Channel Apps
My introduction to computers was in grade school which my memory of is a bit fuzzzy on. It was probably something like the Apple II. My first home PC's were the Timex Sinclair - the "hard drive" was a cassette tape and the Tandy 1000.  I was a bit late on the Commodore/Amiga scene, though I still have my Amiga 2000. Now thinking of that, I'm curious whether it still boots up, hmm...

I grew up with Lego's and electronics kits, taking things apart to see how they work (and why or how they didn't), then putting them back together. A skill that is quite useful in just about any field dealing with physical and mechanical things - construction, auto mechanics, boats, electronics, home appliances, kids toys... And closely related to the abstract thinking skills required in understanding engineering, computer networks, programming, security...

Hacking is an extension or practical application of these traits. Systemizing would be the psychological term if my knowledge of psychology is correct (it's been a few years since college). It also provides much more interesting intellectual input towards that curiosity of knowing how things work, the creativity of making something useful/fun, etc.

Before I got into computers I was taught how to operate and maintain a Ford 1500 tractor, mostly used to cut acres of grass. For those not familiar, it was a manual transmission with two gear shifts; three speed + reverse in four ranges. A rather complex piece of machinery, especially for an adolescent. As a teenager, in addition to working in construction (general labor, framing, hanging/finishing drywall, roofing, etc.) I also did carpentry and wood finishing projects at home. I was interested in architecture and interned with an architect. Was accepted to University of Miami's architecture program but did not attend partly due to cost, but also because I had started a job doing CAD work at DuPont. At the time they were a top 10 Fortune 500 company, and that was the type of place where you could have a decades long career. I advanced to being the sole designer/draftsman for the facilities team and managing the internal network that held all the CAD files for that site and several others. Not two years later they started a major restructuring, sold the building and cut a lot of employees. So much for job security...

In the late 80's, early 90's, when computers were no longer relegated to the halls of academia, government and large businesses but became common in many homes, hacking followed. Back then, I did my share of illegal hacking activity like many others. I've seen that hackers of the 80's and 90's (mostly gen X'ers) are considered the first generation of hackers. Meh... we for the most part (I believe) know that hacker culture goes back much further. Though I suppose it makes some sense if considered in conjunction with cybercrime. Anyways, to continue that topic... At some point, I realized that I was at a very real risk of ending up either in jail or involuntarily working for the government. Neither of which was a particularly attractive prospect. While I didn't stop all hacking, I stopped doing things that clearly would've made me a federal suspect. The news of Kevin Mitnick making the most wanted list and the hacker crackdown may have had some influence... I also put more focus on the systems at my employers, where if caught it was pretty unlikely to have charges pressed so the worst would be losing my job and at best some type of promotion or additional responsibilities. Though the most likely scenario was nothing since more often than not I knew or very quickly ended up knowing more about the computer systems than anyone else working there. I was usually the one everyone asked for help, even where tech support was not part of my job description.

In over 30 years I've probably worked on more software packages and specific technologies that I've forgotten about than those I can recall off the top of my head. I'm sure the data is in there somewhere, but does the product even exist anymore and does it really matter?
Although high general intelligence is common among hackers, it is not the sine qua non one might expect. Another trait is probably even more important: the ability to mentally absorb, retain, and reference large amounts of ‘meaningless’ detail, trusting to later experience to give it context and meaning. A person of merely average analytical intelligence who has this trait can become an effective hacker, but a creative genius who lacks it will swiftly find himself outdistanced by people who routinely upload the contents of thick reference manuals into their brains.
- The Jargon File

At some point does having experience with some particular software become irrelevant? Generally wrt the ability to do a particular job...

Can't say I know for certain, but I'm inclined to say that for at least most, if not all, intents and purposes, yes. [Or for all intensive purposes as many of the publicly (mis)educated say these days]
I haven't used any Microsoft products, and have only rarely touched any machines running mswindows, for probably 20 years now, but I could still sit down at one right now and do whatever. Probably get quite annoyed in the process by its 'stupid quirks', but that's beside the point. Or I could load M$ SQL server up in a docker container to access their stupid proprietary db files and use dbeaver to pull data and put it in a real database if I really had to. This is something I've long been annoyed by when looking at job posting's position requirements. Maybe even moreso nowadays since the IT industry has been largely commoditized and it looks like everyone is basically hiring well trained monkeys.

Do I have 3,5...10 years of experience with XYZ? Well there's actually a decent chance I do,  but for arguments' sake here let's say... Nah, but I've used and/or worked on (did troubleshooting, fixed issues with, etc) probably a dozen or so programs just like it that do the same damn thing. Working for small computer services companies and as a freelance consultant for... well... at this point, at least half my working life, I have been exposed to all types and sizes of computer networks. A few examples off the top of my head: schools, hospitals, various professional firms, government departments, restaurants, banks, retailers, manufacturers, warehousing, small business to national Fortune 500 corporations. For many SME clients I was their entire IT department. So being able to understand how to use, troubleshoot and fix issues with unfamiliar devices, programs and sometimes specialized custom software (in many cases onsite, that same day since thousands of dollars could be at stake) was an essential skill.

Have I coded in [language du jour]? Maybe not, but I've done enough coding in several programming languages to at least have some idea what I'm looking at and make sense of it with reference documentation. Besides, I'm not really interested in being a code monkey. Years ago I did enough C/C++, and LISP programming that even with everday, non-computer stuff I was thinking in code.
...hackers love making complicated things like computers do nifty stuff for them. But it has to be their nifty stuff. They don't like tedium, nondeterminism,...
- The Jargon File

I'd rather just be sailing and do whatever programming involved in the navigation, autopilot, environment monitoring, solar/battery/automation management, entertainment and other systems I have running on my boat.

So am I qualified for [insert any IT position or project here]?
Yeah, pretty much....
More on my experience/qualifications