it depends on where you work. Most of my days are fairly normal 9-5 days, but sometimes because I’m working with a surgeon, my day can start at 7am or finish at 7pm – I can usually plan my week so I don’t have more than one of these in a row!
I don’t think it’s a tiring job – there’s plenty to do all the time, so you are always busy, but its a challenging job rather than hard work so I don’t often feel tired.
The hours are often as long as it takes to complete the job and it depends how much you try and get done in a day. In research there are always more papers to read (to gain more knowledge about a subject) and there is always more experiments you can do. The key is to know when you have enough data to stop and write it all up. Sometimes experiments go wrong and overrun… they can lead to late pizza-fuelled nights!
In industry, engineering life can be different and can fit into a more traditional 9am-5pm rhythm as once everyone else in the office/workshop/lab goes home there’s no one left to answer your emails!
When I worked during my placement year at a pharmaceutical plant I tried doing some night shift work as an engineer on a production line between 10pm-6am! It was a great experience to see how other people worked but soon made me realise I didn’t want to work those hours as a career, I like my bed too much!