Is it difficult to change jobs to SE as one gets older?


  • Career Advice

It is said that "changing jobs to SE becomes more difficult as one gets older," and many people may be hesitant to change jobs. It is true that the skills and conditions required of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are different.

However, as long as you meet the requirements of the company, it is possible to change jobs to SE in your late 30s or later.

Therefore, in this article, we will explain the difficulty level, trends, and cautions for changing jobs to SE by dividing them into "early 20s," "late 20s to early 30s," and "late 30s and beyond. In the latter half of the article, we also introduce how to make your SE job change more advantageous in your 30s and beyond.

What is SE (System Engineer)?


SEs (system engineers) are professionals who develop systems that meet the needs of clients by making full use of information technology. They are involved in the project from the upstream process (initial development process) and play an important role in setting the direction of the project.

Specific duties include designing system specifications while communicating closely with the client through processes such as "requirements analysis," "requirements definition," "basic design," and "detailed design.

The SE is also in charge of coordinating the project members, including programmers. Since they are in charge of the entire project, SEs may participate in downstream processes such as programming and testing together with programmers.

There is no clear definition of what an SE does, as it depends on the company and the project he or she is in charge of.

Is there an age limit for changing jobs in SE?


In the SE job market, there used to be a whisper of a "35-year old limit" theory. However, the reality of today's SE job market is a little different.

Here, we will explain the recent demand for people over 35 years old in the SE job market.

Due to the shortage of labor, there is a demand for people over 35 years old.

In recent years, the demand for IT professionals over 35 years of age has been increasing as the IT industry faces a growing shortage of manpower.

According to the "Survey Results on the Latest Trends and Future Estimates of IT Human Resources" published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the shortage of IT engineers is expected to reach up to 790,000 by 2030.


Quoted from: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, "Survey Results on the Latest Trends and Future Estimates of IT Human Resources".

In order to overcome the growing shortage of IT personnel, companies are seeking not only younger but also more experienced engineers as "ready-to-work" candidates. Due to this change in demand, the "35-year-old limit theory" has become a thing of the past, and many people are now successfully changing jobs even after the age of 35.

If you have no experience or low skills, changing jobs will be difficult.

As mentioned earlier, the labor shortage in the IT industry is getting worse every year, and more and more companies are looking for middle-level workers over the age of 35. However, the reality is that it is quite difficult to change jobs from an inexperienced or low-skilled position to an SE position.

Especially in this age group, companies are looking for people who can work immediately. It is no exaggeration to say that there is almost no room for inexperienced or low-skilled workers, as preference tends to be given to those with a wealth of technical knowledge and work experience.

In addition, companies would honestly prefer to hire younger workers who are quick learners and have room for growth, if they are also inexperienced or low-skilled. Therefore, it is said that it is even more difficult for inexperienced or low-skilled people over 35 years old to successfully change jobs.

Of course, it is not 100% impossible, but it is important to remember that "motivation" and "passion" alone are not enough to compete on equal terms with job seekers who have practical experience and advanced skills.

Changing jobs for the purpose of career advancement is more difficult.

If you are over 35 years old and changing jobs in SE for the purpose of career advancement, you need to take a more strategic approach, as it is more challenging than otherwise. In this age group, specialized skills and experience in management positions are particularly valued, so you need to make a strong case for your career to date and show how you can contribute to the company in a concrete way.

It is also important to keep abreast of the latest industry trends and new technologies. In the IT industry in particular, new technologies and tools appear frequently, so in order to succeed in your new job, you must keep up with the latest technological trends and be willing to continue to learn.

By age│Trends and notes on the difficulty level of changing jobs in SE


Changing jobs as an SE differs in its degree of difficulty and required skills depending on your age. Let's take a look at the market situation and points to keep in mind when changing jobs as an SE by age.

SE job change for early 20s│Market value is high and potential is important

The early 20s are considered to have the highest market value in the IT job market, as IT technology is constantly evolving and new technologies are being created one after another, creating a need for young talent who can constantly acquire new knowledge and skills.

Another important point is that this age group is basically treated as new graduates, so they can aim for "potential employment. While it is difficult to get a job with no experience at all, if you have experience as an engineer in other industries, your potential and desire to grow may be evaluated, making it easier to change jobs compared to other age groups.

