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    Career Length For Software Engineer - What's a Realistic Expectation?


    I'm about to begin a BS in Software Engineering. But I won't graduate until I'm 38. I'm wondering how negatively my age might affect my career.

    Is 38 too old to enter the field? How many years can I expect to work? What is my earnings potential for that length of time? I'll be 20K in debt when I graduate.

    My hope is to be able to provide for a family. I really appreciate your help.
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    Is 38 too old to enter the field?
    Eh. It's a young man's game, but I've met older programmers. You'll feel out of place, but you won't be shunned.

    How many years can I expect to work?
    As long as you want, but you'll burn out. I've worked 60 hour weeks since january, and the subject matter is seriously complicated.

    What is my earnings potential for that length of time?
    Bad software developers make $30k/yr in the US. Good ones can make $200k/yr, and that's before they hit an IPO on something like facebook.
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    Your age does not matter, but your ability to add value to customers and users using your skills does matter. If you find it interesting to develop and deliver software solutions, then it would be easier for you to build your position even at this age.

    Depending on your skills and the value that you can add, you can even act as independent consultant after around six or seven years.
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    My concern is the statement

    My hope is to be able to provide for a family.
    There's lots of ways to do that. I'd have more confidence if that was expanded

    My hope is to find a rewarding career doing work which I find enjoyable which provides for a family.
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    Originally Posted by TheCandleflame
    Is 38 too old to enter the field?
    You're only too old when you think you're too old. Just because Silicon Valley is littered with 20 somethings doesn't mean the industry is monopolized with them.

    How many years can I expect to work?
    How many years do you expect to retire in? Are you asking this from a burnout perspective like, "How many years can I sprint forward until I hit the brick wall?"

    What is my earnings potential for that length of time? I'll be 20K in debt when I graduate.
    Depends how good you are. If you're doing low level support (which most likely you'll start; hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere), it'll be probably in the low 30's a year. As mentioned you can be a rockstar where you're a star coder or architect and you could make 100's of thousands a year working for someone. You could hit it big with your own idea and make even more. There's a lot of potential and a lot of problems to still solve out there that need to be coded.

    If you're looking to work for someone, I'd probably say 40k a year starting would be reasonable. It really depends on where you are. Also if you can, don't be afraid to move to places out in the middle of nowhere. Most likely they'll be happy someone is interested in coming there and you will also get the much needed experience. Also cost of living is way cheaper.
    My hope is to be able to provide for a family. I really appreciate your help.[/QUOTE]
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    Your experience from other fields will also help, just because you weren't in IT then, doesn't make it irrelevant
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