Over the past few years, people have talked about programming, and more and more are opting for a career change, regardless of their current occupation. Besides being well-paid, most developers have the opportunity to work from home or any other location with flexible working hours. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in devising various solutions and developing applications, if you want to create something from nothing or turn your idea into a product, this profession is ideal for you.

In this article, we’ll present some advantages and disadvantages of working as a developer.

1. Dealing with Customers

If you work in a customer industry such as sails or call centers, you surely know how challenging customers can be. Often, you need to listen to their complaints and desires, no matter how silly they may sound. Interactions with customers can be exhausting and can take a lot of energy and time.

Fortunately, if you’re a developer, most of the time, you can decide whether and to what extent you want to interact with customers. Developers don’t necessarily have to deal with clients, as there are people within the organization who take care of them.

2. Flexible Working Hours

For decades, the 9-to-5 work schedule has been accepted as the standard. Even today, many professions adhere to the same rule – a fixed schedule with a precise start and end time. However, things are a bit different in the IT industry.

2.1. Pros

Many IT companies have replaced remnants of 20th-century business practices with flexible working hours, with the obligation to start work between 7 am and 10 am. This time frame caters to the needs of those who like to rise early, as well as those who would rather sleep a little longer.

Likewise, if you need to do something before, during, or after work, you can easily adjust your workday without any hassle. In most companies, no one will ask where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone or ask for permission. It’s the definition of being the master of the universe.

In addition, flexible working hours simply offer a better balance between work and personal life.

If the ability to choose when you start working is important to you, make sure that your prospective employer genuinely offers it. Some companies are a bit less flexible regarding flexible working hours – which is fine if you’re in a team where it’s important for everyone to be present at work at the same time. It’s all about negotiation – you could probably still arrange for a certain degree of flexibility even in such situations.

2.2. Cons

Moving forward, let’s discuss the not-so-great side of flexible working hours.

Humans are often slaves to their own habits. We’re accustomed to a certain standard of living and rhythm, and any changes in habits can cause discomfort.

Flexible working hours allow people to come to work when they want. Some come at the same time every day, while others’ arrival time constantly varies. For instance, one day, they come in at 7 am, while another day, they come in at 11 am. These colleagues may seem unreliable, especially if they need us in the morning and we’re not there.

Some IT companies allow work at any time of day – what matters to them is that the assigned work gets done. Some programmers are night owls and prefer working at night. They may not even be aware that working in the evening hours can disturb colleagues, especially if they’re sending emails and messages.

Of course, others can turn off notifications to reduce disruption. However, if we work at an unusual time, we should also consider colleagues who may be relaxing in the evening or sleeping.

3. Working From Home

Remote work is yet another advantage of working in the programming profession. You can choose whether to work from home (or another location) or come to the office. The COVID pandemic has spurred this trend and convinced employers that remote work is indeed feasible. It’s up to the employee to choose what suits them best.

3.1. Pros

People who work from home are generally pleased that they don’t have to prepare for work, spend time commuting, or get stuck in morning and afternoon traffic jams. Additionally, the costs of working from home are lower compared to working in an office – there are no transportation costs (fuel or public transport tickets), and other expenses can also be lower – such as lunch or coffee.

Moreover, you have the ability to set up an environment that suits you best – if you’re cold, you can turn up the heating without worrying if your colleagues will mind the change. If it’s hot, you can invest in an air conditioner or go to the mountain and code with sheep in the shade. You can also set up your workspace as you see fit – move the desk to get better lighting, a view of nature, and so on.

3.2. Cons

Working from home, combined with flexible working hours, allows employees to plan their day themselves. However, you need to be careful and mindful of the time you spend. Sometimes it’s difficult to precisely divide time and make a clear distinction between work and home life. One potential drawback of working from home is that you don’t have the opportunity to talk to colleagues in person.

The solution is actually quite simple – although video calls cannot fully replace face-to-face meetings, they can still bring you closer. In agreement with colleagues, you can organize a “virtual” coffee every week where you’ll discuss topics unrelated to work.

