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Ask HN: I am 35 years old with no degree – can I still program?
57 points by bingodingo on July 1, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments
I am 35 years old and have been in a totally unrelated career for the last 13 years. I have always loved tech, and computers. And in hindsight, feel I should have continued school in this area. But alas I did not, and now I wonder if it is too late to realistically have this career change sometime in the future.

I am not even a programmer now, and there is no way I could afford going back to school for a CS, or any type of degree. But I do have the free schools and information available on the internet. I have started at the beginning with web development in one of the free online schools. And I enjoy it. I know I have a long way to go... I know that the chance of me developing the next twitter or facebook is remote. But There is no chance if I don't try to learn about it.

Realistically, I am not planning on quitting my day-job....

But my fantasy is, if I do stick with this, and learn about web development, Python, Ruby, PHP, etc etc in my free time. Maybe it could happen. Maybe a door or two would open for me. Maybe I would create an app, or be part of one's creation. If this hobby becomes more than a hobby, and I crate web pages, web apps, and contribute to the community... Maybe I would be confident in my skills to apply to some tech jobs. Or do some freelance work. And don't get me wrong, I really feel like I missed my calling. Now 15 years later with a family I am not in the position to quit this job and go to school. And of course the money issue, I would probably be able to make more than I make now if this happened. But that's not why I am interested.

What do you guys think? Is this possible or is this a pipe dream? Should I just play more Halo and quit doing exercises on the web?

It is absolutely possible to pick up enough programming skill on the side to be dangerous. It makes you substantially more valuable at virtually whatever you do, assuming you're in some sort of knowledge work. A reasonably smart person can go from knowing nothing to knowing enough to build things people will pay for in probably under a year.

Traditional education is valuable for programming but is neither necessary nor sufficient for doing it commercially.

This is very untrue of playing video games, by the way. Trust the voice of experience: if you have enough time to run a WoW guild, you have enough time to build a business. Less dragons, better loot. I'm assuming the same is likely true with Halo.

Patrick's words could not be more true. Just three months ago I was making literally $0. At that point, I had some programming skills and the desire to make money with them, but I had never really followed through with anything. That's when I decided to change things. Through hard work (although less than I expected) and literally going outside and meeting with people, I was able to make $900 in a week. This might seem like not much, but as a broke freshman college student, I was blown away. I have since grown my business endeavors, and am currently making $X,000/month and saving for life after college (I hear it's expensive).

Seriously. To anyone considering getting into software for pleasure, money, personal growth, or any combination of the former, go for it!

"Software Businesses for MMO Addicts: The Dragons Wore Suits"

There are also numerous similarities between progression raiding and marketing. Replace phases with funnel stages, try different strategies until you figure out which one results in fewer wipes...

React to unpredictable market changes aka nerfs/buffs ...

> A reasonably smart person can go from knowing nothing to knowing enough to build things people will pay for in probably under a year.

This is so true. While you won't get to expert status on everything related to programming in one year you can learn enough about a certain language/API to build products.

And running a software business is really more selling and marketing than programming anyways.

> if you have enough time to run a WoW guild ...

Been there, done that. This statement is also incredibly true ... now I'm thinking about suing Blizzard for the three years they robbed me ;)

Most definitely. Go through one of Zed Shaws books (http://learncodethehardway.org), probably python or ruby. Then from there look into a web framework while still doing exercises (like project Euler).

All the while look for something simple you can write that would help you at your current unrelated career. Even as simple as a "to-do list for accountants". Put it on Github.

Email me if you have questions or want to pair program. I'm in my 30s so I'm all about teaming up with other Gen Xers and showing these youngsters a thing or two ;)

Thanks for the Project Euler link. I've been learning JavaScript and these problems (at least the few I've had a look through) could be interesting to complete programmatically.

"look into a web framework while still doing exercises"

Yes, yes, yes. This helps bind the what your learning with something actionable.

I recommend the Zed Shaw Ruby book in conjunction with building small Sinatra apps since it's so simple.

The big secret to programming is that all you need to begin is curiosity. 4 years ago, I didn't know how to program either. In school, I majored in a completely different discipline. You don't need to have a CS degree, unless you plan on being a software engineer for a large software company.

