Friday, September 18, 2015

IT Professional After 40? Are You Still Alive?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've been bothered by an issue that I guess has bothered many in the Information Technology industry: the job market after the age of 40 (or so).

It's very common to believe that  IT professionals after 40 are "old merchandise"  and such who get fired  might find it very difficult to find a new job.  The punchline here is that this nuisance deters many young people from getting into an IT career in the first place, so I believe that we need to find a few points why this fear is unbased on reality or at least exaggerated:

1. Statistically, there is no  proven issue of unemployed aging IT professionals  i.e. you can hardly find unemployment statistics that show conclusively that after a certain age, these professionals tend to "evaporate" from the job market.

2. The IT industry started developing massively only in the 1990s.  This means that most IT professionals have been in the business for no more than 20 years.  This can explain the relatively low average age in this industry, as opposed to the belief that the low average age implies an age bias in the field.

3. The IT industry has an unwelcome characteristic: many professional employees move buy their 30s to managerial jobs, leaving behind their technical skills.  On the other hand, most jobs in the market are technical (mostly: software development, database administration, quality assurance, network administration).  the consequence is clear, many employees find themselves (at their 40s and 50s)  out of work and out of relevant technical experience.

4. Many IT fields are suitable for freelance work.  This means that  professionals  may engage in independent  work from  their home offices.  Freelancing is not for everyone, but the very fact that this option is available is highly important.  Professionals who make sure they keep abreast with the technological change over the years and decades, will seldom find themselves out of work.

5. Let's say that there is an age bias in this field.  But complaints about age bias prevail in most careers.  I can't think of many academic careers who don't present some degree of age bias.

Summary - I'd check thoroughly  where the rumor about age bias comes from: I'd look for 40+ unemployed professionals and check their stories out.

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