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Is Finding Part Time Work In IT Unrealistic? 396

Posted by Soulskill
from the easier-to-replace-with-hardware dept.
I like my current job writes "Having worked full-time in IT for the past 12 years, I would really like to work less and focus on other goals and priorities in my life. I asked my current employer and was shot down. It seems like everyone I know in IT works full-time except for entry-level help desk staff. Striking out on my own seems to be the only way to control the ball and chain around my ankle. However, my experience with independent consulting is a 'feast or famine' situation, with work coming all at once, thus making part-time impossible, or the other extreme (which is even more likely). Is part-time work a pipe dream in IT? Maybe a career in toilet cleaning is calling me."
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Is Finding Part Time Work In IT Unrealistic?

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:01PM (#26184387) Homepage

    One reason corporations don't like part-time is that as long as you are full-time, you actually tend to work way past 40 hours a week. You do whatever it takes to get the job done, under impossible deadlines.

    Once you are part-time, you start saying no to crazy demands. Corporations just hate that.

    My answer? Be your own boss. It comes with a caveat: starting your own business alone is a bad idea. Guess what? It takes more than one person to provide something of value. It doesn't take an army of hundreds, but a small dedicated group of friends can do amazing things. The sum really is larger than the parts.

    Take a look at fairsoftware.net [fairsoftware.net]. It was designed for exactly that purpose: geeks starting a side business together.

    • by tukang (1209392) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:25PM (#26184569)

      You do whatever it takes to get the job done, under impossible deadlines.

      Luckily, that's not the case at all when you're your own boss ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Luckily, that's not the case at all when you're your own boss ;)

        Probably not, but resigning from the job is a bitch. I can't agree with myself whether I should quit or I should be fired.

      • by heretic108 (454817) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:15PM (#26184951)

        In the IT industry as I've known it, 'part time work' is anything less than 80 hours/week.

        • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:46PM (#26185219) Journal

          Not sure if you are joking, but if not...then you need a new job. Or you may just need to put your foot down. I have been in IT for years as a web developer for a few diff companies, and have never worked like that. Get your stuff done at work, make it clear you are willing to work a little extra where needed (which should be rare) but if there is bad planning, well, tough. IT shops need to be brought back to reality, namely, that poor planning cannot be overcome by stressing out your workers. And I've done pretty well, and thus far my family hasn't starved. The people who are often overworked are overworked because they let it happen. I have known way too many "heroes" who are all willing to work as long as needed for no good reason at all. Trouble is, today's hero is tomorrow's burnout.

          Or become a consultant. You may work the hours, but they are no longer a free gift from you to the company. You bill every hour you work.

    • by plover (150551) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:28PM (#26184595) Homepage Journal

      There's always a catch.

      I have several friends who have tried this over the years, and know other people who have tried this. The bottom line is: friendships can fail under the strain of a business relationship, and when the friendship fails, the business is not far behind. My wife has worked for three of these ventures over the last 15 years, where two friends created a business, had a falling out, and the business collapsed as a result. All three times. In none of those cases were the owners able to remain friends. She is now with a family owned business who are having their own difficulties right now, but there's no risk of a partnership collapsing here to accelerate it.

      Being in it with a friend at a stressful time, when you have one idea about how to save the company, and your friend has a different-and-incompatible idea, and there's just enough money left to try one of your ideas, that's a pressure cooker not many relationships can survive.

      Now, you may have a "less permanent" idea about business. Maybe you just want to start a company for the purpose of working, but don't care if it stays together longer than three years or so. As long as you and your partners agree up front, that may work for you.

      One other piece of advice -- hire an independent person to do the books, someone you both can trust. Not just an external accountant, but a bookkeeper who sees the day-to-day spending, and lets you both know that the other isn't spending money foolishly.

      I will say that family owned businesses seem to be the exception to the rule, as long as Dad or Mom or Grandpa is the "boss" and everyone else understands that.

      • Yeah, I worked at a business founded by a married couple and they divorced shortly after I left.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ccguy (1116865) *
        Boy does your wife bring back luck...
      • by goatpunch (668594)

        Yes, and these 'friends' might be less reluctant than you think to screw you over to save themselves if the shit hits the fan.

      • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:16PM (#26187417)

        > I have several friends who have tried this over the years, and know other people who have tried this. The bottom line is: friendships can fail under the strain of a business relationship ...

        This is so true. I've worked on a number of projects with friends and have to conclude it's a bad idea. People, even those who hang out a lot and met in the same organization have very different expectations about how to go about work. Being friends, it's so much harder to confront the issues because you don't want to end up fighting them. Even if you agree lets be upfront as soon as we think there's a problem and we'll head it off, well, that doesn't work either. People hold it in.

        Trick to resolving problems WITH ANYONE is you need to jump on them asap. Putting it off only makes it worse. Being friends, you put that off (and it gets worse) until one of you blows a fuse, then it's so much harder to undo the damage.

        And hate to say it, but money changes most people. Sure there are people it doesn't, but at the moment my sample rate shows 100% and that includes some awfully nice people. One stage I was owed $100K by someone I thought was a friend. But when they had to decide between me and $100K, from their luxury waterfront beachhouse, well, Satan likes water views.

        > where two friends created a business, had a falling out, and the business collapsed as a result.

        I've never *lost* a friendship because of business. When it did go bad, we agreed to put it behind us and never do it again. That required a lot of forgiving in some cases, but learned the lesson.

    • by mugnyte (203225)

      Isn't contracting on a per-hour basis exactly what this is supposed to balance? If a market can hire FT employees at their rates, then the supply of developers might not be low enough to raise prices (or, in this case, reduce workweek hours).

      Contractors typically supply a varying percentage of an IT workforce in any large company - it just makes more sense to the company to bring in hired hands during project "pushes" than to keep them on staff permanently. However, we all know these can l

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094)
      Being part-time is no safeguard against your employer making unfair demands on your time. I used to have a part-time job (their decision, not mine) doing tech support, but routinely found myself working 40-50 (sometimes 60) hours a week. After all, it was so much easier to give me more work (and more hours) than adding staff. They seemed to think that they were doing me a favor, but it also meant that my other priorities (i.e. my personal life and the freelance work that I did to make up for the lack of b
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      Employees vs. contractors is always an interesting factor in economic uncertainty times. When rumours of job cuts start circulating the permies are first in line to shout about seniority and loyalty regardless of their skills and relative worth to the organization.

      "But I filled out the timesheets correctly for 15 years and kissed the appropriate asses! Why should I be let go?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yttrstein (891553)
      I started my company by myself. It doesn't have to pan out the way you described -- it depends very much on what your product is and what the margin on that product in the responsive markets is, and how that margin changes over time.

      Pretty much business 201 there. If you're doing hardware repair then no, you probably can't start a company on your own that does just that. The margin is too small in most markets. However, if you choose a thing like security consulting the current margin is ridiculously hu
    • I used to work for a large telco corporation (think big!) On my team, there were two women who worked three days a week. They, AFAIK, had benefits and all, but made a lot less salary. It can happen, it's all in how you ask for it.

      You have to make a case for it, and you have to have a reasonable boss. Reasonable bosses are usually what happens to people who get their work done and provide value (unless your boss is hopelessly inept and doesn't esteem people who are good employees.) If you are valuable,

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:55PM (#26185293) Homepage Journal

      My answer? Be your own boss. It comes with a caveat: starting your own business alone is a bad idea. Guess what? It takes more than one person to provide something of value.

      Guess what? That's not absolutely true. It's not hard for one person to provide something of value. You're not going to start a Tesla Motors but if you chose projects and products approprate for a one person operation, you might even do those projects and products better than larger operations could.

      I don't know where you think otherwise, but my experience shows such an absolute statement is not true. I'm in business for myself, no partners and no employees. Even before I started it, I knew several people that are in business for themselves, more people than had partnerships or larger businesses. From what I understand, partnerships are generally riskier ventures than sole proprietorships. I think the way to make a business partnership work is to have one person that's actually in control, the other partners are "minor" partners, or hire a non-partner to do the management work.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:02PM (#26185349) Journal

      One reason corporations don't like part-time is that as long as you are full-time, you actually tend to work way past 40 hours a week.

      Funny. I'm an employer, in a corporation, and I would *never* ask anyone to work over 40, even when on salaried pay.

      But I still like full-time over part-time because full time is "immersive" - people who dedicate their time and primary mind share are more productive per time unit. I get more and better work per hour from a full-time engineer than a part-time employee.

      My answer? Be your own boss. It comes with a caveat: starting your own business alone is a bad idea. Guess what? It takes more than one person to provide something of value. It doesn't take an army of hundreds, but a small dedicated group of friends can do amazing things. The sum really is larger than the parts.

      I call bullshiznt. You think being your own boss means you WON'T work bat-shiat crazy hours under impossible deadlines? BWAH HAW HAW HAW HA!!!!!!

    • by StormReaver (59959) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:33PM (#26187185)

      "My answer? Be your own boss."

      This is one of those things that sounds great when you're disillusioned with your job, but isn't all it's cracked up to be:

      As your own boss, there is no one sitting between you and irate clients (and clients will get irate regardless of how well you perform, especially if they don't understand how your industry works). I wrote an entire custom business management package in one year, replacing an old DOS-based package that hadn't been supported for over 15 years, and my client was furious. He thought that since modern software was created by drawing simple pictures on a screen, I was must have been extremely incompetent to have taken an entire year.

      Since you will become personally responsible for EVERYTHING, the stress you face will usually exceed that of your regular job. There is no longer a manager to stand between you and the constant badgering of your customers. I think most people with the, "become your own boss!" advice greatly underestimate how much crap they don't see when their manager runs interference.

      With rare exceptions, you will work more hours than you ever have in the past; especially when you are dealing with your first couple projects. The project I mentioned above was done after work and on weekends. I went from working steady 40-hour weeks to working 80-100 hour weeks during some weeks.

      Depending on your industry, you may run into a "feast or famine" situation. When I was working this project, I was making 4 times my normal salary. But in the post-project era, the software works so well that I rarely hear back from them. When I call them periodically for routine customer relations, they tell me that the software works flawlessly (Linux, PostgreSQL, Qt, Cygwin for those interested) and covers all their current needs. They expect to need additions at some indeterminate future point (which recently came to pass), but for now (four years after the initial delivery), the software is more than they had hoped for.

      Being your own boss has a number of pros and cons, and is certainly not a cure-all for job dissatisfaction. I highly recommend that people try it for at least a year in order to gain a greater appreciation for the benefits of letting someone else be the boss. Despite all that, I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from having done things my way, the right way.

      • by howlinmonkey (548055) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @09:19AM (#26191001)

        The problem you are describing here isn't a self-employment problem, it is a project management problem. If you had created a project plan and built realistic time expectations with your customer, then he could not have been irate. He would have signed off on the project plan, the schedule, and would have been kept abreast of the project's progress via milestones and a strong communication plan.

        This is going to be a problem whether you are self-employed or work for $MegaCorp.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:01PM (#26184391)
    This is how to handle the situation:

    Schedule an appointment with your boss, then walk into his office(shutting the door behind you) and grab his tie. Yank it down so hard that it chokes him and his head slams into his desk and say with your other fist clenched,

    "You punk motherfucker - I'm going to come in at 7am and leave at 11am and you're going to pay me my regular fucking salary as if we didn't have this little discussion, capiche?"

    If he says anything other than "yes" then grab his stapler and pistol-whip him with it. Go back to work while keeping a loaded pistol in your desk so that you can point it at your boss whenever he walks by your cubicle. Leave early so that you can break into his home and hang his pets from his ceiling fan, but take one of the pets, behead it, and place its head on your boss' bed. Then write, "I see you" above his bed using his favorite pet's blood.

    If the plan outlined above dosen't work, you just might have to play hardball.

  • On the right track (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:05PM (#26184421)

    If you are involved in the development of software then you will be on the treadmill. The only way out is to either strike out on your own or to give up on the industry altogether.

    Personally, I wouldn't do it. But I can see how leaving the industry completely is attractive for some. Just be prepared for the paycut.

    But then again, money isn't everything, and if you can improve your quality of life, even with a paycut, then more power to you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The only way out is to either strike out on your own or to give up on the industry altogether.

      I disagree. There are plenty of part-time IT jobs, you just have to know where to look. My current job is a part-time IT job at a small company that started up a year or two ago. Sure, my boss wouldn't mind me working full-time, but it is, in fact, a part-time job, and honestly if I weren't doing web development work alongside the regular IT stuff, I wouldn't have enough stuff to do to fill even a part-time job.

      My advice would be to find a small startup in need of some IT help. Easier said than done, I

  • Full time work is also impossible.. at least for me.

  • by Anonymous MadCoe (613739) <maakiee@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:11PM (#26184481) Homepage

    Depending on your definition of part-time, but many companies in The Netherlands will allow for a 32 hours week (4 days).
    As far as I know is hat not uncommon in Sweden either.

  • ... but if your boss needs a particular amount of work done, it may be a lot more expensive for him to achieve that with 2 (or 3) part-time workers. Also, part-time sometimes means "partly committed" as well (or busy working on something else). Being your own boss may be a good solution, but it could also be the road to the 70-100 hour week hell. ;-)
    • Indeed, as an employee one always must consider what the needs of the boss are. Company first. Self second. After all... it's not like there is anything else to do, and if you don't do it, someone else will.

      On the other hand...

      It's in most cases actually cheaper to pay two part-time employees than one full-time. For one, you are paying the same hourly rate regardless of how many checks you write. You pay for 60 hours of work, it's the same amount if you pay one person or if you pay three. Also,
      • by Lazy Jones (8403)

        It's in most cases actually cheaper to pay two part-time employees than one full-time. For one, you are paying the same hourly rate regardless of how many checks you write. You pay for 60 hours of work, it's the same amount if you pay one person or if you pay three. Also, part-time gets no overtime, so no wage increase. Part-time also gets no benefits or stock options and such-like.

        Not really. In some countries (like Austria) there are always per-employee taxes/fees and you have to consider all the overhead of having possibly multiple desks / PCs / telephones / wiring / per-user licenses / keycards (together with the costs of servicing these components as well as e-mail etc. for more users). Other related costs include the cost per paycheck (accounting), the cost/overhead of coordinating more people (up to needing more administrative/management staff when your teams become too big) e

    • depends on the worker. I'd rather have a worker who works hard for three or four days a week than the guy who works 60 hours a week and screws off the whole time. Facetime is irrelevant, productivity is king.

  • by theaveng (1243528) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:12PM (#26184489)

    As a contractor I have the option to work less. I can voluntarily choose to cut my hours to 6 hours a day (or alternatively 4 days a week) if work is slow & I have nothing to do. That saves the company's money and gives me more time to enjoy life.

    The drawback is that when crunch time comes, then you're expected to put in the overtime.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      This is a bad idea.

      Showing that the company can live without you is showing that you're being paid for nothing, according to those zany accountants. Now, I like the idea myself..that you can scale back hours voluntarily as necessary, as opposed to doing that soul crushing busy work.

      Accountants ruin it. Whether it be by making the assumption that you're lazy/slacking/unnecessary/etc, or by saying "well since half the department is part time anyway, lets fire everyone and hire a consultant for a third of th

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:08PM (#26185821) Homepage

      Yup, this doesn't really have much to do with the job being in IT. Generally two sorts of people work part-time:

      • People on the low end, perhaps just starting out. These might include personal assistants, receptionists, helpdesk personnel, service related jobs, etc. They don't make much money.
      • People on the high end. This group includes contractors, consultants, and the self-employed. There can be a lot of money there if you're very good, and it's only really a part-time job when things are slow. When things are busy, it's a more-than-full-time job, and if you're not willing to work more than full time when it's busy, then you won't keep getting work.

      What it comes down to, in large part, is that there's no easy money. I know, we'd all love to think that we can find a nice and easy part-time job that still pays well, but if there are jobs out there like that, good luck finding them. And most likely, the only reason anyone will offer such a sweet deal is if you're highly skilled and valuable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:13PM (#26184493)

    Outside of IT, how often do you find people working higher level jobs part-time? It seems to me that part-time jobs are almost ways lower level, lower responsibility positions. You'd probably have better luck finding something with some sort of flex time or telecommuting. By altering your schedule that way, you can save quite a few hours.

    • by cyclone96 (129449) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:29PM (#26185065)

      We actually had an interesting situation where I work (spacecraft operations). We had a senior aerospace engineer depart after 15 years to become an airline pilot, of all things (decided to turn a hobby into a job).

      About a year later, he came back part time because the routes he flew left him with large blocks of free time at irregular periods during the month, and he was getting bored (because before his "hobby" was flying....and he stopped doing that on his days off!).

      It was a win-win situation. He'd give us 40-60 hours a month of hourly work when it was convenient for him. We kept his hopper full of things like documentation, training, and other stuff that most senior guys consider dreg work. Even though he now has enough seniority to avoid pilot furloughs, he'll volunteer to drop his flight hours if the airline needs him to. He just increases his hours with us (and he's so good, we'll take whatever he gives us up to full time).

      Since he's not interested in advancing up the ladder, he really does a great job on this low-visibility stuff that really helps an organization run well if it's done right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NixieBunny (859050)
      I don't think there are many, but I have one as a staff engineer at a university. I got hired based on a recommendation of a former coworker who works at the new place.

      I was hired first as a contractor, then I asked for a part-time salaried position. They created a job opening to match my skills and their requirements, and curiously I was the only person who qualified for the job.

      It is rather cushy, getting full benefits for my family and working a flexible schedule of 20-30 hours/week as needed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dcollins (135727)

      College adjunct faculty.

  • Yes it's possible (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ritchie70 (860516) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:16PM (#26184507) Journal

    My department has two or three part time workers. One of them is a part-time, remote worker.

    They don't play in-depth technical roles. One is a project manager. She manages a single project that would, with full time people, be one of two or three projects that full time person was managing.

    Another does do support, both helping with features and interacting with users about future features they would like to see on the reporting system in question.

    I can't remember what the third one does but I'm pretty sure they exist.

    I'm a development team lead, and wouldn't have a problem with a part-time developer, so long as they were largely self-managed - if I can give them a vague description of something and get a design and time estimate and then get the work done when they estimated, that would be fine.

  • I did it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:16PM (#26184515) Homepage

    I did it for about 6 months. I went from 40 hour weeks to 20 hour weeks comprised of 2 10-hour days. After a few months the situation became untenable and I chose to quit and move on.

    The problem was the manager couldn't sequence the work where I could perform it on the days I was there. I wasn't just asking myself to rise to the challenge, I was asking him to do so too. He couldn't. So he placed another employee to deal with issues that came up while I was out of the office. The other guy was what I like to refer to as a brilliant idiot. That's not just sour grapes; a few months after I left he escaped just ahead of the axe. In the months I was there he took it upon himself to unilaterally reconfigure systems on the days I wasn't scheduled to work.

    Faced with the conflict, the boss made the decision to go with the guy who was in the office. Not the wisest of choices as it turned out, but completely understandable.

    • Re:I did it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by murdocj (543661) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:30PM (#26184615)

      So you were only available 2 days a week, and you're upset that your boss couldn't somehow schedule all of the work to occur those 2 days? You say "he placed another employee to deal with issues that came up while I was out of the office"... what was he supposed to do? Put the problem on hold 4-5 days till you were available?

      It's one thing to say "this is my code, my system, no one else touches it without talking to me first" if you are available normal working hours. If you aren't available, guess what, someone else is going to have to deal with the "issues" that come up while you are out of the office. Where I work, people are nervous if there's only one full time employee who understands how to do something, having a part-timer be the only one would be utterly unacceptable, unless the function is pretty marginal to being with.

      • Re:I did it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spazmania (174582) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:05PM (#26184881) Homepage

        You misunderstand. I'm suggesting that someone who isn't entry level, someone with real responsibility who tries to drop to part time sets himself up for failure. He's asking the manager he works for to greatly exceed normal and reasonable expectations. Few can.

        I will, however, defend my choices this far: I carried a cell phone and left standing instructions to call me when faced with something that genuinely couldn't wait. Knucklehead didn't call. He did wait though: he postponed tasks until I *wasn't* there.

