I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. I'm in my mid-50s, and I'm still working as a highly-placed IC programmer working for cool startups. I've done management, and I'm not bad at it, but it's not to my taste.

You can stay active as a programmer indefinitely, if and only if you are constantly learning.

I learned this from watching friends and colleagues wash out of the field in the wake of Y2K. They had to stop programming not because they were old, but because they had gotten too comfortable with what they knew, and had stopped learning years before. So when a paradigm shift came along (in this case, OO), they were so far out of the habit of learning that they just couldn't catch up.

I am frank with every prospective employer that I expect to spend an average of an hour a day on self-directed learning. Some of that will be immediately relevant to my current work; some won't. The good employers love to hear that; the ones who balk at it aren't placed I want to work.

And I'm sorry, the fact that new frameworks come along is just another example of this. It's silly to claim that your previous experience is irrelevant -- in most cases, all that has changed is some minor details. Occasionally that's not true -- it's something truly different like the jump from jQuery to React. If so, you suck it up, learn the new paradigm, and figure out why it's good. (New paradigms usually are good, so it's best to start from that assumption: if you start out being dismissive of it without truly understanding it, odds are that you don't actually know what you're talking about.)

If you operate this way, not only do you stay employable, you wind up ever-more valuable to employers, because you can synthesize the new stuff with the older lessons. This is hugely important in being able to distinguish the genuinely cool new innovations from the fads and hype. It's essential for being a good tech lead.

And frankly, all of this is why I still enjoy programming, after 50 years of it. If you're constantly learning and practicing new stuff, it stays new and exciting. So I recommend picking up the habit while you're young, and never losing it.

Lifelong programmer and software architect, specializing in online social tools and (nowadays) Scala. Architect of Querki (“leading the small data revolution”).

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Mark "Justin" Waks

Mark "Justin" Waks

Lifelong programmer and software architect, specializing in online social tools and (nowadays) Scala. Architect of Querki (“leading the small data revolution”).