Not so long ago, working a typical nine-to-five job in IT wasn't just uncool—it was downright soul-sucking.
Blame Office Space, the 1999 cult classic about a software company. The show portrayed IT experts who worked regular hours as disgruntled drones, compared to the tech start-up founders who spent their every waking hour at work.
But this perception has changed in recent years, and many IT professionals now see the merits of working predictable hours. Companies across every sector aren't just hiring more IT workers; they're paying them more and touting work-life balance as a benefit of joining their team.
Sure, you might still need to work extended hours to complete projects. And you might have to be on call at odd hours to help your coworkers troubleshoot issues. But clocking in at 9 a.m. and heading home at 5 p.m. is a boon to work-life balance, and many IT professionals are reaping those benefits.
Here are three roles to consider if you're looking for an IT job with predictable hours.
Data scientist might be the best job on the market if you're looking for high pay and predictable hours. It's the best job in the United States, according to Glassdoor; the career site also says data scientists have one of the best jobs for work-life balance—not just in IT, but in any industry.
Data Scientists lay the data foundation upon which robust analytics are built, according to the Harvard Business Review. They test metrics and evaluate the data their processes gather, and they are especially vital to the data-driven companies that drive innovation. These types of companies typically have stable workplaces, predictable hours, and good benefits.
Because they handle data sets and don't troubleshoot user issues, data scientists aren't at the beck and call of their coworkers. Instead, they can perform their analyses during regular work hours.
Every company needs someone to connect new hires with working computers, an internet connection, and cloud access. That's what systems administrators do. They install hardware and software, make upgrades and repairs, evaluate systems performance, and help users connect with the system, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If they're in a managerial role, they manage the IT help desk, too.
Because their work coincides with the needs of their offices, systems administrators tend to work the same hours as their coworkers. For most companies, this means the typical nine-to-five work day—barring any major after-hours emergencies.
Cybersecurity analysts monitor network servers from potential threats or attacks. No, hackers don't typically work a nine-to-five schedule. But cybersecurity has become increasingly critical to any and every organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cybersecurity workforce will grow by 28 percent by 2026.
That demand stems from the need for 24-hour surveillance. Mercifully, the workload is broken up into eight-hour shifts. So while you might be working the overnight shift or the evening shift, you'll at least know exactly when you'll be punching in and out.
What to look for in IT jobs.
IT jobs are, by and large, unpredictable. Though some jobs tend toward more regular hours, the title on your business card might not always be indicative of when and how long you'll work. Company culture is just as important—maybe more so. Even companies such as Facebook, whose all-night hackathons were once welcomed and encouraged, are speaking up about how better work-life balance retains top talent.
Your work hours will always depend upon what your organization needs. If you're working for a start-up, you might need to stay late to meet a crucial product launch deadline. But if you find the right role in the right company, you'll never have to miss your child's evening baseball games again.