Of course, having skills is not a must, but even those with limited skills and experience can increase their chances of being hired if they can demonstrate to the company their ambition and desire to improve their skills and become better at what they do in the future.

SE job change for people in their late 20s and early 30s│Skills and experience required

When changing SE jobs in your late 20s or early 30s, specific skills and work experience are considered important. In particular, highly specialized skills and experience in project management are key points of evaluation.

Specifically, the following two trends are seen among SE job seekers in their late 20s and early 30s.

  • Changing jobs is more difficult for inexperienced workers.
  • Communication and management skills are also required

I will explain in detail.

Changing jobs for inexperienced workers is more difficult.

The SE job market in the late 20s and early 30s is particularly challenging for inexperienced workers. Many people in this age group have already gained a certain amount of experience in the IT field or related occupations, and companies tend to focus on specific skills and practical experience, not just high potential.

Since the evaluation point is whether or not a candidate can work as an "immediate asset," inexperienced candidates may be inferior in these aspects.

However, it is not impossible for people in their late 20s and early 30s to change careers from no experience to SE. For example, those who have built up sales and management skills in their previous jobs or have expertise in a specific field may be hired because of their skills, depending on the industry.

Therefore, it is important to be able to clearly demonstrate "how you can make use of the skills and experience you have cultivated in your previous working experience as an SE" during the interview.

Communication and management skills are also required.

People in their late 20s to early 30s who have 3 to 7 years of work experience as SEs are often entrusted with leadership roles such as project leader or project manager. Therefore, companies tend to look for candidates who have acquired communication and management skills in addition to SE skills and experience.

There is a shortage of SEs who can take on roles such as project leader and project manager, and those with these skills are in high demand in the job market.

Although many people think of management when they hear the word "management," it is possible to demonstrate management skills even if you have never held a position in the company. For example, experience in leadership roles or similar work experience will be evaluated, so it is important to show them off during interviews.

Changing SE jobs after late 30's│Demand is there, but it is difficult to change jobs from no experience.

SE job changes in the late 30s and beyond tend to be

  • Middle tier is becoming more valued
  • It can be difficult to stay in development work
  • If you want to continue development, small and medium-sized companies are a better match than large companies
  • You need to be prepared for a decrease in annual salary.

Let's look at them one at a time.

Middle class is becoming more valued.

As mentioned above, the IT industry is facing a chronic shortage of human resources. Against this backdrop, in addition to hiring younger workers, companies are actively recruiting middle-level workers (35-54 years old), who are expected to be "immediately effective" in the industry.

Middle-level employees are considered to have management and communication skills in addition to SE skills, based on their experience working on numerous projects. Therefore, companies often hire them with the expectation that they will make use of these skills in positions leading teams, such as project leaders and project managers.

May be difficult to stay in development work

In their late 30s and beyond, it is difficult to remain in development work, and it is not uncommon for them to be reassigned to management positions.

This is mainly due to a lack of human resources capable of handling management tasks such as project leaders and project managers, as well as physical strength issues.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by "type," a job search website operated by Career Design Center Inc.


Source: "type," a job transition website How old do you have to be to "make a living by coding"? Ideal and reality revealed in a survey of 300 engineers

As for the timing of leaving development work, 37% of section managers, 24.4% of field leaders, and 20.2% of department heads indicate that promotion to managerial positions is significantly related to the transition away from development work.


Source: "type," a job transition website How old do you have to be to "make a living by coding"? Ideal and reality revealed in a survey of 300 engineers

If you want to continue development, small and medium-sized companies are easier to match than large companies.

If you are an SE who wants to continue working in development, we recommend changing jobs to a small or medium-sized company rather than a large company. At small and medium-sized companies, there are many cases where development work and management work are concurrently performed, so SEs in their late 30s or older can be involved in development work for a long period of time.

On the other hand, the larger the size of the company, the more difficult it is to get promoted unless you are in a management position, and the salary increase tends to be limited accordingly.

In large companies, positions and job titles are clearly stratified, and it is almost a prerequisite to be appointed to a managerial position in order to be evaluated. As a result, even SEs who wish to stay involved in development work tend to be forced to take the path to management positions.

