Career switch at 40?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Caezar, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2004
    Between a rock and a hard place

    I currently work in banking, in the area of accounting & finance. I dream of a career switch to software development and I am contemplating going back to graduate school to study computer science (Msc conversion course from a university in the UK).

    I am 40 year old and I acknowledge my chances of switching career are slim, but I no longer have the motivation to work for my present employer. At worst, if I am not able to switch, I will pick up a lower-paid, 9-to-5 job in accounting or that will not drain my energy, so that I can spend more time with my family.

    What do you guys think? Should I go ahead and take my chances? Suck it up and continue my boring and useless job?

    Thanks for your advice or sharing your own experiences.

  2. macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    I don't have much to add other than I'm going to be in the same situation you are in about 5 years or less, but I don't have a "dream job". :eek:

    I say if you have enough saved up and if you have a dream job, go for it.
  3. macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Do it.

    As you said, the worst-case scenario is that you pick up a lower maintenance job in accounting to spend more time with your family.

    Actually, if you do go to grad school and can't get a job in strict software development... your worst-case scenario would be to try to integrate your experience in accounting/finance with your new expertise in CompSci. Computational/programming expertise is highly sought after in the finance field (think along the lines of algorithms), so you could actually parlay your new expertise into other (possibly more) exciting areas within the sphere of accounting/finance.

    There's really not a hugely compelling reason (other than perhaps economic or family hardship) that I can think of for you to not go through with the CompSci degree. There are in my opinion, many more compelling reasons why you should..
  4. macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2010
    's-Hertogenbosch Netherlands
    The only advice I can give is this, I had a very dear friend who died a few years ago. I was visiting him in the hospital and one evening he turned to me and said, that he had always wanted to be an artist. He never followed his dream, he said that was what he regretted most about his whole life. He died the next day, I have never forgotten this.

    You only get one life, live it to the full.
  5. macrumors 68020

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Living is being happy - If you have a dream, be sure to follow it!
  6. Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
  7. Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    Kite flying
    I'm with the bunny on this one.

    Absolutely agree.

    It is never too late to follow your dream, and seek personal and professional fulfilment, and earlier experiences are not wasted.
  8. macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2003
    Unless you just can't take the job any longer, there's no reason you can't do both. There are a number of online tutorials to get started programming. Consider starting with iOS programming, getting an app or two going as learning projects and move on from there. A good app may even generate some revenue for you if accepted to the iTunes app store. If nothing else, you'll learn quickly whether or not programing is something you really want to pursue. In addition, I would imagine most companies hiring programmers would prefer someone who has actually done some programming versus someone with a degree but little real world experience. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors!
  9. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    It really depends if he is interested in computer science or just programming. If it is the former this would be about like telling someone who is interested in electrical engineering to go get a breadboard and learn it through some circuit tutorials.
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2004
    Between a rock and a hard place
    Thanks a lot for your thoughtful advice.

    I thought about keeping my job and studying on my spare time, but this would mean I would not have enough time for my family. Also, I am really slacking off at work and I feel bad about it. I already proposed my manager to quit last year, as I knew I could no longer rekindle my motivation, but he asked me to stay at least for one year.

    I really wish I cared about my work. For that, I do not see any solution other than doing something entirely new.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    I know one should always follow their dream. That's always the 'correct' advice.

    However, I would advise some caution if you have a family. I'm self employed in an industry that is somewhat comparable and have on a few occasions met a few people who tried this. It wasn't often the dream they had imagined.

    If you have enough money to support your family and / or you have a partner who can support you both then fantastic - go for it...

    However, if that isn't the case (all the following assumes you have to earn money and you have financial dependents) then things can become very stressful. Bear in mind that realistically at 40 + you might well have work in a self employed capacity after your course.

    If it was me I would try and do it all part time - if you are going to make a success of this you're going to have work your butt off anyway. Keep all your options open. (Even with your current employer). The people I've known who've managed this sort of change have pretty much done the work of two people for several years. (The ones for whom it didn't work wanted to just glibly swop an existing 9-5 for different 'more fulfilling/more creative' 9-5). Even following the course opportunities won't come as easily and you'll have to work harder to get the same breaks a 20 year old would get.

    My partner recently changed careers and we both massively underestimated how much extra pressure it put us all under. It worked well in the end but be prepared for any slight cracks in things to widen under the pressure. If you worry about family time now it will get a lot worse before it gets better.
  12. macrumors G3


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Couldn't have said it better, this is no longer just about you now, you have others that are dependent on you and the income and medical insurance (if applicable) you are bringing home.

    Not saying you shouldn't do it, but there is a lot more you need to look at.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Sep 19, 2012
    Life is short and you may only get to do it once, depending on if you are religious or not. I'd make the most of it by doing what you really want to do.
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2008
    Athens, GA
    I have a friend in my Physical Therapy program that is 57. He needed a change and went for it. Might as well be happy for the few working years he has left.
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    I am 38 and I would not do a career switch, what I am doing is adding to my actual career like taking a marketing or management program.

    I would love to take graphic design or physiology but too late or not now. If I had $200K as a cushion I would.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2009
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 21, 2007
    Go buy a Corvette, go to vegas, get drunk, marry a hooker, divorce your wife, start a business, become a millionaire.

    Yes, in that order.

    Mid-Life Crisis adverted.
  18. macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    You still have at least 25 years of working life. Which is probably much longer than how many years you've currently been on. Your not even at the half way point. Don't let a job suck the life out of you.

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