You read my mind today. I think of this a lot especially as of late. I got into the tech field by accident. I had a fine arts degree and intended to go into something more creative after college, but my career counselor’s advice was “we don’t always get the dream job right away so grab what you can get” and so I was hired right out of college based on the bit of coding experience I did have.
The money was and still is great compared to other professions, and it’s probably part of the reason I stuck with it. I convinced myself it was only temporary until one day I can step away and “achieve the dream job” my career counselor told me won’t show up right away. I also wanted to see how far I could run with it as I was doing things I’d never imagined myself to be doing, coming from a fine arts degree I mean rather than a CS degree.
Now a few years later, with my mental troubles and just looking at my life in general, I’m not sure the money is even worth it anymore. Sure not every job is going to be enjoyable every single day, but the amount of mental energy being a coder takes is not something I think I can do anymore especially as we’re pressured to learn more and more things and keep up with this fast growing industry.
Being a developer can be unpredictable, the job itself is everchanging as well as the duties expected of you, sometimes I wish I could go back to a “boring” desk job for the sake of predictability and my job being officially over once the clock hits a certain time. It’s one thing to pick up phones or write data entry with a headache versus try to write a program in JS. Not that I’m undermining those types of jobs - just that the mental focus issues make it difficult to achieve some tasks due to the amount of thought involved - development is not usually a mindless automatic task.
Anyway, enough about me. There’s this saying about happy wife, happy life - but I think that goes both ways. I don’t think it’s realistic that human beings stay in one profession and one place all their lives. Some do but at some point in our lives, we want a change. I don’t know anything about plumbing but I think if you can network and sort of spend time outside of your tech job (yes I know, this is hard as hell) doing some plumbing gigs and getting your reputation around - it’ll help.
You’re basically trying to build a client base before you leave from one career to another. Once you’re an established plumber and have some connections, and feel confident there’s a stable position waiting for you, then you can make the jump. That’s what I’m trying to do. Work on my writing (which is what I want to do more of) on the side, try to build that up, so when that eventually looks promising enough, I can feel more comfortable making the jump.
I know financials are super important - it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t suddenly jumped careers either as I too, have a family to support. But I can’t stand the thought of coding until retirement, I don’t think I’ll last. Forcing yourself to be somewhere you’re not happy is also a recipe for burn out and in my case with depression/anxiety, the thought of having some sort of breakdown where I can’t work at all is something I have to consider versus just changing careers and dealing with the decrease in income, but I’ll be happier.
Take it a day at a time. Write down a list of the pros/cons of a career change and make sure all your ducks are in a row if you do decide to make the move. Discuss a plan with your wife that she feels comfortable with. Maybe she thinks you’re just going to jump without a plan so setting some goals and making it a step by step process might make her more open to it.