Is it too late to start a career in IT at 28?

tx105954027tx105954027 Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello Everybody

I have been lingering and browsing threads on TechXams since Oct, and today I decide to post my question on my career change to IT which I have been hesitating to ask for quite a while.

I am now 28, bachelor and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and having been working in a server design, engineering and manufacturing company as a mechanical engineer for nearly 3 years. Our company is one of major vendors of rack mount servers and jbods for today's several gigantic hyper-scale cloud platform service providers (AWS, MS, you name it). However, as a small-mid scale private company, it is low technology, poor management and I find my future unpromising.

My work frequently requires me working on servers and jbods and therefore makes me quite familiar with enterprise level IT hardware. I build servers, update firmware, run benchmark tests in Windows and Linux, and find myself becoming more and more interested in these IT infrastructure stuff. As a try, I began to study for Network+ and Storage+, frustratingly realizing that although I have been working in an IT infrastructure group for 3 years, my knowledge in IT is quite limited. Most of the materials in the study guides have I never heard of. My work experience doesn't even make me qualified as an entry-level IT guy.

In the early days when I started researching IT career path, I hoped I could become a virtualization/cloud engineer and could also work directly alongside large-scale physical data centers (I love to watch and touch the physical equipment, feeling the beauty of tech industry, which is also my childhood dream). But now, it seems an intimidatingly long road for me to go. Even two of the QC kids in our company, graduating with AS degree in IT and having 1 year work experience, are already CCNA. I feel myself far behind.

In this situation, what should I do? Start from some basic certs and look for entry job like data center tech? Or wait until I knock out some higher level certs like VCP6 and CCNP? Any suggestions are sincerely appreciated.


  • markulousmarkulous Member Posts: 2,394 ■■■■■■■■□□
    28 is not old at all. I didn't get my first IT job until I was 30.

    Can you afford to jump ship and go into an entry-level IT position? If not then your best option is to get some good certs focused on whichever area you want to go down and lab like crazy. You can edit your resume now to make it look like IT work. With the certs and knowledge from that and labs, you should be able to get into a junior admin type position down the road. Self-study is going to be your best friend here.
  • renquistrenquist Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Not at all.

    Net + and Security + are both good certs. You could study for those in your off time to get a feel for what your future will be like.

    If you are able to take an entry level IT related position helpdesk/desktop support then it would be a great building block for the future. Once you have a little experience and an entry cert or two it will really provide you some idea of where you will want to go from there.
  • WhiteoutWhiteout Member Posts: 248
    Why do you want to get away from Engineering and do IT? Just curious, because I'm sure it took you a lot of work to get that Masters.
    Never stop learning.
  • Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I think as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort to any occupation your never really to old. I'll be venturing into the IT field next year at age 31. My current job has nothing to do with IT, but I have good basic understanding of Networks. My end game goal is to be a network engineer so I'll just kind of give you a outline of what I'm hoping to do.

    I won't be looking for a job till after I move next spring so right now the plan is to get A+ and N+ certified so that come late spring I can land a lower level IT job (help desk or general IT job). Then I am planning on enrolling in WGU for their BS-IT security degree. I've been looking at jobs and if you have a AS or BS it seems to help you get a foot in the door. Also in doing this you gain a lot of certs including the CCNA, and CCNA Security. The plan is to complete WGU in 3 years so that I will have a BS and also 3 years of xp in the field. I personally don't know as I'll go farther than a CCNA, I may branch off and look at VMware or Juniper certs.

    I plan on also building a home lab. I know some people prefer the sims and to each their own but I want to handle the physical hardware. So if everything goes as planned I'll be 34 by the time I earn a BS and am climbing my way up the ladder. One important thing I see mentioned on this forum a lot is be versatile with the jobs your looking for when you start out. Experience is worth more than money for the first few years.
  • TWXTWX Member Posts: 275 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It's not too late by any stretch, but it's probably going to be a weird transition given your current educational background and work experience. If you can, you might want to evaluate if you want to pursue vendor-specific certifications, and if you want to do any consulting before you jump-ship entirely. It might be difficult to make the switch (ha ha) without taking a rather drastic cut in salary given your lack of applicable experience.
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Well no question you are "behind" in the sense that you started another path but it is not uncommon in IT for people to have migrated from other professions. Ideally you would want to switch as soon as possible otherwise you might start making an amount in your current profession that creates a huge gap from the IT salary you would start at. Keep working at sounds like server type paths would be more inline with what you have done. While doing certifications start applying to entry-level jobs.

