I'm a 27 year old Italian guy and currently, I work as a customer service technician for an Italian internet provider. I'm currently thinking about a career change, and I think that working as a programmer/developer may be something I'd like. Even though I didn't study programming much, when I did it in high school and later on, I found it enjoyable.

I'm trying to discover what job(s) I may find interesting and enjoyable, and lately I took the Ruby online course at Codecademy, and even though I had difficulties with the last lessons, I enjoyed it.

However, there are a few aspects about the programming field that I'm worried about. I heard about an overtime culture in the field and about death marches and stuff like that. I don't think I would like a job that often requires me to do overtime. I can do a few overtime shifts when it is needed but I don't think I want to work in a field where it is a common practice.

I'd like to have an 08:00-17:00 job, and do a few overtime hours only every now and then when it is actually needed. In searching on the Internet and on this site about how common overtime is in the programming field, I didn't find much, but I have read that in some companies it's possible to work office hours as a programmer, so I have some related questions

  • Are companies like that common?
  • Would it be very hard to find a company like that in your opinion?
  • How many overtime hours a month you think one would usually end up doing?

I know that if I decide to work as a programmer, I will need to study and learn it at a level that will allow me to do it professionally, so I have questions about other aspects of the job, but I think I'd like to find out about the overtime aspect of the job first.

(Also, at the moment I live in Italy, so I'm going to ask the same question in some Italian forums, but I'd like to also know how this field is around the world, since working abroad is another thing I'd like to do.)

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    One thing to keep in mind, separate from any actual answers about overtime: Many programmers have programming as a hobby as well. It could be just tinkering, a full-on side business, learning new skills, or anywhere in between. That tends to blur the line somewhat. If I start learning a new language on my own, but then get a project using it at work... is that overtime? If I discover a cool feature of the language at work, and then build a proof of concept app on my own time, which I then demo to my coworkers... overtime? (Many programmers don't do this, but it definitely happens.)
    – Bobson
    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:01
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    Did you read 'Death March - The Complete Software Developer's Guide To Surviving "Mission Impossible"Projects' by Edward Yourdon, yet? ;-) Generally (fortunately) when you are a good programmer, you choose your employer and not the other way round - in the first years of your career you may have to take any opportunity, which may lead to massive overtime or other bad working circumstances, on the other hand.
    – s1lv3r
    Mar 25, 2015 at 8:32
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    Go for some interviews. Ask them if overtime is required. I'm pretty sure it'll depend on the culture, too. For example, in the US, everyone is work-focussed. In the UK, overtime is only expected when required because of a project deadline or similar. I asked the question in my interview and the answer I got involved "if we have a big project and the deadline is fast approaching, we may ask our developers to work some overtime to get it done". I've been here 6 months so far - no overtime except through my own choice to do a better job.
    – James
    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:56
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    @Jimbo I think that's generally good advice, but I've found a number of places that are in abject denial about what really happens in their place.
    – BrianH
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:38
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    @Jimbo It's more company-specific than anything else. I'm a software engineer in the U.S. and my company is very similar to what you've described. I've been here 7 years and have only done over time on one project about 6 years ago and that was voluntary.
    – reirab
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:40

12 Answers 12


Any honest answer here will have to be "it depends".

It depends on the company. It depends on the industry. It depends on the project. It depends on the culture. It just depends.

For reference, I work on a team that normally works 45 hours a week, but due to customer demands and deadlines can stretch to 60.

Also, a lot of what determines how much overtime you work is your philosophy. Most of the people I know who complain about overtime do it to themselves. That email that comes in at 8pm that you just can't resist answering. Struggling to complete a project before a deadline just so it's the new normal for you and they pile more work on you while you're getting paid the same as everyone else. Staying late at the office to prove a political point in engineering offices where people don't care for such things.

And then those people go around like it's a badge of honor that they "worked so hard". Yea, check yourself buddy, we get paid the same amount of money.

Ultimately, if a company fired me because I refused to work past 6pm every day when there's no critical production issues or deadlines to meet, that isn't a company I would work for. Why? because any programmer worth their salt knows that productivity levels drop past a certain number of work hours.

I wouldn't say we have more overtime than say, accountants or lawyers or any other upper class white collar career.

If you're trying to avoid overtime, here is what I would avoid:

  1. Video Game Companies - I have heard horrible things regarding treatment of employees, since due dates can never be moved or it is extremely bad PR. Say hello to 80 hour work weeks for months before game release. Avoid at all costs.

