What are some IT tech jobs that allow to work 40 hours or less a week ?
March 7, 2017 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to get into to the IT field but my main priority is work life balance. Working no more than 40 hours a week with weekends off would be ideal and bonus would be holidays off ( especially Christmas and new years). The job title doesn't matter to me nor how entry level or how much the pay is. Does such a job exist in tech where you can work 8:00am to 4:30pm M-F with very little to no overtime? Reason: Family and Boyfriend time on the weekend is important to me.

I recently graduated with a Degree in Computer Information System and the program was awesome and amazing. So for that reason I am choosing the IT field and found it more interesting and natural to look in that area because I have a degree in it.

The problem I have with this industry is that I realize too late many IT jobs seem to be more 24/7 ( on-call, weekend work etc) than 9 to 5 and I generally like to leave work at the office without taking it home. I heard late too that many IT jobs seem to take over your personal life from the research I done. That you don't even get paid overtime

I done several internships in being a computer tech support and I have about 3 paid internships in my resume after finishing my degree program. The hours were pretty nice and found that not only did I like the job but the schedule was amazing that allows me to separate life from work.

These internships were paid and I added 2 years of IT support experience in my resume.

Now I am looking for full time work but I have no idea where to start.

I only have 2 years of IT Support experiences and a CIS Degree to back my resume up but no certs yet.

So does something like this exist in IT or would I have to go back to school to maybe get a teaching credentials?

Appreciate the help thanks

The pay and job title doesnt matter to me as long as the hours are family friendly.
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 to Work & Money (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What about travel? Check your MeMail.
posted by jillithd at 8:35 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The helpdesk guys I work with (at a large nonprofit) work mostly M-F/9-5; the senior guys are the ones who tend to be on-call or work weird hours during the times when there is something being switched or installed.

If you never want to take work home with you, do not become a teacher.
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yes, IT jobs like that exist. Start applying and see what you get. Get on LinkedIn, a lot of jobs are found via personal networking. Temping is a great way to get experience and find out if a company culture fits you.
posted by LoveHam at 8:37 AM on March 7, 2017

This may not be totally relevant, but outside the US (particularly in Europe), a working week of 40h or less, plus several weeks' paid vacation, is quite normal, even in IT.

I've been in IT in the UK (first educational software, then working for a web development firm, and now as the IT director of a small company) for 20 years, and I can't think of more than two or maybe three weeks in all that time that I've had to work more than a 40h week.

I suspect the secret may be to stay away from the sorts of places that hire lots of young graduates and exploit their willingness to work stupid hours and have no life outside.
posted by pipeski at 8:38 AM on March 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

I work in IT Operations/devops in a research center at a major university. We take work life balance seriously and we rarely work outside that 40 hours. That's not the case across the board at the university, but it certainly exists.
posted by advicepig at 8:40 AM on March 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

pipeski: thanks educational software huh? that sounds pretty nice :)
oh how I wish I could live in the UK
Unfortunately I live in the USA in California where people don't believing in taking a vacation
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also work at a large public educational institution (in the u.s.) and there are flaming tire tracks outside our door at 5pm everyday. Every now and then we have a weekend or off hours software update, but we get comp time for that.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:48 AM on March 7, 2017 [21 favorites]

The IT department at my office consists of two people who adhere to the hours of the organization: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm M-F. That said, if there are emergencies, they will work past those hours or on a weekend, but that happens very rarely. They do IT support in an office environment, so setting up new hire emails, computers, phone systems, troubleshooting issues for individuals, maintaining the server, etc.
posted by cooker girl at 8:51 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Generally speaking, as an IT support person, a college or a government agency will give you those hours. Jobs in the sector can be hard to come by in CA because of budget issues. Also they're not always posted outside their own listings. Check out the job listing sites for the colleges and local governments in your area.
posted by expialidocious at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2017 [9 favorites]

I work in IT in banking, and I never work more than 40 hrs/week, never on call. Plus 4 weeks paid vacation, all bank holidays off, 10 paid sick days a year. Add to that really stellar medical coverage and a 6% 401K match.

Might want to check out banking.
posted by bologna on wry at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I work for a medium-sized (~130 people) web/tech company in SF, and our IT (helpdesk) team generally works normal office hours. Every once in a while they have to do an after hours update to things, but it's probably on the order of 2-3 times a year, split between the team. It just depends on the company and the culture.