      • ... what was he supposed to do? Put the problem on hold 4-5 days till you were available?

        The grandparent specifically said "I wasn't just asking myself to rise to the challenge, I was asking him to do so too." He was admitting it was an untenable situation because he was putting his boss in an impossible position. The very last thing he said was that it was completely understandable that his boss went with the guy in the office. There's nothing suggesting he was upset or even slightly annoyed. So...um...no.

  • by mooreBS (796555) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:20PM (#26184545)
    ...that doesn't need full-time IT. The company I work for only has forty employees and we have a part-time admin who comes in two days a week. The only drawback is that he's on call 24/7. Just remember that remote access is your friend.
    • by tirerim (1108567) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:27PM (#26185047)
      Exactly what I was going to suggest. Or a company that has a particular job that only needs to be part-time -- my organization has one full-time IT person (me), but we also have a part-time sysadmin who takes care of various stuff and is an extra person on-call (useful with a very small staff), and a part-time developer (who is part-time because we can't afford to hire him full-time).
  • Personal motivation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Exp315 (851386) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:25PM (#26184571)
    If your reasons for wanting to work part time are that you're lazy and you don't like being told what to do, good luck! You'll need it. I successfully ran my own independent software business for a couple of years, with a combination of internet sales of my own product, and part-time contracting for a couple of companies. I could set my own hours of work, but that didn't mean that I worked any less - just that I had to rely on personal motivation and sense of responsibility to get the work done. And if you think "being your own boss" means that you can do things your way, think again. It means that you have to learn to put ego aside and do what your customers want.
  • Contract and telecommute. As long as you get your work done, you work the hours you want. Of course you may get underbid by foreign workers but often companies want someone who works THEIR hours, whom they can call if they need and who may be available beyond the contract for support. I have worked with many companies which have been burned by foreign contractors and will not work with them unless they have a presence their.

    Of course, I have also seen employers get burned by domestic contractors but that
  • You could go into consulting, and only spend 1/3 of the money you earn and put the rest into reserve for between gigs, and then work parttime by doing 55hr/week some of the time and 0hr/week most of the time.

    Logically conceviable, but would require trememdous dicipline financially and some luck in finding gigs.

    or

    You could develop your own software as part of an independent entity, and then set a schedule and stick to it.

    I've seen a few donationware projects outthere that seem to run that way, but you would

  • Okay, follow me here - FLSA (Federal Labor Standards Act) exempts computer professionals from getting time for working more than 40 hours per week. However, this federal law does not trump any state law. For example, Pennsylvania law specifically requires employers to pay time and a half for hourly paid computer professionals working over 40 hours per week. Now, this can at least keep your hours reasonable in an IT worker friendly state like Pennsylvania. More important, if your employer refuses to pay th
  • My advice... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by writermike (57327) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:27PM (#26184587)

    It's not completely unrealistic.

    (( tl;dr - Find a one-man show who needs help with current workload and is willing to contract out. ))

    Let me tell you my quick story: I've been in IT most of my professional life, having made a lateral move from printing (prepress) into working for a hard/software developer in the field. A few years later, after running my own show for about five years, I worked for a helpdesk.

    I didn't like working at this helpdesk, but I kept chalking up my displeasure to personal concerns. In the end, I was trying to fit into a management role and I hated management. My anxiety and depression (as I am inclined to) kept building to a point where I literally walked out one day with a serious bent toward harming myself.

    Despite my situation, I needed work. I set out to find work in which I could set my own schedule. Now, I _hoped_ for part-time work, but was willing to do full-time if that's all that was available.

    The first thing I did is leverage _all_ my contacts. I interviewed with companies with which I already had worked with or employed people I knew. When they asked me about availability, I told them "I would prefer part time, but we can talk about full time."

    One contact was a guy who was in the same situation I was during my business' run. I had loads of work, but didn't know how hire or manage people. I never really solved that issue, but he was committed to trying. I started working for him part-time. Today, I work 4 days a week at about 4-6 billable hours a day. The rate is generous.

    Now, initially, the hours available were pretty low. (Considering my mental state, I was happy to have a lot of time out.) What's key, however, is that as I learned his customer base and their needs, the customers realized that my colleague's business was simply more available. So, the customers started making more requests and, now, the company has the ability to serve the requests. My hours increased and I can do more if I want.

    So, like any other search, you have to network. You have to state what you want, but be willing to compromise. Be nice. Be humble. Be enthusiastic.

    • by drspliff (652992)

      I'd love to do something similar, but most companies I've left have been on not so good terms due to personal illness (high stress & chronic depression etc.).

      Sucks to be me I suppose.

  • This is a text book case of time to become an independent contractor.

    You choose your work. You choose your hours. It's can be a little scary, but too, it's the foundation of the American dream.

    Get a lawyer, get an accountant, and get a mentor.

    Then live the dream!

