After twelve years working as a software engineer at two different companies (in the UK), I am starting to feel that I no longer want to continue in this line of work. The main reason being the amount of unreasonable overtime that is expected, and the under-appreciation of the difficulties of writing good software by management/other departments leading to unrealistic deadlines being imposed or the expectation that the teams I have been in will work around the clock to solve issues (I'm not adverse to working overtime but there are limits).

This has also been brought into sharp focus now that I have recently become a father and have child-care duties outside of work. Most of the advice on this I see online points to related roles such as IT support or Ops, however I have no interest in these and feel they would have the same issues I have experienced as a software engineer.

Specifically I am looking for advice on a potential career that a software engineer would be well placed to move into (that isn't one of the roles mentioned above). Possibly something that takes advantages of related skills such as attention to detail, good problem solving abilities, analytical skills etc.

Has anyone been through this and successfully moved career? I'm quite open minded about possible suggestions, although Ideally the wages would be comparative to a software engineer (not sure how unrealistic that is though). Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • 6
    Have you considered you are simply working for the wrong company? I've been a software engineer for a while and have never had to put in unreasonable overtime. Last time I felt underappreciated, I left and found something better.
    – Seth R
    Sep 21, 2019 at 23:34
  • 1
    Two companies is not a representative sample. Six years is also a long time to spend working somewhere unpleasant. Sep 22, 2019 at 1:01
  • I've been a dev for soon 9 years and in companies of different sizes (startup to 120k+ employees), and I've never been required to work more than the normal 7,5 hours per day 5 days a week. And only once asked to, when half the business was at stake, and I helped out. And my salary has consistently increased, so working normal hours didn't affect my career either. Sep 22, 2019 at 6:15
  • What does your contract say about overtime? I don't know anything about UK law, but where I work, you cannot easily be fired if you do the hours that are agreed in your contract.
    – Helena
    Sep 22, 2019 at 8:37
  • overtime is a companies own worst enemy. It makes it look like a team can work faster in a shorter number of days. But it's ultimately the path to failure. Abandon ship, leave that company and find a better one. Not every company is that short sighted. Never getting credit for your work is somewhat universal though for every profession. No one will ever thank you when it goes right, but they will blame you when it goes wrong.
    – Trevor
    Sep 23, 2019 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


Specifically I am looking for advice on a potential career that a software engineer would be well

I don't think that's answerable; there are too many unknowns. We don't for example even know what you like doing.

The main reason being ... overtime, under-appreciation ... of good software by management ..., unrealistic deadlines

OK so other than having to deal with other people's bulls**, you like the actual job and the money it attracts?

Have a look at contracting, depending on where you live. If you're in a major city or within commuting distance you should find plenty of work. Admittedly, as a new father, the timing couldn't be worse, but the alternative is to stay where you are and learn to say 'No', or leap into an unknown new career.

As a contractor, you might occasionally choose to put in a few extra unpaid hours, as it makes for happy clients - but you're not obliged to. In any case, you need to toughen up a little and resist the pressure to do it.


You should train for and seek work as a compliance officer. Your skills and experience as a software engineer will easily transfer to the job of forcing software engineers to follow externally imposed but vitally necessary rules and procedures.

Nobody expects, or wants, a compliance officer to work overtime or weekends. In fact, at every project I ever worked on, we would all breathe a sigh of relief when the compliance officer went home a little early on Friday.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .