by Quincy Larson

Stories from 300 developers who got their first tech job in their 30s, 40s, and 50s

Here’s why I did all this

Every day, I get emails from aspiring developers around the world who ask the same basic question:

“I’m ____ years old. Am I too old to get hired as a developer?”

This is one of the most commonly asked questions in the entire field of software development.

To give you an idea of how many aspiring developers are worried about their age, I looked for variants of this question on Quora.

And sure enough, I found people of all ages who are worried that they’re “too old” to learn to code and get hired as a developer:

So what do you tell someone who’s panicking about whether it’s “too late” for them? Most people just say some variation of the old Walt Disney quote: “If you can dream it you can do it!”

And sure, I agree with that sentiment.

I spent my 20s working as a teacher. I didn’t learn to code until I was 30.

Before that, I couldn’t write basic JavaScript. I couldn’t write a SQL query. I couldn’t install Linux. Heck, I couldn’t even set up my WiFi router without my wife’s help.

I got my first software developer job at age 31.

So of course I believe that age is just a number. And that anyone who puts in the effort can learn to code well enough to get hired.

But how could I convince all these people who were asking this same question every day? Because saying “don’t stop believing” wasn’t working.

I gathered evidence so I could convince people to chill out about their age

I knew several people who were much older than me when they got their first developer job.

For example, one of my friends was a high school French teacher in her 50s. After taking some free online university courses, she got a job as a software engineer at Apple.

So I knew it was possible.

But my handful of anecdotes wasn’t enough to convince people to stop worrying about their age. They were watching the Hollywood movies where people under 30 are computer geniuses and all the people over 30 were clueless about technology.

A scene from the 2010 movie “The Social Network” that reinforced the worst stereotypes about developers.

So one Friday night, after trying to soothe an aspiring developer’s anxieties for the thousandth time, I reconsidered my approach.

I thought: “Maybe I can find a list of developers who got their first job in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. Then I can use that to convince people to stop worrying about their age so much.”

There were lists of older developers — many of whom had decades of coding experience.

But I couldn’t find any lists of people who had gotten their first developer job later in life.

So I tweeted.

It turns out a LOT of developers got their first tech job in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Here are some stories from a few developers who responded:

I built a list of 300 developers who started after 30

To get an idea of just how common it is for people to transition into software development in their 30s, 40s, and beyond, I created this Twitter list.

I’m going to continue to expand this list as more people approach me with their stories. So if you are a developer who got your first job after the age of 30, tweet at me and use the hashtag #DevAfter30 and I’ll add you to the list.

And if you’re learning to code later in life, don’t get discouraged. Know that this is quite common. And know that you’re in good company.