To begin, think of a fun problem. You said you don't think you have a chance of creating the next Twitter, but why don't you try replicating some small portion of Twitter? What makes Twitter complicated is the scale, but you can create a very simple post-to-feed app and learn how to deploy it to a server just by using Google and StackOverflow. Creating working prototypes of even the simplest ideas gives you the courage to pick up more ambitious projects. The cool thing about code is that you can always re-use (read: even straight copy/paste is ok) what you've done before to further yourself in future projects.

I've been a computer science professor for 13 years and have taught thousands of people. The average age of students is about 34. There is NO noticeable difference in how fast young people (20) and older people (40) learn so don't let anyone tell you that.

As far as being too late.... You are 35, you will retire in 30 years when you're 65. You've been working 13 years so far in the other industry. That means you have over TWICE as many work years left as you've already used. You're only 1/3 the way through your working adult life. Is it too late? Only if you plan on getting hit by a bus next week.

I do recommend getting organized classes at some point. They save you time, keep you from creating bad habits and aren't that expensive. Your wage only has to go up 25 cents an hour for one year to pay for one college class for one quarter (3 months).

I did it and so can you! At age 33, I switched to technology (not programming) from a totally unrelated field (with three degrees in this unrelated field). Late last year I learnt PHP and SQL on my own and with Twitter Bootstrap, I launched a data analytics heavy web service that is being used by about 1,000 users.

My suggestion, start and keep it simple. If you are interested in web development, pick up the simplest and easiest languages and learn the basics. Pickup a Sitepoint or Head First book in that language.

Find problems in your unrelated career that could be solved by web service and create solution. Launch it, introduce your workplace to it, use it as your portfolio. If not, solve a personal itch, launch it and find users who have the same itch.

In any case, you will have a site for your personal portfolio to go out and get some freelance work or looks for job.

Exercises are OK, but eventually you're going to need social proof that you can code.

Pick a side project that sounds interesting (sounds like you're into games), figure out how to code it, and then put the source up on Github.

These side projects are going to be your portfolio of work, proof that you're not an idiot and worth their weight in gold when you go to apply somewhere.

Good luck.

You might want to take a look at Dev Bootcamp. It's a 9-week intensive course that teaches its students just enough to make them employable, and then connects them with interested employers: http://devbootcamp.com/

Bloc offers a 12-week intensive online course: https://www.bloc.io/

The idea is basically to give you "minimum viable training", so that you can see whether a programming career is right for you, and then get paid to learn more while providing a valuable service to your employer.

I think Dev Bootcamp pioneered these "bootcamp"-style courses, but there are several of them now, and I've heard good things about them. Just make sure you do your due diligence, since with the recent media coverage, there are bound to be a few phoney scams trying to exploit people like you.

EDIT: Also, these courses are fairly new, and almost nobody in the industry has any experience with this style of teaching, except for the people closely involved with it. Most programmers will be useful sources of information about the things you need to know that these courses won't teach you, but we probably don't have a clue about the effectiveness of these courses. Take our opinions with a grain of salt.

I have been learning coding in dribs and drabs for the past many years. I think if you have the itch, you can probably do it.

I have some strong opinions about what would get you the quickest results.

- doing practical projects that interest you


- learning solid conceptual fundamentals, thoroughly

I would like to recommend, in the most enthusiastic terms, you peep this course called: MIT 6.00 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming


Just do exactly everything in that course. Follow the lectures, if the lectures get boring do the homework while you're watching. Do all the homework. Google language syntax but not specific answers to the problems. Read the suggested stuff.

I swear, I kinda suspect a huge percentage of working coders do not understand or apply all the concepts in that intro course.

At the same time, just pick personal projects and do them. Complete them. All the way done. And move on, always to something a little outside your comfort zone. Like, first just build a wordpress site, or wherever your current skill level is.

If you do those two things and are having fun and sticking with it, you are golden, I say.


Hey, thanks for the tip- I'm in the same boat as the OP, bookmarked the link you posted & appreciate your advice.

Yes it is possible as long as you can overcome the initial difficulties and please don't quit your Job or take unnecessary risk.

I was 29 years old when i changed from Mechanical Engineer to Software Engineer after just a 3 months study of programming in C in Singapore after I had emigrated to Singapore.

