Old vs Young Software Developer Argument Revived

When I was 13, I could barely make sense of the directions on a bottle of purple hair dye nevertheless build software!  So, it dumbfounded me when I read about Paul Dunahoo – a 13 year old app developer who has his own business and has earned over $8000 for his apps.

Dunahoo isn’t a rare case of teenage genius.  It turns out that there are hordes of incredibly young software developers out there, some of them even are the brains behind major software accomplishments.
With so many young, “hot” developers on the scene, where does this leave older developers?
Programming is Ripe with Age Discrimination…

Back in 2010, Dave Rodenbaugh wrote an article about the pervasive myths about older software developers.  He claims that the software development field is ripe with age discrimination because of myths like:Older developers cost moreOlder developers are less capable of learning new technologies. Older developers can’t keep up with the rigorous pace of nearshore software development.

He goes on to rebuke each of these myths, saying that older developers have valuable skills which shouldn’t be ignored.  For example, while older developers may cost more, they can save you money through fewer project failures.

Rodenbaugh’s article received a LOT of comments, some agreeing with his points but many others implying that he should stop whining. After all, the title “software developer” is meant to be an entry-level job.  And, when it comes to choosing entry-level professionals for a job, most employers are going to go with the cheaper, fresher talent.
Unfortunately for older developers, there aren’t too many upper-level jobs to move into.  Bloomberg goes as far as saying that software engineering is “a career dead-end” and software developers will be “gone by 40.”

Yes, Age Matters!
For clients, it may seem irrelevant that older software developers are facing age discrimination.  However, the age of your developer could significantly impact the success (and cost) of your project.
Developers with a lot of experience are more likely to get the job done on time and in-budget, but you will end up having to pay more for this assurance.  By contrast, it really is the younger generation of developers which are leading in innovative software ideas.

Should You Hire a Young or Old Developer?
When hiring software developers for your project, you’ve got to look at the entire team and see how its developers meet your project needs.  If you are going to hire just one developer (such as a freelancer) for a small project, then it is almost always best to go with the more experienced developers.  The reason is because the project failure rate with freelancer developers is incredibly high.

If you are going to hire a software development company, then you will probably end up with a team of young, passionate developers.  However, it is a good sign if there is an older, experienced developer running the company or leading the team.  The more experienced honcho will make sure the young greenbacks don’t screw up too much in their pursuit of creative solutions.
Ultimately, you will get the best results by having a nice mixture of young and old developers working for you.