Among my family and friends are a radiologist, emergency room physician, nurse anesthetist, and a (multiple) registered nurses. This is just my own observation, but they appear to have much greater options to scale back on work for a half decade while they have kids than the software developers I know, without severely compromising their career path when they re-enter full time at a later date. And all these career paths pay, at the median in San Francisco, more than the median for a software developer in San Francisco.
With the exception of radiology, telecommuting, which may people consider to be a critical element of a "flexible" job, is not a big part of most health care jobs. However, jobs like registered nurse, pharmacist, nurse anesthetist, and emergency room physician, may offer more flexibility where it counts most, especially to people who want to pursue meaningful careers but recognize that a period of life, probably when they have small children at home, will require scaling back for an extended period.
I'm a Software Engineer and I've taken major breaks.
After a year working at the DoD, I spent three years dong whatever I wanted / snowboard instructor / kayak guide, etc.
Then I got a job as a Software Dev for 2 years, no problem at all, got the first job I interviewed for.
Then I took two years off to drive Alaska->Argentina, and generally do whatever I wanted.
After that I again got the first Software Dev job I applied for, and did that for 4 years. Now I'm off again to drive around Africa for at least 2 years.
Granted, I have not "climbed the ladder" like my university friends who have been working all of those years, but I've had absolutely no problem dropping in and out when I please.
Have a low personal burn rate, save at least 20-50% of your income, and don't live in places with exorbitant living costs (SF, London, NY), and you too can be the master of your destiny.
Taking a longer break and Scaling back to zero is an issue, but you can keep your skin in the game as a developer fairly easily. Fill the paperwork and start a company doing iOS apps for 5 hours a week and it's not obvious you where taking an extended break.
Another option is to have some other project fill the break and then do some transition work to get back into the game. The important thing is to have recent experience not to have zero long term gaps.
People tell me "what" they want and "when" they need it and I can decide "how" I get it done.
I had to switch from "8h office/online a day" to "being availble for questions at reasonable hours", because no one sees or cares when I'm online.
- Me (Data Scientist)
The analysis is typically the application of basic arithmetic under the constraint of gnarly "business logic," which is almost never logical.
This is not meant to be pejorative, but represents an amalgamation of the traits I've seen in those who have the title of data analyst at our client companies.
A data scientist tends to have an advanced degree or significant experience in applying statistical techniques to the corpus of business data.
To give an oversimplified example, the data analyst likely answers the question "who are our best customers and what are their traits?" whereas the data scientist answers the question "what traits of customers can predict their becoming a great customer?"
Since we all live in a bubble, I will share mine for context. I work for a BI and analytics consultancy that also has a data science practice and our clients are primarily mid-sized corporations.
Of course this is a generalization, but in my perusal of job openings over the past year, this seems to be roughly what companies mean.
Not that a degree in a very specifically named program should be the one and only gatekeeper to an occupation, it's just that these seem to be fairly ill-defined titles that tend to be thrown around these days.
I'm kind of tempted to put "software engineer" on that list as well, though I think people tend to understand that it is more than just programming at least.
I've worked at dev shops that were virtual sweat shops and had insane goals for each month. This caused you to work 11-13 hour days to hit your goals, less you get put on a PIP (performance improvement plan).
Others shops went to great lengths to give developers what I thought to be far too much reign to do what they pleased. Come in at noon and work till 10pm? Sure. Take two hour lunches? No problem. Sure the work got done eventually but the atmosphere was super lax with little or no oversight.
What's the problem with this? If the work is getting done, and meets quality standards, do all employees need oversight? Does a lax work environment immediately imply that the work done there is poor?
I worked at a place where devs would regularly come in around noon or later. Code wouldn't get checked in and then the QA people were complaining they couldn't test code and the PM's couldn't tell the "business" stuff was ready to look at.
Likewise, if the QA people are coming in late and the dev is waiting for stuff to be checked off so he can tell the PM to send the app for review, it can screw delivery up.
Is the work done poorly? No, but there were headaches when everybody was on their own schedules.
This seems like an awfully tenuous way of assessing work-life balance.
WLB = being suitable for the role + sallary + freetime + company friendliness
For me, work-life balance is not a numbers game - it is a question of whether or not I can step away from work to do activities with my family, pursue hobbies or personal projects,etc. If I get sick, does my boss say, "Get better fast and get back here.", or does he say, "Get better, and let us know when you are ready to come back." If I take an afternoon off to go to my daughter's track meet, is that frowned upon, or does my team say, "Great, let us know how she did!"
If the company truly cares only about getting the work done, and truly lets you live your life as long as the work is getting done, then you have balance.
Fundamentally it's about trust and respect.
If my boss, or my team, feels they need to track my time, my output on a day to day basis, whether I was actually ill when I took sick pay, something is wrong.
That same team has to trust, to some extent, that I respect my work, that I produce good output, that I don't cut corners, that I'll be in the next day and not wander off into the horizon.
The two seem inconsistent to me. I'd far rather employ someone who isn't a perfect clean shaven 9-5, than someone who's in first, out last, but pumps out half baked solutions (or worse still, actively includes backdoors or similar).
I firmly believe that flexibility in work is almost always the way to go. Even for shift patterns, a large enough company should be able to find cover if someone can't (or simply doesn't want to) turn up on Wednesday.
Edit: Not necessarily a formula, but what I consider important.
Vade retro Bloombergas. Happiness is doomed to decrease. It's the consequence of private property... I know what you think: "please no".