  2. Startups - Since they are not established and usually have multiple competitors, overtime work is common. However, with great risk comes great reward.

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    Yea, check yourself buddy, we get paid the same amount of money. ...until the hard-worker is promoted/gets a raise due to working harder (and letting the boss know). :) Mar 25, 2015 at 9:47
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    @JuhaUntinen "mules" never get promoted. They produce more if they stay where they are.
    – algiogia
    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:00
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    A good way to think of this is what that raise is worth. If you work 10 extra hours a week and get a $5000 raise instead of a $2000 raise, you've basically worked 10 more hours each week for a grand total of $6/hr, assuming you work the entire next year and only work a normal week. If you continue working extra hours that $/hr goes down even further. Thinking like this can really influence how much optional overtime you work in order to "get that raise."
    – enderland
    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:39
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    @JunaUntinen Working longer does not mean working harder. Work smart. Mar 25, 2015 at 13:12
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    @Dunk The one who gets paid more is the one who is better at office politics and taking credit (rightfully or wrongly). It is also the one who negotiates better. Rarely are workplaces metrocricies. Mar 25, 2015 at 15:53

In North America, pretty much any white collar computer professional job can be considered "overtime exempt" (meaning that the company isn't legally required to pay for overtime), because the US Department of Labor says so.

(Somehow government bureaucrats are considered eligible for overtime, though... funny how that works.)

And, because pretty much any computer professional position can legally be considered to not qualify for overtime pay, that is the defacto standard in the industry. So yes, it is common to the point of being expected that a computer programmer (or really anyone in the IT field) will be paid for a standard, 40 hour work week, but be expected to work more than 40 hours a week.

Like everything else, there are bad places that abuse this and basically force their IT people to work 60 and 80 hours a week (and even longer), there are good places that won't make you work more than than 40 hours, or pay you extra if you do, but the vast majority of places fall somewhere in between. Where most places fall (in my experience, and the experiences of my colleagues and "professional network") is that you'll have a 40 hour work week, but be expected to put in "a little extra time" to get things finished... which works out to a few extra hours a week at most.

Lawrence's answer has really good advice about avoiding the video game industry and start-ups if you're looking to avoid unpaid overtime, but other than that, at a normal company things will tend to ebb and flow as the business demands. For example, at my current employer in the past 6 months, I've had weeks where I worked in excess of 110 hours and weeks where I barely put in 20. It's much more normal that I'll have 45 or 50 hour weeks that I'll "make up for" by arriving an hour late or leaving an hour early every day the next week. Basically, any employer worth working for is going to recognize when its employees are putting in extra time, and let them "make it up" by working less after the deadline's passed, and be careful not to burn their employees out with too many long hours.

Moreover, the wonderful thing about programming (and IT in general) is that it's a profession that's in high demand. So, if you find yourself working for an employer that doesn't treat you well, it's much easier to find a new employer than in most other career fields.

The details from the US Department of Labor's site are below, and, for reference, though it mentions "not less than $455 per week", I have friends in dead-end, minimum wage jobs who make more than that. So that basically means any salaried job for a white collar, computer professional can be exempted from overtime, if the employer so chooses (and, as mentioned, because they can, most do).

Section 13(a)(17) of the FLSA provides that certain computer professionals paid at least $27.63 per hour are exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.


Computer Employee Exemption

To qualify for the computer employee exemption, the following tests must be met:

The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour;

The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below;

The employee’s primary duty must consist of:

  • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;

  • The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;

  • The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or

  • A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

  • "Somehow government bureaucrats are considered eligible for overtime, though... funny how that works." - because they have a strong union which negotiates for OT. As far as I know, they're the only group of exempt employees with one. Mar 26, 2015 at 3:48
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    I'm a 'governmnet bureaucrat' that is also a computer programmer -- I'm exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA... as is practically every single supervisor in the government (as specified in rules for exemption), in addition to all military and foreign service personnel regardless of pay/occupation. Why would you assume the federal government doesn't follow these rules...?
    – John-M
    Mar 26, 2015 at 12:27
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    @John-M a computer programmer who works for the government is no more a "bureaucrat" than a special forces operator is. Stretching the definition of "bureaucrat" that far makes it virtually useless - bureaucrats are the people involved in the day to day administration of a bureaucracy, not just anyone who works for one... Which is the point I was getting at there - the people involved in writing and enforcing the law do so to their benefit, rather than by any overarching logic or principles. Mar 26, 2015 at 20:45
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    @HopelessN00b we're all members of a bureaucracy, regardless of how you slice it -- and even if I stick to your... nuanced... definition, all government executives are also exempt from the overtime provisions, even though I doubt they would pass your not-a-bureaucrat test criteria
    – John-M
    Mar 26, 2015 at 21:04
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    @John-M I know quite a few government paper pushers who make an absolute killing in overtime... to the point that as gloried clerks, they easily make six figures, so that's my experience. I'll grant that If you do anything productive or useful, they'll find a way to say you don't qualify for overtime, but if you're actually a bureaucrat, you can make a killing just for spending a few extra hours pushing files from one place to another. Mar 26, 2015 at 21:24

I'll extend Lawrence's answer with my own experience because I've worked in a big video game company & also some startups.

