What Is a Full-time Job?

Updated February 27, 2023

Gaining a complete understanding of what constitutes a full-time job can help you determine whether or not you yoare ready to pursue a full-time job at this time, as well as understand what your rights would be as a full-time employee for a company.

In this article, we define full-time jobs, differentiate between full-time and part-time employment and review tips and benefits.

What is a full-time job?

A full-time job typically implies a set work week, usually with eight-hour days and 40 hour weeks, although this can vary depending upon the industry and the nature of the position. The assumption is also a five-day workweek although this especially can vary for some professions.

The U.S. Department of Labor does not list an exact definition of full-time employment, generally leaving the details up to individual employers. The idea of a "9 to 5" generates a common understanding of a full-time job or "business hours," with much of office and corporate culture keeping hours of Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., with some variation on the hours depending on the company's culture and industry.

That being said, while full-time employment is indeed defined by a 40-hour workweek (or at least a schedule of no less than 32 hours), there are no set parameters for when those hours have to occur. Beyond some degree of income security, amongst the perks of full-time work are that full-time employees are often offered various benefits as part of their employment agreement, such as paid time off (PTO), 401(k) plans and insurance.

Related: Working Full-Time Hours: How To Find a Work-Life Balance

Full-time jobs vs. part-time jobs

There are a few ways to differentiate between full-time and part-time employment. Here are some examples that separate the two:

  • Pay disparities: Pay disparities can be a significant difference between full and part-time employment. Typically, because part-time employment requires working fewer than 40 hours a week, this means that part-time employees earn less money annually than full-time employees.

  • Schedules: Full-time employees often have set schedules, often on the same days and hours, whereas part-time employees might only work a few days during the week or on weekends or their schedules may vary. Full-time employees are also able to expect to work a given amount of hours per week to maintain their full-time status. Part-time employment may be more flexible, but also doesn't necessarily come with any schedule guarantees.

  • Work hours: Full-time employment can also differ from part-time employment in average work hours. As mentioned, full-time work typically takes place for eight hours during the day. In contrast, part-time is more likely to be comprised of shorter shifts, irregular hours or be in industries where nigh or weekend shifts are more likely to be an expectation. That being said, part-time work can indeed include days that last for eight hours or more, but the cumulative hours over the course the week or beyond will be less.

  • Perks and Benefits: As mentioned, full-time employees tend to receive benefits such as 401(k) plans, insurance, PTO, and sick leave. Typically, part-time jobs do not offer coverage or 401(k), but they can potentially provide PTO, sick leave, vacation time and discounts. If a company employs more than 50 full-time employees, according to the Affordable Care Act as of March 2021, the company is required by law to offer health benefits.

Related: Part-Time vs. Full-Time: Transitioning Between the Them

How to determine if a job is full-time

If you are on the job search and trying to ascertain whether or not a position is considered full time or not, the following steps will help to determine if a job is full-time:

1. Review information in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a full-time job is one that requires employees to work a minimum of 30 hours in a week, any job offering less than that thereby being considered full-time. Also, the ACA classifies full-time employment by any position that allows employees to work 130 hours each month.

2. Look at the job posting

Many job postings will specifically state whether a position is full or part-time. Reviewing any information listed about the work schedule in the job description will also make it apparent if the job is part time or not. Typically if a job lists an annual salary and not an hourly rate, it is probably safe to assume that the job is full-time.

3. Ask the employer directly

If there are no clear indications as to whether or not the position you applied for is full-time, clarify as much with the employer at any point during the application process. That being said, it is likely that the employer will make this information known early in the process if it isn't listed in the description itself.

Related: The Benefits of Working 40 Hours a Week (Plus Other Work Schedules)

Benefits of working a full-time job

Working a full-time job can present many benefits to employees. Here are a few examples of benefits full-time employees can receive:

Fixed pay

Many full-time employees get paid an annual salary, thereby creating a fixed income for employees and a sense of security. Even hourly employees often work set hours, and even if they do not, they can typically expect to maintain a workload that keeps them t full-time employment status, which also provides some degree of financial security. Budgeting and financial health benefit greatly from a fixed pay schedule.

Potential to earn more money annually

Another benefit of full-time work is the ability to earn more money than you would in a part-time position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the time of this article's writing, the average annual earnings for part-time workers in the United States is between $16,000 and $24,000 per year.

In contrast, the average annual earnings for full-time employment are around $50,000 as of 2020. It is far more likely that a part-time worker will not have the income necessary to sustain all the costs of living, particularly if supporting a family.

Fixed working hours

Another benefit of full-time work is being much more likely to have set work hours, unlike part-time employment. While part-time work often comes with a certain degree of flexibility and freedom or they may enjoy the variety that comes without an entirely fixed routine, planning social engagements can be tricky with an erratic schedule and income. Businesses that have large amounts of part-time staff are more likely to schedule their employees to work weekends or holidays, such as grocers and restaurants.

Insurance and benefits packages

As mentioned, when you earn a full-time position, you can also earn additional benefits in the form of health insurance (dental, vision, emergency care), life insurance and a 401(k) plan to save for retirement. Full-time workers typically also receive paid time off (PTO), along with holidays off and a set number of vacation days. In addition to these benefits, full-time workers might also receive perks such as gas cards, gym memberships, restaurant discounts, paid company trips and remote work opportunities.

Opportunities for advancement

Full-time employment can offer additional benefits in terms of advancement opportunities. This is because full-time workers spend a lot of time training and working for their employer, often in career-related roles. This can make them a valuable source of company knowledge, and therefore an excellent option for internal promotions.

Related: 25 Types of Employee Benefits

Tips for working a full-time job

To succeed in your full-time job, set boundaries and create good work habits. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance while working full-time:

  • Prioritize your mornings and evenings: When working full-time, it is important to make the most of how you start and end your day. Prioritize waking up early, eating a good breakfast and taking time to do something you enjoy like reading or working out. This can help you feel ready to get to work. After your workday ends, give yourself time to relax and prepare for the next workday.

  • Take small breaks throughout the day: Take small breaks throughout your workday to grab a coffee, ask questions or go for a short walk. This can help re-energize, increase your productivity and maintain performance during the workday.

  • Schedule personal days to maintain your health: Make sure you schedule time off to spend time with family and friends or go on vacation. By taking time off, you can maintain a healthy work-life balance and stay motivated at work.

  • Make plans for the weekend: If you work Monday through Friday, be sure to plan fun activities for the weekend to look forward to. This can also help you maintain an excellent work-life balance as you make time for the people and activities you love.

  • Get to know your coworkers outside the office: As a full-time employee, you might spend the majority of your weekdays with your coworkers. Take advantage of this by getting to know your coworkers outside of the office. Go out for coffee, lunch or invite them to an event on the weekend. By creating stronger connections with your coworkers, you can look forward to working together.


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