I would like honest advice as to the plausibility of making a career change, at 38, from public tax accounting to IT. I am a licensed CPA and have been trained in tax accounting since the beginning of my career, but am at this point burned out and have voluntarily been unemployed for a few months now.
Fortunately, I am in the position to be able to self-study, for maybe a year, and am considering either A) studying a relevant programming language such as C++, or B) studying a relevant network certification course such as CCNA. While a year is not a terribly long time, I plan to spend a minimum of 40 hours per week, and possibly more, training myself in the new field. If I choose to do programming, then I will begin to contribute to open source projects as soon as I have acquired the basic skill level to do so. If I choose networking, I will do my best to find an internship or otherwise non-paid position to gain relevant experience; alternatively, and secondarily, I will do as much hands-on "at home" network building and trouble shooting. Of course, I recognize there will be a considerable difference in the type of hardware I can get my hands on at home as opposed to the actual Cisco hardware I would work on in a live office environment.
I would like to know the feasibility of my idea from any experienced IT professionals on this board. Questions to consider are as follows:
1) Is a 4 year college degree in accounting, and CPA license, further supplemented by programming/networking certifications, and very limited experience, enough to get me in the door of the IT job world? I understand that a 4 year degree in IT would be best, but finances and time are not on my side. Furthermore, if I consider the masters route, the preparatory electives to get ready for school, coupled with the further time of the degree program, and expense, make the endeavour virtually impossible (It is possible that I could pursue this, on-the-job, as a mid-life career enhancement, however.).
2) Which path would you choose? I have limited experience in C programming now, and I know I have the skill-set to be good at it. I have no networking experience besides building networks at home. It seems from the job boards that programming jobs are more abundant, but I have also read that most people don't want to be "code monkeys" at 50; and that is a much more real consideration for me at age 38. It also seems that a networking job would ultimately be a more "relaxing" and a somewhat "easier" career; however, I am in no way implying that a skilled network or system administrator is unintelligent or unlearned - I am merely emphasizing that the demand of having to spend 40 hours a week in code, for the rest of one's working career, as opposed to what appears to be a more flexible work environment in networking (e.g., interacting with internal clients; various types of networking projects; not thinking in terms of code constantly; in a smaller office environment, once the network is up and running, some of an IT person's time may be spent in "maintenance mode" which could translate, honestly, in to more "free time" on the job), seems to be a tad more stressful.
3) If programming is chosen, what are your best recommendations to prepare oneself from a self-study standpoint (e.g., which language to study; which projects to work on; etc.)? Alternatively, if networking is chosen, what is the best way to approach preparation for that (e.g., which certifications; in what order; etc.)?
Finally, it has been my observation in CPA office environments that there is usually one IT guy, one firm bookkeeper, and one firm manager. If all else fails, and I am unable to really break into IT in the purist sense possible, it may very well be that I could go to work for a smaller firm and sell myself as a three-in-one employee. Obviously, I have the necessary training to handle the firm's books and to generally manage the day-to-day administrative tasks, and with a network certification such as MCSE I could sell myself as having the necessary networking capabilities. Again, I do hope I can break into a purely IT role but this could be a fall back position if I am unable to get there, or if I get there and get burned out on the job (e.g., programming for example).
Thank you for taking time to read this lengthy posting, and for any thoughtful replies.
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