Video game companies - I've worked in one of the biggest video game companies, because like many people, I love video games. I spend a year and half there and the way staff were treated disgusted me:

  • Firstly, you are underpaid. It's a popular field so you get many graduates wanting to create games, some even dream of it, so big video games companies are literally overrun with CVs, even though the salary is well below a normal graduate level. This means that if you want to get hired, you must accept an underpaid job. You are supposed to work because you love your job and not because of the salary.

  • Secondly, management doesn't care about you. due to the demand for roles, they see you as easily replaceable. Given the choice between giving a raise or hiring someone new, they'll choose new hire leaving you jobless. Only the more senior roles are valuable to them as they are much harder to fill.

  • As your job is your passion, your are supposed to be fully dedicated to it. This means not counting hours, and even working on weekends if required.
  • This is a very stressful job. Your game have to be perfect, and released on time because your team leader will have objectives he needs to reach (set by the management). If he doesn't reach them, the team will be disbanded and you'll be moved on another project until your contract finishes. This means that as the release deadline approaches, you'll be expected to do overtime as required. This is the same for every game no matter how much effort goes into the game the director will always want to add additional features.
  • Usually your ideas and opinions are ignored. The game's direction is decided by a few senior people (creative director, artistic director, etc) and they want to make their games, not yours.

Startups - During my degree, students had to make an internship (3 * 6 months over 5 year) and I did my time in 3 different startups.

  1. An intern is usually considered similarly to a full employee and you'll do the same job. Companies will look at your experience (which languages you know, GPA...) and may hire you if you fit their specific needs. So you'll get some work experience here but don't expect to supervised very much. You'll have objectives set and may get some help from employees but usually startups don't have many resources, so they can't take care of you as much as in big companies.

  2. A startup is dependant on their staff, far more than a corporate, so if there's a bug, a deadline or any kind of emergency, you'll be often be the only one capable of fixing it, and if you can't the effect to the company could be severe. When that happens (and it will), it is badly perceived to leave early. If it's a critical bug, you won't leave until the bug is fixed or when you cannot work anymore (which can be very late). However, if it's a deadline, you'll need to do overtime during the run up to it.

  3. The context of a startup is that they don't have a lot of money. Once again, they'll try to hire you with the smallest salary possible. If the company starts making money however, you may get a nice raise, and over time you'll become irreplaceable so that even if the startup doesn't grow much, your salary will. This is usually down the the key knowledge that you alone have.

So to summarize, overtime is quite common in these programming fields, mostly because of :

  • Wrong deadline estimation. If the person in charge is bad at estimating deadlines, you'll have a bad time working in the company. It happens very often because sometimes, a change can have significant impact on the software architecture.
  • Obscure specification. If the project specifications are not well defined at the beginning, you cannot estimate the deadline correctly. This is what happens most in the video games companies because games are expected to be fun and it mostly depends on your personal point of view.
  • Critical bugs/problems. You cannot predict it, it may be your fault and you'll need to fix it.
  • Hi Gary, I've made some changes to tweak some of the wording to make it more readable, hopefully I haven't made any changes to your intent, but we can roll back if there is something that no longer rings true. Mar 25, 2015 at 12:42
  • No it's ok, english is not my mothertongue and your wording is much more understandable thanks. Mar 25, 2015 at 12:56
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    I will add outside startups and gaming industry the picture of programming gets a lot better. There are some developer jobs that are very stable, 40 hour weeks with only the rare occasion overtime is required. (typically these companies value a sustainable cadence over arbitrary deadlines) There are still lousy place to work by all means, but it's not as grim once you get out of gaming and start ups. Mar 25, 2015 at 19:01
  • @Kik Well, of course you can work & be productive with 80 hours a week but for how long ? Weeks, maybe one or two month. Working that much will just exhaust you because you have no time for yourself outside work. In my opinion, big companies doesn't think that you're worthless past 40 hours a week, it's just that you'll not be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle so it's not a viable solution on the long-term. Mar 26, 2015 at 14:29

I can only give you my experience. I guess more experienced people will come with more sophisticated answers.

