I have worked in the web development industry for three years as a PHP developer. I've gone through three different companies in that time. The first company worked people so hard that most people ended up quitting while I was there, and the rest were fired, so the company imploded and I had to find another job. My second job was equally bad, except I had to work with overseas developers who had their own way of doing things, and the communication barrier led to me not being able to work with them, which resulted in me getting fired because I couldn't get stuff done in time.

The company I am at now is better than the first two, but it's still wildly hectic. I am currently multitasking between six different projects, all with extremely tight deadlines (all mildly complex web applications I'm doing in PHP) while being constantly distracted by the design team who needs help with random Javascript or PHP tasks they are doing for websites. And the owner fires people who miss more than 3 deadlines in a year. He has fired two people this month already for missing deadlines (even though one of them had to miss work due to his father's funeral - he was only three days late getting his project done).

I have no breathing room on anything, I am constantly stressed out and working 60 hours a week just to get everything done (I was told in the interview I'd never have to work more than 40), and I have to cut corners constantly just to meet the ridiculous deadlines. We had a meeting yesterday where he told everyone that if they can't handle the pressure, they better leave now, because we just got more work and he can't afford to hire more people. Another thing is that we do not get holidays or paid days off (well he technically have them, but the owner never approves anyone to use them), ever. We have so much work to do that people even had to work through Christmas Day a month ago. One employee literally had a heart attack at his desk a few months ago, but the owner made him keep working from home as soon as he was able to. He quit a little after that, realizing he would die if he kept having to work under this severe stress.

I'm already beyond burned out working in this industry for three years, but the people I talk to say the entire industry is like this now. My marriage is in the shambles after three years of this, because I never see my wife, and when I do, I'm so irritable due to stress and lack of sleep.

What should I do? Hope that there really is a sanity friendly job out there in this industry, or just change careers? Maybe Java or C++ development jobs wouldn't be as stressful, but I have three years experience in PHP already, and almost no experience in Java or C++ past what I did in college. I am not someone who handles stress or tight deadlines well. I like to take my time and make sure my code is perfect, but this industry seems to force people to cut corners just to get things shoved out the door as soon as possible.

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    Hi AnonymousWorker. This question may be closed here as 'What career path should I take' type questions are off topic here. However, it sounds like you are suffering from burnout, which can be a legitimate reason to use sick leave (depending on your local laws). It very much sounds like you need to find a new job that isn't nearly so stressful. I would suggest asking this question on Programmers, to gauge if there are web development jobs that aren't so stressful. – user10911 Jan 30 '14 at 21:17
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    The conditions describe sound awful. Look for a job that fits you better, and do what's required to get it. – user10911 Jan 30 '14 at 21:18
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    No, it shouldn't be like that. 60 hours a week happens, but it isn't the norm, at least in the US. What country are you in? – Andrew Bartel Jan 30 '14 at 21:29
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    @AnonymousWorker - Ofcourse they do. Companies want competent workers, and will do what's required to attract them, including offering pleasant working conditions. For example, The second job I looked at Work in a casual environment with talented, innovative people · Bands playing in the warehouse, canine co-workers, foosball, kegerators, and catered breakfasts – user10911 Jan 30 '14 at 21:38
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    It varies. Do web development for internal projects in a large corporate environment (such as finance or banking) and it probably won't be so bad. Most of your "customers" are internal - other departments within the company, even if they're used by the company's customers. Do web development as a consultant/contractor/freelancer/whatever for dozens of little other companies and it could get very hectic and frantic. At least in my experience, but that's just anecdotal... – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 30 '14 at 21:40

I am a web developer currently in a PHP dev role. I have had several jobs in the field- both in .Net and PHP environments.

Short answer: No, not all web development jobs are like that. I currently am in a fairly relaxed environment. We have deadlines, but they are generally very reasonable. If they get pushed or missed it is usually for a good reason that is somewhat acceptable to all involved.

I work 40 hours or less most weeks, every now and then I put in extra to meet a deadline that is tight. Those overtime hours are either my choice or suggested by my boss ("Hey, if you want to work extra to get this done on time, go ahead")

I can't offer a suggestion on what you should do, but I wanted to tell you that not all web development jobs are stressful. I have never felt the kind of pressure that you described, and I have never felt that my job was threatened because of a deadline that might get missed.

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    Thank you, you give me hope that I should not give up on this industry. I will continue to look for another job and further develop my skillset when I am able to. – AnonymousWorker Jan 30 '14 at 21:53
  • Where are you geographically and what is your education level? – Ben Truby Jan 30 '14 at 21:55
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    Agreed. It's not an easy job but it shouldn't be like that. Try looking for jobs in larger, more stable companies with a decent financial footing. – Fiona - myaccessible.website Jan 30 '14 at 22:13
  • I have a B.S in Computer Science, and I am located around Austin, Texas. – AnonymousWorker Jan 30 '14 at 22:36

Not always. My work within ASP.Net web development and its predecessors has been quite varied over the years. Rarely have I been in a sweat shop environment though I have seen some of my previous employers go under for various reasons. The challenge for some technologies is that to find the good places to work may take some time and detective work to find.

In the 7 places where I've worked, only a couple had situations where I worked extra hours which generally was due to a deadline where I'd often take the time off shortly after the deadline that was met. Majority of the time, while it may have appeared to be chaos, there wasn't people having massive health problems though I did get some health issues in a couple of my positions that I doubt were related to the work as one was more in regards to a recent medication change as a result of my recent diabetic diagnosis while the other was a challenge with sleep apnea.

As for what to do, learn what the labor laws are like of your jurisdiction as well as get involved in the local community that may present connections to the better companies that would allow their workers to have social lives.

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