It's ok to have this be an important part of your interview process. Ask about work-life balance in the interview! See what that say! Companies are motivated to not surprise you with that sort of thing.
posted by brainmouse at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Like others have said, it really depends on the company. I worked for a small web hosting company mostly staffed by young guys, and they seemed to enjoy the 24/7/365 on-call lifestyle. The fact that I left at the same time everyday and only worked overtime by accident was very much an anomaly at that company. Prior to that, I worked for a division of a large multi-national, and after 5pm most every weekday you could have run naked around the office and no one would have been there to notice.

It also depends a lot on what you're doing. Everywhere I've worked, the operations and infrastructure teams (servers, networks, system admin, etc.) would often have to work later or work extra to handle some kind of emergency or a software or network update. People outside those kinds of positions usually worked a M - F, 9 to 5 type job. I'm a technical writer, and I often joke that if there is some kind of "emergency" that requires my input or assistance outside of office hours, then something has gone horribly wrong - like a mutant zombie attack kind of wrong.

I think maybe that you're conflating startup culture with IT culture as a whole. Startups where people work all hours non-stop are certainly a thing, but they are their own kind of thing. Most IT jobs are your basic, boring, M - F, 9 to 5 type of thing.
posted by ralan at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2017

Look for an in-house tech support line. That is what I do when I am not doing my music stuff. It's 8-5, M-F, no holidays, no weekends. I am on-call some, but I get one call a year when on-call, and it lasts 10 minutes...

There are lots of fun projects and new stuff to always keep up on.

The in-house part is important, though. I do tech support for techie people who already know a lot of stuff, and I help them when they are stuck. I am not talking to grandmas who can't figure out how to "sign onto the Internet modem thing."
posted by TinWhistle at 9:05 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I work in software support as well (USA), and I almost never go over 40 hours a week. I've gotten made fun of before because I missed the elevator that left at 5:00 on the dot and had to settle for the 5:01.

When you're interviewing, if you get to talk to actual potential teammates instead of just HR people, ask them what their hobbies are outside of work. If they say something like "hanging out with friends" or "listening to music" that's either extremely vague or does not require any time commitment, it could be because there is no actual time outside of work to have hobbies. That's a red flag. (Alternatively, it means your future co-workers would be dreadfully boring.) If they say something that's labor-intensive, though, that's good. I used to refinish furniture, for example, and you can't really do that, or learn to code, or read Tolstoy (all hobbies of mine), or raise a kid, if you're in the office 75 hours a week.

Another trick: ask to schedule an interview at a late hour, like 5:30 or 6pm. Blame it on your current job if you have to. If they'll make someone stay late to interview you, that's a sign they don't value balance. If they say "oh, we're only here between 8 and 5", that's your place.

You can also ask about kids. "Do a lot of the team members have kids?" or something like that. That's a good giveaway that the company will not chain you to your desk.

The problem with a lot of IT stuff is that people are super passionate about it, and a lot of people in the industry would just go home and work on computer stuff anyway if they didn't have to stay in the office. So a lot of people just think "if I'm going to be working on stuff similar to my work, why not just work on work-related stuff?".

This might be biased from my own experience, but I see two ways for you to go: either working for a smaller, already-established, privately-held IT company, or in the IT department of a company in a different industry. Basically, by the former, I mean not a startup. Startups are cool, but the whole point is to scale up. They're not going to hire more people until after they've scaled, which means that you'll be doing the work of two or more people during the growth process, which means overtime. Publicly-traded companies are bad because they need to meet earnings estimates, and one of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to cut labor. Privately-held companies set their own targets, not what Wall Street tells them to do, and companies that are already established aren't as concerned with growth.

Meanwhile, working in the IT department of a company in another industry means that you'll inherit their work culture, not the IT default. That's not always a good thing (e.g. law firms), but as noted above, things like banker's hours can be a plus.

Definitely possible, though.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:09 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there are plenty of technical jobs that are only or mostly 9-5. I'm a web developer at a small software company and I rarely put in more than 40 hours a week - there have only been a handful of crunch times when we're trying to roll out a new feature with a tight deadline and I've put in maybe 50 hours.

Our in-house IT department does generally have on-call and weekend hours but that's more because they have ops responsibility in addition to IT, and because we provide financial services software and so have to do pretty much all customer-facing updates when the NY Stock Exchange is closed (i.e. weekends, nights, holidays). Sort of *reverse* bankers' hours.
posted by mskyle at 9:10 AM on March 7, 2017

I do ops for the software testing lab infrastructure for a large company. We go home at 5, and there is no pager. It's amazing.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:16 AM on March 7, 2017

I'm a systems librarian at a university and my entire department leaves after 8 hours each day. We stagger our workdays so that there's always someone here, but none of us work overtime, and we have a generous flex-time policy for those extremely occasional times when a critical system goes down and someone has to log in on the weekend to boot the servers up and figure out what the problem is (and whether or not we need to kick the problem over to campus IT, after which it's out of our hands).

