I am a 65-year-old software engineer who has worked for Apple, Adobe, eBay, Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, FileMaker, XO Communications, 2Wire, Egnyte, Nexsan, and two other start-ups. I have been laid off five times in my career. I always find another job within 3 to 4 weeks — even during a recession. I have had my job outsourced to India or China four times: especially in the last eight years. Nonetheless, there is always another employment opportunity waiting afterwards.
I love what I do. I’m still doing it; and, I have no immediate plans to stop doing it. Moreover, I am good at it. That’s not so much because I am a genius but rather because I have been doing software development for a really long time and I learned from my mistakes. In fact, there is no wide-spread computer language I can’t program in. Nor is there any OS platform I am not comfortable working on. And, besides the U.S., I have also worked overseas in Apple’s factories in China and Ireland. Besides English, I’ve learned to speak (poorly) Spanish and Italian, and I can manage about a ten phrases in Mandarin.
I have managed to do all this while successfully being married for 40 years, raised two adult children (one who is a Netflix software engineer), and I now have five grandchildren. According to the last Social Security report I receive annually from the government, my total lifetime income to date is: $3,042,040; and, I’m not done yet.
Having said all this, it is very much true that age discrimination and outsourcing is rampant in the Silicon Valley. Before age 45, I had a better than average chance of getting a job after a single interview. Now, at age 64, it takes me about ten interviews before I get the next job. Even then I sometimes have to work as a contractor without benefits. And, I have even learned to tolerate being interviewed by arrogant and entitled young preppies, most whom think they are somehow better than me even though they haven’t accomplished one tenth of what I have, nor have my superb academic credentials. (I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a M.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M University — the latter at the top of my class.)
So, the answer to your question is: NO, software development is most certainly not a dead end job! It is a great job. Does it get tougher to get your next job as you get older? Oh hell yes. But, so what! If you love it as I do nothing but death or poor health can stop you. All it takes is a determination.
Never give up!
Follow up edit: Wow! Thanks for all of the great comments and positive feedback! After much thought and consideration, I have decided to move into part-time consulting and full-time retirement on September 1, 2019. However, I will still be programming and possibly teaching at the nearby Texas State University - San Marcos. I’m not giving up. I’m just moving on to a new phase.