It makes sense to worry about the day-to-day of a career before you step into it. Would-be developers often ask whether a career in software engineering is boring.
Understanding what it’s like to be a programmer will help you make an informed decision that will benefit you long term.
Overall, software engineering is not boring. It has a job satisfaction score of 4.2 and consistently ranks high in employee satisfaction surveys. Software engineering provides a steady stream of interesting and challenging problems to solve. It is the perfect career for those seeking variety.
However, there are pitfalls to software engineering. Let’s break down exactly why software engineering isn’t dull and then highlight the things you need to consider before deciding to become a full-time developer.
Why software engineering isn’t boring
Not everyone is going to enjoy a career in software development. However, it has some major upsides that I think everyone can take some positives from. There are also a lot of misconceptions that may give off the impression that software engineering is boring. Let’s take a look at why software engineering is an interesting career choice.
1. The stimulation
A programmer's job is to spend all day solving problems. Some are small bug fixes and others are enormous greenfield pieces of work. There is rarely a dull moment in terms of workload. If you are someone that likes to be constantly on the go then you definitely won't find software engineering boring.
Every app or website can be continuously improved or updated and that means a steady flow of work. There are some quieter weeks but these allow you to scope out new pieces of work and develop your skills. Software engineering is stimulating because there is always something you can get better at, or help someone else improve on.
2. The flexibility
The amount of people working remotely is continuing to increase, and software engineering is leading the charge. Many companies are switching to a remote-first approach and allowing their teams to be decentralized.
If you are someone who wants the flexibility to work whenever you please, then you won't find life as a software engineer tedious. A long commute can spoil a job and lower your motivation. Thankfully most tech-focused companies are allowing their developers a lot of flexibility.
With most programming roles Gone are the days of rigid office structure and the “daily grind”.
3. The creativity
There are numerous ways to solve a problem in software engineering. How you approach an issue will depend on your experience and skill level. But hidden underneath those decisions is a creative process. You get to choose how to bring designs to life. One minute it's all on paper, the next you have brought it to life via a web application.
Whether it's understanding how many pages WordPress can handle or building React PWA, solving problems requires creativity. The route you choose to solve the problem will continually change and adapt as you learn more which keeps everything fresh.
Bringing these ideas to life makes the job fulfilling and is a clear indication that software engineering is not boring.
4. The Variation
If you are someone who gets bored easily then you’ll find software engineering interesting. Things change quickly in development and these changes provide a lot of variation. By the time you have finished debating whether you should learn Bootstrap another CSS framework will already be hot on its heels.
The day-to-day work of a software engineer is also varied. You can spend time running workshops, fixing bugs, building new features, or writing documents. There are not too many dull moments in software engineering.
Also, at smaller companies, you will be doing even more assorted tasks as you are expected to wear many different hats.
5. The Future
A good technical foundation will serve you well in your career. You can progress to become a senior developer or technical lead. Or choose the business route and go for a product-focused position.
Whatever you choose, being able to distill technical requirements into something understandable is a fantastic skill to have. Software engineering is fun because it opens a lot of doors going forward. You learn a decent amount of transferable skills wáhich makes climbing the corporate ladder possible if you want to.
Alternatively, you can decide to go it alone and run a startup. The technical knowledge you acquire means anything is possible. Spotted a gap in the market? Go for it. You're in a unique position as a software engineer in that you can apply your skills in any direction that you want.
6. The Team Work
There is a stereotype in the media that programmers are introverted geeks. However, the reality is far different. Developers are some of the most interesting people I have met, all with diverse interests.
Working in a team full of different people is interesting and exposes you to new ways of learning. As a junior, you will learn a lot from the people above you. Whether it's problem-solving, development skills, or discovering the command line, the people around you all make it possible.
Working in a team is one of the things that makes software engineering fun. It's amazing to work alongside such talented people.
Can a software engineer’s job be boring?
Software engineering isn’t perfect. Some downsides could lead you to think software engineering is boring. Before you even learn HTML or HTML 5, you should understand the drawbacks of being a developer.
Some may be deal-breakers and others you may even find a positive. It all depends on what you are looking for in a job. Let’s take a look at the main gripes full-time programmers have with their jobs.
If you don’t enjoy solving problems then software engineering isn’t for you. It can take days to find the best solution for a specific problem. You have to enjoy seeing things through to the end and have the ability to stay on task for long periods.
For people that enjoy constantly switching things up, software engineering may seem dull at times.
Software engineering can be repetitive. It’s important to caveat this by saying it depends entirely on the job that you land. Agencies that deliver WordPress websites can become repetitive very quickly. You will be performing the same tasks for each client with minor variations.
However, startups that only have an MVP will need a lot of new features built. It means your workload is unlikely to be repetitive. I’m not advocating for a startup over an agency, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Just make sure to find out what type of work the company does before signing a contract. Doing unfulfilling work can make software engineering seem dull. When in fact, it’s just the type of work you are doing.
If you don't enjoy the tools you are using then programming can quickly get frustrating. Some people enjoy thoroughly learning a specific tech stack and sticking with it hell or high water. Others enjoy the freedom to discover new libraries and technologies as they emerge.
Whatever you end up doing, make sure you work with something you enjoy. It’s easy to become disillusioned with software engineering if you aren’t working on the things you at least find interesting.
As I stated above, one of the benefits of a career in software development is the flexibility to work remotely. However, this does come with some downsides. A lot of your time as a software engineer can be spent alone, especially if you work remotely.
Depending on your personality this may be a positive. Just remember, you may work alone, but will constantly interact with your team. Decent companies will make sure you can pair up with more experienced developers to code and hold meetups.
If you are someone who likes the hustle and bustle of the office every morning, long-term you may find software development uninteresting.
Life as a programmer involves sitting down a lot. All day in fact. For some people, this is a massive positive, others their worst nightmare. If you are someone who enjoys being out and about during their working hours, coding is not for you.
People find the sedentary nature of software engineering to be monotonous. At the end of the day, it's personal preference, and you can even get a standing desk to mix things up.
Overall, software engineering is not boring. Some parts are more tedious than others but even these come down to personal preference.
A career in software development allows you to be creative and provide a varied workload. You get to build cool stuff, work from anywhere, and work alongside some genuinely talented people. It’s the perfect job for people who love to continually learn and challenge themselves.