Author Topic: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s  (Read 830 times)


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Hello Mustacians,

I have been considering a lot of wildly different options lately, and would love to bounce some ideas off of other folks - especially if you have any background in CS which seems to be a lot of folks on here!

Quick background:

I am 29, have a masters in geology, and have been unemployed for about 8 months. Since getting my masters I spent a few years working in oil and gas, and a few teaching. I am starting to lose faith in my geology career path, though, since there are just so few jobs in this field. I have lately been really thinking about going back for Computer Science as it seems there are more jobs out there than you can shake a stick at. The grass may be greener on the other side, but in every city I've looked at, there have been like 50 CS jobs for every 1 geology job. I also like the idea that after a few years experience in CS you could likely start to work remote.

The path I have been thinking about taking is through the University of Colorado's new CS program that is all online. It would take me 1 year, full time, for a B.S. in Comp Science, and run about 28k. This obviously is a lot of money, but would also pay itself off within the first year of employment after finishing the degree. I am feeling really tempted towards trying this option.

Any CS folks out there with any thoughts? I'm almost 30 which feels really old to completely restart a career...

My other thought on how to handle my inability to find meaningful work in geology right now is this: basically to just ride it out, not touch my savings, make enough money from BS jobs to cover current living expenses, and wait until my savings have grown big enough to hit FI on their own.

Some numbers for this hair-brained idea:

My net worth right now including retirement accounts is ~225k (the oil and gas years were quite lucrative). My monthly expenses are around 1200, which includes paying down my mortgage (I have roommates which help with this cost). When my mortgage is paid off in 13 years, that will add around 200k to my networth. If I were to just leave my 225k nest egg alone, in 13 years (sort of arbitrarily chosen as that's when the mortgage will be paid off) assuming 7% market returns, that would put me at 542k, or 742k including the house. I think my bare minimum FI number is about 500k. So, from a forecasting perspective, I am theoretically fine to just leave everything alone and still hit FI comfortably in 13 years.

Part of me likes this idea because I am not rushing into a completely new field and restarting at 30. On the other hand, 13 years seems like a long time to go where the plan is making barely enough to sustain current costs. On a more psychological level, I think I am also having a hard time deciding how much the CS path is appealing just because it feels like I am doing something more productive with my life, whether or not that's really the path to greatest happiness...

OK I know that's kind of a lot! I have been having a quarter life crisis I think:) Any insights or similar experiences would be awesome to hear about, but I also think just typing this out was helpful.... Thank you all! 
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 01:23:36 PM by aajack »


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 02:00:42 PM »
Not sure if this helps, but have looked for jobs in Australia? There was a mining boom, itís died but Iíve heard that parts are coming back. Or maybe somewhere else globally?

The other thing, there is so much online, do you really need a degree in CS? Can you self direct your learning, attend some boot camps and then work on networking? Youíre not hurting financially and you have a base. Your expenses seem reasonable. I wouldnít rush adding more costs. Youíre quite young and have plenty of time still, work on being creative and taking some risks and giving yourself some adventures. Or even, take 6-12 months and travel around and be inspired by new people and experiences. Who knows what you might be thinking after a year of doing that?


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2019, 02:16:22 PM »
Why did you get out of oil/gas?? Seems like you made serious $$ there.  Wish I had your 'stache when I was only 30 years old.

What about moving out of state or even going expat overseas in oil and gas to make some big $$ while young?  Did you hate oil/gas or are having trouble getting or keeping a job in that field?


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 11:49:35 AM »
Switching career paths:  I wouldn't view being 29 as a major impediment to switching careers.  I went to grad school with a guy on his third major career switch in his 40s and he was super happy to get to try something new.  An undergrad and a masters seems like a lot to waste, but geology generated good income for some years and has let you get a cushion/retirement fund. My brother-in-law switched from banking to computer programming (more architecture than actual programming) about 8 years ago in his mid-thirties and he is thriving now.  I wish I could tell you more but it was a mix of self-teaching/on the job training.

Computer Science: I took a couple CS classes in undergrad and it wasn't my thing.  To me it seems like a little bit of interesting problem solving work and a lot of very detail oriented coding to make your program work perfectly.  But there are tons of people who find the work very engaging.  28K and 1 year seems like a big risk if you don't know if you will like the work or be good at it. (If you are a smart math and science person, a good logical problem solver, and very detail oriented; you will probably be a good programmer.) I would definitely look into some self teaching programs before enrolling in school.  It will help you see if you like the work and will be helpful once you start school.  If you have never done any programming work, I suspect you will be at a big disadvantage compared to many other students when you start the program.  Also make sure you look into how many students get real jobs in the field that pay well after graduation.


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2019, 05:37:36 AM »
Fellow unemployed oil & gas professional here (engineer).

A lot of people change careers in their late 20s. At 29 I started a degree and got into oil & gas, which for the next 6 years I considered a great decision that I wish I'd taken earlier. Being stuck in limbo is demotivating, making progress toward some worthwhile goal feels great. Life is short and the next 13 years of your life will fly by. Spend them doing something that excites you.

P.S. You mentioned CS. 'Data science' is a discipline in oil & gas that is new & hot (though there are already a fair number of unemployed/aspiring oil & gas folks moving in that direction).
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 05:50:40 AM by Concojones »


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2019, 05:53:20 AM »
OP - do you actually like CS?  Have you taken any courses and find you enjoy it and have some proficiency?

29 is not too late for a career change - but I'd only do it if its a job you'd actually enjoy (or at least not hate) doing.


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Re: 29y/o rethinking career path - or do I "stay the course"? Input on the #s
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2019, 10:18:14 PM »
I have a CS degree and I feel like it's not absolutely necessary for many jobs. I have worked with a lot of people who don't have a computer specific degree, most of them were self taught. The hard part is getting your foot in the door. This may mean taking some entry level or internship jobs to start. Better if you can network and find a friend who can hook you up with an interview. When you don't have prior experience in the field it's good to have a portfolio to show off some programs you built to potential employers. Once your foot is in the door and you have that initial experience you'll be set to move on up and make a lot more money.

A lot of people are thinking the same thing as you jump into the field that's plentiful with high paying jobs, but you need to make sure it's for you before you invest time and money into it. Programming isn't for everyone and not everyone can be great at it. I remember in college the class sizes kept shrinking as we got higher up in the levels. Intro to CS was a full lecture hall, then people started dropping like flies once we got to the 200 level courses and the class size reduced to 1/3. I'd advise you do some self learning through some free online tutorials or learning sites or buy a book and follow it first. Try creating a few simple programs and see if it's your thing. Then if you like it, there's may options you can try a bootcamp, or commit to 1 yr for the degree. Some people can land a job with the bootcamp experience some can't, of course the degree is way better but also a lot more time and money to commit.