Late 30s, career change, want to get certified, too late?

jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□

My bachelor's in MIS is 13 years old and I have minimal IT experience. I've been stuck in customer service for too long. I self-taught most of my IT background by troubleshooting my own PC issues, built a couple PCs, etc, i'm the family geek, etc. I have a true passion for IT. I recently started studying for A+, most of it I know already, but considering I'm almost 40, is it too late? My goal is to be in an IT position earning $60k+ in a year or 2. Not sure yet which route I want to go - networking, security, microsoft, etc. Any advice from the experts?



  • stryder144stryder144 Posts: 1,588Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    First, it is never too late. Second, get a few certs to go with your MIS and you'll be well on your way. What type of customer service have you been involved in? IT related? I'm 43 and started my professional IT career two years ago, so you can do it. As for the pay you'd like to make, that will depend a lot on the area you live in and what certs/experience you have. I started at $31k and after a year and a half (took six months to find a job), I am at roughly $40k...for my full-time job. So, it is doable within five years, I'm sure.
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  • moe12moe12 Posts: 65Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Never to late!
  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for the responses, it really helps! I plan on just reading over the A+, N+ and S+ and maybe take exams next year, then we'll see which direction I want to go. I've been in the retirement industry (401k/403b) for the last 13 years and earn $40k in Florida. We moved here 2 years ago and I've discovered it's nerd-hell in FL, there aren't many geeks down here! LOL The CompTIA IT Cert Roadmap really opened my eyes to what's out there for certs. I'm thinking of going the Security, Cloud, Hardware or Microsoft path. Thanks again for the responses!
  • datacombossdatacomboss Posts: 303Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I really wouldn't bother with the Comptia certs.

    I would do ITIL then MCSA and/or Cisco (CCENT>CCNA).
    "If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things, then I should have said, 'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life."

    Arthur Ashe

  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Really? I know nothing about the majority of the other certs. I have learned a little in the first half of the A+ book, and could probably learn more from the N+/S+ but maybe I'll just skip the actual exams.
  • GorbyGorby Posts: 141Member
    There was a thread on here about others who started/ switch careers late... I will find it for you.
  • tkerbertkerber Posts: 223Member
    Never ever ever too late. Tons of people have switched into IT successfully from other careers that weren't fulfilling to them. I know people who were Spanish teachers, truck drivers, you name it. Having that MIS degree is definitely going to help you and I think your goal could be very realistic if you play your cards right.

    However, I must ask what part of IT interests you? Systems Administration, Networking, Storage, Virtualization, Security?? I think feeling around and trying to focus on a specific area might help you more. Once you get your A+ and maybe some good foundation going then you can start specializing a little more like an MCSA, CCNA, etc...
  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□

    Keep in mind that the MIS degree is 13 years old, that's almost too long ago to make a difference. Plus, I haven't been in the IT industry since I got the degree!

    I really don't know what area interests me, definitely not virtualization or networking. I know starting with A+/N+/S+ is a good base, I'll re-assess if I get through those books.

    Thanks for all the info!
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GXPN GPEN GWAPT GCIH GCFE GICSP GSEC eJPT Sec+ Posts: 1,238Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    The age of your degree is irrelevant, it is suppose teach to soft skills and theory. NOWHERE have i ever seen "Must have earned BS degree in the last 10 years". Work experience and certifications are how you stay relevant in the IT field after earning your degree.

    I strongly recommend you look at job descriptions for entry level jobs and actually see for yourself what skills employers are demanding.
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Posts: 5,057Mod Mod

    As mentioned, it is never too late to change, and @ 30, you are pretty young lots of good years ahead.

    That said, after only a few posts, you sound as though you are backpedaling on what you want here. The CompTIA certs are great certifications to get ones 'feet wet' by way of exams. You already hold a degree, the age of the degree is not relevant, perhaps to you, but degrees usually trump certs. A degree 'generally' states that a person has the ability to 'learn' and the type of degree provides an overview of the area in which that applicant is able to learn.

    So, you have already ruled out virtualization and networking, 'ok', what do you think you like? A+ will give you an introduction and provide you a certificate that states you have basic hardware/OS knowledge. NET+ will provide you with a basic level of networking knowledge. While that doesn't mean you HAVE to run cables or crimp ends, you really should have a basic understanding of how packets flow between the OSI model, and holding the NET+ cert will show you have attained that basic level. Sec+, similar, but on the security side of networking. Even if you won't use these per se, if you were to 'manage' a team, you would have some background.

    I would also recommend against trying to get through all three COMPTIA exams at one time. Take one book and study, lab, practice as much as possible and take the exam. Once you pass, move to the next. No particular order and you may not find a need for all three certifications. If you have the resources, these are great confidence builders and help get ones mind groomed for other bigger exams.