I work in a large tech company and regarding the work/life balance, it's basically a dream job. Usually, I end up with 0 overtime hours and I can't remember when I've been stressed about my work. I work 40 hour weeks.

Since this is also my first job, I don't think that it's especially hard to find something like this.

  • Reading about someone at his first job who usually end up with no overtime let me think that maybe it is possible to find workplaces where I may consider the amount of required overtime at least compatible with my needs,thanks for your reply
    – Luca
    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:43
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    @Luca This is my experience as well. I've been on the job for 3 years (2 companies) and I've never had overtime. More importantly, even the senior developers don't seem to stay over that often although it occasionally does happen. Mar 25, 2015 at 14:27
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    @Luca one of the indicators might also be the size of the team. I am part of a team of about 40 software engineers. With that many people the pressure isn't that high. Mar 25, 2015 at 14:43

Overtime is very common. It's because there is a culture of not developers not setting boundaries, and a culture of perfectionism. Unscrupulous leaders use these developer traits to manipulate developers into working unpaid overtime. Often such leaders have been similarly manipulated, so they think it's normal.

For programming, working beyond 40-ish hours per week is actually bad for your company. The bad decisions and mistakes you make when you're tired are often far more expensive to fix than the 5 extra hours of overtime.

In general, any company which isn't making a lot of money directly or immediately from your work will begrudge every dime they pay you. This is why startups and video game publishers ask for lots of overtime.

From what I have seen, the Ruby/Rails employers seem to be the most reasonable ones I have seen with respect to overtime. (My sample size is small, but take it for what it's worth). Also employers with older leaders and employees (40 and up) who also have families tend to be less demanding of overtime, perhaps because after long years, they know it doesn't work well for programmers.

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    It's also worth noting putting in extra hours doesn't necessarily mean you'll be paid overtime. In many places in the world developers are paid salary without overtime. (or similar) if you need to put in 80 hours one week, well sorry to say you're only getting paid for 40, and your code will likely be buggy and messy at the end because as you put in more and more time your work quality tends to degrade. (mental exhaustion) Luckily most companies tend to be reasonable where you work 40(ish) Except a few bad apples mostly in the gaming industry and startups Mar 25, 2015 at 18:52
  • Most software places will not pay for overtime. That was my assumption.
    – Jay Godse
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:05

I'll give you my example, based in the UK.

I used to work for a large bank, systems developer, working 36 hours a week, flexible working including a couple of days a week working from home.

There was no overtime at all apart from when projects were being released. This would usually involved working unsociable hours so not to upset the users, ie midnight to 6 AM or so on a Saturday morning. This wasn't overtime as such as you would be given the time back as a day off in the preceding week. Typically I would do this once every 2-3 months.

I volunteered to be on call as a troubleshooter, that involved being available 24/7 in case of problems, but any remedial work was done remotely so it wasn't too much of a chore. Problems tended to occur once every 2-3 days and took on average half an hour to fix so it wasn't an excessive amount of work, but being called at 3AM etc was a bit of a shock to the system.

But it varies a lot as specified above, you need to research your company and ideally speak to someone who is doing a similar role to what you are applying for already working for the company if possible. Of course you can ask relevant questions at interview too.

Any employer worth their salt will know that forcing employees to work long hours is not good for productivity or morale.

  • Thank you for your reply David,I've been on call too,I agree that being woken up at 3AM isn't great.
    – Luca
    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:45
  • Also the amount of overtime you do seems to be accettable,especially considering that you get the time back the next week.I think you are right,probably might be a good idea to talk about the overtime culture of the company during the interviews,
    – Luca
    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:47
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    @Luca-You don't want to directly ask about overtime, that could give the impression that you aren't willing to do what it takes. There are roundabout ways to find out. What is your typical work day like? What time do people start and leave? Are the work hours flexible?
    – Dunk
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:36
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    @Dunk usually it's fair to ask "How much overtime is normal in your office, I don't mind putting in some overtime, but I also want to make sure it's reasonable" (That shouldn't affect the interview negatively I actually see it as a bad thing when I interview people and they really don't ask questions about benefits, culture, hours. day ta day operations, etc. Gives the impression you're more excited about getting away from your current / past employer or don't care what the work is so much as that it pays) Mar 26, 2015 at 18:15
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    @Rual-You have a point, in particular with regards to questions about culture and day-to-day operations. All I know is I interviewed at a company where a friend was working and in the after-interview internal meeting he mentioned that the manager who was looking to hire me expressed concern because I asked about overtime as though that were a bad thing to ask about. I think he probably thought it was bad to ask about because his reply was something like, it's not too bad most people work about 48 to 50 hours per week. I still got the offer but turned it down, largely based on that answer.
    – Dunk
    Apr 3, 2015 at 19:35

Will you work overtime?

