Changing careers at 40: What salary should I expect?

A member is changing jobs at age 40 and is worried about what his salary prospects are. He has several certifications and 14 years of work in electronics but no practical IT experience. See what advice other TechRepublic members offer.

Even though there are plenty of IT jobs waiting to be filled, age discrimination is still a factor in the marketplace and a worry for some job-changers. Vxdell is 40 and making a career change. He is offering 300 TechPoints in the forums for advice on what to expect as far as jobs and salaries when he goes on his job search.

“Soon I will be graduating from community college with an associate degree in networking. I have gained my A+, CCNA, MCSE, and CNA. I have no practical networking experience, but I do have 14 years’ experience in electronics.

“I fear that my age and lack of experience may hinder my job search and compensation. Does anyone know what the market is like for a ‘mature rookie’ and what the starting salaries are for the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area?”

The most common response was: Age is not the important factor; it’s a willingness to learn that counts.

Keep going and be confident
TechRepublic member Dennis has some reassuring words and thinks that Vxdell is on the right track.

“Your college along with your certifications will definitely get you a job. With no experience, you may not start as the top dog, but you can work your way up fast. We hired a real rookie fresh out of college with just some PC experience; his job has expanded, and he is now the top dog and doing well.

“Age has nothing to do with it as long as you are confident that you know what you are doing.”

Sondo007 has been in a position similar to Vxdell's. Sondo007 was a grade school teacher but went back to school and got an A.S. in computer networking, as well as A+ and CNA certifications.

“Trust me, your electronics background will help a lot, and you'll catch up really fast. Plus the other certs you have will show you can understand how different systems work. You'll have a job in no time making mid $50s. Just remember: Age is not a factor if you're willing to learn and grow.”

TechRepublic member Jamekrie said he had no trouble changing careers after many years in another field.

“I went back to school at age 50 after being forced to change careers because of a truck driving accident. Did not have a problem gaining employment as a Customer Support Rep for a major hospital in my area. You should do real well with all of your certifications.”

Previous work history a plus
lvachon thinks that Vxdell’s electronics skills will make him stand out from many certification holders.

“So often, components are treated as replaceable units, when a quick fix is all that is needed (i.e., a guy in our building was tossing an HP printer, and I took it thinking I could at least use it for parts. Turns out the actuator [just needed to be] adjusted, and once I did that, it worked like a charm).

“You do need experience though; you could look for a position as a net administrator associate in a small to medium business. Age I don't see as a concern. You have many years ahead as an IT pro. Check the big sites for salary info and advice:,,, or”

How much to ask for
Soulrider said to consider the lack of experience when setting salary goals.

“A lot of companies are hesitant to hire someone with no job experience and a high salary demand. Just be flexible and good luck.”

As far as salary ranges, Rbrewster said he thinks the market in the D.C. metro area should be $60,000+ yearly.
Have you moved into training from another field? Have you helped a student or colleague make the move to a new profession? Send us your tips for success when selecting a new field of work.

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