This may be the wrong place to ask this, but I have a software dev/engineer lifestyle question. If this indeed the wrong place, please redirect me elsewhere before marking this as spam.

Is it possible to make half the avg soft eng salary working half of the time? For example, if I wanted to spend the vast majority of my time working on a different project, but still needed some income to support a minimalist lifestyle, would it be plausible to make 40k a year working 20-30 hours a week as opposed to making 80k a year working 40-60 hours a week?

Are there other tech fields that I can transfer to outside of software development in order to make this more likely?

  • 5
    What answer(s) you're looking for? Yes? No? Maybe? What is your actual problem? Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 2:46
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    Some locales you could easily do it. Others it would just be a matter of actually finding an employer who wants you just part time.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 3:38
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    You might make less, you might make more. Like Sourav mentioned: what problem are you actually struggling with? That it's possible is pretty much a given. Do you want to know how common this is? Strategies for finding part-time work? What the impact on salary (growth) is when part time? Something else?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 8:44
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    Usually, tax rates are gradually increasing the higher the tax band is (i.e. you pay less taxes on the first ¤ you earn than on the 10,000th one). So it's worth noting that if working at 50% halves you gross salary, your take-home salary might actually be greater than 50% of what you currently earn.
    – ebosi
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 10:57
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    You might want to add your location. Because in some jurisdictions (for example Germany) you actually have the right to ask your employer to only work with reduced hours. Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 11:11

5 Answers 5


Yes, it's possible. For about two years I worked three days a week as a developer, paid pro-rata, to pay my bills, while trying (and failing) to become a professional author in the rest of my week.

You just need to find an employer who will agree to such an arrangement - not all will. In my case, I arranged it with my existing employer, who decided they would rather have 60% of my skills and knowledge than none of it (if I quit completely). It may be more difficult to arrange something like that with a new employer, who will probably have a full-time role in mind when they start hiring. One potential approach if you are fairly senior might be to apply for a junior role, explaining in your application that you'd want to take the junior salary and work reduced hours (then watch out for them expecting you to work unpaid overtime!). One way or another, you'll need to convince your employer to make it work, but it's possible.

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    +1 for looking for an employer who will support those hours. Just be aware that some companies will take utilisation into account if they are looking to make redundancies which could put OP in an unfavourable position working reduced hours vs someone working full time.
    – Novastorm
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 14:16

Is it possible to make half the avg soft eng salary working half of the time?

Of course it's possible. You only have to convince one or more potential employers to hire you on those terms.

Many folks do that by being a contractor or consultant.


My company has contractors that have a lifestyle similar to the one you seem to desire where they prioritize other activities higher than full-time employment. One of them has a farm which requires a good amount of time to operate.

When I was younger I worked for startups that permitted unconventional schedules, so that I could travel for weekend activities frequently (this was when remote working was less common than it is today).

I see no reason why you can't work half the hours for half the pay, in principle.

You may need to be a contractor rather than a full-time employee which means you'll be paying for your own health insurance, etc.

And since you are asking about a relatively less common arrangement you'll have to do more work to find a suitable company.

Companies still value in-person presence, and dedication of their employees, so in general if you are not a full-time employee you'll have less career growth.

  • You allude to it, but it's worth paying explicitly that half pay also means half benefits, so they would have to make up the other half from the remainder of their salary or go without.
    – Kat
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 6:12
  • I haven't seen the "half benefits" situation anywhere so I can't say anything about that. I expect no benefits but contracting rate to compensate.
    – D. SM
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 15:52
  • right, I worded that poorly, just meant that benefits are part of compensation so you can't expect to keep all the same benefits and just cut your salary in half.
    – Kat
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 19:50
  • +1 for mentioning reduction in benefits
    – mkennedy
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 21:03

I'm a huge fan of the book, "What color is your parachute", and it talks about this very subject.

There are numerous ways you could approach this, either as a freelancer, or working part time for a smaller business, or taking on project work.

Some charities will hire on part-time staff if they cannot afford full time, and corporations will do the same for specialized work.

Network with people, and brainstorm for more ideas, but it is certainly possible.


One option for doing this is to find small businesses that want development work done but can't afford/don't have the demand for a full time developer, and work for them as a contractor. Depending on your part of the world, you might need to run your own company and do it through that.

This approach obviously comes with different risks and demands than being employed by an established company, but comes with the benefit of being more flexible in managing your hours.

You'll also become responsible for all benefits that a company would normally provide (which is a bigger deal in some parts of the world than others). You should account for this in your hourly rate.

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