Looking at the answer to Q2, "Is there a time when you have to leave development work completely at your company?" by company size, 52.9% of large (1,000 or more employees) to semi-large companies (300 to 999 employees) answered "Yes," while venture companies (50 or less employees) to medium-sized companies (51 to 51 employees) answered "No." More than 70% of the respondents from venture companies (less than 50 employees) to medium-sized companies (51 to 299 employees) answered "No" to this question.


Source: "type," a job transition website How old do you have to be to "make a living by coding"? Ideal and reality revealed in a survey of 300 engineers

Therefore, those who wish to continue development work in the field long after the age of 35 should consider changing jobs to a smaller company.

You need to be prepared for a decrease in annual income.

Although not limited to SEs, when changing jobs, you must be prepared to make less than your current annual salary.

Basically, the annual salary of SEs increases in proportion to their experience and skills. In most cases, especially for inexperienced SEs, the annual salary is set lower.

Of course, it is possible to aim for an increase in annual income after changing jobs, but it does not mean that you will get a raise right away, so you must be prepared to take the risk of a temporary decrease in annual income before changing jobs.

3 ways to get a better SE job in your 30s and beyond


There are three ways to make a successful SE career change in your 30s and beyond

  • Acquire programming skills in a specific field
  • Acquire non-technical sales skills
  • Use a recruitment agency that is strong in the IT field

We will explain each one in detail.

Develop programming skills in specific areas

In order to make a successful SE career change in your 30s and beyond, it is important to acquire programming skills in specific fields. For example, many companies are looking for SEs who specialize in fields such as mechanical, electronic, and electrical systems, so SEs who are strong in these fields may be able to make a career as an expert.

In addition, with the recent evolution of AI technology, an increasing number of companies are seeking SEs who are strong in new technological fields such as AI, IoT, VR, and AR. Thus, it is important to hone the skills that appeal to you in your own job search, while taking future demand and other factors into consideration.

Develop non-technical sales skills

In order to increase your market value, it is important to acquire sales skills in addition to technical skills.

Many companies are looking for SEs who have not only SE skills and experience but also sales skills. In reality, however, such personnel are few and scarce.

In order to accurately grasp the needs of clients and make the best proposals, it is essential to have personnel with both IT expertise and sales skills. In particular, due to the increasing complexity of IT technologies and systems, SEs are increasingly required to provide technical explanations directly to clients that sales staff are unable to handle.

Against this backdrop, it will be easier for job seekers in their 30s and older to gain an advantage by demonstrating not only their advanced skills as SEs, but also their sales skills.

Many people may have followed the SE path because they are not good at sales, but in order to increase their market value, they should try to improve their sales skills by taking advantage of books and seminars.

Use a recruitment agent that is strong in the IT field.

Using a recruitment agent that is strong in the IT field is another important strategy for SEs in their 30s and beyond. A recruitment agent is familiar with your career path as an SE, industry trends, and the job market, and can provide you with job opportunities that match your abilities and career goals.

Another advantage is that they can provide general support for your job search, including advice on resumes, interview preparation, and career planning.

Some recruitment agencies may have "closed" positions that are not listed on public job sites, so you may be able to find a job that better fits your needs.

Since recruitment agents are generally free of charge, you can make the most of them and make your job search more efficient.

Summary: The conditions and skills required for a SE's job change vary with age.


In this article, we have divided the difficulty level, trends, and cautions for changing jobs in the SE industry into three age groups: early 20s, late 20s to early 30s, and late 30s and beyond.

It is a fact that the older you get, the higher the hurdles to changing jobs become, not only in the IT industry, but also in your 30s and beyond.

In addition, the skills and conditions required by companies vary depending on the age of the job seeker. Therefore, if you have a specific company you would like to change jobs for, it is important to have a clear understanding of the requirements beforehand and take measures accordingly.

At United World Inc., our dedicated career advisors work closely with each individual to support their job change activities. After carefully listening to your detailed requirements and career plans, we will introduce you to the best job opportunities that suit you best, so please feel free to contact us if you want to conduct your job search in an efficient manner.

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