I was 43 years (2 years back) old when i decided to create my own product based company and decided to do the full coding for it individually (Foolishly) without any major experience in product development (I had enormous knowledge of what to do as a Senior Project Manager, less knowledge on how to do and did not have much practice in doing it (Programming))

Programming is hard but it gives you unlimited happiness once you overcome the initial frustrations. If you want to experience the joy of building something with your own hands as well as the sorrow of failure because it is not working as you expect, just go to a beach and build a Sand Castle near the water. You will experience the Joy of completing your Sand Castle and the sorrow of destruction of the Sand Castle by the water and the ultimate satisfaction of protecting your Sand Castle from the Vagaries of Nature.

The Joy of Programming comes from the Problem Solving aspects of Master Building (Planning, Designing, Tuning) and the pain comes from the Brick laying (Typing, Debugging, Testing) of the Implementation. Unfortunately Brick laying is an Ocean littered with multiple languages, frameworks, ides etc. Hence if you have an Objective to your learning Programming, you will easily overcome the initial difficulty in learning programming. Eg. The objective for your case can be create a website/mobile app to sell or display something. From this objective, you can measure your progress as well as choose appropriate multiple languages to master to achieve your objectives.

If you want help, please feel free to send mail to me.

I think you should learn processing and arduino, possibly before starting into web. There are already a lot of web developers, and not enough visual/electronic opensource devs.

To get started download and run http://processing.org/

Paste in this code and click run. Start messing around and start learning if, while, functions etc.


void setup() {


  background(15, 25, 25);

void draw() {

  stroke(255,255,125, 55); //RED, GREEN, BLUE, ALPHA 0-255

  line(320,240,mouseX, mouseY);


Then with arduino, very similar environment. About $20 for a board. You can start blinking LEDs etc. Get an UNO board to start off with. File > Examples > ..


With an LED in pin 11 and Ground. Upload this code and rejoice.


void setup() {

  pinMode(11, OUTPUT); //sets 11 to output power instead of read in

void loop() {

  // put your main code here, to run repeatedly: 

  digitalWrite(11, HIGH); //switches on 5Volt

  delay(200);             //waits for 0.2sec

  digitalWrite(11, LOW); //switches off gnd

  delay(100);            //waits for 0.1sec  


After this I would recommend starting on nodejs/html/css since you can use processingjs to draw in your browser, nodejs can connect to arduino and allow for internet of things.

I would rather point him in the direction of a pic microcontroller, straight AVR (without the arduino middleman) or maybe even one of the cortex boards out there. Arduino has been made too "fool proof" with external libraries and hand-holding to be any more valuable for learning programming than the average hello world programming tutorial.

I respect your view, and cannot compare it to PIC as I have no experience with it. You comment makes me angry though, because I've seen this view before from others and I think it is false. Arduino has been immensely empowering tool to learn, a joy to work with and the community is incredibly helpful and supportive.

To back up this claim I am making, here is an arduino 3D printer I've developed from scratch. I mean we milled the parts we needed based off a reprap frame, I couldnt get the idiotic firmwares and code available to work so I started with an arduino and a stepper motor and figured it out.

https://github.com/fluentart/arrowprint I'm a self taught artist that got interested in code so I don't claim to be good at it, as I really have no base to compare my quality of code to others except for the end result and the process of it for me personally.

Please tell me how a pic would be better? I am eager to learn.

Hell yea you can do it, you just need to stop day dreaming and start applying.

I learned to make apps in less than a year with no CS education. Granted, I dedicated my days and nights to it. You don't need to learn ABOUT web development, you simply need to just DO web development. Make a form on page with HTML. Stylize it with CSS. Make it insert something into a database with PHP/MySQL. There are tons of simple tutorials for these kinds of things.

If you've seen the very first iterations of Facebook and Twitter, they are so simple that any modern beginner programmer could actually clone their features. You could even make that your first project, a basic twitter page that stores form data.

Build the simplest versions of your ideas. What's important is that you hack enough to get shit done, and have fun doing so

The key is enjoying it. From there, you'll naturally dedicate the time necessary to kick ass. Because you'll enjoy having that power to create.

I think the advice in another thread here may be valuable to you: Ask HN: Becoming a Freelancer in 6 months? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5945865

Particularly the Wordpress advice. Wordpress is a good example of something where someone with no programming ability at all, but an interest in technical work, can gain some (marketable!) skills, and then segway into actual coding experience (PHP in this case).