Yes, that's a near certainty in software development, however; depending on both the industry and the management style of the companies you pursue you could be talking working 80 and 90 hour weeks (salary, not paid overtime) or the very rare emergency that requires a few extra hours to handle.

Types of development work

Software development tends to be split into several categories.

  • Internal Development - Typically internal development tends to be the least aggressive and lowest overtime requirement of the types of development. Typically internal applications most of your work will be about adapting already made functionality to address business changes for your respective company. It's often the least interesting, but caters well to 9-5ers with low overtime requirements.
  • Consumer Product Development - These tend to be the most aggressive and ambitious companies. They make the games, utilities, etc that people desire. They try to pump out as many features as possible as fast as possible to remain competitive. It's not unheard of to consistently work 60+ hours a weeks here with overtime being more the norm than the exception. (and almost always unpaid overtime)
  • Contract Development - These tend to be all over the board. Some contract companies are more laid back, others are more ambitious and what you should expect will vary dramatically. Typically these sort of companies deal with only one or two industries and how they approach their work will depend on what's normal in that industry.

The Good

When you can land that stable job where having a nice cadence is more important than meeting arbitrary deadlines you'll likely find yourself in a very rewarding job that you could make a career of. You'll still have deadlines and the occasional overtime, but it will be pretty lax.

The Okay

In your quest to get that dream job you'll work a few decent, but not great jobs. Probably a bad one or two. Expect to go through a certain amount of abuse before you're able to elbow past to land the job you really want. It's dealing with a crappy situation short term for better days long term.

The Bad

You'll certainly have to put in some overtime, and work a job or two that are less than ideal before you can get a job you actually want in this field. In software you have a small subset who have the drive to land them the really good jobs, then a very large number who only work in software because it pays well and has high demand. You'll start with all the people just out there to get paid and have to show you care about more in order to get the job you really want, this takes some time.

The Worse

The gaming industry, some startups, and the handful of bad players are the scum of the earth in regards to developers working in reasonable conditions and hours. This has been covered by several others already, but I can't stress enough, make sure you be wary of these places when looking for work. if your desperate to break into the market they are an option, but working insane hours at meager pay is way worse than it sounds. Working in those conditions can just suck the life out of you (both figuratively and literally) I work near a certain company in the game industry who also made the top ten worst companies in the US list several years in a row (and took first place once) I can say first hand you can spot one of their devs at local user groups and developer events in the area. Just look for the person who looks like they have nothing left to live for, the soulless zombie who's hopes and dreams have long died as best you can tell they've become brain dead with exhaustion... (That's what happens when you work 80 hour weeks one after the other, after the other...)


Some overtime is inevitable in an IT career. Customers in every walk of life are used to having computer services that work 24/7, so if something important breaks out of hours, someone will have to go and fix it. If something important breaks during working hours, but needs longer than the rest of the day to fix, someone will have to stay in the office and fix it.

That said, I've been working in software in the UK for 15 years and have never found these incidents frequent enough to be burdensome. Most days I work my scheduled hours. Perhaps once a month I have to do a couple extra. Perhaps once every couple of years I've had a real stinker where I've had to be up half the night, or lost a weekend.

Personally, I think this comes with the territory of having a reasonably well-paid, skilled and responsible job. Other people in similiar income and skill brackets are also expected to do a bit of overtime now and then. It's just that theirs tends to be more predictable and more easily tacked on to the working day. No accountant has had to get out of bed at 3am to fix a server that someone on the other side of the world is intent on using. But then again, that's only happened to me once.

The comments in another answers about avoiding certain companies like startups or those in the gaming industry ring true, but abuse of staff in those sectors isn't limited to programmers. It affects any business which either has an unusually high risk/reward ratio or which is unusually desirable to work in.

It is also dependent on national culture. My experience as a middle-weight programmer in workaday roles in the UK seems to be fairly typical. Other answers here suggest I'm very lucky by US standards. I've no idea what the culture might be like in Italy.