    • by noldrin (635339)
      This is very true. Especially if you can specialize in a high paid skill that might not have constant demand. Some network guys work 8 months a year while taking home 80K. As for regular employment, my company used to have a part time guy, but he got paid at far less per hour on top of that.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:31PM (#26184627) Homepage Journal

    Well, if you are really bold, you could take a full time job and just not show up sometimes. Sooner or later, you will get fired, but, if you can keep the balls up in the air you might be able to make it work for a year or two, and, you'll make a lot more money. Let's face it, there's plenty of people that simply do not do anything except show up, so, it might not be too hard to give output comparable them..

    • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:25PM (#26185523) Journal

      I assume (and hope) you were joking. But at a place I used to work (giant telco), there was a guy who worked in IT and did just as you described.

      Long story short, it caught up with him eventually. Before too long, everyone was onto him, including his boss. It took a while to fire him because, well, that's how big companies work sometimes. Meanwhile, hundreds of people were aware of what he was doing. The damage he did to his reputation will surely outweigh any benefits he gained from his dishonesty. People move around from job to job. He now has ~200 people at various IT shops who know what kind of moral character he has. Last I heard, he is working at a Home Depot driving a forklift.

      And if you *weren't* joking, well...you should be banned from giving advice for the rest of your life.

  • by Kjella (173770)

    Honestly, I wouldn't go independent to work part time. I guarantee you'll have the same struggle you see now with yourself all the time. Most consultants bring in good money on being more flexible, more "do what it takes" than your salaried employees, unless you work for huge consulting companies which is different but not better for part-time either. If you don't run into it yourself as in "taking both those will be good money" it'll come to you as "well, if you can't come in now we won't renew your contra

  • by chappel (1069900)

    I suspect only working part time in IT would make it difficult to maintain a current skillset. I seem to learn something from just about every project I do - and I'd hate my job if I didn't. Only working part time gives you fewer opportunities to learn new things, stay current with what you already know, and keep up with the constant changes compared to a full-time co-worker. Unless you really focused on keeping up - which I find tougher to do without a specific (job related) task associated with it, you

  • The only part time tech work I had was as an intern or working at a University doing tech support for one of the colleges. Working at the University required being a student.

    Otherwise there's probably very little chance of getting part time work.

  • The benefits are twofold.

    Unionized workplaces usually have a lot of flexibility in terms of hours, part-time, mat/pat leave, benefits, leave of absence, etc. The only way to lose your job is to do something really stupid and indefensible, your employer can't just sack you, they have to prove their case.

    Working at a non-profit means profit isn't the be all and end all, the focus is on service instead. There's a different mentality and work philosophy, people work at non-profits mostly because they're eithe

  • If your a systems admin and live in or around NYC, message me. I have plenty of part time work.

  • Doesn't work (Score:4, Informative)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @12:59PM (#26184849)
    As someone who did exactly what you are trying to do I can tell you that while the arrangement was ok for me, it wasn't that great for my employer. What happened was that I decided to quit my job as a developer because I was starting a business (not IT related) and wanted to devote more time to it. Since we were in the middle of a pretty major project, my boss tried to persuade me to stay and after a bit of wrangling we settled on a 3 day week, Mon to Wed.

    The problem is, on most IT projects you don't work by yourself. And other people on the team are still there when you are not and face a choice of either calling you on your days off (in which case you might as well work full-time) or assigning your tasks to other people and working around the fact that you're not there (in which case your role will be increasingly marginalized to the point where you might as well not be there at all). It's not just a matter of scheduling. Unexpected things pop out all the time and since we were working on a deadline it was a major annoyance for people to postpone say a conference call where I was needed by 5 days (say Thursday to Monday) etc.

    I guess it depends on the circumstances, but generally I would ask a question what's in it for the employer? If you are absolutely essential to them and there is no other way they can keep you then great, but in most cases they might as well hire a full time person instead.
  • Four years ago, I hung my shingle (in the local Yellow Pages) and "retired" from corporate IT. I fix home computers for ninety bucks an hour. I have about 700 customers so far, and almost all of them would call me exclusively for future repairs. I pick up at least two or three -- sometimes a dozen or more -- new customers per week through the ad in the phone book.
    It's truly a part-time job: some days I'm swamped, and other days I'm dead in the water... but I set my own schedule, and I have a very low overhe
  • by capsteve (4595) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:22PM (#26185007) Homepage Journal
    i starting reading your question and was wondering when i penned this question to slashdot... but i realize that there are many of us out there with similar stories.

    i too have worked in IT fulltime for 12 years, and i've always been in positions which required working above and beyond the standard 40 hour work week. in the beginning i used to envy my 40 hour co-workers, but then i started putting things into perspective:

    + i don't punch a timeclock.
    + although i am consistent in my arrival and departure time, my time is flexible enough that i can come and go as i please.
    + my lunch hour can be as short as 30 minutes, or as long as a couple of hours.
    + i'm often taken out to lunch by various vendors(existing and potential) to discuss new products, services, etc.
    + the company pays for my cell phone(i know it's a leash, but i'm also not limited in my usage).
    + i get equipment refreshes with a higher frequency then most users(save owners and other bigwigs).
    + i have more technology in my cube/office than several co-workers combined.
    + i can wear what i want.
    + i usually set my own agenda for my work week.
    + i'm often involved in interesting projects, many of the involving exploratory research regarding cost, deployment, etc, stuff that actually is challenging.
    + i'm a techno-god in the eyes of my co-workers.
    + i get a regular paycheck.
    + i have ability to authorize up to $5000 purchases per P.O.(no limit on number of P.O.s... how did that happen?...)
    + i get reimbursed on work related expenses.
    + i get paid vacations and official holidays.
    + i get to go home to my family and leave work behind from time-to-time.

