Thinking about a serious career change

GBfun

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Another ex-IT guy...Tandem mostly. I did the "staff programmer" stage for 11 years and then went into
contracting where I had even MORE fun and made MORE money, and except for one 1 year contract, I managed to work 6 months with 6 months off for 9 more years.

I really enjoyed the challenge of helping companies, often by getting the most challenging and interesting projects the staff programmers either didn't have the time for, or expertise to do. And I had just completed the most awesome program ever, when my career went up in smoke thanks to exhausted programming budgets from Y2K, the Dot.com crash, recession and the abrupt obsolescence of both the hardware and software within 8 months....a perfect storm. But I was financially prepared. And 2 decades from retirement.

When the contract jobs came back, I was a middle aged guy with an obsolete resume that wouldn't pass the computer screening of resumes without my having to LIE.

I wasn't willing to do that. So I enjoyed my time off and decided to try a medical tech career when 2008 crashed that idea. The schools were jammed and even with straight As, people were finding it hard to find jobs.
But I did get a few interviews for staff programming jobs before this, and I got to the second round both times.
I knew my career in IT was over when I didn't get either opportunity, and I used to get hired the first time, every time....when younger. And that turns out to be a big factor as it turns out. Age.

The above is to point out that one can be GOOD and EXPERIENCED, but that doesn't guarantee much in IT when one gets older. So stepping away from IT might be the last time you can work there !

So where did I end up ? I ended up with more wealth and freedom than ever without working a day in the 21st Century ! My real estate went up, I learned to play the stock market, I used my former commuting costs and time for more happy pursuits, and bided my time until retirement age. I also exercised more, socialized more, and learned four times more stuff. Plus added 20 years of music playing as well. Was it a cakewalk ? No. I lost friends and money and family...and some health. But, I strongly suspect, that if I had continued to work in IT for another 20 years, my health would have suffered greatly.

And this is my last point. Looking back from retirement age, with so many friends and family gone, and seeing how FAST time goes by, and how short life IS...one should really stop and think about what might make you HAPPY in life, bearing in mind, there are always limits to what one can do of course, and TIME is ticking away. And don't be so sure your "golden years" are going to be all that great ! I've been surprised at how many doors have slammed shut forever. This is a bit cryptic I know but suffice it to say, if YOU want to do something or be something or be somewhere, I suggest you do it WHILE YOU CAN. You will either get it out of your system or find out something will keep you from doing what you want...often in surprising ways.
Of course you should proceed with a decent financial backstop in case things go wrong, but sometimes it's Now or Never. And sometimes, with enough thought, Never is ok.

But if you are really stressed out in your current environment middle age or above, I assure you that YOUR health is at risk. A more peaceful path is wise. Or your path may be shorter. Trust me !

That's my 2 cents...er...3 cents.(inflation)
 

imwjl

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My mom's basement.
I'd base the decision on whether or not your assets and/or income for later years can sustain a high quality of life.

You can feel much more wanted, loved or in demand in IT if you move towards high level generalist or knowing and doing stuff that requires hands on and general business knowledge.

Look into CISSP certification. A long running career probably means you satisfy the part some cannot. Two CISSPs I know have that work in parks element same time they have "six figure" jobs.
 

ndcaster

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Indiana
Howdy ya'll....

I've been in corporate IT for around 35 years.... first as a programmer / analyst then for the last 25 years or so as an Oracle Database Administrator.

Its been a great ride, all things considered. Learned a ton, made some good coin, worked with some wonderful coworkers.

Well, I'm almost 58. I just started a new job about 2 months ago, another DBA position with an international finance firm. The new job is quite stressful and challenging... everybody I work with is younger than me, and these coworker DBAs are very good. I'm now, after all these years, the old IT guy, who's seen it all for a long time, somewhat jaded, looking to retire in 10 years maybe, doesn't really want to keep learning the new technologies.

I'm sure I could push it thru, and work here in IT for some more years, maybe until I'm ready to retire and collect social security, take the higher pay and invest / save more for retirement... which I could use.

