The world of software development has a strange reputation, both for insiders and outsiders. One thing many people have wrong ideas about is how many hours software engineers work, or should work. I’d like to dive a little deeper into this subject: What is the reality and what should you do?
What Many People Think
Many people think that software engineers work almost all the time. When you ask about average work hours per week, numbers between 60 and 80 hours per week are not an uncommon response. This idea lives among both developers and non-developers. Among some developers, there is also a strong feeling that you can only be a great developer if you work this much.
I’m not sure where the idea comes from. Maybe it originated from the image of the asocial nerds that spend all their time sitting behind a computer. Or maybe the immense pressure that Silicon Valley startups have put on young developers created this idea. In some cases, developers like to cultivate this image out of some peculiar macho reasoning of what it takes to be a “real” developer.
Apparently, things have improved over time. A CNET article talks about how companies and individuals have evolved to more realistic work weeks and room for a personal life. Companies have also realized that overtime doesn’t necessarily mean developers will be more productive. And with the advent of working from home, developers can increase their productivity without crunching extra hours.
In this post, we tackle a question that troubles many an aspiring programmer: Do programmers use Mac or PC?
The question does have a short, straightforward answer. Here it goes: Some programmers use Mac, while others favor PCs running Microsoft Windows. Still others prefer to use one of the many Linux distributions. Last but not least, some use some combination of the options above.
Are you satisfied with this answer? I wouldn’t be. As it often happens, the short answer turns out to be too short. Despite being technically correct, it doesn’t tell the whole story. I bet there are more things you want to know about this Mac vs. PC thing. For instance, where does this trope come from? Why does the perception that developers disproportionately favor Macs exist? Are Apple devices really the best option for software developers? Where does Linux fit in?
These are the kinds of questions we’ll answer in this post. By the end of it, you’ll understand the role that your choice of platform actually plays in your software development career.
Today Eric Goebelbecker is telling us about what really matters for programmers. Eric is a developer, DevOps engineer, system administrator, and whatever else he needs to be for the small trading firm he works for. He’s also writes fiction and enjoys cycling in his free time. You can catch up with him here.
How long have you been a programmer? What Stack do you work with?
I’ve been working as a developer in one form or another for just about 28 years. I started playing around with code a decade or so before that. The “one form or another” bit feeds into the stack question.
The first bit of code I wrote for money was while I was working as a systems engineer for a major financial services firm. A major job called for a small bit of custom code, and I raised my hand and wrote it. That eventually led to supporting the API for my employer’s middleware.
In today’s job market, many of you look for ways to improve your employability and earnings potential. And you may have noticed articles pointing out the apparent shortage of programmers, along with information on the amazing salaries and benefits they receive. Combining all these things, you may be one of the many people who are now trying to break into programming.
And for those of you who are trying to break in, one of the most popular questions revolves around degree requirements. Mainly, you want to know if degrees are required. And you want to know if the degree has to be in a specific field of study.
Today we’ll answer your questions and give you some things to think about. Because as you’re about to see, the answer to whether programmers need a degree isn’t always simple.
Some Say No, You Don’t Need a Degree
First, many programmers don’t have a degree. Others do have a degree, but not in computer science (CS) or software engineering. For example, my degree is in business administration. Also, I’ve worked with developers that have degrees in music, physics, graphic design, math, education, and even dietetics!