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Thread: Researching possible career paths ; web development ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Researching possible career paths ; web development ?

    New to the Forum here. 42 years old and looking to change careers. Is web development a good choice in terms of job outlook and marketability ? For you pros, if you started on this career path today, what is the most important first step ? What do I need to know when selecting a school or tech program ? Are tech schools a good alternative or is it preferable in the job market to attend an accredited university program?
    Thanks !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Diplomas can help get you past the initial HR screening, but most places will hire anyone who shows they have the desired skills and attitude. Where I work now, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of us developers has a relevant technical degree, the rest of us (including me) have unrelated degrees (I have a bachelor of fine arts in music education). If you don't have a relevant degree, though, then networking (in the people sense of the term) becomes more important, at least to get the first job or two onto your resume.

    I'm not saying don't go to school if the opportunity is there, but not to worry as much about a degree as picking the classes that will teach you the fundamentals (general programming theory and techniques if going the software developer route, or color theory, text layout, etc. if going the web designer route) so that you get a good grasp of the fundamentals -- while all along spending time on your own learning web-specific skills and tools, speeding up the process to where you're ready to do the work. In the mean time, meet with local users groups and tech meetups, network with like-minded people on the web, join open source projects where you feel you can contribute, etc., in order to be on people's minds when they have an opening at their company -- an employee referral can be a lot more effective than any degrees listed on your resume (unless maybe you're applying at NASA or such ).
    "Well done....Consciousness to sarcasm in five seconds!" ~ Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Thank you NogDog. So would a good first step be to take a class at Community College ? I look at CL ads , etc. , and most jobs offered there state that a candidate MUST have basic working knowledge of HTML, Javascript, CSS 2.1 , and others. I'm not sure how one would go about teaching one's self about these things ( online tutorials ?) to the level of being able to perform and produce in a workplace.
    Is there any software available online ( for free ? ) that could get me started ? Wordpress? But I also want to have more technical knowledge than just a free web setup program that any joker can do. Programming skills ? Lay out, writing and editing, and design skills ? Does one need to be well rounded in all of these or can I focus on particular facet of web development ?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    The degree of specialization depends a lot on what sort of job. A "web master" for some non-dot.com company probably needs a pretty broad set of skills, as s/he may well have to do some design/layout work (HTML, CSS, using Photoshop, etc.) as well as a bit of JavaScript and at least some basic server-side skills (comfortable with database admin, perhaps tweaking some existing open-source PHP apps, and so forth).

    At the other end of the spectrum would be more specialize roles distributed among a team of people: graphic designers who need some HTML/CSS ability along with their artistic ability, front-end specialists with strong HTML/CSS and JavaScript abilities, back-end people with decent understanding of front-end stuff but strong abilities with server-side programming and SQL, and DB admins with very strong SQL abilities as well as strong database design skills.

    So in part it depends on what you really want to do. If unsure at this point, then start dabbling in all aspects and see where your interests and proclivities stand.
    "Well done....Consciousness to sarcasm in five seconds!" ~ Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

    How to Ask Questions the Smart Way (not affiliated with this site, but well worth reading)

    My Blog
    cwrBlog: simple, no-database PHP blogging framework

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    I also posted this same query on City Data... the response is not very encouraging ( I know, the peanut gallery ).
    It seems most think that my age is a giant factor. Any thoughts on that ?
    It is a very overwhelming prospect to make a new start in an unfamiliar field at this stage. Not that it can't be done, but I'm looking for something more on the artistic side I think.
    Is that where graphic design comes in ? Also, who writes web content ? Is that even a job ?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Can you switch careers at 42 - SURE... Should you switch careers -> Maybe/Maybe Not.

    What do you do now?

    I started life off in the accounting end of business before desktop computers were an every day thing... I took a big interest in computers when they came out... Now I support Accounting Software. Actually most of my accounting experience was in an specific industry and the software I support now is for that same industry... Marriage made in heaven.

    I've seen a ton of ads on the TV from companies that do web sites... They appear to maybe be a notch or two above what mom and pop can do on their own.

    So between the huge amount of Pros doing web sites... and the tons of "pre fab" sites where a lot of small companies build their own site... Now there are more and more of these let us build it for you for pennies on the dollar companies.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    i think you should give it a shot, you are never too old to learn new things. if anything, you age gives you an edge of wisdom and erudity.
    i am not aware of other countries' need for web development, but in estonia a recent study has revealed that our universities can only provide maximum 3/4 of all needed workforce for this area. and not all of them will continue this career path. outlooks are pretty good for a good wage and a stable need for your professionalism.
    usually university diplomas could be of higher importance than just taking some courses, but as long as you are really committed and willing to study a lot on your own, it shouldn't be a problem.

    good luck!

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