is it too late for a 30yr old to get a degree?
July 6, 2007 4:40 PM   Subscribe

I want to get back to school and get a degree to find a better job but I am already 30. Is it too old to try for a degree? my interests are IT and finance, though IT is much more easier for me. Does anyone know the IT market in British Columbia? I don't want to be IT monkey forever and I would like to move up to some manger role in the future. Also, how do employers see hiring a mid 30s with a degree compared to all the mid 20s that are coming out of school these days? I am not sure how or what path I should take but I just know I need more education to get a better paying job.
posted by brinks to Work & Money (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
bachelor's or master's? it's never too late to get an education, but i would say if you're to where you are without a bachelor's, it doesn't seem that worth it. for a master's you're at worst at the latter end of the middle range of students, so i wouldn't worry about age at all. now, if you don't have a bachelor's and want a master's, not at all sure about how to do that in quicker than 4-5 years and i don't think all that trouble is worth it.
posted by andifsohow at 4:43 PM on July 6, 2007

I'm in my 30s, and just getting a master's degree. I am older than many of my classmates, not a lot older, and I am hardly the eldest. If you are looking to move into a managerial role, it sounds like an advanced degree could really help you.

The fact that you have lots of work experience plus an advanced degree will put you ahead of candidates with the same degree and no experience. Basically, you'd be in separate segments of the job market.
posted by Oso Mocoso at 4:50 PM on July 6, 2007

Welcome to AskMe!

I've never hired anyone, but I'd have more faith in a mid-30s person who went back to school to improve himself and his career than a mid-20s person fresh out of school with little real knowledge of the field who probably will jump ship at the first opportunity. I'd think you'd be more stable and reliable than someone just starting out too - and what I just mentioned doesn't say anything about your previous work experience yet.

I say do it. Your university will have career-hunting resources, job fairs, and lots of people doing the same thing you are, with many chances to network outside the company/field you're working in now.
posted by mdonley at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question a little while ago and AskMe was very supportive. I haven't yet finished my degree (I'm exactly halfway through) but I find that being a mature age student certainly has benefits. I have a lot of experience that makes my study easier, more self-discipline than many of my fellow students (school-leavers) and as a result, I've achieve a perfect GPA up to this point.
posted by b33j at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2007

brinks posted "IT is much more easier for me. Does anyone know the IT market in British Columbia? I don't want to be IT monkey forever and I would like to move up to some manger role in the future. Also, how do employers see hiring...."

Not to snark, but seriously dude, "more easier" and "manger"and not capitalizing the first word in sentences aren't going to get you into grad school or hired.

As far as your question, you need to supply more specifics: what do you do now, what experience and education do you have? Apparently you're an "IT monkey", but that covers a lot of ground. Apparently ("I want to get back to school") you have some education, but what, exactly?

Besides making more money, what are you good at? Besides the rather nebulous "managing" what do you want to do? (E.g., managing a team of coders, a helpdesk, or a team of cable installers will require different skills.)
posted by orthogonality at 5:36 PM on July 6, 2007

oh and if I were you and had heaps of IT experience, I would consider business management as the direction to go in.
posted by b33j at 5:36 PM on July 6, 2007

Two words. DO IT. I went back to college at the age of 32- had a wife, baby, and a full time job while I did it. I'd do it over in a nano-second. My B.S. degree is a very common one as well, from an unheard smallish state university. It has opened doors that are otherwise shut. As my Econ 101 professor told us all on many, many occasions as freshman (or sophomores)- the degree gives you a "License to Compete". You will end up in a stack on a desk somewhere that has "College" vs a stack that goes into the trash because minimum requirements weren't met. Trust me on this. I'm not saying you are going to look back and say "Geeeeee... those were tough times, but boy was I happy." I am saying that you will have a new sense of freedom that you can get no other way. I was the oldest male in ALL my classes- though the one that many wanted to have on projects due to my diligence and experience in the real world.
posted by bytemover at 5:37 PM on July 6, 2007

See here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2007

Go to school! I am a professor and I have tons of students older than you. Non-traditional students do better in the classroom because they are more serious and they land good jobs when they graduate. You won't be sorry.
posted by LarryC at 7:28 PM on July 6, 2007

There was a guy next to me in my freshman english course, when I was 18, who was old enough to be my grandfather (and he did have a grandchild my age). He was 55-65, a former carpenter. He has student services help up the type size on printed materials for him, but that's the only difficulty.

He wasn't the only one in my classes of that age -- there were many.

You're nowhere near too old.

