How to Break Into a Web Development Career After 30

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.

It’s tough to make a career change no matter what season of life you’re in. But, it gets even tougher the older you get.

For 13 years I was a worship pastor for a large church. I had no desire to switch up what I was doing. Then my wife of 10 years walked out and I had to figure out a way to make more money for me and my 3 little girls as a single dad.

So, I started learning web design and development. Fast forward 5 years later and I started my web development career after 30.

The change wasn’t easy and still isn’t!

There are times when I look at people 10 years younger than me who are further along and are absolutely klling it. It can feel pretty soul-crushing. So, how do you get past that?

This week I talk with Bryce who’s wondering the exact same question. Bryce is 34 and considering going all in to become a web developer. He’s just having a hard time coming to grips with starting over.

So, I talk to him about my journey and the things I’ve done to keep going when I got discouraged trying to break into a web development career after 30.

You Can Have a Web Developer Career After 30

The tech world is filled with stories of young geniuses who have been coding in their basements all hours of the day and night since they were 9. Its things like that can make you feel intimidated to try and build a web development career after 30.

But, the truth is there are plenty of examples of people who started learning to code in their 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s and went on to have successful careers in the tech field.

In fact, the average age of most web developers is 35.

Getting a job as a web developer is not nearly as much about how old you are as much as it is your attitude and your willingness to stick with it.

Yes, it’s tough. Yes, you’ll be tempted to compare yourself and get discouraged.

BUT, at the end of the day if you have something that motivates you and the grit to keep going you can become a web developer after 30 just like I did.

Listen to the full episode to hear all the advice I gave Bryce.

[00:00:00] Chris: This week, we are talking about how to change careers to web development after hitting 30 years old. And even if you're not in your thirties, there's going to be some really good stuff for everybody. Are you ready? Let's go.

What is up everyone? And welcome to another week. Of the self-made web designer podcast. My favorite part of every week is hanging out with you and we've got another great episode ready for you right now. You know, starting anything new is tough. It's tough to see other people who are so much further along than you are.

It's tough to realize that the work that you're doing, even though you're working really hard to do it and to learn. The things that the work that you're doing, isn't all that great at the moment, because you're so new, it can get pretty demotivating. So how do you keep going? Well, that's exactly what I talk about with a self-made web designer listener this week named Bryce, Bryce is 34 and is working to become a web.

But like everyone else, who's just getting started. He's wondering how to navigate through comparing yourself to others and wishing that you're further along. So we're going to talk about it. Hey, if you want to talk, I'm available for free 15 minute chats, no sales pitch, no strings attached at all. We can chat about anything we can chat about freelancing web design development or, or anything you want.

If you want to talk about baking or football, I'm up for it. I don't know a lot about either. Things, but I'd be happy to have the conversation. I'll leave a link in the show notes for you to sign up for a time, to have a convo, or you can head to self-made web Scroll all the way down and click on the link that says let's set up a phone call.
All right. Are you ready to hear my conversation with Bryce about how to successfully break into a web development career after. Okay. Let's do it.

[00:02:03] Bryce: Yeah. So I just randomly heard you through, uh, a podcast, just kind of looking for some resources for some, I guess kind of tips for beginners who are maybe older in age.

Um, and I heard, I heard your Zach's off. You were a worship pastor and I was like, that's pretty cool. I'll listen to the story. So hopped on there. And I was like, yeah, there's, there's a lot of. I guess like fear and uncertainty, when you start something relatively new at, you know, an age above 30. Um, so I've just kind of wanted, yeah.

I wanted to kind of take the opportunity and, um, kind of step out a lemon, like reach out to people who normally, maybe I wouldn't, um, just kind of get advice. Um, but yeah, I guess one of the questions I had for you was, since you did start it out at a later age, um, I'm sure you saw a lot of people's work that are younger than you, and you were probably were thinking, man, like, you know, that, that site's amazing.

Or that, that work is amazing and feeling like you're like, you're already like 10 steps behind because you're already, you know, 32 and this kid's like 25 years old and creating these amazing projects, I guess. How did you like. Um, mentally and like psychologically like deal with that factor of also knowing just learning, you know, development is hard anyways, regardless of your age.

So how did you kind of manage that, that challenge in, in your mind?

[00:03:37] Chris: Yeah. Yeah, no, that's a great answer and a very unique question and I still, to this day, Look at guys who are younger than me, who are just crushing it. And I have that sinking feeling of like, oh my God, I should just quit and give them all my business, you know?

Uh, so it's, it's, I don't know that it's something that ever goes away. And he, like, let's say I started when I was 19. Um, there's always going to be somebody that's a few steps ahead of you. Um, and I've, I think that's just something you kind of have to come to grips with, but the, the thing that keeps me going is the underlying motivation.

