I've been happy enough in my IT career for the last 14 years or so but I'm beginning to get a little fed up with it. Not the work as such but the increasing impediments to progress, I don't want to have to do an MCSE or CCNE just to move into the next step, at my stage in life I don't want to have to sacrifice my "me time" for the sake of my career and miss out on time with my kids, partner & interests.

I have looked into adult apprenticeships, but the finances simply don't add up, I couldn't support myself on the wages.

I have just passed my volunteer firefighter practical assessment & may consider applying for a career position when I get a couple of years experience on the fireground. The trouble is that I will then be 42 and most successful recruit firefighters are 25 - 35.

Has anyone in the AoM community made a radical career change later in life? How did it go?

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I changed careers in my late 40's; it was out of necessity rather than boredom (doc said reduce your stress level or you'll never see 50).  

The change really upset the applecart.  Turned the family's life upside down for a good long while.  Note however that in both "careers" I was/am self-employed and that can make things much more difficult.  

I don't see the professional firefighter thing as practical career.  You'll be the newbie at an age where many of your colleagues will be looking towards retirement from the service.   At least for me that would be far to physically demanding at 40+.  Perhaps you could roll volunteer firefighter service into some sort of gig.  

You're going to need some sort of certification sooner or later no matter what field you're in.  PMP, MCSE, CCNE, CPA, PrMP, CISSP, ... The list goes on.  I would recommend buckling down and just doing it.  Yes, you'll loose some 'me time' in the beginning but you'll be glad you did it in the end.  I think you're being short sighted.  Besides that do you want some young 20 year old telling you what to do?

 

I did a fairly radical career change a few times in my life.  Navy to full-time school for 7 years, From IT hardware to IT software, from IT software to Project Management (IT so not so radical), from IT PM to Emergency Management and Security where I work Finance, Budgeting, and some Admin.  Luckily for me these changes have come with an increase in salary and responsibility.

I'm happy enough & secure in my current job, but I work in a University, not necessarily an accurate representation of the "real" world. I go on courses & training to keep my current work skills up to date, for example I will be going on a course for SCCM 2012 very soon. These don't result in certificates but I do have current skills. I'm not ambitious in that I'm pretty content having a career/job that pays the bills that I don't hate going to everyday, most of my colleagues who are getting into the management stream are in their 20s & early thirties.

My partner is in the process of changing career because of an injury & it is a scary thing to do when you are in your late 30s and have kids to support.

Mine (although I made the change at 39, not my 40's) has gone excellently.

I will state that I'm also running into the "need to get qualifications" bother.  Frankly, some of qualifications are just plain old fashioned "ticket punching", because that's easy for HR and "promotion boards" to evaluate.

One thing I've noticed over time is that a lot of the training required to obtain work qualifications seems to have been designed by single or childless consultants in their mid to late 20's...the sort of folks who can take off for two to six weeks with little impact on their home life.

Yeah, try getting your CPA certification or your PMP.  Although for PMP there are study guides that are extremely helpful.

IT is always in a state of change.  I expect to always be having to study on the side.  Study either to keep current or for the next certification to open the next step on the ladder.  

If you want to unlock the next level you simply have to do your homework.  If you don't enjoy your location on the ladder. 

But certs are increasingly a part of work life.

36 and went back for my MBA which will take 2.5 years.

 

Same as you, IT, asked to keep getting certs on my own dime that didn't increase my pay, which was already too high for anyone else to take me, had too much experience for anyone to think I would stay.

Yep, why be the man in the cubicle when you can be the man in charge of the men in the cubicle?  Even with an MBA certs are required for many jobs, PMP, CPA, PgMP, etc.  Even in my line of work in Emergency Management I need certs, EM Professional, EM Master, COR, PMP.  It's all part of the current work place and yes some of it is because it is simpler for HR to have some idea of what you know (although I know a few people whith certs who have no clue).  There are some people who get certs with no experience and are hired but can't design a simple network or configure a desktop computer.

You hit the issue on the head.  HR can sort your resume based on third party Certs.  It is easy to shift through candidates.  

As to why be the man in the cubical rather then the manager of them.  Simple.  The man in the cubical has set hours and set pay and he trades less pay for more time and less stress.  I have a few friends who are quite happy with NOT climbing the income & responsibly ladder any higher.  They are quite happy with the trade off.

I completely understand where they are coming from.  It is nice to have set hours and a steady paycheck you can (at least somewhat) count on and the stress can be a killer.  However in today's environment it is often required to get certification just to keep your job during cutbacks.

Who in IT(that is getting CCNA or MCSE) has perfectly set hours? I can be called at any hour for a major emergency with the network, then there are the jerks who want to call me at home because they forgot their password.


Then if there is a major project you have to be on hand the entire time.  You are the low man on the totem pole so you get no say, but those in charge are clueless because you are the one that actually gets things done. You won't be asked your opinion until everything has gone fully FUBAR

 

80% of the time is down or dealing with the piddly, but that 20% is why a decent company will pay you well. Unfortunately most companies aren't decent and only look at that 80% down time.

 

So you go out, get updated in that MCSE, or you branch out and pick up some security certs.  You come back to your job and because you still aren't management you can't implement a damn thing your certs say you should because no one is going to spend the money on it.  When they do upgrade something, you better have already figured it out when the go live date is, even though it went live before they told you and refuse to train you.

 

Other then techs that own their own business, I don't know a single one that is happy with status quo.

Some of us have found our niche.  It's not so much a "ComfortZone" issue, as it's more been there, done that, don't want to do it again.  I also have had the somewhat mixed exerience of having to charge out and get mandated training and certifications, and then never, repeat never, used any of the stuff I was formally trained on or certified for.

That has jaded me somewhat on the utility of many certifications. Like many, most of my work requires some computer literacy...however, for what I do, I initially was going to have to get a particular certification that amounted to techincal instruction on the mechanical and electrical guts of that box under my desk.  My total interaction with the mechanics of the computer (for several years)?  Where's the power switch and are the cords tightly plugged in on the back of the box?

I too, know folks who are ticket-punched out the wazoo, but who can't figure out the basics of my job,or why I find it necessary to work on the odd "grunt work" task instead of the "far more interesting and important" [to them] papers.

(In the realm of IT, I know certificated folks who don't know what "GIGO" means, why databases need to be updated, or why you need to tell the troops what you just changed in the software [that half the company uses every day].)

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