4. Team Work

Despite the stereotype that programmers are antisocial eccentrics hunched over computers and detached from the real world, most programmers possess good soft skills and enjoy working in teams.

The team will be smaller or larger depending on the complexity and size of the project. Sometimes one developer is enough to develop a certain application. However, if you’re working on larger projects, there will likely be several members in that group of enthusiasts.

Excellent communication among team members is necessary for a team to be successful in completing tasks. Working in a group allows you to see different approaches to solving a problem. You also have the opportunity to discuss potential solutions and choose the best one. If you’re unsure how to implement a particular functionality, you can always consult with other team members.

Team members help and care for each other. Most importantly, they help each other become better at their job. If you work in a team (and the team is well-organized), you’ll probably progress faster in your career compared to working alone. When you’re the only programmer on a project, you don’t have the opportunity to consult with colleagues. Therefore, no one can review your code or offer a better solution. Without a team, you’re “doomed” to rely solely on yourself and your research.

Connecting, collaborating, and being flexible, creative thinking, and decision-making are just some of the qualities a programmer must develop to build a successful career.

4. Career

As a programmer, you have the opportunity for career advancement. You decide which direction you want to take.

There are three levels of programmers: junior, mid, and senior. How long you’ll stay at one level depends on your willingness to learn, your speed of mastering the material, and the criteria that the employer has set for that level. Each level brings better financial support but also more responsibilities.

Some employers may consider you a senior programmer if you’ve been programming for more than 5 years. Others have more criteria that need to be met (quality of work, independence, helping colleagues with less experience, and so on).

In addition to progressing through levels, there are a variety of other activities that can help you improve. Attending conferences can provide you with new knowledge and insights into technologies you may not have known much about before. Later, these technologies can help you in your daily work.

Obtaining certifications is a popular way to deepen your knowledge. If you think you know everything about a programming language, studying for a certification will likely prove you wrong. Of course, a certification validates your knowledge and understanding of a particular technology, which can help you in your current position or when finding a new job.

If you enjoy and want to lead people, there is also the position of a development team leader (team lead), which can be another step up in your career.

Many employers encourage your personal development, and there’s a chance they’ll cover the costs of attending conferences, obtaining certifications, enrolling in courses, and so on.

5. Problem Solving

Computer programming provides a new perspective on problem-solving and teaches you how to think differently. Problem-solving is a meta-skill, and programming itself simply helps you refine it further.

Programmers spend most of their time creating solutions to specific problems, while actually writing code is just a small part of that process. The end result is a delivered application.

Programming teaches you how to approach a complex task correctly and break it down into smaller segments that are easier to solve. It encourages you to approach a problem from different angles and helps you maintain focus. Additionally, programming develops your creative side – a dose of imagination and innovation is needed to come up with several solutions and choose the best one.

There are plenty of examples from everyday life that you can model and observe from a developer’s perspective. If you want to teach a dog a new trick, like roll-over, you won’t see the entire trick as one whole; instead, you’ll break it down into smaller segments. First, you’ll teach a dog to lie down, then lie on one side, and then roll over. Only then will you connect the action with a verbal command.

6. Conclusion

Being a programmer is a very fun and creative job. You mostly get to decide when and where you’ll do your work, which greatly helps in maintaining a balance between work and personal life. Programming gives you much more than just the job you’ll do for eight hours a day. After a few years of programming, you gain the ability to decide how to solve a certain problem. You can be as creative as you want. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if a client asks you to create an accounting application, you’ll deliver Tetris. The way you create the application from the example is entirely up to you.

Then, of course, there’s the happiness and satisfaction you get after developing an application. The feeling that you’ve made something (whether as an individual or as part of a team). That’s the feeling you should strive for no matter what job you do.

If you’re interested in a career as a programmer, check out our post “Learning Java – Where to Start? 

By Ana Peterlić

Ana is a Java Software Engineer with over 6 years of experience in designing and developing software solutions. She loves tutoring and helping others understand Java ecosystem.

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