Coding is the Career of Choice for Some Older Adults

When it comes to technology, older adults can sometimes have a bad reputation. But, this is often based on myth. People age 50 and older are becoming one of the largest groups of technology users.

Some individuals are embracing technology beyond smartphones and Facebook – they want to make it their career. While some seniors do struggle to adopt technology, others are diving into the world of tech to conquer new challenges and reach financial stability.

A popular technology-driven career option is in website coding. Many job seekers in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s have chosen to learn how to code because of a desire to grow their skillsets and change careers.

On the other hand, some older job seekers choose website coding out of necessity. For example, an older individual who works a labor-intensive job might need to transition to a less physical field due to their health. Or, an older adult caring for a spouse or grandchild may need a flexible schedule.

Whatever the reason for changing direction, some older adults are adding website coding to their professional portfolios. Learning basic computer languages can boost a person’s career options, no matter their age.

Learning new skills

In Mahoning County, Ohio, Elizabeth and Lynn are both working towards new chapters in their careers. They are participants in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) through VANTAGE Workforce Solutions.

SCSEP aims to help older adults find sustainable, subsidized employment by providing paid, on-the-job training. Participants must be age 55 or older, unemployed and looking for a job, live in the counties VANTAGE serves, and meet household income guidelines.

Elizabeth is currently assigned at the Red Cross. In addition to working heavily on the computer, she has also taken classes to further her tech skills. She is learning how to code to reach her goal of becoming a professional online marketer.

Elizabeth needed a change from her former profession of unloading trucks, doing inventory, and running multinational teams. She chose website coding because she enjoys learning computer languages. Coding has given her the opportunity to work towards new opportunities in a growing field.

Lynn is a SCSEP participant who works at Ohio State University Extension in Mahoning County. OSU Extension focuses on food, agriculture, and environmental sciences. One of Lynn’s major roles is to handle insect samples, which are tested at the facility.

Lynn has a background in research and technology but continues to develop new skills. She has taken Microsoft office workshops and, like Elizabeth, is interested in website coding. As Lynn adds expertise to her resume, she is exploring her next career move.

“There are so many opportunities, it’s hard to choose one,” said Lynn. “You have to find the right one for you.”

Website coding and development is a growing profession. Older adults will play an important role in meeting the next decade’s increasing need for technologically-inclined workers.

The job outlook for website developers

The job outlook for workers with website coding abilities is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job outlook for website developers to be 15% from 2016 to 2026. This is a much faster rate than the average for all occupations.

According to the Bureau, the rise in website developer jobs is due to the growing popularity of mobile devices and e-commerce. Website developers are likely to find themselves working in industries such as publishing, management consulting, and advertising. An individual can earn a living coding for a company or by working independently.

Website Developer infographic

Working as a website developer

Website developers design and create websites. Their job can be approached with a creative and/or logical eye. They are responsible for how the website looks, its technical aspects, and content.

There are different kinds of website developers. Responsibilities depend on the specific position. Some website developers work on the technical construction of a website, while others create the look of the website.

If you are interested in becoming a website developer, research the various types. Each requires a different set of skills. Remember, you can always add to your computer language knowledge. Website coding is a constantly evolving field and requires continued education and development.

Why coding could be a good fit for some older adults

Learning to code takes time and commitment. But, the payoff can be very beneficial to older. If you like solving problems and fixing things, coding might be for you.

Learning how to code can be exciting and help you stay productive. If it is something you are truly interested in, the act of learning a computer language can improve the way you feel about yourself. Confidence and passion demonstrated during a job interview can help you land the job. Plus, having knowledge of website coding can make you a more appealing candidate.

On average, website developers make good wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that website developers made about $32 per hour in 2017. As an older job seeker, learning to code will help you keep up with the changing workforce.

Barriers to coding for older adults

Seniors are still not the largest demographic using technology. But, older adults are embracing technology faster than ever. Some groups of older adults report owning and using technologies at a similar rate to adults under the age of 65.

Obstacles for older adults can include physical challenges, such as declining eyesight. Some individuals might face fears or hesitation when using technology and the internet, causing insecurities about adopting digital devices.

Traits that make an older adult good at learning to code

Ageism in tech is often a conversation focused on perceptions, rather than the actual abilities of older workers. However, data reveals that many older adults have characteristics and experiences that set them up for success when it comes to learning computer coding.

Internet adoption in older adults has risen steadily in recent years. Today, 67% of adults age 65 and older use the internet. Older adults also use 4.9 forms of technology per week, compared to the overall average of 4.7.

Statistically, older workers are more consistent and capable of solving problems than younger people. They are highly motivated, have long attention spans, and are eager to learn new skills. Older workers tend to be reliable, show up to work on time, and rarely call off sick.

One myth about older workers is that they have trouble learning new things. The reality is that older adults retain information longer and have higher training rates than younger employees. Aging alone does not affect memory, making older adults capable of learning new skills such as website coding.

How can an older adult learn website coding?

There are several ways to learn how to code. Some online programs offer free courses, which allows an individual the flexibility to learn at their own pace. For example, Codecademy.com is an interactive website with a free option that teaches programming languages. About one million of Codecademy’s 45 million users around the world are 55 and older. You can also pay for online computer coding classes.

If you have an open schedule, you might opt to participate in a coding boot camp. Boot camps often require you to attend in-person classes for 40 to 80 hours per week and can last up to 15 weeks.

The typical entry level education for a website developer is an Associate’s Degree. But, education levels of website developers range from high school diplomas to Bachelor’s Degrees and higher. To be a website developer, you need knowledge of both programming and graphic design.

Starting a coding career at 50+

Website coding is fairly new but a growing profession. The need for more website developers, young and old, is higher than ever.

Older workers can provide unique benefits to technology fields that employers should not ignore. Instead, hiring managers looking for reliable and efficient website coders should keep an open mind to older individuals with coding knowledge.

Read 5 Key Benefits of Hiring Older Workers

Our aging populations offer undeniably valuable experience in the workforce and the ability to learn new skills in computer languages and technology. Many members of older generations have mindsets that reflect hard work, attention to detail, and teamwork. These characteristics, coupled with numerous training opportunities available, make some older adults strong candidates for website coding positions.

Participants in VANTAGE’s SCSEP program Elizabeth and Lynn spoke enthusiastically about how their career goals have changed as new workforce opportunities have developed. Rather than being bothered that some options were not available in their youth, they are eager to learn and adopt technology.

“Just because some technology wasn’t available then, it’s available now,” said Elizabeth. “There are STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] programs for young girls. The older women want to learn too. We want the same opportunities as younger people.”

Are you an employer with website coding needs? Contact VANTAGE Workforce Solutions to become a SCSEP Host Site and provide on-the-job training to a SCSEP participant. As a Host Site, you will be helping older adults reach financial independence while building capacity at your organization.

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