    of course on the downside:
    - i get stuck holding the bag when technology misbehave.
    - i have to work long hours from time to time.
    - sometimes there just isn't someone to hand things off to, so i have to see things thru to the end.
    - there often isn't anyone else to blame.
    - i don't always get compensated for my time appropriately.
    etc...
    etc...
    i can go on and on with the plusses and minusses, but the bottomline for me, i'm better off workin' for the man, and not for myself. you need to run a +/- list for yourself and see how it shakes out. work less? and you're thinking of going into business for yourself? pull your head out of your ass!
    your gonna work harder and longer when you work for yourself, for a while(months, maybe even years)...
    and you bring your work home with you...
    and you can't take a day off 'cause your sick...
    and you can't just up and quit cause your boss is an asshole...

    why don't you ask for a different compensation schedule? or maybe a flex schedule? track how many hours you work(regular and overtime) and see if you qualify for overtime pay in your state/country. ask your employer to pay for your cell and home internet connection(so it's less money out of your pocket). start becoming creative about how you are compensated for your work, and maybe not just money...

    sometimes i wish i was a bricklayer: only responsible for making sure that my shit is level, straight and plumb, and be able to leave all my work behind at the end of the day, but alas, that's not my lot. oh well, maybe the next reincarnation.

  • For my first job out of College, I was a contractor.

    Many of the contractors I worked with loved it because they would take long vacations in between gigs. They also were able to control their hours and avoid death marches.

    Contractors are also easily fired, which means that when working with contractors; those who write bad code are given the boot very quickly!

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:53PM (#26185277)

    If you work three days a week - 60% of the time...

    Your computer doesn't cost 60%.

    Your software licenses aren't 60% either.

    That desk you use didn't cost 60% as much.

    The office space to put your desk in doesn't cost 60% as much.

    The HR department doesn't only do 60% of the work for you.

    Your health insurance doesn't only cover 60% of you - you either insure or don't insure a person.

    And so on.

    As a rule of thumb, most employees cost their companies 2-4 times the cost of their full time salary. Take a hypothetical $50,000/year salary. Cost to the company may well be around $200,000 a year. You take a pay cut to $30,000 in exchange for working 40% less, that $200,000 cost has just dropped to $180,000 or only 10% less. They're paying 10% less to get 40% less value out of you. Hardly a good deal. Admittedly, many costs do scale - 401k matching only matches what you pay, taxes are relative to salary, etc. Still, those that don't ensure the argument's not in your favor.

    Worked in reverse, it makes it painfully obvious why companies like EA so famously loved forcing overtime, especially when they could get it unpaid, out of workers. Health insurance doesn't cost them any more for a 100 hour week than it does for a 40 hour week. Office space costs no more. Hardware and software costs no more. On purely mercenary terms, efficiencies come in with more hours, not less. You're asking them to do the opposite.

  • Find an employer that supports your objectives. Many do.

    The catch is that you will get paid less. Flexibility has value.

  • by shock1970 (1216162) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:54PM (#26185733)
    If your IT skill sets are in demand and you are good and knowledgeable with your skill sets, or you can pick up and master new skills without too much pain... and you have the capability to be personable and social and you can also get up in front of a small group and speak, then perhaps you might want to look into becoming a contract trainer.

    I worked as a trainer in this fashion from '99 to '05 and it was a great experience. Generally it involves traveling to a client's site or training facility to do the work, but if you live in a big city, it will reduce the probability that you have to travel depending on the organization you do work with. The pay is pretty good... you can bring in between $400 to $1000 a day or more depending on various factors such as content complexity, demand, and class size. Most IT classes seem to run for about 3 to 5 days.

    It is part time work in the sense that you train only when classes are available to be taught, and when you feel like teaching them. (Though turning down requests for training will move you to the bottom of the 'available trainers' list with most companies) So you could easily work 26 weeks during the year and realistically bring in a $75,000 salary. That gives you the other 26 weeks of the year to learn new skills and brush up on old ones, and to basically do whatever you want to with your free time.

    On the downside, unless you are always learning the next new "hot" thing, it can be difficult to find work... Especially now that the economy sucks, as training budgets typically are the first to get slashed.

    But if you find the right niche, you have partial control over the times and places you work. Also, you typically don't work during the weeks where there are holidays. And usually, a training day is exactly 8 hours, which includes a 1 hour lunch break and other smaller breaks in between. You typically won't work more than that unless the materials are new to you, where you have to spend an hour or two per night reviewing what's to come the next day.

    As a bonus, if you can write your own materials, you can also make an additional income. Course materials sometimes go for anywhere from $10 to $75 per student per day.

