You may have heard from software engineers that some work countless hours and tire themselves relentlessly on a daily basis, while others consider it the most laid-back job in the world. Understandably, both of these groups of engineers have a variety of experiences to speak from. But as someone, who is considering a career in computer science, you may be eager to find out what to expect in terms of work-life balance. In this blog post, we will discuss how many hours a week do software engineers work and what their typical work day looks like.
Life of a software engineer
A software engineer’s job is to design, develop, test, and maintain software. They work with computers to create innovative new products or improve existing ones. A typical day in the life of a software engineer can be quite varied. They may spend some time working on code, but they may also spend time debugging programs, meeting with clients or managers, or researching new technologies.
How many hours a week do software engineers work?
According to StackOverflow’s study of 41,151 respondents, most (51.7%) developers work 40-44 hours per week or 8-9 hours per day. Furthermore, 13.5% of engineers spent 35-39 hours a week doing work, 51.7% spent 40-44 hours, and 11.2% spent 45-49 hours on duty. On the edges of the spectrum, 7.3% work less than 30 hours per week, and 4.6% work more than 60 hours per week.
How many hours a week software engineers work often depends on the company and the project, which may render developers to work more or less than the average. Engineers may have to put in extra time when they’re working on a deadline or if they’re stuck on a problem. Others simply enjoy their work and want to spend extra time on it. Senior developers may also take on additional responsibilities such as leading project teams or mentoring other engineers, which would require them to stay plugged in for longer every day.
How much time is spent on different activities
Most of the time, software engineers spend their day coding, debugging, and meeting with other team members. However, they may also spend time researching new technologies or tools, working on documentation, or attending training seminars. The amount of time spent on each activity varies depending on the project deadlines and the engineer’s individual preferences, but we will provide some estimates of what a typical day looks like for a developer.
On average, a software engineer spends about 2-5 hours coding everyday. This time is spent writing new code, reading code, and fixing bugs. Debugging can be a very time-consuming process, sometimes taking up to 2 hours or more per bug. During this time, the engineer needs to identify the root cause of the problem and find a solution that does not introduce new errors (harder than it sounds!).
The next most common activity is meeting with other team members. This could be for project planning, code review, or to discuss progress on the project. These meetings usually occur 0-3 times in a single day and last between 30 minutes to 1 hour each.
Next, the software engineer may spend some time researching new technologies or tools that could be used on the project. This is important to keep the project up-to-date with the latest advancements in technology. However, research should not consume too much time as it can quickly become a distraction from actual coding work. A developer may spend 0-2 hours a day studying from the learning resources, depending on workload and deadlines.
Finally, the software engineer may also need to spend some time on documentation or attending training seminars. Documentation is important for keeping track of the project’s progress and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Ideally, each engineer should spend up to an hour documenting their solutions every day. Training seminars are typically not required on a daily basis, but they can be helpful in keeping up with new trends in the industry.
How long do software developers actually work in a day?
As we stated, typical software developers spend 35 to 50 hours a day at the office (or home office). But how much do they actually spend focusing on coding?
A study by recently shut down company Paysa found that software developers spend an average of 4.5 hours coding per day, with the rest of their time spent on other activities such as meeting with clients, debugging code, and attending training sessions.
Interestingly, the study also found that the most productive developers work for just 3.5 hours a day. So it seems that the key to being a successful software developer is not working long hours, but working smart.
Of course, every software developer is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some developers may work fewer hours but produce better results, while others may work longer hours but struggle to meet deadlines. Ultimately, it is up to each individual software developer to find the balance that works best for them.
Do software developers work on weekends?
While engineers are rarely asked to systematically work on weekends, some exceptions and emergencies occur that require developers to report to work even during their off days. Such circumstances include occasions when there are:
- Bugs that need to be fixed urgently (server shutdowns)
- Projects that are behind schedule
- Meetings with stakeholders that couldn’t be scheduled during the week
- New features or updates that need to be implemented by a certain date
- Code reviews awaiting immediate release
Do software engineers have night shifts?
Most software engineers work around 40-44 hours a week. However, depending on the company and the project, overtime may be required. Night shifts are not common, but some companies do require their engineers to work during the night. The reasons for that include working on a project with team members in different time zones or releasing a new product or update during off-peak hours.
