Career has been a frequent topic in our house in the last year as our oldest decides where he wants his career to start. He is beginning his third year in secondary school in August, which means that he will be studying just 8 subjects, of which 5 of them he will choose.

Last night we attended a presentation at his school that provided more information on the subjects available to students.

On the way home after the presentation, our oldest had a fair idea of what subjects he wanted to select for his third year. After hearing his reasons for his choices, I realised that he hadn’t selected computer studies.

Now, I’m not a parent that thinks my kids should follow in my footsteps. They have their own careers that they want to pursue. I will, of course, let them know the benefits and drawbacks of my career, but ultimately, it’s down to them to decide what they want to do.

If I’m being honest, though, I’m relieved that my oldest isn’t pursuing a career in software development.

Still a fast industry

Software development will always be a changing industry that requires a degree of time to stay on top of. Don’t get me wrong, the industry needs to evolve and change. But, unless you’re in a position that affords the time to learn about new trends in the industry, you will find yourself devoting your own time to learning which isn’t always feasible.

Too many screens

Software development jobs involve a high degree of screen time. In fact, many posts require screens of some kind as we increasingly move to a more connected world, but being a developer, you always have at least one screen in front of you. Couple this with the screens that are already around you outside of work and you’re facing days where you could be facing a screen for up to 12 hours a day. It just doesn’t feel healthy.

Mostly a sitting job

It’s only in the last ten years that the health risks of sitting jobs have come to light. And for most development teams and organisations, sitting is the cheapest and therefore easiest way of setting up developers. Unless of course, you’re fortunate enough to be able to provide your own standing desk, or you have an employer that includes standing desks as a policy. Having sat at a desk for so many years, it’s for me, the worst aspect of the job.

Most of the reasons I’ve given for not recommending software development focus on negative aspects of the job. However, there is a positive reason why I wouldn’t support software development as a career to my oldest.

Always accessible

A popular introduction on the programming podcasts that I listen to involve the developer being interviewed to provide their background in how they got started in programming. It always surprises me the number of people that change careers to software development or have qualifications in another industry, but just wanted to give programming a try.

My late grand-father took up programming as a hobby when he retired. He continued to write software until his health deteriorated his ability to see.

While my oldest might not be looking to a career in software development not, it might be something that he considers later on in life. While he might not have the traditional qualifications for a job in software development now, it’s still possible for him to find a career in software development later on. He can learn the skills on his own and gain some additional skills through online courses. This might not have been the typical route into software development in the past. Still, now with so many learning options available, it’s just one of many ways in which he can transfer careers.

Despite these downsides, I do enjoy my career in software developer, and I am aiming to improve it over the next few months. As a parent, though, it’s not a career that I would recommend for my kids at this time.