Are You Too Old to Become Certified?

Are You Too Old to Become Certified?Are you too old to become certified? No, no, I don’t mean certifiable — that’s something completely different. (And, as Diana tells me every day, even I’m not too old to become certifiable — but I’m not crazy. As Dr. Sheldon Cooper says, “my mother had me tested.”)

I’m talking about being certified in qualifications that allow you to get into the IT industry.

Are you too old to become certified?

Many people have different opinions on this topic. Some people think that, once you get past a certain age, you shouldn’t even bother trying to get certified and into the IT industry because companies will not hire someone who is visibly older with no IT experience over a fresh-faced whippersnapper with the same qualifications. While technically illegal in most places, ageism sadly can factor into the hiring practices of some companies — whether intentionally or otherwise. Here at LockerGnome, Sherman DeForest has pondered extensively about how our society’s often unconscious bias against older generations (especially, I’m ashamed to say it, among geeks) is usually unwarranted. In Mix Geeks and Seniors — Get Ageism? he writes:

When I was a boy, we knew instinctively that Glenn Miller music sucked and Elvis was hot. We pitied the old folks who did not get it. Now I am a senior and experience the ageism we practiced back in the day. And I have come to realize that media play a more important role in promoting ageism than I realized.

Count the seniors you see on television and see how many are portrayed favorably.

Think about that for a second. Does this have an effect on how you perceive people who are older than you or, if you’re on the higher age of the spectrum, how you feel that you’re perceived by those who are younger?

Are you too old to become certified?

I recently asked a close friend of mine who has been working in the IT industry for over 15 years how old is too old to become certified, and his response was slightly different. First of all, he pointed out that the turnover rate in the IT industry in usually fairly high. When you’re in the position to hire someone new with no IT experience, you can normally expect that person to stay on with the company for about five years before they decide to move on to another job — or, in the case of someone older, retire. Therefore, what realistic difference does it make if you hire someone who is 25, 45, or 65? If the only difference between applicants happens to be how many years they’ve been alive, then I’ve got a number for you: zero.

Ask my dad. Ask my grandfather. Forget about being related to them; if I had to hire either of them based simply on their qualifications for a job I needed done, I have no doubt they’d accomplish it in a manner above and beyond my expectations.

To be 100% truthful, I might even be prejudiced toward hiring someone older over someone younger; I confess this is just as bad as being prejudiced in the other direction, but my interactions with older people have been mostly positive — which may differ from your experience. I don’t feel that it’s too far off to say that they don’t build ‘em like they used to. (If you’re younger and take offense at this statement, leave a comment below and prove me wrong!)

Are you too old to become certified?

It’s been said that you learn something new every day; if that’s true, then this much is obvious: the older you are, the more you know. So if you are older, I’d say that there is no reason why you can’t get into the IT industry if that’s your calling. In fact, you might even have the upper hand. You have probably gained other experience over the years. If you can capitalize on those experiences and see how they can fit in the IT industry, you may be a hot commodity after all. A good recruiter or career counselor will be able to give you some ideas as to how you can put your existing skills and your certifications to good use.

Simply put, you’re never too old to learn. Or, in the words of Bob Dylan: “He not busy being born is busy dying.” Live, you! Live. If it’s something that you want to do, then you’re never too old to become certified.

Image: Generation Gap shared by xflickrx via Flickr

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.