My husband works in IT at the same university, working on mobile apps and other scripting/programming stuff rather than help-desk and maintenance type stuff, and we commute together, keeping the same hours. In the year and a half he's worked here, I can't recall a single time when he's had to put in overtime for a problem.
posted by telophase at 9:20 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Universities can be pretty good for that kind of thing, especially if you're working in departmental support (like, working for the Sciences department or the Registrar's office, or a research-related facility) rather than for the actual computing services/IT for the university as a whole. That's the only place I can think of that reliably closes for Christmas and New Year. Businesses generally don't do that.

You may want to angle your career more towards specialization in a particular software package or a skillset like reporting/business analysis, get out of support as quickly as you can. You can't just take a system down in the middle of the day most places, so nights and weekends are when that kind of thing happens.

Do avoid startups, and most software-writing companies. Any exciting software, anyway - avoid any place where they're disrupting any kind of synergy or capturing any sort of market. Video games, no. Software for assembly-line robots or ultrasound machines, sure. Companies that make or do something only tech-tangential still need IT, and as long as you're not the only IT person onsite and the company on the whole strives for balance and makes a point of closing up at the end of the day, those are good places.

It's fine to ask questions about this in your interviews. Be careful, nobody wants to hear that you're going to refuse to pitch in if there's an emergency or you're going to walk away and leave if someone's talking to you and it happens to be 5:00. But you can ask what the work culture is like (watch out for "work hard play hard", you want to hear more like "work hard and go home").

I work in accounting software, which means I see customers in all kinds of industries, and the most "5pm everyone's gone except me and the Controller" companies I see are:

a) small product development/semi-manufacture (especially like home decor type stuff - tile, garden lighting, stuff designed and marketed from the company offices but manufactured in China or Mexico or somewhere else Far Away so you don't have to run warehouse tech, making middle-class products people want but don't need), usually the pet company of some rich person who's rarely around (this is fine as long as there are identifiable Business Grownups running the operation onsite every day), maybe 20-50 employees

b) companies that make or source a specific range of parts for some kind of business need, like medical equipment or semi trailers or construction. They do the one thing day in day out. Usually about the same size (sometimes med equip places are pretty large because they have multiple product lines), or they may have a pretty small company staff and a bunch of outside salespeople.

And usually, if you put in a couple of good years at one of those places, and they're doing well, there may come a point where you can go part-time or flex-time. These places are generally horrible for work-from-home, though, as part of the price you pay for the day that ends on time is showing your face all day every day.

If you are in one of the highly-populated parts of California, and you're willing to do it, there's a lot of IT positions that work an East Coast shift - like, you start at 5-6-7 and leave at 1-2-3, and there's a couple of huge work/life advantages to this as long as being that kind of morning person works for you: traffic is significantly better and you spend less time commuting, you get a chunk of your workday that's nearly silent, and nobody can say a damn thing about you punching out at 2 on the dot because YOU got up at 4am. That usually means a pretty early bedtime, though, which may interfere with what's an actual balance for you.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:21 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I don't know exactly how to describe this syndrome, but some IT departments develop this culture of working late a lot for show, or not getting much done all day because it's a constant stream of distractions so the real work gets done nights/weekends, but nobody will do anything to corral the distractions.

If I ever go back to in-house IT, I will be asking a lot more questions about this. Sometimes it's because management doesn't understand about running that part of their business. I don't want to work in those places anymore. (For related reasons, I look for IT departments that have women in them.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:33 AM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lyn Never makes a good point - at the division of the large multinational I worked for, the senior C-level / director-level management were all men (because of course it always is...) but a lot of the middle and upper-management were women. The work-life balance there was almost considered a sacred thing. At the web hosting company I worked for, the owners, all the managers, and all the technical staff were men, and the only women who worked there were the admin staff (billing, accounts, etc.). The work-life balance at that company was non-existent, especially if you were looking to impress and move up in a sort of survival of the fittest style. So that may be something to keep in mind as you start to interview.
posted by ralan at 9:47 AM on March 7, 2017

IT Corporate like for Verizon Wireless. Our IT guys work M-F normal hours with optional overtime.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2017

bologna on wry IT banking sounds good too :)
Thanks I'll look into that its sounds its more company dependent i thou it was more job dependent.
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 10:00 AM on March 7, 2017

80 Cats in a Dog Suit Really they get paid overtime? I thou IT guys didn't
And that was something I was curious too if you working anything after 40 hours isn't overtime suppose to be paid and approved before you work it?
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 10:01 AM on March 7, 2017

"IT guys" is too broad to apply to something like overtime. In general, if you get paid by the hour, you get paid overtime. If you get paid salary, you don't. (That's an oversimplification, but still.) So if they're hourly employees, then yeah, overtime away.

