Jobs similar to programming but not as demanding?


Does anyone know good jobs that are similar to programming but not as demanding? I’m wondering because I’m looking into going back into that field after two years off, but I don’t necessarily want to go back to programming because my body cannot handle the massive hours required of me.

I would be willing to take a loan to go back to school if need be for it.


I’ve been asking myself the same question.

First, overtime and long hours is a problem in other fields too. It’s incredible how though it is to make a living these days.

I think it’s also important to understand why you are working so much when other people seem to be able to leave their desk at 5pm every day.

For me setting limits has always been a challenge and i’ve burned out quite a few times. I’ve worked with startups where there’s tremendous pressure to ship and not much regard for people’s mental health. I felt anxious constantly about failure and that would drive me to put the project’s needs first.

Some people will specifically negotiate a maximum total of hours (like 45) per week in their contract. That way you set your expectations.


It could be helpful to know what the elements are in programming that you would like to find similarities and alignment with?

I know of people who have transitioned to being project managers and scrum masters but that might not be what you had in mind.


Massive hours required? You’re not doing it right.
Programming, as a career, does not automatically entail massive hours of work - especially if you spend time planning before coding.

I was a programmer in the 80s and 90s. I quit to go into sales and then education. I got back into programming in 2013 and have yet to work any significant overtime. In fact, the contract I’m on I "work"only 30 hours a week because they plan their Agile grooming to keep a work/life balance.

But if you really want to get back into tech without programming, QA might be a good avenue


I don’t remember a job that didn’t eventually have me working at least 60 hours a week that wasn’t with the government. I’d like to know what companies you’re in.


Are you being discerning in your job search or taking the first programming job that comes along? I usually ask questions on the interview about work-life balance.

I work 40 hours a week, and most of my friends in tech do as well.

Other related positions involving coding could be: SDET, dev ops, system administrator. I think other non-coding roles have been mentioned that are still in tech. I’d also add UIUX designer to those.


My job history is similar to yours.

It think it’s important to point out that there are a lot of factors that can influence whether or not you can manage a 40 hours work week.

Private vs public sector
My brother is a postman. He gets overtime pay and I don’t. His union fights for him while I’m on my own. I’ve read somewhere that developers are the new factory workers of the 21st century and I totally agree with that.

Employee vs Consultant
It’s all about leverage. When you’re an employee and you’re not paid overtime, how are you suppose to punish management for their unrealistic expectations ? Yeah you have to stand your ground, learn to say no, manage your time effectively etc. But what if all of that is not enough ?

Lookup on google what happened at EA and other gaming companies when employees were forced to work basically 7 days a week with the occasional night off. You basically have no choice but to quit and that can be really stressful if you have a mortgage, kids etc and not enough savings.

Your role in the team
Do you deploy your team’s code at midnight so the employees who show up at 4am don’t have any issues ? Are you constantly trying to get out of meetings ? Are you a senior dev that fixes problems or are you a junior dev that relies on seniors for help and guidance ?

Your country’s laws
I live in Canada and when it comes to overtime, the laws are obsolete. 9am to 5pm is no longer the norm. We never really punch out after 5.

Company size
Big corporation, small business, startup all have different challenges.

Startups sometimes don’t have an HR department.

Company culture
Is management committed to provide work-life balance ? Are they only concerned about the bottom line ? Sometimes that’s hard to figure out in the interview process.


Honestly, I don’t know how much of this is a problem with programming jobs, and how much of it is a problem with work culture in the US. As someone’s who was born abroad, but has lived in the US for about 10 years now, and has traveled around Europe, I find the American approach to work (especially in a corporate setting) to be quite unhealthy. I consider myself very lucky to have been in mostly academic work environment so far, with very understanding colleagues and superiors.


A few years ago I posted on a fitness forum, semi-famous personality, and was blown off as a troll. I asked some questions about “why do you all claim Americans are so lazy when we work longer hours than just about any other country in the world?” And, our host, whose gone through an amazing change, happens to work at home, allowing him time to work out whenever he wants to. They didn’t like those questions.

We aren’t a lazy country, it just happens to be that we have some pretty warped perspectives on things.

I think more narrow domains help. Someone said earlier that .gov helps, and I’d agree, if you are in the right place. IT can be just as bad in some places but I think, in general, anything at a county or above is pretty sane. Some places at the federal level might be a bit off-kilter, especially these days, but most career civil servants have a lot of stability.

Being an accountant, for example, does require a spread of things but it has consistent time pressure, month-end, quarters, years, and when I did it I was usually able to get ahead of that but it was a long time ago. Heck, go be a plumber, or an electrician, or some sort of skilled labor. That’s probably pretty stable but not fun in it’s own way too. And none of those are tech-related for the most part.

Good luck, if you find an answer let me know. I’d love to hear about it.