The Student Room Group

Professional 9-5 jobs.

Hi all, I am in a gap year where I am looking into possible career paths and so far I've considered law and consultancy.

I just wanted to ask if there are professional careers (intellectually challenging / project oriented / office-based) that actually have 9-5 hours.

I am seeing a lot about 10 hour days in consultancy and law, and at a young age the salary to compensate seems to outweigh this. But I worry that I will regret this in my old age - I don't want to look back at my 20s and see that I literally just worked the whole time.

I feel like this is a very common problem, sorry if its been frequently asked.
Original post by gregregregreg
Hi all, I am in a gap year where I am looking into possible career paths and so far I've considered law and consultancy.

I just wanted to ask if there are professional careers (intellectually challenging / project oriented / office-based) that actually have 9-5 hours.

I am seeing a lot about 10 hour days in consultancy and law, and at a young age the salary to compensate seems to outweigh this. But I worry that I will regret this in my old age - I don't want to look back at my 20s and see that I literally just worked the whole time.

I feel like this is a very common problem, sorry if its been frequently asked.

Most prestigious jobs are not 9-5, but if you want to enjoy power, status and work in a sought after sector, you will need to put in the hard work. I have worked in several 9-5 jobs but they are dead end ones. Depends whether you want lots of leisure hours or a career with a future. Most of the graduates in their twenties I know are working hard in professional jobs and are very busy

If you want a stop gap job that is 9-5 whilst you wait for your uni course, there are plenty of vacancies in, say, call centres and they teach you a lot about dealing with customers and work etiquette
(edited 5 months ago)
Reply 2
Realistically you could look at civil service jobs.

In general the pay in your 20s and then for the rest of your working life will be much higher from a consultancy or city law background.
Hey! I graduated in 2020 and joined the Civil Service on the Fast Stream programme (which offers an accelerated path to a higher grade, providing that you pass assessments along the way).

I’ve done 3 postings in 3 different government departments - working partly in the office and partly at home. The work is really interesting to me - I enjoy seeing how government works, working on policy advice for ministers, legislation, stakeholder consultations etc.

It’s 37 hours a week, which is roughly 9-5, but we have flexi working - which means that you can work extra hours on one day and take them back another day. So, for example, if you log on at 8 from Monday to Thursday, you can take Friday afternoon off.

I do very little working out of core hours - only when things are really busy and at crunch point - but I can always claim the time back which makes a big difference. I think I have a better work life balance than my friends who work in law or banking.

Being the public sector, it does pay less, but the pension is good (obviously that’s a way off but it’s important to think about). I also earn a good salary for my age - having successfully finished the Fast Stream and been promoted to a middle management level job, I’m now earning around £55,000 - which I’m very happy with three years out of university.
Original post by LeapingLucy
Hey! I graduated in 2020 and joined the Civil Service on the Fast Stream programme (which offers an accelerated path to a higher grade, providing that you pass assessments along the way).

I’ve done 3 postings in 3 different government departments - working partly in the office and partly at home. The work is really interesting to me - I enjoy seeing how government works, working on policy advice for ministers, legislation, stakeholder consultations etc.

It’s 37 hours a week, which is roughly 9-5, but we have flexi working - which means that you can work extra hours on one day and take them back another day. So, for example, if you log on at 8 from Monday to Thursday, you can take Friday afternoon off.

I do very little working out of core hours - only when things are really busy and at crunch point - but I can always claim the time back which makes a big difference. I think I have a better work life balance than my friends who work in law or banking.

Being the public sector, it does pay less, but the pension is good (obviously that’s a way off but it’s important to think about). I also earn a good salary for my age - having successfully finished the Fast Stream and been promoted to a middle management level job, I’m now earning around £55,000 - which I’m very happy with three years out of university.


That sounds like a great gig to me. Is it a hard sector to break into?
Original post by LeapingLucy
Hey! I graduated in 2020 and joined the Civil Service on the Fast Stream programme (which offers an accelerated path to a higher grade, providing that you pass assessments along the way).