Overtime pre-approval is a company policy, and so it varies from company to company (and even from department to department within the same company).
posted by kevinbelt at 10:07 AM on March 7, 2017


Thank you and Im glad its possible
I probably do have it confused by a start up culture
I have been just doing research all over the internet and just here IT folks complaining they have no life and generally have to be waking up at 3am in the morning

Didn't really wanted to be that kind of person
I don't mind overtime thou as long as its not all the time once in a while is okay.
But yes thank you for your help
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2017

I have had two union IT jobs, one for the state and one at a museum. They generally had great work life balance, but when they didn't, I got very generous overtime. Minimum of 4 hours paid at 1.5 time if I got called in.
posted by advicepig at 10:17 AM on March 7, 2017

I'm in a field with similar always-on requirements in lots of jobs, and I've found my work/life balance in the government. Our IT guys also work the same general hours we do, since there's no support to do after 5pm when the whole place is a ghost town after 5pm. The one exception is if they're doing major server switchovers etc., which generally happens out of the 9-5, M-F timeframe to avoid downtime during working hours.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:17 AM on March 7, 2017

> nd that was something I was curious too if you working anything after 40 hours

In California, non-exempt workers (who may be salaried or hourly)
shall not be employed more than eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek unless he or she receives one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday and over 40 hours in the workweek.
Educate yourself about what protections apply to you and requirements apply to potential employers - no one is going to look out for you except you.
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Very generally speaking, you can either have glamour and foozball tables and a catered canteen, or you can have a life. Pick one.

I've worked at universities for over a decade and it's a great gig (I am currently in an instructional technology role--light on the tech, high on the holding the hands of frustrated professors) but it is not glamorous. I work in a basement with no windows in a cubicle with no door in a 100 year old building with noisy steampipes.

Tell you what, though: we get all days between Christmas Eve and New Years day off, fully paid. The whole university shuts down (this is very common) and it does not come out of my vacation/sick time package, which is already generous. I already said we are out of here at 5 PM every day--right up to the director of the unit. At 5:10 the whole building is a ghost town. We get 150% 401k match (well, 403b because it's a nonprofit) after vesting. My son will be able to attend college here for free if I'm still working here (fingers crossed!) when he's older.

No one will be getting rich working here, but if you just want to go to work, do your job, and come home and have a life, you could do way way worse. I won't ever be giving any TED talks about what I do, but it's a good life. Academia (on the staff side--being a prof is a whole other deal) and government are a couple of the most reliable last bastions of 9-to-5-go-home-kiss-your-spouse-and-kids-and-relax work culture in the US.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:22 AM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

The company I work for sells, installs, and configures niche software, and we have programmers on staff for integration/customization purposes; I'm the manager, and I've been instructed to make sure nobody goes over 40 hours because the boss doesn't want to pay overtime. Your best bet is probably to find a well-established company not trying to grow and take over a market, which would require the kind of overwork you're seeing. There's lots of places that need IT but aren't interested in taking over the world, and they have appropriately white-collar-office-job expectations. But, like you, everyone wants that kind of job so competition is high.

My theory is that the companies hiring entry-level IT people have found they can take advantage of the glut of people in need of work and demand more than a normal job -- it's not an IT thing, it's a Employer's Market in the IT industry.
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:38 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with some above: Non-profits are good-- Museums, theaters, foundations, tourist attractions, all need tech support and most of them will be happy to pay you less in favor of more flexible hours.

The drawback is that you'll have to shake any notions of solving your IT problems with money.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:29 PM on March 7, 2017

I'll second (or third) higher ed (I love my building's steam pipes), and add government, especially Federal, either as a contractor or an employee.
posted by JawnBigboote at 1:55 PM on March 7, 2017

Nthing the aboves about the financial part of nonprofit and educational work. The university my husband and I work at (see my previous comment) is private, so we get a more generous package than I did at the public university I worked at, but my husband still took a 15-25% pay cut (the variation is because he got a yearly bonus at his previous job which could be quite substantial) to come here. On the bright side, he now actually gets 21 days of vacation a year (in addition to the Christmas-New Year's week), and actual separate sick time, instead of 15 days of paid leave per year that he was supposed to also use if he got sick.