    Make sure you realize and accept the fact that you will undoubtedly start at the bottom but with hard work you are not too far behind.
  • --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    There was a mult-page thread on here a few months back that was populated with "late bloomers"...28 is not too old. I transitioned into IT at 27, going on 30 next week.

    If anything you will have a leg up because with age comes maturity (usually lol).

  • yellowpadyellowpad Member Posts: 192 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I feel so freakING old now. Made a career change from banking at 39. If 28 is to late....I may as well find a rock to crawl under and die. It is not the age that's your drive..attitudes...and your persistent. Unless I am wrong.
    Completed MSCIA f/ WGU~ CISSP 5-days boot camp scheduled :)
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAMember Posts: 4,016 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Welcome to the forums!!

    You are never too old to pursue what makes you happy!! I would definitely look at some entry level certs such as the CompTIA path to get you started before you venture off into the more advanced level (CCNP/MCSE) etc.. You already have degrees so I would put more focus and emphasis on the IT specific skills that you need to develop and grow. You have most likely already met the HR requirements regarding degrees despite it being in a different field/major so I wouldn't worry about it. I have seen many colleagues or members on this forum switch from unrelated professions (business, accounting, etc..) into IT without having to get another degree but more on the side of some certs, experience, and most of all hard work to make the switch.

    If you have any questions feel free to message me.

    Good luck!!
    *Associate's of Applied Sciences degree in Information Technology-Network Systems Administration
    *Bachelor's of Science: Information Technology - Security, Master's of Science: Information Technology - Management
    Matthew 6:33 - "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

    Certs/Business Licenses In Progress: AWS Solutions Architect, Series 6, Series 63
  • bermovickbermovick Member Posts: 1,135 ■■■■□□□□□□
    yellowpad wrote: »
    I feel so freakING old now. Made a career change from banking at 39. If 28 is to late....I may as well find a rock to crawl under and die. It is not the age that's your drive..attitudes...and your persistent. Unless I am wrong.

    Hi 5 to us old coots! I was either 38 or 39 when I transitioned out of a dead-end desk job into IT cause I didn't see myself making much more than the $15/hour I had been making for the past 6 years.

    I don't know whether to be bothered or amused at these "OMG I'm in my 20's. My life is ruined and I'll never be able to break into a new field" threads... AND GET OFF MY LAWN
    Latest Completed: CISSP

    Current goal: Dunno
  • yellowpadyellowpad Member Posts: 192 ■■■□□□□□□□
    My life was ruined when i turned 18 lolz
    bermovick wrote: »
    Hi 5 to us old coots! I was either 38 or 39 when I transitioned out of a dead-end desk job into IT cause I didn't see myself making much more than the $15/hour I had been making for the past 6 years.

    I don't know whether to be bothered or amused at these "OMG I'm in my 20's. My life is ruined and I'll never be able to break into a new field" threads... AND GET OFF MY LAWN
    Completed MSCIA f/ WGU~ CISSP 5-days boot camp scheduled :)
  • tahjzhuantahjzhuan Member Posts: 288 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Got into IT relatively young, but wasn't always focused. Focus, drive, and possibly ambition are better attributes than physical age imo.
  • danny069danny069 Member Posts: 1,025 ■■■■□□□□□□
    It's NEVER too late. I don't care if you're 28 or 88 age doesn't matter, doing a good job is what counts.
    I am a Jack of all trades, Master of None
  • BlackoutBlackout CCENT, CCNA-Security, ITILv3, CompTIA S+, CompTIA A+ Raleigh, NCMember Posts: 512 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I started at 30 after I got out of the Military. Im now the SME for Core Architecture for my team. Work hard enough, study hard enough and good things will happen.
    Current Certification Path: CCNA, CCNP Security, CCDA, CCIE Security

    "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect"

    Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi
  • 636-555-3226636-555-3226 Member Posts: 976 ■■■■■□□□□□
    You're never too old for anything. If you feel passionate about it and put the time into it to do it well, then you'll succeed in the end.
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,767 Mod
    Not too late. I am 56, still going and learning.
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • Dan-in-MDDan-in-MD Member Posts: 52 ■■■□□□□□□□
    View your career as a journey where you want to add different dimensions of capability and experience along the way. Don't neglect your health--you only get one you.
  • Kinet1cKinet1c Member Posts: 604 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Started at ~27, I felt the same but really enjoying it. A lot of my team and people on surrounding teams were late starters. Go for it.
    2018 Goals - Learn all the Hashicorp products