But the short answer is, there has never been a better time when software development was more accessible to learn, or more useful and marketable, and both of those needles are moving in directions favorable to your interests!

You're basically me when I started programming seriously at ~25. Get at fast as you can to a point where you can mingle with other programmers to talk and have your skills assessed by others and also get as fast as possible to do client work, even if you do bad work and screw some clients at first (you can start feelancing with sysadmining, then web-programming then whatever you're good at and you like...).

Now to be fair, I learned some C++ in high school (nothing beyond algorithms and solving math problems by coding though), and I think I learned HTML in 7th grade and also touched Javascript in high school, so I had a "base start", but then went on to a whole different field and turned back to coding about 8 years later.

EDIT+: And there's no reason you won't create the "next Facebook or Twitter", at pre-scaling stage they were both very simple technically speaking, what one could learn in a couple years starting from absolute zero, no need for Stanford level CS knowledge here... if you have a great idea (99.9...% of people don't, even if they think they do!) you can turn it into a prototype and then turning the prototype into a real business can be more about business skills not coding skills, because an interesting idea that brings profit will always be scalable because you will be able to hire smart people to scale it for you. And at the end of the "day" it will be your choice whether you'll decide to play on the business side or coding side more.

I'm 36 and more or less in the same boat. In a few years' time I've managed to start making money fixing up javascript, making custom themes and plugins for wordpress, and I set up a github account. It's definitely doable. Just get something out, get some projects, network with people. I have yet to actually meet anyone who cares about age... they're probably not going to unless they're like 20, or you're 80. Don't let your age stop you.

I am not the same boat as your, couple of years younger and recently started with php. Well I am not there yet, one month in to my serious attempt (I have tried several time not-too-seriously), I can say and feel that its definitely possible to learn to code in a single language in a reasonable time.

I think it boils down to your attitude towards it and how much you are motivated to learning. I spend only about 1-2 hours every other day. One of the mistakes I made was trying to decide which language to learn first, I would say it matter very little; the reason I decided to try PHP (despite having many naysayers), because of huge size of its community, easy access to free materials on the web and get any kind of help I want to and also because how relatively easy it is to learn PHP. I also looked in to other programming languages a bit (code snippets) and general impression I get is that once you have a good understanding of one programming language its very easy to pick up other programming language (yes, even with php), because despite its differences the general idea behind most programming language is the same.

I would also spend a week or so to learn git/github even if your are coding by yourself and learning very rudimentary stuff.

I would say go for it, stop wasting time deciding which language to learn, pick one and jump to it.

There is never too late to get into programming. It's a wonderful field that welcomes anyone and everyone with open arms. :) Don't worry about degrees or anything. Just get your hands dirty and you surely don't need to quit your day job either. You still need to eat and pay bills.

Don't get into thousand things. Start with basics - HTML, JavaScript and one of the scripting languages - PHP, Pearl, Ruby - anything. Pick one and stick to it. All are equally good. Then start making small projects. Make a tic tac toe game in JavaScript. See what difficulties you face, ask for help and solve the problem.

Register on sites like eLance and oDesk. See what kind of projects people post. You don't have to bid - you will probably won't win a bid against a full time pro developer. But see what people are looking for, try to build it as your side project. Try to find an idea where people will pay.

Make a simple todo list app - almost every programmer makes one in his/her lifetime. Release it as a free web app. See the traction. Add features and you will learn more. Some day you will come across an idea that you think you can build and people will pay for.

Polish your programming. Don't worry about using the latest framework or knowing everything about a language. Just get the shit done.

Get started from today.

It's definitely possible, here's a real-world example. A highly valued employee in a (relatively) small, software development house had a very varied background. He had been dabbling in tech, but really came from all sorts of manual labor jobs. It wasn't until he was 40-45 that he got a bit more serious about IT. Learned a bit of HTML, a bit of Flash, a bit of graphical design (this particular guy had always enjoyed drawing) etc.

He got hired to his first IT job when he was about 45 if I recall correctly, and I was at his 10 year anniversary some years ago.

This particular guy is not a star developer or star graphical designer, but he is sufficiently skilled as to build the websites, make design for their more complicated web apps, taking charge of the e-marketing production, internal support etc etc.

