What Are the Average Hours Worked Per Week? (Plus Factors)
Updated February 27, 2023
If you've worked various jobs, you might recognize that an employee's average hours per week can vary. Factors that influence your schedule include your industry and whether you work part or full time. Learning more about typical schedules in different sectors can help you choose a job that suits your lifestyle.
In this article, we discuss the average hours worked per week and explain how various factors can affect your schedule.
What are the average hours worked per week?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of hours worked per week is around 34.6. This estimate is consistent with the national standard for 40 hours per week for full-time employees. The average isn't exactly 40 hours because the calculation divides the total number of hours employees work by the total number of employees. As a result, the 34.6 hours estimate accounts for people who not only work part time or full time but also those who log overtime. So even though most full-time employees work 40 hours per week, some employers expect higher or lower average hours.
Related: How Many Work Hours in a Year
What can affect hours worked per week?
Factors that can affect how many hours you work in a week include:
Industry and job
Different industries and job types may have their own standards for an average workweek. Some employees work extra each week to complete projects and stay on schedule. For example, a surgeon may work longer each week to finish paperwork after seeing patients or to perform a life-saving surgery after hours.
Other jobs involve working at home or living where you work, which can lead to employees working longer hours because they have more access to their work. You might also work more each week if you're very passionate about your job or want to start your own business, which can include working evenings and weekends to fulfill your duties.
Related: How To Find a Job With Flex Hours
Type of employment
Whether you have a full-time, part-time job or multiple jobs can also impact your average hours. Many full-time jobs have standardized schedules to ensure fairness for all employees. Part-time jobs typically provide under 40 hours of work each week. If you have multiple part-time jobs or a full-time and a part-time job, you may work more than the standard 40-hour workweek.
Some jobs try to avoid employees working longer than the average hours per week. Instead, they include employment contract clauses requiring prior approval for side jobs over a certain number of hours. This strategy allows employees to rest between shifts and improve their energy levels.
Federal employment regulations determine fewer average work hours for those under 18. Other workers may choose to work fewer hours or part time after retiring from their jobs.
Your family situation may impact how many hours you work per week. You may work fewer hours to allow you to care for someone at home or to share responsibilities with your partner. Alternatively, you might work more to cover care costs.
Depending on where you live and work, there may be more opportunities for certain types of jobs, and this variation may affect the average hours worked each week in your area. Some locations have more full-time jobs and fewer part-time jobs or vice-versa. These differences can lead to the average workweek being longer or shorter depending on how many people can work 40 hours per week in a full-time job or work less than that.
However, your location may also determine the industries available to you, which can also affect how many hours you work each week. For example, there may be many jobs in retail that rarely require overtime, while opportunities in health care may require working after hours.
Your level of education can also impact how much you work each week. It's typical for people with only high school diplomas to work longer hours than those with advanced degrees. While many careers requiring degrees may have longer hours, the average hours for all jobs held by people with bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees are shorter than the average hours for jobs that don't require degrees.
One reason for this difference is that many jobs that don't require a college education do require other skills and dedication, including working long hours in many instances. For example, employment in construction, extraction and agriculture rarely follows a traditional workday, so they may not fit as easily into the standard 40-hour workweek.
Related: 16 Jobs With Flexible Hours
Another factor that influences average workweek hours is the local and national economy. It can change the average in different ways depending on your local industries and other factors, like your education and previous experience.
Most often, a stable economy supports a typical 40-hour workweek. In an unstable economy, finding a full-time job may be more challenging, so that you may look for part-time or gig jobs. When more people take part-time jobs, this can lower the average hours worked in a specific area.
Which careers work more than average hours per week?
Consider the following industries that regularly have longer average workweeks:
Marine: Working in a marine career includes jobs on boats and water, like ship captains, cargo boat operators and aquatic engineers. Employees in this field often work longer hours than the national average because they travel for long periods on the water and ensure the safety of a marine vessel and its cargo at all times.
Health care: Health care careers include people who work as doctors, surgeons and nurses to take care of patients. In these jobs, many professionals work longer than the typical 40-hour workweek because they stay with patients until they finish their treatment or take calls at night or on holidays for emergencies.
Agriculture: Agricultural employees work on farms to care for animals and plants that produce goods for customers. Because it's vital to keep these animals and plants healthy, farmers often work long hours to tend to their livestock and crops.
Extraction: Careers in extraction include jobs that harvest resources from the ground, like oil drillers and miners. These professionals work long hours to complete projects while they have access to job sites and equipment. They may only have access for a few days or under specific weather conditions, leading to extended workdays.
Military: People who work in the military typically live near their colleagues and work together daily. Employees, specifically those in high-ranking positions, may work nontraditional hours to create tactical plans, keep an inventory of essential equipment or train service members.
Emergency services: Paramedics and firefighters require employees to be ready to respond to emergencies at any time. Depending on the size of each emergency department, they may respond to emergencies and keep people safe outside of typical business hours.
Construction: Laborers, carpenters and other construction professionals may work more hours than the standard workweek. If a project has a strict deadline, they often work overtime to create a stable structure made from safe materials that fit their customer's needs.
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