But I'm getting tired of IT, its a young person's game.. What I'd really like to do is work at a Texas, New Mexico or Colorado State Park, working in the front office, helping people check into their campsites. I'm single, my kids are grown, I can easily relocate, this would be a much less stressful job.. albeit around a 1/3rd of my current salary. But I think it would be much healthier to work at a State Park for the next 10 years, go hiking every day, be outdoors. But of course I won't have as much money saved for retirement.

Anyone here seriously downsize / change their career / make a big change late in life on the work front.. Curious how it worked out.

Life is good.. cheers
I'm 56

I took a 30k paycut three years ago to leave a (snakepit) palace, do what I really wanted to do, and have more time for my middle son who has some special needs

in two years, I gained back 20 of that 30k

it was worth it

I spend less and don't miss it -- as I get older, I have fewer needs, a smaller footprint, and less expensive vices

you sound like you'll be ok
 

middy

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Ah, the old IT guy at his desk dreaming of being a park ranger…
Cut to the wet park ranger, creeped out by the sketchy meth heads he just got the third noise complaint on. They remind him of the ones that shot his his co-worker 12 years ago. He’s wishing he had a desk job for the thousandth time.
 

Tele-friend

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I will change my job for hopefully a much less stresful one in the next months this year. Thankfully I keep the same wage.
 

rockymtnguitar

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I spent 25 years in IT - some as a technical instructor with ALL of the certifications, some as a sysadmin with knowledge of both Windows Server and Linux (that kind of diversity helps). One Friday, near the end of class, I got a message that the HR director and training manager wanted to meet with me immediately after class. And just like that, I was laid off. Total surprise. I loved teaching but never loved IT (I got into it accidentally and didn't think I could get out).

Best f-ing thing that ever happened in my career.

As a trainer, I'd always had this fantasy that I could write courses better than the crud I'd been teaching from. I got some contract gigs teaching for a few months, but sent emails to everyone on my contacts list about writing opportunities, editing, lab development, lab testing. Shortly after that I was asked to co-write the official courseware for a major certification group, and then another. I eventually formed an LLC and I know write courses, develop labs, write articles for a major Linux distro, edit articles, and so on. My salary has doubled, my stress level is about the same but it's MY stress for MY company, I work for myself with a very flexible schedule.

I can work from anywhere, so my wife and I are designing a 1-2 year trek around the US. I'll continue to work from where ever we are.

Incidentally, my wife is having a career crisis of her own and I bought her "What color is your parachute?" and the related workbook. She says it is very useful. @Big_Bend - Why don't you grab a copy and see if it helps inspire ideas?

I read through all the above posts and I noticed two things: 1) wow, a lot of us are unhappy in IT, and 2) whatever the above folks did, they continued to survive. You can do it, you will make it, it will be okay.
 

jvin248

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Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
.

The key is getting your expenses down. That drives all your options.
Minimal rent, no vehicle loan, emergency cash, healthcare.

Can you do the independent contractor/consultant gig? Unless you have strong contacts at a few companies that outsource, you really need to have good sales skills. Constantly selling to keep the future pipeline filled. Recessionary times cause many companies to cut back on outsourcing, at first trying to keep the in-house crew stable, but then they cut back on regular employees and then need the outsourced contractors to fill back in. If you are a recent hire, or otherwise, at risk employee where you are currently at, a change may be pushed on you without warning.

While on family vacation I met a retired couple who worked a few hours a day at state parks for different guest activities in exchange for free RV hookups. They traveled North-South as the seasons changed so they were perpetually in pleasant weather. Find the 'van life' groups to get set up. Some of them keep permanent residences in zero income states with mail forwarding services so they avoid income taxes on pensions/SS. I'd use a car with a small trailer rather than the huge truck with huge trailer or massive RV. Some convert Sprinter vans but I think fuel economy is still a problem.

Can you own and play just a single Harley Benton/equivalent guitar out of a small practice solid state amp? That will be the real challenge.

One of many channels catering to 'the dream' of getting out of the rat race.




.
 
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Marc Morfei

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Another ex-IT guy...Tandem mostly. I did the "staff programmer" stage for 11 years and then went into
contracting where I had even MORE fun and made MORE money, and except for one 1 year contract, I managed to work 6 months with 6 months off for 9 more years.

