Switching from IT and studying Industrial Design at mid 40s, insane?


I really regret doing half of a commerce degree, getting a job offered and quitting University. I went on to have a career in Telco and Energy companies mostly working in designing software and technical writing.

As you age you realise your regrets, I think VERY few have NO regrets. For me it would have been not figuring out what I want to do with my life earlier on.

Anyway I would really like to work more in the hardware design in ICT not the software itself, perhaps cellphones, perhaps routers, perhaps notebooks, I dont know. I imagine the field is small so Id have to keep my options open for other industries. But basically designing products.

My ultimate would be to work for Triumph helping design Motocycles, of course with a focus on UX with that having been part of my software design work.

I think if I could go back I would have studied Architecture or Naval Architecture.

But is it realistic. Its a 4 year degree. id be a 50yo broke graduate. Perhaps it is just too much of a dream, sometimes we need to be realistic instead of destroying ourselves.


Unfortunately there is an age stigma that is difficult to deny, as much as we’d like to. Do a quick search here, you’ll find many discussions about it. @inca431 is currently battling it so may have advice for you.

I’d consider trying to move sideways into UX without dropping money on a degree in the first instance.

I’d love to hear from @joenatoli on this.


First: I strongly believe it’s never too late. If you want something, if it matters deeply to you, you owe it to yourself to go for it. Time will not wait for you, and life will not meet you halfway.

Next: ageism is definitely rampant. So if I were you I’d be looking into specific areas of industrial design to learn (1) which seem to have the easiest entry paths for someone mid-career in a related discipline and (2) which might allow you to prove your worth most quickly in a junior role.

Talk to older ID folks already doing that work, ask them straight up what they think. What your pathway in could be, what obstacles you may face.

I would also look for shorter education programs and research their perceived value. Meaning, is there a two-year program that gets you a certificate that allows you to start working in the field sooner? So you can start building a body of evidence (product design work) that serves as ammunition against ageism? Proof you can do the work and do it well will often trump all else.

Also consider that there ARE organizations who see the value in older employees. Not the majority, but they do exist. Treat this just like you would any job search: research the organizations you think you’d like to work for, e.g. Triumph.

Finally, and most importantly:


Don’t settle.

You have no time to waste, so go after what you want exactly the way you want it, doing the kind of work you truly want to do. For the kind of organization you truly want to do it for.

Settling is hard enough the first time around. If you’re going to throw down for round 2, then go all in. Believe you deserve it — because you do.


I have a BFA in Individual Design and am now in UX.

We had a pretty broad age range for students in my class. I remember some were in their 40s, few and far between , but they had a lot of knowledge the younger folks lacked.

The greatest challenge I seen (as a classmate ) for them had a lot to do with life circumstances. Where I went to college Industrial Design was one of the most aggressive curriculums. I remember 20 hours of homework one week for one class, not including the in class time. Add that to 3 other classes and you don’t have time for much else. I hope it is different elsewhere. Anyone who had to hold a job, or had a family struggled.

I would weight the cost for yourself and include your loved ones in that calculation. Make sure any school you look into clearly defines expectations for time and progression through required courses.

It was hard for me to find a job in that field. Don’t give up, but make sure internships are included in your choruses, find job placement rates in the field. Also, find out where the industry specific job’s are and make sure that is where you want to live.

I hope this helps. Feel free to send me a message if you want to chat more!


Joe you have an industrial design background?

What would you say are are the easiest entry paths?

I just love the idea of deisgning something tangible that one day I can see somebody using.

Dont get me wrong, Ive designed $30M Software solutions and have found a lot of joy in being both the designer and program manager. Watching end users enjoying a system, the system working for them and they no longer working for it with work around process patches and endless corporate methodologies, everybody has a fav lol.

But there cant be anything that beats designing solid state objects, especially things technology based and seeing people using them successfully. Thats UX.