Not at all. There are at least four reasons why you can start to learn to program at any age and become successful—especially if you are only 25 years old!
First, you don’t need to become an expert programmer to pursue your dream job. Most jobs that most people would consider as “dream jobs” do not require expert-level programming skills. Even programming jobs where you work on dream projects do not require expert-level programming skills. I’ve seen mid-level programmers who became quite successful in their companies not despite but because they are not too technical. The best coders in the world are probably pretty nerdy. I’d argue that it’s unlikely that they become great team leaders and enter management positions. But those are the positions where you can oversee interesting large-scale programming projects. It’s all about your focus: if you are focused to become great at programming, you don’t focus too much on becoming great at people skills. There is just too little time in the day to spend your learning hours honing your people, management, coding, and business skills—all at the same time.
Second, to be successful as a programmer, you need much more than great programming skills. Above everything else, you need to pursue the right projects. You need to be effective (pursue the right goals) first and efficient (invest minimal resources) second. A great programmer is efficient but is he also effective in pursuing the right projects? I doubt it. You also need to hone your people skills, sales skills, business skills, and management skills. I’d argue that you’ll become more successful if you reach expert-level at each of those skills instead of reaching mastery at coding but sucking at the rest.
Third, at age 25 you’ve not lost a lot of time compared to your peers. Sure, some of them start at age 17 or 18 but others start at age 35. I argue that the first two decades of your life, you learn much more important skills than how to program a computer. You learn to read and to write, you learn math, you learn to think independently, and to communicate well. If you are 25, chances are that you’ve already made rapid progress in those areas. Now, it’s time to shift gears and focus on coding. All the experiences you’ve had in the last years will be of great help throughout your career.
Fourth, your progress as a coder depends more on how smart you use your learning time. Develop a project-first mindset where you spend 70% or more of your learning time in implementing real projects. You can check out archived freelancing projects or pursue your dream projects. This will help you develop focus, discipline, and a hands-on mentality. After a few months, you could already start solving small projects on freelancing platforms such as Upwork. Working as a freelance developer will cause your skillset to be “well-rounded” and highly useful for clients. That’s what makes a great programmer!
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com. He’s author of the popular programming book Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), coauthor of the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books, computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.