I really enjoyed the challenge of helping companies, often by getting the most challenging and interesting projects the staff programmers either didn't have the time for, or expertise to do. And I had just completed the most awesome program ever, when my career went up in smoke thanks to exhausted programming budgets from Y2K, the Dot.com crash, recession and the abrupt obsolescence of both the hardware and software within 8 months....a perfect storm. But I was financially prepared. And 2 decades from retirement.

When the contract jobs came back, I was a middle aged guy with an obsolete resume that wouldn't pass the computer screening of resumes without my having to LIE.

I wasn't willing to do that. So I enjoyed my time off and decided to try a medical tech career when 2008 crashed that idea. The schools were jammed and even with straight As, people were finding it hard to find jobs.
But I did get a few interviews for staff programming jobs before this, and I got to the second round both times.
I knew my career in IT was over when I didn't get either opportunity, and I used to get hired the first time, every time....when younger. And that turns out to be a big factor as it turns out. Age.

The above is to point out that one can be GOOD and EXPERIENCED, but that doesn't guarantee much in IT when one gets older. So stepping away from IT might be the last time you can work there !

So where did I end up ? I ended up with more wealth and freedom than ever without working a day in the 21st Century ! My real estate went up, I learned to play the stock market, I used my former commuting costs and time for more happy pursuits, and bided my time until retirement age. I also exercised more, socialized more, and learned four times more stuff. Plus added 20 years of music playing as well. Was it a cakewalk ? No. I lost friends and money and family...and some health. But, I strongly suspect, that if I had continued to work in IT for another 20 years, my health would have suffered greatly.

And this is my last point. Looking back from retirement age, with so many friends and family gone, and seeing how FAST time goes by, and how short life IS...one should really stop and think about what might make you HAPPY in life, bearing in mind, there are always limits to what one can do of course, and TIME is ticking away. And don't be so sure your "golden years" are going to be all that great ! I've been surprised at how many doors have slammed shut forever. This is a bit cryptic I know but suffice it to say, if YOU want to do something or be something or be somewhere, I suggest you do it WHILE YOU CAN. You will either get it out of your system or find out something will keep you from doing what you want...often in surprising ways.
Of course you should proceed with a decent financial backstop in case things go wrong, but sometimes it's Now or Never. And sometimes, with enough thought, Never is ok.

But if you are really stressed out in your current environment middle age or above, I assure you that YOUR health is at risk. A more peaceful path is wise. Or your path may be shorter. Trust me !

That's my 2 cents...er...3 cents.(inflation)
I am the same age as you as can empathize 100%. I have a good job that I enjoy reasonably well. Not lucrative, but perfectly comfortable. But it is stressful, and stale, and I could use a change. What next? Not sure. I try to look at things objectively, and see all sides.

On one hand, you only get one life. You should do everything you can to be happy and fulfilled. If you have a chance to do something more enjoyable and rewarding, do not hesitate.

On the other hand, don't fall victim to the "grass is always greener..." trap. No situation is perfect. There will always be parts of any job that are hard or unpleasant. A new situation might not necessarily be better.
 

CCK1

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Yeah.......was out at 59 1/2 years plus 2 months. Could not STAND the insanity for any longer! TQM, ISO 9000, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma................visions and values, core business and diversity.
To HELL with ATS!
I spent 38 years in IT with the same company, took an early retirement package in 2019. The corporate "programs of the week" corporate buzzwords you mention above are some of the main reasons I wanted out. That, and we had just transitioned to an "open office" concept. I called it the high school cafeteria concept.
 

uriah1

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I retired from IT/audit last year. During this virus thingy I went bonkers since I couldnt do anything
I went back part time, couple hours a week, but, ya, I would have liked dealing with people.
Think I may try retail and or charity food bank or something when things die down.
 

captain_jack

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I'll offer my perspective as 38 year old whose entire career has been in IT. If I'm understanding your post correctly, you're in an individual contributor role, not a leadership one. If that's true, it's going to be difficult to be successful if you've reached a point where you are unwilling or uninterested in learning new technologies and keeping up with your field. It will also result to poor relationships with younger coworkers.

If you're looking for a something that will give you a better perceived quality of life, there are a lot of jobs out there (not just park rangers) that will probably be a fit. But the reality is that most of them will likely result in a massive pay cut. You need to take a hard look at your finances and see if that's possible. That will likely be the biggest deciding factor in any move at this stage.
 

