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Career transition for an old guy...

This is a discussion on Career transition for an old guy... within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Quick facts 41 years old 95 credits towards degree...but in finance....and that was 15 years ago Former Marine Working in


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Old 09-23-2014, 12:59 PM   #1
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Quick facts

41 years old
95 credits towards degree...but in finance....and that was 15 years ago
Former Marine
Working in sales last 15 years
Live and work between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Can get to either for a job.

Ok. Going through a bit of mid life crisis, lol. When I was younger I was the stereotypical 98 pound nerd. I was programming when I was in high school. When I got in the Marines I was a LAN administrator....but that was long long ago. I was getting my degree while active duty...think mid 90s...Wall Street types were the one making big pay checks so I was going for finance. Long story short....I got hurt...didn't finish school....got out of the Corps and got into sales because I needed a job fast. Here I am 15 years later. I'm doing ok some years not other years.

I really would like to move into tech sales or security or software ...BA etc. my inner nerd is not happy selling and not being involved.

Things I have in my favor. I'm smart. Now...likely everyone on this forum is...so I'm not bragging, just saying some people in my position might be limited. I'm not from an intelligence standpoint. I can quite literally do/learn whatever I want. We'll...except learn grammar and spelling. Lol. Also. My finance background and years in sales...I'm good with non techie people. Very good on the business side and communications side. Was even a speech and debate champ a million years ago. I can fit in and deal with C level on down to custodians and translate between the two worlds.

Things against me. 41 and I know that's ollllddddddd in the tech world especially without 20 years IT experience behind that number. (At least I only look early 30s...lol). I don't have degree....and owe former school where half my credits are 2k I can't pay right now to get my transcripts. I'm not lazy...but I'm not a workaholic either. Was at one time...gotten lazier as I've gotten older...but a lot of that is no goals or direction. (Being VERY frank here). I have a wife and kids and need about 75k a year to survive, not in a position to downing much...kind of trapped in things which is number one reason I not transitioned before now. Lastly. Wife lost her left eye a couple of years ago...lack of her income and bills caused sever credit issues. I know that affects some jobs and employment.

I don't know if there's any way I can transition...if there is a path I could take or if I need to accept that I'm old and it won't really be possible without literally starting out as a 30k newbie somewhere and working up. I've tried to be as detailed and honest as possible so I can get best realistic advice. I can fill in another blanks as needed.
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Old 09-23-2014, 01:33 PM   #2
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The problem is that you don't have the IT experience to get an IT job making 75K a year... just like I wouldn't have the sales or finance experience to get a job in those fields making 75K a year.

Sure, it's possible to work up to those salaries... but not without first taking a pay cut, working your way up as you gain experience.

It's not that you're old - I've known people get started in their 50s in IT and do quite well. But they had to start at the bottom and work their way up.

I think your best bet would be to leverage your sales experience to get a job doing technical sales. Keep in mind that that's still considered a sales job, not an IT job... which actually works to your advantage. And, as you already know, a salesperson can often influence his or her salary based on their own efforts (unlike IT guys, who typically make a fixed salary).
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Old 09-23-2014, 07:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Upon rereading I guess that I gave lots of background but poorly worded my question. I realize that I can not tomorrow jump into a great paying upper level job etc with limited experience or education.

Wondering if there is education that I could gain....either formally or on my own that would allow me 75k upon entry? What about 60k? Is there an area of IT (aside from sales) that would be more or less forgiving to a 40+ Yr old?
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcompton1973 View Post
Thanks for the reply. Upon rereading I guess that I gave lots of background but poorly worded my question. I realize that I can not tomorrow jump into a great paying upper level job etc with limited experience or education.

Wondering if there is education that I could gain....either formally or on my own that would allow me 75k upon entry? What about 60k? Is there an area of IT (aside from sales) that would be more or less forgiving to a 40+ Yr old?
If it were possible to get a bunch of education and get a 75K job without experience, wouldn't we all do it? I know I would have.

Don't misunderstand me, education is a great thing. I have a degree and multiple certifications. But neither degrees nor certifications nor training courses are valid substitutes for real-world experience.

Again, your age is not an issue. Your age is not your limiting factor; your salary requirement is your limiting factor.

