Jobs with Low Hours?

tsudent's picture
Rank: Chimp | 4

I'm a high school senior currently trying to decide my major (as I'll be going to college in the fall), and while I decided on finance some time ago, I'm having some concerns with it now. Mainly, I'm worried that I'll have to work long hours and not have any time to spend with my friends and family, and enjoy life. Maybe my wants are impossible, so I thought coming to a knowledgeable community like this would be wise. Here are the things I'm looking for in the job:

Ideal Career Path

  1. Decent pay: I'm not looking to make huge salaries. Making $100,000 after 10 years or so working is decent to me. From what I've read, this isn't unreasonable at all in the finance industry.
  2. Low hours: I don't want to work more than 40-50 hours per week, on a consistent basis. Going over that several weeks per year doesn't bother me, but any more than that doesn't allow me enough time to do the things I enjoy in life.
  3. Attainable: I've read about jobs as a financial analyst in a Fortune 500 company meeting these exact qualifications, but I'm not sure if it's realistic to expect to land one of these jobs, or any other job that meets my qualifications, for that matter. I must have a good chance of landing said job, more or less straight out of college.

If anyone has ideas of jobs that would match my needs, please reply with the information that you have.

Career Advice for a HS Senior

While a lot of people on WSO are looking for careers where they know they'll have to work long hours, it's understandable if someone wants more of a work/life balance. OP is being very proactive in his career planning as a HS senior. Here is some advice and feedback from the WSO community:

General Advice

  • Just enjoy college
  • Wait until your sophomore year before worrying about your career
  • Focus on what you're interested in
  • Plan on working hard for 2 or 3 years which could set you up for the future

Possible Jobs that Meet this Criteria

  • Commercial banking
  • Product manager at a bank
  • Actuary
  • Accountant
  • Government regulator in financial services
  • Financial analyst at oil and gas company
  • Financial leadership development program at large corporation

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Comments (50)

Apr 18, 2014

Go to college and focus on getting a 4.0 or as close to it as you can. You are too young to obsess about any specific job. Once you are a couple of years into college start looking at your options for career paths. In the meantime try to pick up any intellectually interesting work experience that you can.

Apr 18, 2014

I would look into financial leadership/development programs at large corporations, accounting positions, actuary positions - might not be evident from this forum but most jobs are 40-50 hours / week and many offer six figure salaries after a few years. That being said, I don't think you should rule out a more stressful/longer hours job straight out of college. You will be able to handle it for 2-3 years and it will set you up for opportunities where you can make a solid six figure salary and work normal hours...

Apr 18, 2014

Worry less about being an adult and more about doing the best you can to set yourself up for the time when you have to be an adult. Trust me.

Apr 18, 2014

hey man, hate to break it to you, but you're going to have to change your expectations if you want to be truly successful and not just get by. the most successful people in the early parts of their careers consistently work 60+ hours per week. I live with 3 friends from college, have a long time girlfriend, and work more than 60 hours a week and stay in shape. it is possible, you will just have to become stingy with your time, and budget your time to a point you never thought necessary. many people ask "why do you need to work long hours?" the answer is simple, it puts you ahead of your competition. if your competition is only willing to work 40 hours a week and you work 60, that's 50% more every week. over the course of a year, you will have done the amount of work in 1 year it would've taken them to do in 18 months. after 2 years, you will have done 3 years of their work. the math compounds upon itself, if you work harder than the competition consistently, you will always win.

personally, I would not worry about this until you're finished with your sophomore year however. you will go through a lot of changes between now and then and you may not even want to be in finance anymore.

if you don't care about having the finer things in life, being independently wealthy, or being the most successful person at your hs and college reunions, go into back/middle office operations. I have some friends in operations, and it's an 8-5 job with a 1 hour lunch, with some days a bit longer than others. reason being, ops can't do anything when the markets are closed, so you literally have to get everything done in a short time period. your pay will be lower, your self image will be lower, but it's a cushy job. you could also major in accounting and get a job as a controller somewhere, may work a little longer than 8-5 when you're an audit associate at a big 4 firm, but your hours once you get 5-10 yrs of experience will go down and your pay will inch up if you transition away from a big 4.

sorry to be mean to a high schooler, but the worst thing you can do is want a job for the wrong reasons (like hours). I consistently work 12 hour days and I absolutely love what I do. I get into the office at 630am or 7am and go home 12 hours later with more energy than my friends who work 8 hours a day. better to find something you love doing and you can be infinitely successful at than try to target the lifestyle you want first. if you are successful, your lifestyle will be great, trust me. but don't worry, you've got time on your side, just go into college with an open mind, take advantage of all of the opportunities that are presented, and have some fun.