He is extremely valuable to the business due to his variety of skills, but I'm sure he could also have become very accomplished in one discipline, if his interests had been more focused.

Really, it's possible. The great thing about software development is you can learn pretty much all of it on your own.

It does however require a real interest and determination, because self-study is tough and it takes a lot of hours of both study and practice to become valuable to an employer.

Go for it, I was in exactly the same situation. I can't call myself a programmer yet, but I work alongside them and I'm on the ladder in an industry where I can attempt that move in time if I think it's right for me.

I was stuck in an office admin career at 32, hadn't been to Uni, and my employer had no real interest in my attempts to develop my skills. I took some online courses, hosted and created my own sites, where I blogged about things I knew.

Everything I did I put on a CV geared towards showing my technical skills and how I was trying to develop them.

Eventually my CV was passed to a tech company looking for a graduate. I was able to show that the 10 years of office experience I already had was just as valuable as a degree, and my CV showed a willingness to learn and better myself through my own efforts. I was doing this because I really wanted to make a change in my life, and they could see that.

In the three months I've been here I have learned even more about web development and can already see many opportunities for advancement down the line.

My main regret is that I didn't do it sooner, I spent a good few years moaning about getting a new job but not really putting any real effort into it.

Absolutely! I'm 29, college drop out. Always liked computers, but never really programmed. Didn't do much for years, then just dove into php about two years ago. A year and a half ago, I got my first tech job making web site updates. That's when I really started learning a lot. After a year, the guy above me quit and now I'm the department head (though small department, lol). It feels like once I got my foot in the door, everything fell into place-- so that is the hardest part for sure.

Now I am starting to venture into other languages like Ruby and C in my spare time and I am excited to see where I'll go next. I know you are older, but its a similar story. Really, as long as you are into it, you will catch up in no time. And once you do it for a job, you will never look back. If you need a boost, take some online courses, go to meetups, sign up for a web development bootcamp. Meet other people who do web, you will find that a lot of people doing it now didn't start life as a programmer either.

Just curious how much you make as a PHP developer? maybe there is still some hope out there for PHP programmers to make good salary.

In short: absolutely!

One of the many things I love about programming is the lack of an age/experience barrier. No degree is required and anyone can get started at any age. If you shoot me an email at zchlatta (at) gmail.com, I might be able to work out someone for you to put your name on, depending where you're at with web development.

If you can instruct a small child on how to build a birdhouse, you can program a computer.

And the computer won't even scream at you.

Yes, you can. Just go for it!

I got it when I was 30 years old and you know what? I use the programming skills I have now plus the knowledge aquired in my previous job. The result is a programmer who also is a specialist in X or a X specialist who can develop software in this field.

Super +1 for that, the dual-field advantage can easily compensate the belated entry into a new market. For an easy example, if your current career is in anything related to finance / banking, there's a ton of jobs for developers who also have deep understanding of this business. Indeed, you can find yourself in advantage over younger, better-trained hackers whose single expertise is with programming.

I definitely think it is still possible, in this era there are some great courses online even better than some schools if I must say. Try Udacity, everything is mainly in Python there and HN loves python so that would be a plus. But in all honesty I would start with PHP and MySQL if I was you, mainly because you will not only be able to find a job right away once you learn those two but you can make web sites very quickly and the learning curve is very easy comparing to say Java or C++. Plus with PHP and MySQL it will start you the way to learn about server side programming and building dynamic web applications and be easier to learn Python or Ruby ( on Rails).

Absolutely possible! Here's some more inspiration: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/You-Should-Learn-to-Program-C...

Yes, yes, yes! Like some guys said, you must enjoy it. It's the key to success. Also, if you have enough blessings to find a mentor, that would really make it easier! There's a huge difference between programming (hacking), engineering (requires study) and computer science (easier with a compsci degree). You want to be a hacker, ie, to tinker with programming until you know enough for someone to pay you. That's what most of us do anyway.

To keep you inspired, I know people from all walks of life who have become very good at programming (and related). Drop me a line if you want, I'll be happy to help.

This is probably an unpopular opinion but I have the impression that like music or natural language, programming is far easier to learn when you are younger. That being said, there are lots of counter examples and it is definitely possible to get to a professional level on your own, within a few months, no matter your age.

