LinkLog: Where Do Middle Age Programmers Go?

This is an interesting article on the age group of programmers by Phil Johnson

But where do those middle-aged programmers go? Do they leave programming completely, due to burnout or for a career switch, or are they moving up into management positions? Unfortunately, these data can’t tell us that, but it would be nice to know. Given the value of older programmers, and the shortage of programming talent, if burnout were a problem it would be worth it to the industry to try and alleviate it in order to retain these valuable workers.

Are you a former programmer? Why did you leave the job? Promotion or career switch? Please share in the comments.

I added my own experience in a comment.

I stopped programming at the age of 34 when I started my own software company and switched to many other tasks – marketing/sales/testing. Only recently I am kind of slowly getting back with some hobby programming.

I think the patterns are different in IT organizations where programmers leave programming jobs at a much younger age 27-32 to become project managers.

Here are some patterns worth watching;

Programmers  to project managers
Programmers to entrepreneurs
Programmers to product managers

Do you have inputs? You can leave a comment here or on Phil’s blog post and add to the discussion. If you know any other similar study, please add links to those as well.

Related Links


  • I got interested in this post and other related ones since I am one of those older programmers who left programming but slowly getting back into it. In fact, writing programs is one of my retirement plans to my mind sharp.
  • Some of the best programmers I know are above 40.
  • Some of the awesome programmers I know of are above 40, as well – Peter Norvig, Guido are just two examples.
  • It will be interesting to do a similar study with contributors to open source projects and authors of programing books and speakers at conferences.

I think teaching hobby programming to seniors may be  a way to keep their mind sharp.  Worth finding out whether there is interest.