Have fun!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:39 PM on July 6, 2007

My mother got her MBA in her 40s after spending ~20 years teaching English -- she is now a very successful executive with a major bank. When I got my MS there was a 69-year-old in my class, who had just completed his BS. It is never too late to get a degree, but 30 is probably an ideal time for most people/professions.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:01 PM on July 6, 2007

Vancouver has many financial services software companies -- and I've worked for several. Many of the employees are new entrants to the field. What sort of background do you have now?
posted by acoutu at 9:26 PM on July 6, 2007

I would consider myself a subject-matter expert on tech careers in Greater Victoria, and, to some extent, Vancouver.

What do you mean by IT? If you mean enterprise IT, well, there's plenty of work in Victoria, and there's plenty of work in Vancouver. You can do whatever you want, but hiring managers prefer people with brains and social skills who are self-starters.

There is a ton of work; there will be a ton of work for the foreseeable future. The number-1 worry folks in the industry have is lack of talent. Getting a diploma (or a degree) will not be a wasted investment.

Obviously, a university degree is useful, but many IT/software employers are happy with graduates from 2-3 diploma programs from BCIT and Camosun, etc., and these courses put you to work right away doing Co-Op, etc.

Software is the same as IT. The possibilities are endless. Vancouver is turning into a near-sourcing hub. For example, Microsoft just opened a campus there. And the growth is organic, coming from companies that survived the dot-com bust and that have solid business models.

An IT or software diploma will allow you to work on projects that provide you with credibility. No one will care about your age.

After that, your ambition and commitment to quality will do wonders for your career.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:56 PM on July 6, 2007

I can't comment about Vancouver, but I have not found my lack of a degree to be any real stumbling block to staying employed here in the Seattle area, and I am quite satisfied with my compensation. Of course, we have one of the largest software companies in the world here, so people with technical skills are always in demand, but they're also opening a new facility up your way soon.
posted by kindall at 10:45 PM on July 6, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the replies! I didn't think I got any replies since there was no email notification.

my background:

- no current degree
- experience in web design with some PHP sprinkled in. Currently doing web design on the side while full time in a email support center for a large and well known company
- I also do some side computer troubleshooting and small office computer help

I started to research a bit and I cam across the CSC exam and in that website, I saw positions such as risk management and financial advisor positions. Sounds interesting.

So I was thinking, either keep going in the IT side (MSCE, etc) and move there or go for a CA designation and move into that side.

But education is a must. I want at least a Bachelors just to compete with all the other guys coming out of school.

I was initially worried about anything to do with IT since I thought it was highly saturated since a few years ago and apparently accounting is highly needed now.

I am quite determined but just need to decide which path to take? in terms of job market etc.

(sorry, I have a few typos and grammar mistakes in there as well)
posted by brinks at 11:11 PM on July 6, 2007

Best answer: Just a data point for a potential career path: I'm an ERP software consultant, and we are desperate for people who are technically savvy AND understand accounting. And we have customers large and small who ought to have a person like that on staff and they don't because they are so hard to find/keep.

Find the degree that will get you both (maybe you have a business systems IS program, otherwise go for IS with a double or minor in accounting or business). Learn the hell out of SQL; reporting/business intelligence is one major facet to this kind of work, plus any software you work with is either going to run on SQL or Oracle. Get your MCSE or DBA, depending on which way you want to lean.

Find a way to learn Microsoft Navision (this is where it feels like their marketing dollars are going because Navision is a big-money product) and Great Plains and/or Axapta (Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP, Dynamics AX). Search your local (or desired employment market) job listings for all three to see what's hot right now.

While you're in school, flirt with the companies that use those products and the Microsoft partners (also called VARs, value added resellers, and you may also see the term ISV, independent software vendor, for third-party products) in your area. All companies who use those packages have a MS partner who provides service for the software, unless they are massive companies in which case they may be serviced by MS itself. Any partner in growth mode is going to be looking for people to groom - email around, check their websites for job fairs and internship opportunities. You could probably find a number of people who'd just like to take you to lunch and give you the same kind of advice you're looking for here.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:09 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Will your current company reimburse tuition? Why not enroll in BCIT courses (perhaps in finance and IT) and see which appeals most?
posted by acoutu at 9:12 PM on July 7, 2007

Response by poster: Time to dig this up from the grave..

Thank your everyone for all the great insight and POV. I went asking around some more and seems like business + accounting would prepare me best.

I went looking around and my co worker mentioned to me that he is taking this:

Is that of any use? sounds like a MIS type degree. I was under the impression that these are too general and of not much use. or am I totally wrong about this?

That course has the highest chance of being paid for/partly paid for by my company though but if its not much use, I rather not go for it.
posted by brinks at 10:42 PM on July 26, 2007

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