Us baby boomers're going to shake up the world in retirement, and so we better get ready. The first baby boomers become eligible for (early) Social Security retirement benefits in 2007. Those of you who really want to change to a computer career, now's your chance. In the years to come, large numbers of boomers are going to leave the workforce. Many of them, I believe, will simply change from full time jobs they hate to full or part time careers they enjoy. Many boomers are going to leave the IT industry in huge numbers.
Who will replace them? In many cases -- other baby boomers. According to a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the number of new Computer Science degree majors is dwindling. So many in the young generations are going into other fields.
And sure, a lot of routine technical work is going to be outsourced to India and other low-wage countries. That's inevitable. But who's going to tell the outsource contractors what to do? Somebody here in the U.S.
and other developed countries must continue to understand enough computer science and technologies just to organize the projects. Somebody needs to speak directly with customers and get specifications and feedback. Somebody needs to help small businesses hook databases up to the Internet. Computers are fast becoming as common in our society as cars.
True, only a handful of top automotive engineers design the automotive breakthroughs for the manufacturers. And it's also true that the number of people employed in the manufacture of automobiles has declined by huge numbers in the U.S. and other developed countries. Much (though not all) of that work has been in effect "outsourced" to low-wage countries. Yet in one way or another, countless numbers of people make their living from automobiles.
They sell them, lease them, appraise them and repair them. I've heard that a good auto mechanic who's certified and up on the latest technologies can command around $100,000. When you need your head gasket replaced, you can't send your car to India or Vietnam. When you need a new motherboard, you can't send your PC to China.
So the first place to start if you want to change to a computer career now or after you start collecting Social Security and a pension, is with the CompTIA A+ certification for installing, upgrading and repairing PCs. Other options include: 1. Helping small businesses.
Google and Microsoft won't hire you, but Joe's Candles and Gifts needs computers almost as much as large enterprises . . . to store customer data, inventory, sales and all other information. Plus have an interactive web site. But they can't afford to hire that kind of full time expertise.
Show them how they can save money on inventory, market more effectively, make doing their taxes easier . . .
by installing some simple equipment and software and hiring you as their part time consultant. Charge ten or twenty small businesses to service their networks and other computer operations and you could make some good money. There's also security concerns. All networks will be increasingly attacked by hackers. Cracking into a gift store's network may not be as dramatic as the Department of Homeland Security, but it'll be far easier, unless you're there to tell them what steps they need to take to safeguard their data. The possibilities from helping small businesses with their IT needs are nearly limitless.
2. Sell your own software over the Internet. Yes, lots of software programming is going to be outsourced. But you can come up with your own idea, write the program and sell it online using just a web site.
3. Hold classes in high tech toys for other senior citizens. I've had a PC and been online for nearly 15 years. Plus I've written about various high technologies. So I think I'm up on a lot of computer-type stuff.
But I know zip or close to zip about cell phones, digital cameras, Tivos, high definition TV, chatting online, using laptops in wireless environments, electronic games, iPods and probably stuff I don't even know that I don't know. There's just too much to keep up with when you're working full time. I'm sure I'm not the only boomer whose knowledge of the info tech world is limited. But when we have more time and money, we'll want to check some of these gadgets out. When you're collecting a pension and Social Security, you don't want to work for big name technology companies any more than they want you.
And that's ok -- there're plenty of smaller companies and people whom you can make a good income from helping with high tech skills.
c 2006 by Richard Stooker Richard Stooker is the author of Secrets of Changing to an Info Tech Career and Computer Career Blog