I’m 35 with a baby on the way. Which of these 3 career paths is right for me?

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**About Me:**

I’m 35 with my first kid on the way. Now with my age and a kid on the way I’m trying to reevaluate my career and plan out the best path. I’m located in the suburbs of the bay area. I currently have a remote job working as a UX designer making $100k. I don’t have a college degree but have started online school and wont be done for 3 years. Right now I’m doing general education before selecting a major and transferring to a university. All my career knowledge and skills have been learned off the internet. I’m pretty good at researching and learning skills. Before I started my career I worked dead end retail at a clothing store.

I don’t need to love my job. What I mean is that I think of my job as an exchange of my time for money. I don’t need to have passion at work. I find passion in life outside of work through meaningful connections with friends and family plus the hobbies I enjoy and the adventures I go on. When it comes to my career I typically chase the money and work really hard in my roles but its always just a job to me.

I have exceptional interpersonal skills and have made great friends and lasting relationships at every job I’ve had so far in my career. I’m easy to get along with and seem to be mostly well liked by my teams and managers. On every team I’ve been a part of I’ve always championed for change and found efficiencies that improved the quality of the team. This is something I’m very proud of and my managers have responded positively to. Being respectful, kind, and supportive to the people I work with has always come naturally. I like people and think they are mostly good.

**My Goals:**

Find a career path that will be good for someone quickly approaching 40 and I can grow in without age becoming an issue. In my current field, UX, I find many of the designers are very young and I’m not sure I want to stay in UX and enter management. I also worry about age becoming a factor and salary cap being lower than other industries, unless I go to a MAANG or similar. I understand that transitioning careers will come with a reduced salary but I want to maximize my learning in order to help counter this. I’m making 100K now and would like to be closer to $150K before 40.

**So which career for me? IT or Web Development or UX/UI**

**IT**

I have the least experience in IT but the most interest. I love consuming media about IT and Cyber Security. I’ve worked as an assistant to a System Admin at a small company with around 60 employees. Half of the time I was solving problems for desktop users and the other half of the time I was helping the Admin handle setting up servers and simple items like PFsense + getting Active Directory going. Did a lot of VOIP stuff and would be tasked with creating large list of proxies. All this work was mostly guided by the admin but I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve spent time learning it on my own and even have a couple of old Dell PCs networked up in my home as servers. Pretty basic. I studied for both CCNA and CompTIA Network+ but didn’t get too far and never committed to it. I don’t know enough about the career path to know if it will be right for me.

On paper, when researching a career change to start as a system admin or jr admin my plan was to get a few certs such as Network+, Linux+, Security+, and maybe a Microsoft or Amazon cert. Along with this I would build out a homelab and start spinning up some VMs and see where this gets me.

**WEB DEVELOPMENT**

I’ve studied web development on and off (mostly off) for the past 7 years or so. I always thought this would be my career path eventually. I used my knowledge in this area paired with my design ability to start my career. My career started in web doing basic front-end development building out landing pages and I would also design them. I know HTML, CSS, and javascript well, puls a little React. I’ve never been hired as a developer and in order to transfer into a role close to what I make now, I think it would take around 6-12 months of intense study. I would be looking for roles as a front-end developer or UI developer.

I like writing code but really don’t enjoy the learning. For those who don’t know, when it comes to development, you must always be learning throughout your career. It is so mentally taxing at times. So many of the concepts for me have needed to be brute forced and revisited many time before I could apply them. In my experience this is the most difficult skill out of the three I’ve listed but also the highest paying. I do worry about the changing landscape and the possible decline in salaries for the field.

**UX/UI**

Before landing my current role as a UX designer I was working for a small ecommerce company doing a split of design work and a little code. Mostly design work. I took a few online courses, created a portfolio, and was able to transition to a new company as a UX designer. Here I do a combination of UX research and UI design. My code knowledge is helpful for organizing files and information for hand off to developers. I understand them and a little about the ecosystem they work in, and that’s helpful.

This field is fun but the UX community can be a little pretentious at times, acting like this is some sacred art form. Like dude, at its core, we are simply problem solvers balancing user needs and business needs. In my experience the field is very young. As I get older I worry about my age becoming a problem or people developing a bias against someone older. Management makes sense but I’m really not that interested in doing any management in this field. So does that leave me with a stunted career path here? Something to think about.

**TLDR**

Age 35 and not getting any younger. Baby on the way, and want to find a career path that I can grow with. Currently making $100K in UX. Trying to decide between IT or UX/UI or Web Dev (I have a little experience in each). I would like to hit or get close to $150K by age 40. Looking to avoid having to jump to management for as long as possible.

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