Am I Too Old to Learn Coding?


Updated November 9, 2023

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It's never too late to learn a programming language. Some job seekers who are older may initially doubt their ability to learn coding because of a lack of experience or fear of employment bias. But, the reality is that learning a new skill takes time and dedication, no matter your age.

You may want to learn coding for various reasons, including if you're seeking a career change, navigating an unexpected layoff, or returning to work after an extended absence. A 2017 UC San Diego survey of adults aged 60 and older found that 14% learned to code for their job, 9% to improve their job prospects, and 22% to make up for missed opportunities when they were younger.

While it may appear daunting at first, many coding resources exist for beginners. Learn more about tech careers and why it's never too late to learn how to code.

Why it Is Never Too Late to Learn Coding

Coding skills, especially in Python and Javascript, are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that software developers' job outlook will increase 25% from 2021-2031.

Learning to code can also be rewarding and keep your brain challenged. Not only can you pursue tech careers, you can also build creativity and problem-solving skills. Unrelated degrees, technical skills, and previous work and life experience can also benefit you if you're new to the field.

There are many education tools and platforms available for new learners, including online courses and coding bootcamps.

Should You Learn How to Code?

Learning to code is often necessary if you're seeking jobs in computer science. Most careers also require a bachelor's degree.

Pros and Cons of Learning to Code
Pros Cons

Qualified coders can pursue remote opportunities, working anywhere in the world.

Learning to code requires a significant time investment.

Coding does not require formal education.

Not everyone will enjoy coding.

Continued learning may minimize cognitive decline and improve reasoning ability and other health benefits.

Coding requires consistent practice.

After learning to code and gaining experience, you can pursue jobs and freelance opportunities.

Freelance work can sometimes be an inconsistent source of income.

You may pursue well-paying tech jobs in a variety of industries.

Without experience, it may be hard to find coding jobs, so it's important to build a portfolio showcasing your work.

Careers for New Coders

Is it too late to learn coding? Fortunately, new coders may not need years of tech education or experience to pursue entry-level jobs. After completing a training program, like a coding bootcamp, graduates of any age can apply for the following roles:

Full Stack Web Developer - Entry Level

Full-stack web developers build and maintain websites. They work with a team of web developers, designers, and content creators to create functional and user-friendly websites. These specialists have a strong understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

They should also be familiar with server-side scripting languages, such as PHP and Ruby on Rails. Full-stack web developers typically work in an office setting, but some may work remotely in various industries.

Advancement opportunities for full-stack web developers include lead developers or a web development manager roles.

  • Education Required: Education requirements can vary. Web developers typically need a bachelor's degree.
  • Experience Required: Employers often require experience in specific programming languages or frameworks.
  • Median Salary: $78,300 per year
  • Job Outlook, 2021-2031: +23%

Mobile App Developer - Entry Level

Mobile app developers develop and design mobile applications. Along with software engineers and other developers, they create, test, and deploy apps. They may also manage app store activity to maintain quality standards.

These professionals need strong programming and coding skills, experience with popular mobile development frameworks, and an understanding of user experience and design principles.

They typically work in office settings, though some developers work remotely. They work in various industries, including information technology, healthcare, retail, and finance.

Many advancement opportunities exist for mobile app developers, such as lead or senior positions, or project management or business analysis roles. Some professionals start mobile app development companies.

Junior Software Developer - Entry Level

A junior software developer creates and maintains software applications. They work closely with senior software developers and other tech specialists to understand user needs and develop software solutions. They write code in various programming languages, debug software, and troubleshoot issues.

They typically work in office settings, but may also work remotely for various industries. Advancement opportunities for junior software developers include becoming a senior software developer or a software development manager.

  • Education Required: Junior software developers typically hold a four-year technical degree. However, 32% of small companies may not require degrees, according to a 2020 HackerRank report.
  • Experience Required: Employers typically require programming experience. Entry-level applicants can demonstrate experience from internships and portfolios.
  • Median Salary: $109,020 per year.
  • Job Outlook, 2021-2031: +25%

Tips for Learning to Code Later in Life

  1. Start with the basics. Don't tackle complex concepts right away. Instead, focus on learning the basic syntax and structure of a programming language. After gaining a firm understanding, move on to more difficult topics. Many sites offer free coding courses that are a low-stakes option for starting out.
  2. Find relevant resources. Conduct research to find suitable resources for customized learning objectives. There are several options offered in online, hybrid, and in-person formats that may help, like online coding courses.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn to code is to actually code. Write small programs to practice the concepts learned. Once more comfortable, begin working on larger projects.
  4. Seek help when needed. Do not be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to support the learning process, including online forums, chat rooms, and coding bootcamps.
  5. Persevere. Learning to code takes time and effort, but it is definitely worth it. Stick with it to achieve coding goals.

Additional Resources

Coding Jargon: Terms to Know for Programming

Coding Jargon: Terms to Know for Programming

Best Coding Apps for Beginners

Best Coding Apps for Beginners

What is Back-End Development?

What is Back-End Development?

Comparing Coding Bootcamps and Degrees

Comparing Coding Bootcamps and Degrees

FAQ About Learning to Code at Any Age

  • Can I learn coding after 25?

    Yes, you can learn coding after the age of 25. If you doubt your ability to complete a coding course, take heart from the fact that with hard work, you will learn the tools, methods, and concepts many career changers successfully adopted to write code for a living.

  • Is it too late to learn coding if you're over 50?

    Coding is a skill that can be learned at any age. Many people who learn to code later in life go on to have successful tech careers. In fact, 25 percent of Rice University’s bootcamp students are 40 or older, reports AARP.

  • How tough is coding?

    Coding requires dedication and discipline to master, and it is not for everyone. It is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether learning to code is the right career choice for you.

  • Can I get a job as a coder if I don't have a degree in a relevant field?

    Yes, you can get a coding job even if you don't have a degree in a relevant field. Many people with a degree in a different discipline have successfully switched their careers into tech. It all depends on your coding skills and experience. To stand out from other applicants, consider completing a coding bootcamp, certifications, or courses to improve your proficiency in the field.

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