went for the interview and passed. I was made to write another aptitude test mainly logic and was told my score was low and I wasn’t admitted. I know some basic programming but the test didn’t ask any programming questions. My question is will I be a good programmer with average math skills and should I still persue programming

    1. 2

      Yes. If you like it.

  24. 1

    Nah

  25. 1

    Look into something like App Academy. Nearly 100% placement rates for $105k (in SF) and you only pay when you get a job.

    1. 0

      i heard they teach ruby. isnt that a fading language for trying to get a developer job in todays market?

  26. 0

    Questions like this come-up all the time on indiehackers. There are a few things to consider.

    If you leave your current job for a year or two, how easy would it be go back? Can you keep your bridges open by consulting or working part-time? If you can easily slide back in, then you have nothing to loose, and being in your thirties you are still young. There are people who start medical school or law school at this age. When you're fourty that's something different.

    It might be helpful to define your objectives more clearly:

    What is it that draws you to programming? Is it the desire to build things, that is, a creativite outlet you do not find in your current job?

    Or are you drawn to this for the business aspect, the chance to be your own boss and build a large company?

    With management skills, it might make sense to go down the business route leveraging the skills you have gained. For this you don't need to programme, as with funding, you can just hire programmers to realise your vision.

    The reputable codecamps do give you a decent chance of breaking into tech companies in the big US cities. With anything you'll have to pay your dues: seniority in fields is based on skill not age.

    If you're unhappy where you are, this might make things appear overly rosey: everything has it pros and cons. I'm sure the bootcamps would be able to put you in touch with people who've made a simmilar change.

    Myself and many people here learn web development not to gain a job, but for business. With this kind of approach you can learn at your own pace quite effectively: see things such as code4startup.com . I read a quote which said that programming is most useful when it's an adjunct to your field rather than something for its own sake - I've found that very true. You could learn programming to solve problems in your current field.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the advice!

      To answer your question, I'm drawn to programming because: (a) I want to bring an idea to reality, (b) I enjoy the creative aspect, and (c) I'd like to build a startup of my own.

      However, I feel very isolated doing self-study and am never sure if what I'm doing is right or best practice - even if the tutorials say so. I was considering bootcamp, because I heard the immersive and community aspect, will bring you up to speed quite quickly.

      To be honest, I ultimately don't want to work a corporate job in the long-term, but feel like I need to work in the field full-time to really become adept at it. My regular job takes so much energy (mentally & physically), that I think it will take years before I can become a competent programmer.

      1. 3

        Don't worry about best practices, other than using version control for your software (i.e. git), always sanitizing user input before using/displaying it, and always using parameterized database queries to avoid SQL injection. That will cover the basics.

        Like any skill, your work at the beginning is going to be terrible. Then it will be bad. Then alright. Then good. You will gain more insight by doing than worrying about best practices. When I code, I spend at least 20% of my time refactoring, making my old code better. The more experience you get coding, the more you will know the right way to do things to make your life easier in the future. Once you find yourself struggling with code maintenance or code performance, that's when to dig more into best practices.

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