When should you quit programming?

Ever since I started working as a programmer I have found it pretty difficult. The issue is simply that I can not work at the speed that is expected of me. Everyone else seems to get their code completed much faster. I end up having to work evenings and weekends, and even then, I am still almost always behind on my deadlines. I am starting to think maybe I’m not cut out for programming, and I should quit. I started my most recent job about three years ago, and I was hoping I would get better over time, but it seems like I am still not up to speed. I really wish managers would just let me complete work in my own time.

In my defence, I do feel that I haven’t had much opportunity to develop my skills. I have only actually worked on a few projects from start to finished. Mostly I have been asked to do cases and modifications. I had another job previously, but I was mainly doing bug fixing and testing, and before that I did a one year masters course in computer science, without any previous background in computer science. The course itself only involved coding on maybe a quarter of the modules.

Maybe I should find a new line of work, but I am now in my early thirties and I am getting really tired of spending so much time and energy trying to carve out a career for myself. I’d like to find some to marry and maybe start a family, which is not very likely to happen if I’m spending all my time working.

Any advice or thoughts?
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If you don't enjoy programming, you have a long career struggle ahead! If you enjoy it, there may be some programming courses that you could take to get you familiar with tips and tricks. For example, back in my day, there was the venerable "Design Patterns" book and that gave you framework to build around. Are you taking a structured approach (design first) or just jumping straight into coding? Have you talked to your colleagues to try to understand what they're doing that allows them to move faster?

There are other career paths in / around software. Project management, testing, process improvement, and even auditing (Auditing Organizations really don't have many auditors that have any software background) jump to mind.

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Super Moderator
One thing to watch out for is - are your managers pitting workers against each other and pushing for uncompensated overtime? Do your coworkers believe the same thing - that they are the slow one and have to put in extra time to meet demands? Unfortunately that may be unavoidable in today's world.
Are there elements of programming/coding that you enjoy, like specific tasks or projects in that field that come easy to you? I've got some ideas because I've been running into these kinds of complaints more and more over the past few years - especially in the web development realm. For example, I find tons of coders who enjoy writing programs and doing the technical step-by-step process of the job but they despise consulting with the client, doing a needs analysis, overcoming objections, selling their services, adjusting the project scope and asking for more money. It's like, if they could have other people do that stuff and just focus on the things they enjoy, it would be a much better job and more productive and beneficial for everybody.

I worked for UL as a sales engineer and was part of a team of project engineers and other support staff. Engineers mostly avoided talking to customers and were happy to let me do most of the talking and selling during the quoting process as long as they could be in the lab with their headphones on keeping to themselves and following their standard operating procedures testing out new products all day. It's just the reality of it. Why force people to wear so many hats when it would be more efficient to just wear one?
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