    Although A+ is two exams to earn the cert, I also agree, it is likely a good starting point. Simply because it brings to light the various terms and components one uses today.

    Storage and System Admin stuff will likely be good avenues to pursue and your degree will be a bonus. You may need to job shadow and simply get a feel for what each role actually encompasses. As with most things IT is not cut-and-dry all the time and many jobs are more of a blending of skills.

    Hang in there!
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • AlexsmithAlexsmith Posts: 42Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I made a thread similiar to yours with many responses from other members who made the career switch later in life like myself:
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 2,091Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    I switched to IT late 2010 when I was close to 40. First job was $42k. Almost 4 years later, I'm closer to $200k than $100k. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, $60k in 2 years is very doable.
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • MrBishopMrBishop Posts: 229Member
    Never too late.....I was practically in your same predicament a year ago. If you can ever help it....don't take any customer service roles because you'll usually get stuck there. Everyone doesn't have a choice to pick and chose a job sometimes but I won't take a role that isn't in line with what I want to achieve.
    M.S. Internet Engineering | M.S. Information Assurance
    B.S. Information Technology | A.A.S Information Technology
    Currently pursuing: CCIE R&Sv5
  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you all for the thoughts and feedback. I am hoping *crossing fingers* to get through the "beginners" exams of A+, Sec+, maybe Net+ next year individually, one at a time. Most of the info in A+ I already know, but it's good to fill in some gaps, don't think i'll have a problem with that one.
  • bobloblawbobloblaw Posts: 228Member
    Never too late. The CISSP was the first certification I got in 2013 in my 30's. Get after it, man. You'll get all the support you need and more on Tech Exams.

    The age of your MIS degree is meaningless. You're already ahead of the game just having your degree.
  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Wow, CISSP, that's extremely advanced!

    I took a couple practice A+ exams on comptia's site and did much better than I thought. Took a Sec+ practice test and failed miserably. I just don't really know what each and every certification does (Cisco, Citrix, ECDL, Linux ITIL, HDI, etc). Obviously I could google this stuff, but would it be beneficial to have a bunch of beginner certs like MOS, HDI DST, HDI SCA, CCENT, ITIL Intermediate, A+, Net+, Sec+? or am I going to really need to get the advanced certs to make $100k + ?

    Someone recommended I go look at the job postings on newspapers, never thought about that, I'll have to do that!

    Another thing is the cost of the exams. Sure, they're worth it in the long run, but still...

    I found Professor Messer's site on YouTube too, definitely a great way to learn.
  • bobloblawbobloblaw Posts: 228Member
    I think the beginner certs are a great way to figure out what you're interested in. Once you think you found something you're interested in, then look into the more advanced certifications. Also, see what hits on job boards. You're paying for this out of pocket, so look at what gets the biggest ROI. In other words, don't waste time on certs that don't get hits.

    That said, I wouldn't spend my own money to get any CompTIA cert (sans Sec+ and/or CASP) if I had an MIS degree. I'd already be looking at mid tier certs if I were you.
  • jgoffe10jgoffe10 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    @bobloblaw, just noticed your pic...BETTER CALL SAUL!! LOL

    Thanks for the tips!
  • techfiendtechfiend Posts: 1,481Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    jgoffe10: I am sort of in the same situation as you, have a lot of customer service experience, a degree in networking, but no IT experience. I currently have A+ but if I was to redo it, I would have started on Net+. I don't think there's much value of A+ to people that already know how to build and repair computers, and it's one of the more expensive tests. I also don't know if it helps on a resume, I went almost 2 months with it on my resume with just 1 callback which was computer repair.

    $100K+ really depends on the person, I know a guy who is currently making about that without any certs or college but 15+ years of experience, he recently switched to software development out of interest and to get another pay raise. He's told me in order to climb the ladder you have to consistently change job titles and more than likely employers. He doesn't come across as very driven but he really knows his stuff and looks and acts like a prototypical geek, which probably helped a lot, I am not, so I need the drive. Then there's many that have education and high level certs that aren't making as much as they should be.

    Switching from a chronological resume to a functional resume has worked wonders so far. It really hides a lack of job experience while emphasizing customer service and other skills. It should be enough to get you some callbacks for entry level help desk positions which is a start, you might really enjoy it and let money become a lower priority.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • bridgestonebridgestone Posts: 36Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    It is never too late.

    For example, many ex-armed forces guys go into this work and are highly valued. They are usually your age.

    Also my old boss was one of those. He was a lowly 2nd line like the rest of us and suddenly got promoted to be Technical Resource Manager. He was at least 50. They wouldn't have chose a youngin for that.

    But you will also face hurdles. I even face them at a similar age. Why? Because at a particular age you are expected to have a certain amount of experience. I find myself too "old" for junior roles that I may want for experience. And too inexperienced for roles that are more typical for my age. It won't be easy.
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