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Ask HN: "Older” developers, what's the next career phase for you?
35 points by andrewstuart 65 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments
Do you plan to continue hands on development until they pry your cold, dead hands from the keyboard?

Or move into management?

Or do something completely different not in technology?

Or no idea, but concerned about it?

I make a good living fixing all of the software the twenty-something rockstars leave behind. 40 years programming, more work than ever.

How do you find these fixit jobs? Are you brought in as a contractor/consultant?

Look at his profile.

> Represented by 10X Management.

Late 40s here, really starting to worry a bit about age discrimination. In particular interview hazing via leetcode and hackerrank. I’ve done a couple of stints as a team/tech lead, currently a lead. I always go back to IC, I just don’t like being responsible for groups. Right now I think about how to ride it out until retirement. Looking back I sometimes wished I’d focused on getting into a FAANG 10-15 years ago and gone the fatfire route, but that seems out of reach now.

Completely naive question: how strong is your network? Presumably you've had hundreds of coworkers and they know your strengths. Are they still working in engineering? Could they help you get your next job?

Most places hiring policies mean you have to go through the same meat grinder, else you’ll get accusations of favoritism. A network will get you in the interview room quick though. I think this stops applying at some level higher above. Directors aren’t hazed with someone’s pet NP-Hard question, I’d guess

Late 40s here. I'm going to retire by 50. Then I get to work on my own stuff. I can't wait!

Anyone who saves 20% of their income can retire after 29 work years.

Save 50% and it is 15 years.

Any calculator for these figures? I would like to know when would be my retirement age.

Save 25X your annual spending and you can retire. If you invest to earn 7%/yr (on avg), you can withdraw 4% forever.

Read the book The Simple Path to Wealth, or the basics in this blog post.


I am 38. I am sort of being pushed into management, both by the company and by my family. But I am finding management is not something I enjoy. I am not a bad leader but I feel drained at the end of day. That feeling of runner’s high or in the zone is rarely achieved in meetings or while making reports. After a few hours of programming, I feel more energized than when I had started.

Now I am looking to go back to purely programming positions but I think in long run it will be harder to get paid decently while competing with more and more fresh graduates.

So my plan is to create my own business. Running your own business means a lot of not programming but I want a business that simply give me freedom to choose my projects, when I want to do those, and from where. These freedoms should make up for boring tasks.

One non-tech business idea is real estate investments. I think flipping would be fun or maybe I watched too much HGTV. I enjoy fixing stuff at home though. It gives me same runner’s high feeling. For now I am slowly working on my real estate license. I figured that is the best way to learn market and if nothing else I ll save on commission on my next home.

I'm 61. I have been "hands-on" for my entire career and these days do significant design and coding in the C#/.Net space. My past includes stints at Oracle and a significant amount of Smalltalk development. I have worked a lot in the DevOps world in the context of Microsoft and GitHub tooling.

I like to think I have a good combination of leadership, communication, presentation, and technical skills. THis allows me to help companies conceptualize projects. I had opportunities to move to sales, management, etc. but could never let go of learning and applying the technology directly.

Sales Engineering is a great late stage career if you have good soft skills

How does one get into this out of curiosity, and what sort of salary can you expect?

I'm 35. I've been a freelancer for the past 5 years. There are three paths directly before me:

* Move into management. People have been pushing me in that direction for a while now and I've resisted. Recently, I've discovered that I don't need to actually type the code myself to get the same enjoyment and sense of accomplishment from building something. So, I've been considering it.

* Start my own one-man company. I have no idea what I would make. The only industry I know anything about is web development and startups, so finding good problems to solve has been challenging.

* Double down on freelancing/contracting. I make good money with the handful of clients I have at the moment, but I could make a whole lot more with only a little more effort. I could also focus on finding a larger variety of problems to solve instead of just frontend web development.

As for which path I'll take... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Did you seriously read "older" and think of yourself at 35?

I'm not the youngest person to post in this thread. Did you have a point or did you forget your medication again?

Whoa. please don't cross into personal attack.


So other people can attack me with impunity and I can't respond at all? I thought my response was mild compared to the original comment.

I didn't read that comment as attacking you, but rather as a variation of what older people always say to younger people: "you think that's old? you're just a kid". It's a cliché, but it isn't mean. It's basically a kind-hearted way of pointing out that the younger person has a lot of life ahead, with a touch of wistfulness about their own case. And they in turn get the same treatment from their own elders.

Of course I don't know what the GP actually meant, but this is where one can follow the site guideline that asks "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith." By contrast, charitable interpretation can't do very much with "did you have a point or did you forget your medication again". That's why I gave the moderation reply to you rather than to the GP.

45+; blown health, definitely "cold dead hands." I'm an addict. When I can scrape up the concentration im making game mods now. It's a bit like programming in a bottle: how can I do $thing without string operations?

I am 50 and code every day. Love it. And I hopefully will continue enjoying it until I die. I am not planning to ever retire. There will be plenty of work opportunities in the future. There is so much badly written software out there that companies depend on, and few developers experienced enough to reliably and safely take over and maintain it. So if you know how to be productive and safe maintaining old but critical software then you will have a lot of value.

Early 40s, back in coding after a hiatus of 8 years. Doing freelance work and probably continue on the path for next few years. Trying to find steady client(s) that can take off some hunting pressure.

Also managing some side projects for passive earning streams.

Dang, I'm 30 yo and I sit on meetings all day. I'm amazed people are 40+ and coding.

best dev i knew was like 60 when i met him. It really depends on the individual.

Ox39 now. Contracting last 6 years. IC and contractor before that. Usually direct contractor for whole projects. Desktop and embedded though. 30+ years of green field projects. (How did I get so lucky?) Plenty of work.

Mid 50s. I still love programming but am very happy to have teaching, research, and writing too. Hoping to retire to Paris at 62 and everything seems to be on track.

Fixing code messed up by younger developers keeps me busy, pays well, allowed me to start a new venture and land a very lucrative gig. No signs of it stopping.

I’m around 33. Planning to retire by 40. Will do my own projects after that.

financially independent through investments and frugality, retire at 40, may give advice and sit on boards later

Good plan. I'll retire at 50. Already active in VC and may get back in the startup game after I quit working for others.

Are you on twitter?

No way, hate social media

continue hands on development until they pry your cold, dead hands from the keyboard

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