OmegaWoods

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@Big_Bend

Do you have enough to live in reasonable comfort for life with something of a buffer, accounting for Social Security and any other pensions you may have?

Do you have others depending on you? Are you married (or similar)? What does your SO think?

For my part, I just turned 54 and have worked in nuclear power all my adult life with a couple of brief interludes into small business that didn't work out as planned. I don't hate my job but I do hate thinking about it and tending to it. I have been planning and saving for years to allow early retirement, which will be next year.

If you have reasonable assurance that you can make a go of it without winding up homeless or hungry, then go do what you want to do. If not, slash expenses and save like mad for a few years then go do it.
 

sax4blues

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At 61 I left “career work” for 20hr/week low stress work and I am very happy. For me having time to be physically active while my body is still really good instead of growing my bank account for another 5 years is the trade off. I may regret that when I’m 90.
 

Mjark

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I didn’t change careers but I left the corporate world to do the same thing for a non profit agency created by the state.

It was less money but the best 14 years of my career. Very low stress and more interesting work.

I left at age 66. Went back part time after 6 months for another year. Then they got real busy and I had to make the choice to work full time or give up my office. I left. I have no regrets at all.
 

Toadtele

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I recall you considering this quite a while back. So I assume you’ve put ample time into thinking this through.
I know it’s a cliche but, follow your heart. We’re all behind you whatever you decide.
 

Call Me Al

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I have a pretty zen like outlook on life. Duty is dharma. Choose the activities to fill your day that bring you joy and you’ll never be poor.

You should check out Deep Economy and The World Happiness Report. Discussing how growth economy and consumerism lead to unhappiness, and you can actually be happier at a lower income.

So unless you have massive debts to pay off, I say follow your dream and choose the happier job.
 

JL_LI

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The economy, no, the world has changed. People are leaving jobs in droves. Some check out. Some find better paying work. Some start a business. Some change fields. Your employer pays you to do a job you were contracted to do. He doesn’t deserve and shouldn’t expect more from you than to do that job. He doesn’t own you. Leave if you’ve had your fill. I hope you land on your feet but there are no guarantees in life. If you don’t, roll once or twice and get back up, dust yourself off, and start over. I see mountains and forests in your future. And maybe a beater guitar you can bring to work with you. You’ve already gone for the gold and found that for you it’s dust in the wind. Go for blue skies and clear water this time and maybe when you look down you’ll pick up a nugget.
 
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Flat6Driver

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I recall you considering this quite a while back. So I assume you’ve put ample time into thinking this through.
I know it’s a cliche but, follow your heart. We’re all behind you whatever you decide.



I thought this came up before recently.

@Big_Bend have you done any additional analysis on this since July?
 

Recce

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At 55 I was laid off from a high stress job and found a position with a small company at 20% of the stress. It actually paid about the same. At 62 I got upset at things I didn’t agree with and retired. Both changes were great for me and I won’t look back. Very happy to be retired.
 

wrathfuldeity

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Couple of things. Back about 18 yrs ago, got my rear end fired...caught in a political crossfire. I was on the career ladder, ego invested and seemingly everything going well. It was a shock to moi and my colleagues, but it was the best thing ever. After a few months of anxiety and wtfness, I discovered hanging with the kids, working on the house, snowboarding and moar guitar playing. Anyway easily got a part-time on call gig doing mental health stuff, then got a lowly entry level night shift job, etc. In 2006/7 had time to go down the economic and financial rabbit hole, which then prompted me to go work towards being debt free...goal reached about 7 years ago.

The other thing is there are always work, its a matter of how much you want to get paid and if you want to do it. I've never had a problem of finding and getting work. In fact back last August 2 weeks before I quit MH, walked into a little custom manufacturing shop, inquired about a part time gig...hired on the spot. So I work 2 days/wk...they would like me to work full time...but they know I'm working on my LLC.

Wished you lived near by, I hire you for a few hours to show me some interwebz stuff for my business. Dude you got skillz and could easily gig out under the table for luddites like moi...there's a ton of us. And with more folks such as myself doing solo things...it would be on your terms and schedule.
 




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