So the why behind it all for me, um, And so, you know, like for instance, right now with self-made web designer, my motivation is to help people who are like you, you know, who are finding themselves in the, in their thirties or whatever. And they're, they're trying to figure out how to switch gears and do something different.

And so to be a, um, to, to be a motivation for them to say, Hey, keep going, you're going to get better. And, and I think another thing is. Looking back on my designs just a couple of years ago and seeing the improvement, you know, like I think, um, that kind of helps to motivate me. And so the, the, I think you have to compete, but compete more with yourself.

Then you compete with. Anybody else? Um, because, um, man, like if you, if you are constantly looking at other folks and I don't think it's wrong, I don't think it's wrong to look at other folks and see what they're doing and be inspired or maybe even be a little challenged. Um, and say, man, I really, I want to get there one day, even though that guy is, you know, 15 years younger than I am, uh, And so I think it, but, but not doing that so much to where you go well, um, I'm worse than nothing, you know, but doing it in such a way where it gives you a little bit of challenge, but then, you know, looking back at your past work and go, man, I've I've, you know, come so far and I think.

Um, another thing is, um, it, anytime you're learning anything new, right? And this is not just for web design, but this is for everything in life. And I, I tend to find myself, let's talk about this with my wife just the other day. Like I tend to find my. Always learning something and being out of my depth and like saying yes to something, I have no clue about what I should be doing with it, but, um, you gotta have a lot of grace for yourself.

Um, and, and realize like you're going to suck probably for a long time. And then when you start not sucking, like you're not even going to know, you know, like it's just all of a sudden you're going to start getting better. And to you, like, you're seeing yourself in really small snippets of time, you know, it's kind of.

Watching yourself grow as a kid. Like you don't feel like you're growing, but then you meet some relative who hadn't seen you in five years. I'm like, oh my gosh, you've gotten so big. You know? So, um, so giving yourself a lot of grace, not getting discouraged. And I think at the end of the day, there's, there's this element of like, I'm going to keep going, no matter how crappy it feels that people are so far ahead of me, you know, um, And so just, just like saying, oh, well, you know, like it is, it is what it is.

Like, I've got my motivation, I've got, I've got some business and I'm growing, you know? So, um, I think those are the things that kind of have kept me going. Is that, is that helpful?

[00:07:14] Bryce: Yeah. Yeah. No, that's, that's good. And yeah, I find myself, you know, over the past five to seven years, like kind of dipping my foot in the ocean.

Seeing, oh, this ocean's freezing. It's huge. It's not comfortable. And I've always had like, you know, I've always had a job or some reason not to because like, oh, I'm fine. I can pay my bills. I can, you know, do a few of the things I want to do. So there's never, yeah, I've never as much as I've wanted to. I've never like fully dove in and, and web development.

You have, you have to dive in you. Can't just like. No do code academy for a couple lessons and then dip out. Um, and I find myself always thinking like, you know, as I'm getting older, I'm 34, which I think I have, uh, I have a good attitude toward age. Um, and like being in my low thirties, I'm like, yeah, I feel like I, I have a lot I can still do, which I think is good.

And I just find myself. Looking, oh man. When I was 31 and I wanted to like consider doing this, I was like, I should have done it. Then when I was at ages of when I was 27, I should have done it in, I'm always thinking if I just would've done this three years ago, I'd be happy now. So I'm kind of thinking of my future self of like, you know, when I'm 37, what am I going to say about, you know, 34, which is where I am now.

Um, so kind of using that as motivation.

[00:08:43] Chris: Yeah, I think that's good. And I would also say like, um, even, even at 34, I just, I just turned 39 this past week. So I'm knocking on the door of 40. Um, but you, you have something to offer. Outside of just the development skills or the design skills that a 20 year old wouldn't be able to offer.

Right. They, they wouldn't be able to offer the perspective that you have. Um, there's probably some time management that you have dialed in. There's some empathy that you've got with different clients that they're not going to be able to have, like. You're going to be able to empathize with other folks who are in their thirties and at the same stage of life as you are that a 20 year old might not be able to do, just because they don't have that experience.

And so, you know, I think it's, it's better to look and say, you know, rather than what do I lack in comparison to these folks? You say, okay, what are my. Core competencies. What are my differentiating alternatives that I can, that I can tell, um, clients and say, Hey, listen, you know, like, um, I'm in my thirties, I'm just getting started with this.

Um, you might be able to hire a 20 year old who's cheaper, but here's what I offer, right? Like this is, this is what I bring to the table. And. Uh, another part of it is that like, yeah. You know, I, I think it's this, it's societal's pressure to like, be incredibly, like if we haven't reached it by 40, you know, if we've haven't hit that success, mark, then it's like, we're screwed, you know, but that's, it's just not true, you know?