    • 2
Apr 18, 2014

I'm more worried that the degree I'm currently going for (finance) wouldn't be suitable for the lifestyle I want, so I do think it's important that I learn more about this now.

That said, I'm not ruling out working long hours straight out of college, but anything more than the first five years or so is something that I don't want to do.

Apr 18, 2014

And all I'm saying is that if you love what you do, you will have a good lifestyle. If you love finance, do it because you love it. If you end up loving social work, fine. Make sure you enjoy what you're doing first and foremost, the rest will fall in place. I worked 40 hours a week in commercial banking, played golf 4x a week and hated life. Now, I haven't played golf in months and I work nearly twice as much but I've never been happier. Take a step back and focus on your passion, not what career you think will afford you the best lifestyle.

Apr 18, 2014

There are exactly zero jobs that fit all three of your needs. Here's the deal, of the three things you're looking for in a job, pick two. You can have job that's attainable with decent pay but your hours will typically exceed 50/week (e.g. any number of big 4 audit positions), you can have an attainable job with low hours, but your pay will be crap (e.g. teacher or most government positions), or you can get a job with decent pay and low hours but it'll be next to impossible to get (e.g. working at the World Bank or IMF).

Remember, in the real world, employers don't care about what you want, they only care about what they want and since they cut the checks, they get it.

All that being said, you're way too young to be worrying about this sort of thing. If you have fun in college and get good grades, everything will be fine.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

Apr 18, 2014

What you wrote is a shitty way of thinking. You should base your career choice on what interest and motivates you. Don't base it on hours worked. You're too young to close that many doors.

Apr 18, 2014

Maybe a 5% of making 100k when you're 32 if you only work that many hours. Just not going to happen with that attitude. The people making 350k working 40 hours a week busted their asses out of school to get where they are - no one is going to hand you anything if you don't work for it.

Apr 18, 2014

You are gonna have to get out there after school and see where you shine.

Apr 18, 2014

I am a product manager at a bank and I make 6 figures
Product managers make very good money
Look at salaries on GlassDoor

    • 1
Apr 24, 2014

Commercial Banking

Apr 24, 2014

Just work for the government. Decent pay, no effort, 40+ a week max. The only downside is that all of your coworkers will be retarded but oh well.

    • 2
Apr 24, 2014

Volunteer, non-profit might be the way forward to.

But definitely government work will be the way that fits your criterias.

Apr 24, 2014

Wait til you load up with student debt, then see how you feel

Don't listen to anyone, everybody is scared.

Apr 24, 2014

I understand the desire to not work long hours, but sometimes you just have to. This never really ends. You hold hard and fast to the "no more than 40 hours" mantra and you'll be continually laid off.

Apr 24, 2014

I actually think it sounds pretty reasonable... my wife has followed a similar path. Look into FLDP (Finance Leadership Development programs) at big companies. Usually these give you a pretty good view of different aspects of financial planning & analysis, budget, accounting etc. within a company and the hours aren't crazy. There probably are a few weeks a year where you're doing 60 hours or more, but it's pretty rare and predictable. Should be able to easily clear $100k after 10 years. Not sure where you're heading, but I think these jobs are pretty accessible out of most schools with a good regional presence.

Apr 24, 2014

Agree with the above posters that you should enjoy being young and focus on having a good experience at college. Don't forget, you can always switch majors if your interests switch from finance to something else and most of the time credits will transfer.

You can certainly get a 9-5 making enough money to get by once you graduate that will give you a good work/life balance in virtually any field. My take on the subject is that I would rather grind it out working long hours while I'm still in my 20's and 30's so I can have more of a cushy work situation when I'm old, fat, and lazy.