In general, though, most software engineers work traditional daytime hours. They may have some flexibility in their schedule, but they are typically expected to be available during the core hours of the day.
Do software developers get paid for overtime?
While overtime is not frequent among software engineers, it may sometimes be mandated. Typical overtime pay for software engineers is 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. So, if an engineer makes $50 per hour, they would make $75 per hour for overtime.
However, not all companies offer overtime pay. Some may require their engineers to work longer hours but not offer any additional compensation. It is important to check with your employer before assuming that you will be paid for overtime.
Overall, software developers are very well compensated for their work. They typically earn a high salary and receive excellent benefits. While overtime may be required on occasion, most engineers are able to maintain a good work-life balance.
Do you expect off-hours calls as a developer?
Depending on the company you work for, you may be required to be available during off-hours in case of an emergency. While some companies are understanding and allow their developers to take time off during non-working hours, others expect their employees to always be available. Occasions when you may be called into work during off hours as a software engineer include:
- When there is an issue with the software that needs to be fixed immediately
- When a major client is experiencing problems with the software
- When a deadline needs to be met and extra hours are required to get the job done
If you are required to be on call during off-hours, you can typically expect to work an extra 1-2 hours on that day. However, if there is an emergency, you may have to work late into the night or even overnight. Such occasions are quite rare, however.
What factors affect the work hours of a software engineer?
Factors that affect how many hours a software engineer works a week include:
- Size of the company
- Project complexity
- Level of experience
Generally, developers who work for larger companies can expect to work fewer hours than those who work for smaller companies. This is because large companies typically have more resources and can therefore afford to hire more staff. This means that developers are not required to work as many hours since they can rely on others to help them with their work.
Projects also play a big role in how many hours a week a software engineer works. If a developer is working on a large and complex project, they will likely have to put in more hours than if they were working on a smaller and simpler project.
The level of experience a software engineer has will also affect how many hours they work a week. Inexperienced developers may have to work longer hours as they learn the ropes and get up to speed with the company’s standards. On the other hand, experienced developers will likely be able to work fewer hours as they are more efficient and require less supervision.
Finally, location also plays a role in how many hours a week a software engineer works. Developers who live in large cities tend to work longer hours than those who live in smaller towns or rural areas.
Is being a software engineer difficult?
Being a software engineer is commonly thought of as a fairly laid-back profession. This is largely due to the idea that developers spend their time sitting behind a desk in a fun and modern office. However, this view doesn’t take into account the heavy cognitive load developers experience on a daily basis when programming and problem-solving. Is being a software engineer a very difficult job? Probably not. But do they still frequently go home tired after straining their mental resources at work? Absolutely.
How is the work-life balance of a software engineer?
The key to a successful career as a software engineer is to find a good work-life balance and to make sure you are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of work.
The work-life balance for software engineers can vary depending on the company and the project. In general, though, most engineers have a good amount of flexibility in their schedule. They may be able to set their own hours or work from home when necessary.
Additionally, many companies offer perks and benefits that help to improve the work-life balance for their employees. For example, some companies offer flexible vacation days, free meals, gym memberships, and transportation subsidies. Overall, the work-life balance for software engineers is typically good.
How to better manage your hours as a software developer?
We offer several tips for balancing work and life as a software engineer:
- Set boundaries. Just because you’re a software engineer doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. Make sure you set boundaries with your clients and let them know when you’re not available.
- Take breaks. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Get up and walk around, take a nap, or just relax for a few minutes. This will help you stay refreshed and focused when you return to work.
- Set a schedule and stick to it. Try to schedule your work hours and stick to them as closely as possible. This will help you better balance your work and personal life.
- Ask for help when you need it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your manager or colleagues.
- Find a hobby outside of work. It’s important to have something to do outside of work that you enjoy. This can help you relieve stress and keep your life balanced.
- Don’t burn yourself out. It’s important to remember that you can only work so hard before you burn out. If you start feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities.
Software engineers typically work around 40-45 hours per week, but this can vary depending on the company culture, workload, and other factors. They may also work on weekends or have night shifts, but usually, get paid for overtime. Managing time is important for a software engineer, as is having a good work-life balance. In this article, we discussed how many hours a week do software engineers work and what their typical work day looks like. If you are considering a career in software engineering, be sure to use the ideas outlined in this blog to navigate your future professional life.
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.