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Working half time as an engineer?

  1. May 10, 2011 #1
    Can an engineer find work half time? I mean work 4 days a week for example?
    You already make enough money anyway.
    Could one work half time for a consultancy bureau?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2011 #2
    Yes, part-time jobs definitely exist. However, they are much rarer than full-time positions for obvious reasons.
  4. May 10, 2011 #3
    i work a full time engineering job but the days im at work im there for 14 hours, so basically i do full time hours but never do more than 4 days a week, it feels like part time work, oh and i always get the last 8 days of the month off, life is good
  5. May 11, 2011 #4
    Thnx for your responses.
    What are the 'obvious reasons' exactly why half time jobs are much rarer?
    Higher % employee costs for their total output, Half time jobs are not frequently in demand by engineers themselves anyway, projects have certain deadlines and employers can't be that picky in taking on projects that would only suit into your timeframe, .... ?
  6. May 11, 2011 #5
    In the oil and gas business it is quite common to work 28:28 that is 28 days at work followed by 28 days leave, when working it's 28 X 12 hour shifts, no days of, but 28 (actually 26 if if you include travel at each end) days leave is good.
  7. May 11, 2011 #6
    Thnx Jobrag. That is an extremely useful reply.
    That would absolutely not work for me.
    I work best when I work 3-4 days, and have 1-2 days off and repeat. I need time to process everything because I like to learn a maximum amount from a minimum effort.
    In this free time I likely would evaluate what I did and think about how I could improve certain things, learn new skills, etc.
    Any other type specific working hours for engineers as in the oil and gass business?
  8. May 11, 2011 #7
    Yes. :smile:

    I'd say the biggest problem is that employers want you to be available to put out fires. If a customer is having a problem, they want someone to work on that problem *now*, not be "Sorry, I won't be in until the middle of the week..."

    In my experience, it's usually the more specialized engineers who have rarer skills who can demand part-time jobs and get them.
  9. May 11, 2011 #8
    Ok, I understand. I thought a lot of engineers worked in a team? Can't they call/skype for solving problems with their team(House style). I mean, I have no problem even being available during the night to think about a problem, but I don't always want to be physically there.
    So, which engineers are regarded as sufficiently specialised to be able to work half time?
  10. May 11, 2011 #9


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    I've been in the engineering and services industry for 15+ years and do not know one instance of an engineer being hired out of unemployment to work "half time."

    The reason is because nobody wants to hire someone half time when they could hire them full time. If they are facing financial constraints that prevent them from hiring a full-time employee, the work load gets pushed on existing employees.
  11. May 11, 2011 #10
    Thnx for your response.
    "...do not know one instance of an engineer being hired out of unemployment to work "half time."
    Do you imply that after working a while with a certain company it is not unrealistic?
    Can't you negociate for a smaller wage to compensate for their disadvantages of hiring you to work half time?
  12. May 11, 2011 #11
    I'm a computer engineer, so that's the field that I'm most familiar with.

    While there is definitely a team working on every large piece of software, very often there are one or two engineers who are directly responsible for a particular feature. Other engineers might know a little about the feature... but not necessarily enough to debug complex problems.

    I see the problems with this often, as I'm currently working two part-time jobs: one 60%, and one 30%. If there is a problem at one job, I am simply not available to fix it, as I am working somewhere else. It takes a *lot* of patience for an employer to put up with this.

    (Oh, and I was hired at a different company at 60% from being unemployed a few years ago. So it *does* happen, although I think it's very rare.)
  13. May 11, 2011 #12
    The problem is that by asking for part-time work, you are essentially telling them that you don't really care about the job enough to do it full-time. Generally employers prefer to hire people who are more invested in their job than this, unless they absolutely have to.
  14. May 11, 2011 #13
    It's rather the opposite. I care so much about the quality of my work that I would take extra unpayed time to perfect it, think about it, making me a better engineer. It all depends on how your learning process is. Different people learn in different ways. Some people learn better case by case, others learn better by pure deduction from a single case.
    I am an INTJ according to the myers-briggs type indicator. I think the most prominent off all types in the engineering field is ISTP(just a hypothesis) and they learn in a different way.
    ISTP's are faster in fixing a completely new problem, but INTJ's draw deeper insight from each situation.
    But I can imagine most employers do not make this distinction and completely neglect personality types. Do you think some employers would be open for this if you would consicely describe your most efficient working style and complete persona?
    It took years to develop this personality typology. Even though it has a debatable basis, an employer claiming to know better how you work most efficient is basically saying his insight about personalities and their learning abilities is more insightful then a complete typology.
    It should be possible to show this to them, gently, without implying any incompetence on their part. Depends on which MBTI type your boss has how easily they will understand.
    What do you think?
  15. May 11, 2011 #14
    The problem is, regardless of your intention, it is taken as a sign of lack of seriousness. You can explain until you are blue in the face. But usually they will ignore you and hire someone full-time instead.
  16. May 11, 2011 #15
    Agreed, i wanted to find a part time position so i could pursue my interests in physics, now im stuck in the pickle of trying to study part time and hold down a full time job.
  17. May 11, 2011 #16
    Thank you for your responses again guys.
    Wow, that is a downer. I thought engineers were wanted much more then presented here.
    So basically, in engineering, the only way to do 'a part time job' as I described is by having your own company? I read that a lot of engineers just start of with the typical very technical stuff but a lot of them end up doing something completely different. Within those different jobs, do you see room for a part time arrangement as I described earlier?
  18. May 11, 2011 #17
    Start at with the basics and work your way up mate, i dont know what field you specialise in but at the end of the day you need to get on the ladder, and the first rung is as good a place as any to start!

    Not to say you should aim low but aim somewhere, find what you want to do in particular and try bloody hard to get into that, but always have a few other plans of attack!
  19. May 11, 2011 #18
    Thnx, that's some good advice!
    The reason why I ask so many questions is because I am just seriously considering studying engineering. I think I have a fairly good idea of how hard the studies are, it's bloody hard. I will at least need 1 year to study before I can even begin going to college. And I don't want to be studying like a nut for at least 4 years after that to end up realising that this isnt the life I imagined it to be.
  20. May 11, 2011 #19
    Long hours, Sometimes tedious and monotonous work, but at the end of the day, A BLOODY GOOD SALARY!
    Thats what ive found, personally i wish i earned half the amount but did something Physics based, i chose money over passion and ended up regretting it, try not to make the same mistakes, if you wanna do engineering then go for it mate, do what you can to get a foothold in this very competitive market and then do what you can to prove yourself. Thats really the best advice i can give on a personal level, other that scour the forums for other information, theres far more intellectually and academically qualified people in this forum :)
  21. May 11, 2011 #20
    Thnx for your reply EMFsmith.
    I have the same opinion. I love pure physics, much more then just engineering. But from what I've read chances of finding a good job is so much harder. It's silly knowing so much information for such limited possibilities. Completely disproportional, unless you are very good. Engineering is the best way to go I figure if I want to be able to provide a decent income for a girlfriend and family one day perhaps. You say you regretted it, but how can you be so sure you would get a decent job? What would you have liked to do?
    My interest is mainly grasping physics to a full extent, I'm not so much interested in doing experiments. And there's very little use for theoretical physicists right now I reckon.
    Last edited: May 11, 2011
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