Like there's like, oh, only in this season of. Have you had to have it all figured out by the time you were 35. Right. Um, and in fact, there's a great book. I'd encourage you to check it out. It's called late bloomers. Um, and it just talks about all the different folks who they actually didn't even find what they wanted to do and for the rest of their lives, until they were in their forties, late thirties, fifties, sixties, you know, so.

Um, that that was super encouraging to me. Um, and I read it a couple of years ago, so, um, like, you know, like there's, um, the gal who wrote Harry Potter, you know, she didn't write that until she was, you know, much, much older and already had a career and got a divorce and had to figure out a way how to make money.

And so she started tried being, becoming an author now, you know, look at her. So. Um, there there's, there's so many circumstances of like, you know, man, no, no matter how old you are, you know, like if I was in my forties, I would still be saying the same thing. Um, and it does get discouraged, you know, for sure.
You know, like when, when I've, when I've got folks who are younger than me, who are outbidding me or. I'm doing way better than I am. There's a guy, I think he was 20 years old and he's got like 130,000 followers on Instagram as a UX designer. And I'm like, good God, you know, so, but you just gotta keep going.

Cause eventually you'll get there. And you know, like, like as I've gone, um, people start falling off. People start going, Hey, I'm going in this direction. And so then. Come up in the ranks, so to speak. So, you know, it's just kind of a natural thing that,

[00:11:58] Bryce: um, well, I guess they are 15 minutes. I'm pretty quick.

Um, I guess really, really quickly, and this doesn't need to be a long answer. Just, uh, what are some of the things like, like practical tools, um, you wish you would have, uh, you know, looked at as you were early in the process that you, I go, I should have like, Check that boost Jeff more or like learn more about like to the terminal line or whatever.
So little things like that. If you could give me a few of those, like

[00:12:28] Chris: yeah, you, you know, it's a tough one because there's so many diverse things out there. Um, and I don't know that there's, there's one good answer. Um, what I will say is I wish I would have been more project focused, um, from the very beginning, rather than like, let me go learn this thing, you know, like I'm going to go learn, you know, like what you're saying, bootstrap or.

Um, you know, command line or get hub or whatever. Like, I, I, I always think it's better to find a project. Even if it's outside of the realm of what, you know, and then learn into that project because that's going to put some context into what you're learning and how you're learning it. Um, you know, and I've, I've taken the courses, I've taken the bootstrap, I've taken all that stuff.

And I learned more from actually. Having to go out and, and take a problem that was in front of me and figure out some tool to like, fix that problem, you know? And so if that were bootstrap, if it were, um, CSS grid or, or, you know, flex box or whatever, and this

[00:13:35] Bryce: is, yeah, there's so many that I, you be, I mean, you might know all of them, but I'm sure there's a ton you don't know and like, or even know about.

And yeah, I feel like. You know, it's a forest and like kind of making your way through it. It's like, there's things that are good and useful in these cases, but is that something I should look at an hours down the line once I meet, you know, tap into that and yeah, I guess yeah. Being project focused and trying to slowly do that.

Yeah. Things will naturally bigger. I need to figure this out.

[00:14:10] Chris: Right. And I think too, you know, it sounds like you've probably got some fear about, am I going to spend a lot of effort working on this thing and learning it and then it not being valuable, but I think you they're all, all of the frameworks are all real similar.

Right? And so once you learn one framework, it's not too tough. To move into a different one. Right. And so, cause you kind of see like, okay, they're doing this thing and then, oh, they're doing the same thing. They just have a different language for it or a different class or a different whatever, you know, component or, or however they're kind of mixing it all together.

So. Um, so I wouldn't worry about like wasted effort too much because man, you never know what's going to come down the line and blow everything out of the water. You know, like bootstrap is becoming bootstrap is becoming more and more obsolete, whereas like five years ago, that's all anybody wanted to work with, you know?
And so. Yeah, who knows, like you just kind of have to take a guess, go with it and then take whatever skills you've learned from, and then kind of pivot as it, as it changes, man. I hope you were encouraged by my conversation with Bryce, no matter where you are or how old you are or, or. You got to know that it is never too late to break in to a tech career.

I did it and you can do it too. You've just got to keep going when you get discouraged. So if you're discouraged, when you're listening to this wishing you were further ahead than where you are right now, let's chat for a second. I want to encourage you. Okay. You've just got to keep going. You're going to look back one day and see the progress that you've made and you're going to be encouraged.

You're going to be surprised. You're going to be thrilled with how far you've come, but that all starts with a decision right now. Like right now, as you're listening to this. To just stick with it. I know you can do it and I'm cheering you along the entire way. All right. That's it for this week. If you haven't already, I want to encourage you to subscribe to the self-made web designer podcast.

That way you get a fresh new episode in your pocket every single week. We've got another awesome podcast episode. it's dropping at 12:00 AM, and it's going to be tons of fun until then keep working hard and don't forget you don't quit. You win.

Old man on a computer to symbolize how to break into a web development career after 30


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.



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