I'll go back to the analogy I mentioned in my last post: if I were to try to transfer into sales or finance at the age of 44, would I be able to get hired making what you currently make? If not, would I be able to take a bunch of classes and immediately step into a job paying that much? If not, why not?
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Old 09-23-2014, 11:31 PM   #5
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I appreciate the brutal honesty. I get it. Let me ask you this then...given what I've written so far...what is a reasonable expectation of starting money? I know location has a lot to do with that but I would be staying in OK. And what would I need to do to break in? I know there are so many areas of IT...it's not like saying architect ...I know security is a growing area. I know software engineering is as well.

Some additional things about me. I perform best under pressure. I was for years called the fireman because I was the guy that put out all the fires. The flip side of that coin is that I'm not best working on a year long project with no milestone deliverables to meet. I need that push. Also. Calculus is the highest math I've had and that was in 1992. It would take a lot to get into that again as I have not used much above basic algebra since. What areas would that keep me out of?
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:19 AM   #6
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It has been almost 17 years since I've worked as an entry-level tech or at a company that employs other entry-level techs. And since I don't routinely look for entry-level tech jobs, others here will have better information than I have. You can also look on job search sites to see for yourself.

The thing is, you aren't exactly an entry-level tech. You DO have some real-world IT experience from when you were in the Marines. It is the 15 years in between that will cause you some difficulty in getting hired for anything more than entry-level.

Though I am uncertain how much an entry-level tech makes these days, I am quite certain what an experienced IT tech makes these days, and those are the salaries you are seeking.

What would you need to break in? Experience. Certifications alone won't do it. Degrees alone won't do it. Training classes alone won't do it.

See, back 15 years ago, companies would hire techs based solely on certifications. For example, if you had the MCSE, you could quickly get hired making a large salary. So tons of people who wanted to get into IT got certified. Companies hired these techs and quickly discovered that those techs couldn't actually perform the most basic of tasks. This is where the term "paper certified" started - to describe an individual who had certifications but no real-world experience. Ultimately, companies stopped hiring solely on the basis of certifications.

Security is indeed a growing area. But security is an advanced IT specialization that you would need to work up to. After all, one cannot hope to secure what one has never administered. Put yourself in the employer's shoes - would you hire someone to secure a network if they've never administered (or assisted in administering) servers or networks before?

Another analogy. Let's say you need brain surgery, and you are trying to choose the surgeon who will perform your surgery:
"Have you performed brain surgery before?"
"No."
"Have you assisted in performing brain surgery before?"
"No."
"Have you ever performed any surgeries before?"
"No."
"Then what qualifications do you have?"
"I took a course and passed the exam."

Would you let them perform brain surgery on you? By the same token, employers won't hire someone with no network administration experience to secure their mission-critical networks.

I don't mean to sound harsh, so if I do, I apologize. I just don't want you to beat your head against the wall looking for shortcuts that don't exist. If you want to work your way up to network security administration, you can do it. But it's something you'd have to work up to, not jump into.

How do most people do it? They get an entry-level IT job, and at some point (whether in their first job or a subsequent one), they'll be asked to help out doing light server administration. This experience will allow them to eventually become a server admin. Over time, they'll be asked to help out doing some network administration, or perhaps some easy network design. This experience will allow them to eventually become a network admin. Those who enjoy or are good at securing those networks can eventually specialize in security administration.

If you want to get into software engineering, learn to program. Build a portfolio of code you've written, then get a job programming.

The only math I've used as an admin has been converting to and from binary and hex... really, no more difficult than basic algebra. As far as pressure and self-motivation are concerned, I know techs who are good and/or bad at either or both. A good supervisor will know how to best push the right sequence of buttons to help you excel in your work.

I hope other techs will also chime in so you can hear a lot of different perspectives on this - from newer techs as well as older ones.
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:34 AM   #7
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This you can use as a rough idea as I am not in the USA I can't say it is correct, and to be honest my feeling is that it's being optimistic PC Maintenance Technician I Salary | Salary.com. But it is certainly no where near what your looking at.
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Old 09-24-2014, 08:33 PM   #8
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Boson,
You are not harsh at all. I asked a question because I needed an answer. I think that you gave me good answers. What I wanted you to say was "just go in, and tell people you need 100k and for them to train you. they will do it." I guess that was not realistic. lol.

That being said 15 years ago when I left the IT world, is when you were talking about getting an MCSE and a good job...I guess that is one aspect of the industry that has changed that I wasnt really aware of. For the better...but doesnt serve me right now. lol.

Anyways, I think that I will need to first is figure out what side I really want to pursue. The Admin side leading to security, or programming/engineering side. I can game plan from there.
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