Older Adults Are Joining Coding Boot Camps to Expand Their Career Options

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By Alix Langone, Money

A growing number of older Americans are learning how to code, thanks to an assortment of coding “boot camps” cropping up across the country.

Dozens of these coding boot camps — intensive, months-long training programs that teach you how to program computers — are gaining popularity with older adults who want to develop a second professional skill set and continue working, AARP reports. As retirees continue to live longer and leave the workforce earlier than planned, there’s an increasing appeal — even a necessity — to expanding your professional expertise to include technological skills, whether it’s to start a new career or earn some supplemental income in a part-time role.

“You need continuous booster shots of skilling and upskilling,” Van Ton-Quinlivan, executive in residence at the Institute for the Future, told AARP.

There are currently more than 100 coding boot camps across the U.S and Canada, and about 23,000 coding students are expected to graduate in 2019, according to Course Report. Last year, about 10% of students who graduated from boot camps were over the age of 40, AARP says. Because it’s such an in-demand ability, learning how to code can be a helpful option if you’re someone considering a career change later in life.

Right now is a good time to get your foot in the door: by 2020, there will be more open jobs in the technology sector than workers who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plus, you may even impress your grandkids or your neighbors at the same time.

Coding boot camps cost tens of thousands of dollars less than regular graduate school programs, helping you avoid the crushing student loan debt facing greater numbers of older Americans every year. They also require a significantly smaller time commitment, with many running just a few months long. You can also take online-only classes from the comfort of your home. Many, like the popular platform Codecademy, offer both free and paid classes that allow you to work at your own pace.

Trilogy Education Services, a workplace accelerator that offers coding boot camp services, has almost 40 partnerships with colleges across the country that charge about $11,500 for six-month programs. Eighteen percent of its students are over 40. At Rice University’s coding boot camps, about one quarter of students are over 40, and at the University of Oregon’s Continuing and Professional Education school, around one fifth of the students are over 40, according to AARP.

Keep in mind that while many students find success, others don’t land new positions right away. A Trilogy spokesperson told AARP that the company has a 90-plus percent completion rate for its programs, yet the company “does not publicize employment data due to the risk that it will be misinterpreted or miscast,” adding that “using employment rates as a marketing tool can set the wrong expectations about the effort it takes to succeed in a career in technology.”

But you don’t have to learn a tech skill just to get another job — a full 65% of people of all ages said one of the reasons they learned to code was simply for fun in a 2017 Codecademy survey. You have much more downtime in retirement to pursue hobbies and passions, so if you’ve always been someone who’s curious about technology, you might want to byte into coding.

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Career Magazine: Older Adults Are Joining Coding Boot Camps to Expand Their Career Options
Older Adults Are Joining Coding Boot Camps to Expand Their Career Options
By 2020, there will be more jobs open in the technology sector than workers who can fill them.
Career Magazine
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