The most crucial thing when learning programming languages is to have a very short feedback loop: build something in that language as soon as you know just enough to get by. The rest can be learned "just in time".

Go for it and good luck!

I don't know why you've been downvoted. What you wrote is not what I'd like to hear as an adult, but based on what I've read it's probably true.

Lots of terrific advice here, and I myself am mostly a self-taught programmer, I've only taken 3 formal courses, all introductory. I'd only add:

"Maybe I would be confident in my skills to apply to some tech jobs. Or do some freelance work"

Don't expect to get "normal" tech jobs by the time you're good enough unless you can disguise your age, age discrimination is fierce in this field. But as noted by you and many others, there are many options.

I'd also add that at some point unless you've forgotten all your math and don't want to refresh it try Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_and_Interpretation_of..., http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-comput...), everything you need is free and online. If it's a good enough fit for you it will teach you some foundational things that'll make you a better all around programmer and system designer. E.g. one way or another learn big O notation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_O_notation) and its significance.

Over time, get some breath. In my book that means try to learn the basics of these languages and concepts and their typical environments: Lisp and recursion (see SICP above, or alternatives on the Wikpedia page plus http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Schemer-4th-Edition/dp/0262... specifically for recursion), C and pointers, HTML, Javascript and browser programming, and some database work, SQL/RDBMS preferred, I recommend PostgreSQL over any of the MySQL variants, but a simple key/value store or embedded SQL database would also get your feet wet. If you learn recursion and pointers you'll be way ahead of most people who believe themselves to be programmers.

Good luck!

Yes yes yes it's possible.

Coding/programming is as complicated as building Facebook or Twitter but also as simple as wanting to get some daily tasks done like grocery lists.

If you dont know how to do something in language x, probably someone else knows. Any language you'd want to use, the logic stays the same, the implementation that varies. Hello Worlds should always be a thriller.

Bottomline, coding is simply a means to an end.


Yeah you definitely can. My mom was around 40 when she started studying programming. I'll never forget when she called me asking questions about why her Visual Basic code wasn't compiling! I had no idea she was even studying it! Needless to say that have us a lot to talk about haha. I don't think it's really ever too late to start learning anything. Even if you don't "master" it, it's still just fun. Also, something like programming can help you improve almost any monotonous computer task. :)

First of all, I appreciate you are still willing to learn new things.That's the key.Knowledge is everywhere, not inside in a library room of some university.If you love to go with programming choose the right technology that may make you reach somewhere.Your confidence is the key.Just go ahead. Good luck,oh in fact there is no luck.Only hard work bring you the result.I'm not the one to give you lectures, I'm just 24 running.Go ahead and ofcourse you should be taking care of your family. :)

Well, I received lots of good information here. I appreciate everyone's opinions on this matter. I have been busy bookmarking the sites people here pointed me toward, and copying email addresses. Also just to clarify, I am not necessarily looking to be a "web developer" I figured it was a place to start with HTML/CSS on into Python, Ruby, jQuery etc. I figured it wouldn't hurt. But with your help and links like learncodethehardway.org, I have some good places to go and dig in.

Thanks again.

No Halo tonight...

If you need to ask then you can't.

I have a relative that five years ago was choosing his major and it was not CS. Now he wants do do computers but has no other background than hanging on the net. I know him better than you and I don't think that he would do much programming.

My take is that if you want to do something, you don't need HN permission or approval. Just do something and see if you can do it and have the guts to take the take downs.


I've been a software developer for almost 6 years now, and I have a friend in the same boat. You can definitely switch, and you don't necessarily need a degree.

Check out my reply and the tips I had for him. Hope you find it useful!


As someone who has a similar experience to yours, I say go for it. I have found coding to be tremendously transformative and empowering.

The best way to learn is by doing. Set yourself a small goal, perhaps a website with a database back-end. It doesn't matter how good the final product is, you will learn loads by making it and having to research each thing you try to do. The version of the product you would make after 6 months will be far in advance of the one you make after 6 weeks.

I'm 32 this month. Similar situation, but about a year into studying part-time.

I'm looking very seriously at the Immersive Tech Schools that claim "12 weeks to being employable". No idea how well it can work out for me... but here's where I started:


Ask HN: I want to learn how to code. Can anyone tell me how to start learning?: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2699965

Learn Python The Hard Way: http://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/

Sure. Heck, the Coursera class, startup engineering, is still taking new people, and it's free and strongly supportive of working professionals.

