Ask the Expert

Can I be certified and gainfully employed in IT at the age of 61?

I'm an OCTE (old contract telephone engineer) who can't find a job. In your opinion, can I benefit from the MCSE CD-ROM offered by -- i.e., do you think I can become certified? And, if I actually become certified, do you think I could have gainful employment in the IT field even at the youthful age of 61?

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What I think doesn't matter as much as what you're willing to do for yourself if and when you should obtain such a certification. If you're both passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter -- and really learn a lot about the ins and outs of Windows -- and you can communicate those competencies to prospective employers in cover letters and interviews, your age won't matter as much as you think. You can't simply add MCSE to your resume and "Presto!" here comes a job. You must be able to sell yourself and your knowledge to get any kind of job in IT these days, and unless you're willing to go the extra mile necessary to realize your goals, you probably won't attain them.

Another way of answering your questions is to say, "Yes, I think you can do it, but it will take lots of effort above and beyond what's required simply to get an MSCE as a 'piece of paper.' It'll really have to mean something to you, and you'll have to be able to communicate that meaning to prospective employers."


This was first published in November 2002

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