He also has coworkers he likes and recognition and appreciation for the work he does, and I no longer fear that he's going to die of a heart attack thanks to the stress, so we consider it a fair trade for the salary cut.
posted by telophase at 2:01 PM on March 7, 2017

I work as a contractor for my state government. It has most of what you're looking for, but does require some mental changes.

I'm purely-hourly. If I work an hour, I get paid for an hour of work. If I don't work an hour, I don't get paid for that hour. I get no sick time, vacation pay, bonus, maternity leave, or anything like that. The only time I get paid without working is when I get eight hours of pay for six major holidays every year. So my annual income is: (Number of hours that butt is in chair + 48) * hourly pay.

I have rarely worked more than 40 hours a week and average about 38. I have gone over 40 a few times, but when I did, I got a nice boost on my subsequent paycheck. (I make enough that I don't qualify for time-and-a-half.)

On the other hand, if I take a week vacation, I get a half paycheck later that month. If I'm sick one day, my next paycheck is short 10%. If I take the afternoon off to go see a movie, I'm out 4x my hourly pay.

As for benefits, I can buy health insurance at full price through my employer; as a single man that costs me about $325 / month for pretty decent coverage. I'm also allowed to put my own money into the company retirement plan, though without any sort of match.

But the hourly pay is high enough that these things don't bother me. In the eight years I've been doing this, I can probably count on one hand the number of weeks I've gone over 40 hours. And the one time I went way over - during a major project launch five years ago - the 99 hour paycheck I got is still the largest single paycheck I've ever received.

Technically, I'm a W-2 employee of a staffing agency who then pimps offers my services to clients, in this case a government. So I don't have to deal with 1099s, self-employment issues, or any of those headaches.

Look for staffing agencies that contract with your local government.
posted by Hatashran at 6:51 PM on March 7, 2017

Ymmv, but often consulting companies clients only allow billing of 40 hrs a week. At least for me, that means I've only worked more than 40 hours in a week during my 8 year career consulting 5 or 6 times. This is rare but can happen.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:14 PM on March 7, 2017

I've worked in state, federal, and now county government (libraries, but in IT-focused areas). Very consistently have worked M-F 8:00-4:30 or thereabouts (40hrs/wk). I've had to work some extra hours here or there (or later start/end times a couple days a week for coverage when the state legislature was in session - about 4.5 mos/year) but I get comp time when overtime happens. It's how workers SHOULD be treated, IMO, and I haven't seen people working much in the way of extra hours unless they have responsibilities and salaries to match. And I get to work with people who really care about what they do. The pay can be a little lower, but the benefits are usually pretty solid (in MN at least).
posted by LibraryScientist at 8:03 PM on March 7, 2017

I'm an I.T. Consultant at a private company in Canada (but we have an office in the states as well). I work for a salary, and am expected to work 40 hours a week. Overtime isn't required, but there is a bonus for people who CHOOSE to work overtime. We also have no cap on number of vacation days we can take, so long as your time off doesn't hinder your project. My company allows all employees to make the choice if they'd prefer to work more hours and get the bonus, or if they'd prefer to just work their normal work week and have the time off with their family. I have a husband and kid so I have chosen the "time off means more to me" route. It also offers all sorts of benefits and whatnot.

What you seek exists.

(You can PM me if you want more info. )
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2017

Thanks to everyones answers :)
I appreciate the deep details and help

It's seems government jobs are definitely where the balance is at.
I done my actual internships mostly at schools and everyone seems to be right spot on.

Also it would help if you can specify what exactly you do in IT because the IT field is so broad on jobs.
Like desktop support, consulting, Trainer, Business Analyst , Help Desk, System Admin etc.

Most of my previous internships were more hands on computer repair work with a bit of help desk tasks.:)
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2017


You said you have 2 IT union jobs that sounds amazing.
What kind of IT did you do? ( Support, programming, system admin etc)?
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2017

bologna on wry

I forgot to ask what kind of IT staff were you in the bank?
posted by iwantworklifebalance101 at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2017

My first union IT job was as a web programmer and the second a devops/sys admin job. Both institutions had all your other IT jobs with similar work hours. I think the help desk staff were more underpaid than we were, but we could all make a decent living.
posted by advicepig at 6:56 PM on March 8, 2017

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