Apr 24, 2014

Corporate banking credit risk at a Big 4 Bank provides all of these. I know many locations probably work up to 65 hours per week, but analysts at my location come in around 9 and leave at 6:30 at the latest. There is no "up or out." Most MD's have been here their entire career and worked their way up from first year analyst. If you work in Texas, you will take home $4000/month after tax (which goes way further than in NY). I don't know what our MD makes, but he invited us all over to his house for a Christmas party, and it's 5100 square feet. You will make 100k in less than 10 years. If you go to a Tier 1 school, it's attainable, as they recruit at these schools.

Apr 24, 2014

Become an actuary. You'll work 9-5 and make six figure before you're 30.

    • 1
Apr 24, 2014

Learn to code.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Apr 25, 2014

Trading

Apr 25, 2014
coreytrevor:

Trading

lol

Apr 25, 2014

Choosing a major (and job) based on how many hours you want to (or don't want to work) - your thought process in saying you are reconsidering your major because you have seemingly decided that your major will inevitably lead to you working more hours than you want to, if I'm not mistaken - is truly one of the most retarded things I have heard in possibly my entire life. Sort out your priorities and attitude.

Apr 25, 2014

mba2014 is right, government regulator in financial services seems to best meet what you're looking for. Also look into self-regulatory organizations in financial services.

Apr 25, 2014

I don't understand all the negativity here.

I do agree that the OP should pursue his actual interests more than worrying about his job when he's 40. However, there's nothing wrong with wanting an appropriate work/life balance.

OP - don't worry too much about this yet. Also, realize that this site is comprised mostly of people in IB or that want to be in IB, so they have different priorities than you. That is ok, but they may not really understand where you're coming from. Also, many on this site don't realize the opportunities that do exist outside of IB, PE or consulting

I actually don't think it will be extremely difficult for you to hit all 3 of your objectives. I did pretty easily and I am FAR from exceptional. You're right Fortune 500 finance should get you where you want to go.

People suggested Big 4 accounting, but that is not 40-50 hour weeks during busy season. That being said, I'd really consider it. If you are willing to major in Accounting (or double major with Acc/Fin) and do 3 years in Big 4, where your hours are longer during busy season, you are nearly guaranteed to be able to meet all 3 objectives going forward. Big 4 isn't great and hours are long for a few months of the year, but if you do that for a few years you can live the rest of your life in the $100k+ 40-50 hour week scenario if you want to.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

    • 1
Apr 25, 2014

This makes me feel old.

If I was a bright-eyed 17/18 year old again, I would probably learn to code (and get laid more).

Apr 25, 2014

Be a controller at a F500 company. Standard hours, decent pay, great job security so you can do other things.

You'll have to go for your CPA though.

Apr 25, 2014

I think the negativity here is a little much, but I agree you should prepare to possibly work more hours up front to position yourself in the future.

And yes, there are jobs like that in F500. I know some cubicle mamas who peaked over 100k just by sticking around, and were talking basic accounting roles. I have a good gig in F500, but I had to pay my dues in the Big4 to get it.

Anyway no harm in asking, but go enjoy college.

Apr 25, 2014

Go into oil & gas. Cushy as it gets. Plenty of analyst jobs in diff. depts. related to finance. It's refreshing to see that a youngster is dead set on IB; the best years of your life will be in college, and the next best will be in your 20s when your not poor. Hard to enjoy it if your in the office 80+ hrs a week.

Apr 25, 2014

College is great, and so are your 20s, but the "college are the best years of your life" sentiment is a horribly depressing one

    • 1
Apr 25, 2014

And I will add, if you could land an SA intern position with a BB after your junior year, that will guarantee you a cushy analyst job with an F500 that will give you the lifestyle you want.

Apr 25, 2014

Computer Science or Accounting.

Apr 25, 2014

To be honest, it sounds like you don't even know what your interests are, which is typical for a HS kid so I am not going to hate on you for that.

What you should be doing instead of asking these questions online is start reaching out to different people in a bunch of different industries you like to see what you are actually interested in doing and the lifestyle that comes with it.

