What do you think of when you imagine your ideal job? In addition to personal fulfillment in a career you love, you might dream of getting home on time for family dinner, spending free hours outdoors with friends, or being able to take a relaxing vacation with people you love. If you're in a career that doesn't offer a good work–life balance, like making you come in on Saturdays, you're probably well-aware of it and feel the pressure.
Too much work and too little downtime for family, friends and outside interests can leave you feeling stressed, burned out and generally unhappy. Although information technology jobs have a reputation for being challenging, the right IT job can provide you with the work–life balance you need to flourish professionally and personally. In fact, some of the best careers for employees with a lot of moving pieces in their lives are in IT. Before addressing why and how, let's define work–life balance.
What Is Work–Life Balance?
Work–life balance is sort of a nebulous term that gets thrown around a lot. It doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 balance of time between professional and personal pursuits. What it actually means is striking the right ratio of time you spend reaching career goals and doing what brings joy to your life. This ratio can change over time, depending on where your individual priorities lie.
If you're saving up for a down payment on a new house, you might, for instance, put more time into your career so you can increase your earning potential. On the other hand, if you're starting a family or have young children, you might prioritize time at home and try to avoid a 60-hour work week.
Work–life balance differs from person to person and from life chapter to life chapter. The key to figuring out if you need to make a change is assessing whether or not you feel aligned with your individual priorities. Careers with the best work–life balance will give you feelings of accomplishment while allowing you to enjoy your life when you're not on the clock.
Benefits of Having a Good Work–Life Balance
In case you're not on board yet, here are a few reasons why work–life balance is a good choice:
- Manageable stress levels
- Sense of professional accomplishment overall
- Awareness that personal obligations are being sufficiently met
- Tangible achievements at work like pay raise, promotion, completion of key projects, praise from supervisors, above-average performance reviews
- Meaningful relationships with family and friends and enough opportunities to spend quality time together
- Time and space to pursue personal interests and hobbies on a regular basis
- Feeling personally and professionally satisfied
- Good physical health, from having time off to recover when sick, to being able to get out and exercise
Sounds pretty good, right? A good work–life balance is essentially what we all strive for. It's a feeling of success in all areas of life, that you aren't falling short most days.
Benefits of Working in IT: Work–Life Balance
If your career doesn't offer the right work–life balance, consider IT. Here are seven reasons why information technology careers can be some of the best careers for work–life balance.
IT Offers a Variety of Shifts and Schedules
Some technology jobs are traditional, 9-to-5 positions. Other jobs, for international corporations, for instance, might give you the opportunity to work evening or night shifts if that's your preference. A large number of companies hire freelance programmers and designers, too, which means you can make your own schedule as long as you meet the required deliverables.
One major perk of the tech industry is that many of its business leaders want their employees to work smarter, not harder. This overall culture of “working smarter” often translates to logging in fewer hours and having more flexible schedules, as long as you're contributing and producing. This can also contribute to more paid time off (PTO) than other jobs offer, as long as you're producing, which means more time with your loved ones.
Some IT Positions Don't Require On-Call Hours
While some jobs with computers, in network security, for instance, might require you to be on call at all hours for days at a time, this certainly isn't the rule. Plenty of technology jobs offer traditional or set schedules, which means you won't have to worry about receiving emergency calls while you're at your family barbeque, unless you decide you want that type of job. For example, not all programming and web design jobs require you to be tethered to your cell phone or inbox beyond the hours outlined in your work contract.
Careers in Information Technology Keep You on Your Toes…Literally!
You've probably heard that sitting all day is bad for your health. Luckily, not all IT careers are desk jobs. Some provide a good number of travel opportunities, and others have you bouncing around the office all day helping colleagues with their technical issues. Since tech culture is a bit more forward-thinking, in general, than that of most industries, you might even be given the choice of working at a standing desk.
Many IT Jobs Allow You to Work Remotely
This goes back to the forward-thinking component of tech culture. Many tech leaders know that…
More Remote Workers = Less Office Space = Fewer Overhead Costs
…And they know that many IT workers aren't necessarily at their most productive when they're cooped up in offices.
Companies like Apple, Amazon, Adobe and Salesforce all have remote tech jobs. These companies are just the beginning of where you can begin your job search if you want to work from home or work for a company across the country or world.
There are some pros and cons to this kind of work – you might be able to live at the beach, but you may also find yourself working more than you would in an office. Always know when to shut your computer down and walk away.
Many IT Jobs Require Creativity
They're definitely not about all numbers, electrical engineering and repetitive code. Most careers in technology let you show off your creative side. A career in IT often requires you to come up with big ideas to create new products, improve old products and make suggestions about improving processes. You likely won't leave your IT job every day feeling like all you completed were the same boring tasks you repeat every day. Projects change often, and many employers expect you to be creative. And most IT jobs require you to come up with creative solutions to complex problems on a regular basis. If dull work gets you down and negatively impacts your well-being, you'll appreciate that there's hardly ever a dull moment in an information technology career.
IT Is in Every Industry
Every industry staffs IT workers in some capacity. In other words, the world is your oyster in IT. It's up to you find the position, the company and the industry that best meets your work–life balance needs and best aligns with your professional interests. If you do IT for a non-tech company versus working in the technology industry, you may not be afforded as much flexibility or perks like remote work, but other popular industries, like health care and supply chain management, may offer other benefits, like traditional schedules and additional PTO.
The point is, you can find the perfect job with the perfect work–life balance if you have the right skillset. There are tons of good careers out there waiting for you that will help you honor your priorities and live your best life.
If you're wondering “what career is best for me?” or struggling with the wrong work–life balance in your current career and wish you had a more flexible, creative and rewarding job, take our free career quiz to see if IT is right for you!
This blog was reprinted from CompTIA. Read the original blog here.