I am a php, javascript, jquery, html and css programmer. Lately I have been working in another field for personal reasons but I want to return to work in programming.

My programming knowledge is not updated since 2011 and obviously I have to update before looking for a job.

I like programming a lot but I am 44 years old and I need to do it with as little stress as possible because I want to live as long as possible :[ I also don't have too much time and money to invest in the upgrade.

Knowing this, in my shoes, how would you update? Front end? Back end? Forget about front and back end and start learning, for example, Python?

Thank you very much in advance!

3 Answers 3


I have taken a break too and it was a good 4.5+ years. This is how I mentally prepared myself. 'No matter what my skills are, there is a job for everyone in this world'. With that in my mind, I took concrete steps to get back in the industry.

I looked at my original skill set, looked at the documentation of each for the latest versions and spent enough time to understand the changes. YouTube videos, blogs, online tutorials helped me a lot. I practised a lot as well.

This have me a good idea of what I am yet to learn and what I already know. At the same time, there were new technologies that are vogue in the market. I got a glimpse of it by going through the above said sources. It did help me a lot about the new technological advancements in the industry.

Then comes the job hunt. Writing a good cover letter is crucial here. Mention the gap period and also how you have upgraded with the latest versions/technologies; the intention is to show to the potential employer that you are equally enthusiastic about learning new things as you were when you have entered the industry.

Also, I found myself a few jobs where I was asked to work on legacy projects which didn't need the latest versions.

Being patient is crucial here. There are quite a few similar questions asked here; go through each of it. It gives a lot of information. Good Luck.


You don't necessarily need to update at all, at least before looking for work. The state of play has obviously shifted since 2011, but not to the extent you couldn't pick up (for example) the modern parts of PHP on the job.

Of course, another potential opportunity would be working on a reasonably old PHP codebase (there's lots around) where knowledge of any new features wouldn't be required.

Either way, I would, at least initially, just look for work off the bat - but make sure you've got some good, solid answers prepared for the inevitable interview questions of "you haven't been developing in the last 8 years, how would you plan to get back into it?"

Then, if and only if you feel it's an insurmountable problem, can you start looking for training before interviewing for roles.

  • 1
    Thank you very much, I'm very encouraged by what you say Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 9:17

As a person in that very job, I can tell you that general use of PHP hasn't changed that much. Assuming you used MySQL it hasn't changed at all as per Oracle's MO (However the codebase has been forked a few times e.g. MariaDB, adding a bunch of new features).

For the frontend, quite a lot has changed:

  • JavaScript ES6 has been out long enough now for it to be the standard - it basically introduces a bunch of useful new features.
  • HTML5 has been officially released, which simplifies some tags (e.g. no need to specify the type attribute on script tags), and adds a whole lot more (some functional, some that just grant extra context to your code. e.g. you would wrap your navigation menu in a <nav> tag rather than a <div> tag)
  • CSS is where the largest changes have occured in my opinion. CSS3 became the standard many years ago adding many many new features, and additional developments have been made since that have, in my opinion, been out long enough to justify using them in production code. The two most notable in my mind are flexbox and CSS grids. The pair of those have made my job a lot easier
    • In addition to the above, the way of writing CSS has changed in many workplaces. I haven't written native CSS in a number of years now; I've instead been working with a language called SCSS (Sassy CSS) - there are alternatives like SASS or LESS. Basically these languages allow you to write logic to generate CSS for you. They can greatly cut down on repetition in the code you write.
  • Finally, mobile development has become MUCH more important. Steps have to be taken to minimise your bandwidth consumption (minifying your CSS / JavaScript. Serving smaller images for smaller device sizes, etc), and of course adjusting the layout of your website on smaller devices through the use of media queries.
  • Thank you very much for your very detailed analysis!! Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 9:08

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