From gathering this info, you will get a much clearer definition of the "job" you want to do... no one on this forum knows shit about you and your interests... it is up to you to be proactive and find out for yourself

    • 1
Apr 25, 2014

I agree that there's way too much negativity here. Most of us work well over 40 hours a week, but being aware of what your work/life balance demands are at 18 is in itself pretty impressive to me.

I think most of the people here ended up with business degrees, which is why they have to work so hard. If you want to get an attainable job with few hours and decent pay, go into a career field that requires hard skills rather than soft skills. A few people here suggested learning how to code, which is a good suggestion. What I haven't heard yet is engineering. certain engineering specialties can get you in that range really quickly, and having a PE cert makes it hard for non-engineering degreed people from entering the field.

If I could go back, I'd go computer science or petroleum engineering, but that's just me.

    • 1
Apr 25, 2014

interesting point. My cousin is a mechanical engineer one year out of undergrad making over 100k, just found out she works less than 40 hours a week, every week.

Apr 25, 2014
Apr 25, 2014

For CS majors, it just keeps getting easier as time goes on.

Undergrad is tough. It probably peaks sophomore year when you are taking Data Structures (~20K lines of C++ in a semester), Theory and Algorithms, and Differential Equations (and other general engineering requirements) in the same semester.

After that, it's ALL DOWNHILL. You can start coasting for the rest of your life. Junior and Senior year gets a little bit easier. And then your job will be 50 hours/week. It will probably start at $70K/year and most senior developers are earning over $100K. You can earn more as an architect, as a manager, or as a quant developer. Some of these roles may have a soft requirement of an MBA, MFE, MSCS, or other master's degree.

Not everyone can be a programmer, though.

There is a human desire to have money and be lazy. I've gotten pissed when people want to earn eight figures, but I don't think that an *eventual* $100K/year for 50 hours/week is too much of an ask for someone who might be as smart as an average banker or engineer.

Apr 25, 2014

Not to be a dick but if you're not going to a top 20ish college. You're wasting your time and money if you're not getting any financial aid.

Apr 25, 2014

My dad is an engineering manager and still works 50-60 hours per week, so hitting $100k in any profession without having to put in hours is near impossible. For engineering and compsci, the hours just tend to come when you hit management rather than in white color gigs where the opposite is usually true.

If you're dead set on finance, FLDP, but that would involve flexibility in location.

If you're willing to go accounting, big 4 has locations everywhere and you could leave after 3 years of 60-80 hour work weeks with a salary and job that would set you up for what you want long term.

But if you want 40 hour work weeks straight away out of college, you're not getting to $100k until 40.

Apr 25, 2014

government

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Apr 25, 2014

Buddies of mine work for oil companies with Mech/Petroleum/ChemE degrees and clear 75-90k right out of college, working 40 hr weeks (9/80s in a lot of cases).

Other friend was a CompSci major who got a job at a decent website as a webdev, and she makes like 80k a year to work 9-4 with a free kitchen that provides breakfast and lunch.

I didn't work nearly as hard as any of them in school though...

Apr 25, 2014

Sounds like you want to be an engineer (although I don't know about the hours). Someone also suggested computer science above. I'm a CS double major and programming jobs can really vary in terms of compensation and hours, but they tend to be a lot fewer hours than finance for a good amount of money. I definitely didn't write 20,000 lines of code in data structures though, so that might just be grads from my school.

Oct 13, 2015

/

Apr 25, 2014

I'm 32, work 40 hours a week, and will hit $250K this year.

CBanking all day long.

Apr 25, 2014

Friend of mine teaches at an elite private high school in a big city. Got the job right out of college (5 yrs total = a masters) makes like 80k and works like 50 hours per week between grading and classroom time. Plus summers and school breaks off.

Apr 29, 2014
jpc100:

Friend of mine teaches at an elite private high school in a big city. Got the job right out of college (5 yrs total = a masters) makes like 80k and works like 50 hours per week between grading and classroom time. Plus summers and school breaks off.

That's actually a pretty sweet gig. I wouldn't mind doing that if elite private high schools existed anywhere near where I wanted to live :/

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Apr 26, 2014
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Apr 27, 2014
Apr 29, 2014