    Granted, training is not for everyone, and this is probably the worst time to consider starting off in the field... wait for the markets to go up... but it's an awesome part time gig!
  • Schools, my friend (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xkr (786629) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:32PM (#26185975)
    There are tens of thousands of quality part time IT jobs in school districts. Companies, too, but those are harder to locate and less predictable. Many schools, both public and private, cannot afford a full-time person, but desperately need professional IT services. Also for smaller Cities, working directly for city gov't. (Look for a City where the city offices are in the same building as the police department.) These organizations don't know what to look for or how to interview. They will appreciate your experience. Walk in with a complete IT support plan for them, not just a resume.
  • by jhfry (829244) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:38PM (#26186023)

    Visit every small office you can find near home, tell them that you are willing to come in every Monday (or tuesday, etc.) and serve as their dedicated IT person for that day or half day. Tell them you don't want to be 1099'd but instead want to be a part time employee, in exchange for a regular schedule and the reduction in risk that 1099 work entails, you would be willing to take a far lower wage than their current on call guy.

    So your giving them the benifit of having an in house IT guy who's not going to over bill, no going to make unnecessary recommendations in hopes of profiting.

    I did this for a couple of years while I was in school... it works great. Most small business owners network with other small business owners, and you will turn down more offers than you'd imagine. Pick one who has a good health package and agree to work in exchange for healthcare. All together, most of my employers were out less than 10K per year, far less than they spent when they called the "geek squad" or their $100/hr consultants.

  • It is possible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dave562 (969951) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:40PM (#26186047) Journal

    I went from working as an IT consultant to an in house DBA/head network administrator position. I took a pay cut, but I enjoy a better quality of life. Instead of driving all over southern California and flying across the country on a regular basis, I now take the train to work. Instead of working random schedules whenever I was needed and putting in a lot of overtime, I work 35 hours a week and some times even less. I spend the mornings and evenings training martial arts, and spend the weekends and Wednesday nights with my girlfriend.

    Life isn't all roses though. I'm working for a non-profit that has been all over the papers (Los Angeles and New York Times) because of serious fiscal mismanagement on the part of the board of directors and senior staff. I could very well lose my job due to the mistakes of others.

    What you really need to do is to take a long hard look at how hard you want to work, and what you want out of life. I decided that I could live without a Porsche and a nice big house. I simply wasn't willing to put in the hours it took to make the big bucks. Some people are driven by those rewards. I'm not. I value tranquility and simplicity. I don't deal well working with the ladder climbing, self centered prick types who seem to end up at the "top" of the material world. I'd rather have free time to meditate, and practice tai chi, and read, and cook, and do other things that don't have me sitting in front of a computer, or sitting in meetings and thinking about work all the time.

    If your meta question is, "Can I make the big IT dollars and work part time?" I think the answer is a big NO. People make a lot of money with IT skills because, a lot of IT skills require a serious time commitment. Being successful in IT requires constantly upgrading your skills and staying abreast of the trends. In the two years I've been working where I'm working, I've missed the shift to virtualization. If I had stayed with my previous employer, I'd have VMware ESX skills right now. Since I didn't, I don't. I make ~$68k a year which is on the low side of what IT people make, and in southern California it isn't much at all. I'm happy though. I'm not going to starve any time soon.

  • In engineering... (Score:5, Informative)

    by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:54PM (#26186157)

    My company hires a lot of part-time people for engineering. They are entry-level, and the savings in pay and benefits are marginal compared to the added costs of supporting part-time people. We do it because it helps us find quality people and poses little risk for us (not hard to terminate someone part-time).

    For people more senior that only want to work part-time, we hire them as independent contractors. They all have day jobs and moonlight, and their pay is really just 10-20% above their day-job salary. Again, we gain benefits at minimal risks, making it worthwhile.

    It works for us because the tasks they are doing are between 2-10 hours, and can be done in one or two sittings. It works for them because they already have benefits and the money is generally extra cash.

    Part time employees don't take the place of full time employees. There are tasks that part-timers can't be expected or trusted to do. You get disappointed with performance periodically.

    So, converting a full-time job to a part-time job is generally impossible, especially on a long-term basis. (I pulled it off for 8 months once though.) You aren't going to get 2x the hourly wage to cover billing, benefits, and overhead if you are working part time and picky about hours.

    What does work is recognizing a deficiency and understanding how it can be solved part-time or in a geographically-agnostic way by someone with your particular experience.

  • I work 30 hours (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zoxed (676559) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @04:16PM (#26186317) Homepage

    I work as a "Software Consultant" (21 years so far) and 10 years ago I went from the standard 40 hour week to 30 hours when our second child was on the way (FWIW I am male: all the other part-timers at that time were female).
    Just recently a friend also went down from 5 to 4 days a week.
    IIRC the law here in Germany just changed such that the onus fell on the employer to show a reason why *not* to let you work part-time.

  • I did it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bdsesq (515351) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @04:44PM (#26186479)

    It took me two steps to make it happen.
    Step one was to move to an industry where part time is the norm. In my case I moved into health care.
    Then after getting settled and proving my worth I asked about part time.
    I am now working 32 hours per week, Monday to Thursday.
    Extra hours/overtime happen during my normal work days. If I have to work on my scheduled day off I take another day as comp time.

    Good luck. YMMV.

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