I’ve done 3 postings in 3 different government departments - working partly in the office and partly at home. The work is really interesting to me - I enjoy seeing how government works, working on policy advice for ministers, legislation, stakeholder consultations etc.

It’s 37 hours a week, which is roughly 9-5, but we have flexi working - which means that you can work extra hours on one day and take them back another day. So, for example, if you log on at 8 from Monday to Thursday, you can take Friday afternoon off.

I do very little working out of core hours - only when things are really busy and at crunch point - but I can always claim the time back which makes a big difference. I think I have a better work life balance than my friends who work in law or banking.

Being the public sector, it does pay less, but the pension is good (obviously that’s a way off but it’s important to think about). I also earn a good salary for my age - having successfully finished the Fast Stream and been promoted to a middle management level job, I’m now earning around £55,000 - which I’m very happy with three years out of university.

Woah - I just looked into this, it is really intriguing. I'm guessing Law, PPE or Economics are all decent degrees to get into this, although I'm hearing that it really does not matter which degree you do.

This sounds so awesome though! I matched with Project Delivery careers in their career match - which looks really good.

If I decide I would like to be a lawyer for the CS I would should probably still have to do Law as a degree. Can I ask what area you work in?
Original post by ajj2000
Realistically you could look at civil service jobs.

In general the pay in your 20s and then for the rest of your working life will be much higher from a consultancy or city law background.

Yes I looked into it and it looks good. I'm glad I have found something that actually looks fulfilling
Original post by gregregregreg
Woah - I just looked into this, it is really intriguing. I'm guessing Law, PPE or Economics are all decent degrees to get into this, although I'm hearing that it really does not matter which degree you do.

This sounds so awesome though! I matched with Project Delivery careers in their career match - which looks really good.

If I decide I would like to be a lawyer for the CS I would should probably still have to do Law as a degree. Can I ask what area you work in?

Yes, unless you want to go for one of the specialist Fast Stream schemes like Science and Engineering or Statistics, it really doesn’t matter what degree you do.

The scheme I did was called the Generalist scheme, which involved a mix of policy and operational postings - it’s now been split into separate Government Policy and Government Operations schemes. Now that I’ve finished the scheme I’m working in a Policy role in a central government department.

And yes, you’re correct that if you’re interested in working for the Government Legal Service, you would need a law degree.
(edited 5 months ago)
Original post by Oxford Mum
That sounds like a great gig to me. Is it a hard sector to break into?


The Fast Stream (effectively the civil service graduate scheme - but also open to existing civil servants who don’t have degrees) is competitive to get onto, but it’s not the only route into a civil service career.

Anyone can apply to entry-level jobs on Civil Service jobs - anything at an Executive Officer (EO) or Higher Executive Officer (HEO) job grade would be appropriate for most graduates. On the Fast Stream you start as an HEO.

The Fast Stream makes it a lot easier to progress quickly through the grades to a middle management level (which is called Grade 7 - the naming structure in the CS is very erratic!), but people who are committed and motivated can progress at the same pace without the Fast Stream. They just need to focus on getting a range of experience and applying for new jobs themselves.
Original post by LeapingLucy
Yes, unless you want to go for one of the specialist Fast Stream schemes like Science and Engineering or Statistics, it really doesn’t matter what degree you do.

The scheme I did was called the Generalist scheme, which involved a mix of policy and operational postings - it’s now been split into separate Government Policy and Government Operations schemes. Now that I’ve finished the scheme I’m working in a Policy role in a central government department.

And yes, you’re correct that if you’re interested in working for the Government Legal Service, you would need a law degree.


Ok thanks. Also can I ask how much they value the STEM degrees because I'm seeing that they have a focus on these - did you do STEM? They're also talking a lot about focusing ethnic minorities and people from deprived childhoods. Will this really be a worry for me? (I'm a middle class white male).

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