Don't expect miracles. You will always be learning more, and people who have been doing things for longer then you will know more, even if they are younger. Measure your progress based on your own abilities.

Yes, absolutely! My brother has your same age and is learning programming for the first time. He started with basic HTML and CSS and now, he is enjoying learning Javascript but already looking forward for some backend coding.

He started with some really basic books, but he switched to Codecademy some weeks ago and he really likes it!

Good luck! :)

Yes, but do us all a favour and learn it properly. Seen to many so so programmers in my life creating unmaintainable insecure software. Learn about indexes, floats VS integers, sha512, correct password hashing, memory leaks, memory footprint, network stacks, design patterns (guilty of this one myself), ...

Just last week we offered a job to a guy that has spent time as a CFO (among other things), and lately decided to switch to ruby programming.

If you're willing to come in as a "junior" developer then you will quickly progress based on the other experiences and value you can offer.

Are you prepared for an enjoyable hobby to turn into a daily grind? Programming is great when the you're just toying around, learning new things, or you're working on something interesting. Debugging some corporate accounting app or pet-care website is much less so.

It seems that everyone says yes. On the other hand, programming requires a pretty special way of thinking. Given that brain tends to be less malleable at 35 that it is at 18 it may be harder to catch up. Not undoable though.

I found this online training for git, it actually works offline too:


I haven't taken the time to do it all yet but I'll get to it one day.

Yes, this is perfectly viable and reasonable. Best of luck to you!

Consider this blog for example: http://grannycoder.blogspot.com.au/

For learning programming, you might want to join and contribute to an open source project. They usually keep aside some menial work for enthusiastic beginners who want to work their way up.

you can absolutely pick up programming on ur free time. many of the best programmers are self-taught. i recommend completing udacity cs101 and the udacity cs253 to have a strong foundation in programming and web app development. after you complete these courses i'm sure you will be confident enough to pick up a web framework tutorial like django or ruby on rails and continue from there.

consistent learning every few days for a few months will set you to mastery in a year or so. good luck with learning!

Sure it's possible but like learning any skill it will take time. You're obviously enjoying it, otherwise you wouldn't have put in the learning you've done so far.

One of the interesting things about software development compared to many other professions is that the field is still so new that people can have very successful careers without having done a degree.

Another interesting aspect is that software affects virtually every other field so there's opportunities for people coming from all kinds of backgrounds.

Given your current situation, I'd approach it as a hobby for now. Try to come up with little projects that are related to other things that interest you, or that would make your current job easier.

As you learn more and gain experience, try to apply your new knowledge to slightly more complicated projects, or to improve or redo past projects. You'll find the whole thing more rewarding if you do it in a way that you can get some direct benefit out of your work. The trick here is picking the right problem to solve. People often pick something that seems simple on the surface only to get discouraged and give up when it turns out to be more complicated than they first thought. Just try not to bite off more at once than you can chew.

Keep your eye out for opportunities to help solve other people's problems but again remember to keep it simple. Also keep in mind that their view of the problem and how it should be solved will be very different to your's. Learning how to manage this is a very valuable skill in itself.

Eventually you'll get to the point where your knowledge of development is that you can charge other people to apply your expertise to solve their problems for them. That's all a professional developer is.

At some point consider doing some more academic or abstract study. You don't have to do this right away, or formally at a college or school. The courses on sites like Udacity, Coursera and MIT Open Courseware cover a lot of the same stuff. While these courses will dive into areas that you won't use every day, they do give you a good overview of how everything fits together so you know the right questions to ask and the right places to look when you hit unfamiliar problems. You can get a long, long way without doing this at all depending on the type of development you want to do though.

Software development is a huge field so just keep learning whatever interests you and keep applying it to solve problems in other areas of your life. You'll get to enjoy the benefits of what you make and with persistence might one day be able to sell what you've learned to other people.

+1 to all ppl that said don't go for web development, it is a saturated field of programming right now

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't; you're right." -Henry Ford

Yes. Knowledge > Degree.

Knowledge >>>>>..n Degree



short answer: Yes. long answer: Yessssssssssssssssssssss.

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