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    Many countries will probably have strict work laws that prevent "abuse" of overtime work. Either it becomes REALLY expensive for your employer, or it is outright banned beyond certain amount of time. For example, in Finland, the employment law prohibits more than 138 hours of overtime during a timespan of 4 months. And a max of 250 hours total during a calendar year (which is right about 1 hour of overtime each working day for a year). Mar 25, 2015 at 11:16
  • Thank you Bob for your reply,an amount of overtime as that you had in your experience seems to be accettable for me.
    – Luca
    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:41
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    @Luca - note that it is rare, especially outside europe, for a programming job to even have anything like "regular hours" defined. Many countries exempt programmers from any working hour limits - as professionals. Here they are even "exempt" from vacations, statuary holidays and sick leave. Mar 27, 2015 at 14:50

Another point of view in programming field would be, is your potentional company

Product company - building their own products.

Service company - building products for someone else.

From my experience and talking with different people from the same field - product company tend to be more relaxed. This wouldn't apply to Video Games field mentioned in previous answers.

Service companies tend to be more under pressure to bill clients so the developers are sometimes rather squeezed to do as much as they can.

Although saying that after working for nearly three years in a service company - it just really depends on many facts. I see around myself people that do 50-60 hour week but it is mostly because they allow that to happen.

Me personally - I try to organize my stuff in a way so I know that I will not have to do an overtime unless something critical happens. Try to produce the best quality code, covered with tests and reviewed by your peers so you can be prepared for the worst that will hopefully happen as little as possible. Enjoy your work and do not stress about it, you can always leave work for next day when you are more rested rather than smashing code in 25 hour day.


At the company I now work for, people don't usually do overtime. When they do, it's 1 to 2 hours max. However, when deadlines approach, they might make more hours. Also, when a system crashes (since they are constantly working on and improving production systems), they have to fix it (on-site), even when it's the middle of the night. Then again, as said before, it depends on the industry you work in. "My" company does industrial automation, so factories lose a lot of money if my colleagues don't show up.


Overtime, or working late some days and recapturing that as informal flextime, or just working additional "unpaid" hours in the belief that management will recognize and reward your dedication, or.....?

The portion of the industry I'm familiar with is salaried, "exempt" employees. We never qualify for paid overtime, so that leaves the other categories. I often take advantage of flex time; not all companies/managers are so relaxed about it... and i probably am working more than 40 hour weeks but that's usually by choice. The one period where the entire group was working 70-hour weeks was one where we all agreed that was needed, and at the end of the project we got both bonuses and several months of sabbatical as a reward for going above and beyond the call of sanity.

If you're a contractor, you still don't get paid for overtime; you just work those hours now rather than later... unless you have an exceptionally generous contract. If you go over your quoted hours, whether additional hours are paid at all depends on the contract. Estimate wisely.

If you're a by-the-hour code monkey, it's unlikely management will ask you to work overtime in anything less than a crisis situation.

If you're in a startup, you may be expected to show productivity that doesn't fit into a 40-hour work week for most Ordinary Mortals. But you know that going in, and accepted it as part of the culture you were joining.

... in other words, there are many answers depending on where you work, what you're doing, what the customers need... and depending on how you define overtime, and on how much you care about not being one of the people they let go in the next resource action.


I worked in Italy as a software developer for many years. Now I work in Denmark, since a few years, still as a software developer. In my opinion:

I'd like to have an 08:00-17:00 job Then by all means do not get a programmer job in Italy. The chances that you will have to do (usually unpaid) overtime just in order to keep the job are ridiculously high. I'm not thinking about just a few specific positions I know about. I'm thinking about the whole industry. I worked in several companies and I have friends who worked in even more. That's just how this industry works in Italy. Too few jobs for too many people.

I'd like to also know how this field is around the world Based on my personal experience and my perception, in Denmark the mindset of the average employer is along the lines of "If my employees are happy to work here they will be more productive, willing to do some extra effort when really needed, and contribute to a well-functioning working environment". That's why in Denmark having unhappy or even disgruntled employees tends to be considered a problem to address; I'm not kidding.

In Italy it's more along the lines of "If my employees are happy to work here it means I'm giving them more than necessary, so I will give them less and/or demand more, and if they quit I will just hire some of the many unemployed ones who are desperate for a job". That's why in Italy having unhappy or even disgruntled employees is basically considered the normal thing.

Keep in mind that this is on average . I do know 2 companies in Denmark that don't really care about employees satisfaction, but those are the exception, not the norm. I do know one company in Italy that does care about employees satisfaction, but those are the exception, not the norm.

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