    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity
  • John-JohnJohn-John Member Posts: 33 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I was an electronics technician for 10 years, started out in the Navy. One day I got the IT bug and decided to switch careers even though I had no exposure to IT at all. I quit my job 3 years ago to go back into school for Information Systems and today I work in the security field. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water but I like a good challenge. And I like the fact that I can develop a niche in a field that will make me in demand. I am not easily replaced like I would be as a technician by new technologies in automation. So what I am saying is, the only thing stopping you is yourself, not your age. It will be harder, yes, but that is up to you to decide if you want to handle it. I have to say though, I felt I was nearing the point of no return for a career change. I probably would not have done it if I had stayed in the Navy for 20 years and then did a career change in my late fourties or fifties. There is just too much to learn and you need some time. Although I did my internship with another intern who was in his fifties! But he was in IT and transitioning to information security, so not that big a deal.
    Goals for 2019: CISSP[x] CCNA-SEC [x] CEH[x]
    Goals for 2020: OSCP [] eCPPT[] eNDP[]
  • joeswfcjoeswfc Member Posts: 118 ■■■□□□□□□□
    In my first job, there were some new starters coming in on first line support that were in their 50's! Definitely not too late!
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    bermovick wrote: »

    That made me chuckle ... kudos sir :)
    My own knowledge base made public: :p
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    When you are 38, you will think 28 is so young, when you are 48, you will think 38 is so young. Don't get hung up on age, it's never as important as it seems at the time.

    Engineering is a really good background for IT. It teaches you how to solve problems, what good engineering techniques are, breaking things down, taking modular approaches, not trying to reinvent the wheel, keeping organised and methodical and all that higher level stuff that IT really benefits from, especially at the more senior levels. So you are probably further down that path than some 28 year olds who've been in IT for 10 years.

    A lot of stuff in IT changes, and experience with actual technologies doesn't matter beyond a couple of years, since the technology gets replaced. What matters is the softer skills and higher level skills, which I think will transfer for you from your current background.

    So get stuck in. Start reading the books, watching the videos, labbing away. Don't be afraid to pick up "complete moron's guide to computers for children", simple books are easier to digest and give you the confidence (as in "Man, this stuff is easy") to pursue. Network+ actually has some of the harder concepts to grasp, because it is so new and fundamental. Once you've been doing it for a while, it's all second nature and we tend to forget how tough it is to wrap your head around for the first time. Don't worry if seems hard, because eventually it will be easy.
    And set up a home lab and start trying to do stuff. You'll be surprised how much you can learn when you just start getting your hands dirty, run into a problem and try to figure it out.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • PremierCiscoPremierCisco Member Posts: 221
    I am 40, as everyone else is saying age is just a number.

    If you have the drive to progress, then by all means go for it

    Bachelor of Science in Computer Services Management - Limerick Institute of Technology
    Higher Certificate in Science in Computer Services - Limerick Institute of Technology
    Certificate Information Technology and Computing - The Open University
    Certificate in Computing and Mathematics -The Open University
  • elToritoelTorito Member Posts: 102
    Agreed with everyone else. Age is just a number. Your dedication and drive to excel in this industry are what's most important.

    I'm sometimes involved in the interviewing process for new IT staff for our department. I used to ask technical questions only, but as of late, I'm more interested in someone's personality, ambition, soft skills and attitude. I'm more impressed by someone relatively inexperienced but with a real passion for the subject matter, than someone with 15 years of experience, a heavily padded resume, but no ambition or drive.
    WIP: CISSP, MCSE Server Infrastructure
    Casual reading: CCNP, Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference, Network Warrior

  • JustFredJustFred Member Posts: 678 ■■■□□□□□□□
    You still have 40+ years of working life to go and as long as you have your health, you can do it> It's never too late. People still go to college to become doctors at age 45.
    [h=2]"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." Spock[/h]
  • dustervoicedustervoice Member Posts: 877 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Its too early to get into IT at 28. Studies show 29 is the best time to get in :) Go for it!!!!
  • alan2308alan2308 CISSP, MCSA 2008, MCSA 2012, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security Ann Arbor, MIMember Posts: 1,854 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Like everyone is saying, it's not too late. I worked in another field for years until it all but disappeared, decided to go back to school while I still had a few years of GI Bill eligibility and didn't get my first real I.T. job until I was 35.
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