There are a few key differences between full-time and part-time jobs. For example, depending on the employer, part-time positions may not qualify for the same perks and benefits as full-time positions. Fewer hours per week typically results in more flexibility, however, allowing you to work additional jobs or invest in your education.
In this article, we discuss what part-time means and why part-time positions may be a good fit for you depending on your goals and schedule.
How many hours per week is part-time?
There are no official federal guidelines that determine whether an employee is considered part or full-time. While the Fair Labor Standards Act establishes legally binding requirements for hours, overtime and wages U.S. businesses must follow, this law does not specifically state how many hours per week an employee must work to be considered full-time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes individuals working at least 35 hours per week as full-time employees, but this number is for statistical purposes only with no legal meaning. Many employers do, however, use this number as a guideline when developing their policies.
Pros and cons of part-time hours
There are many factors to think through before choosing a part-time position. While you should certainly consider the company, role, commute and compensation, it’s also important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages common among part-time positions.
Pros of working part-time hours
Part-time positions are a great option for individuals who require a steady income without a rigid full-time schedule. Here are a few examples of part-time job benefits:
- Greater flexibility. Part-time jobs are typically more flexible than full-time positions and sometimes allow you to create your own schedule. This is beneficial if you have other obligations such as caring for a loved one, working another job or attending school.
- Supplemental income. Part-time jobs are a good source of additional, steady income that can supplement other full or part-time jobs. You might also acquire a part-time job to support your lifestyle while pursuing other goals like starting your own business or going to school.
- Opportunity to pursue other interests. A part-time role can allow you to pursue other interests or career opportunities outside of work.
Related: How to Change Careers
Cons of working part-time hours
While part-time positions can certainly be beneficial for some, there are a few factors to consider before choosing this job type:
- Eligibility for benefits. While some employers offer benefits for part-time positions, many do not. During the hiring process, ask the employer about benefits you require such as health insurance coverage or paid time off.
- Possibility of less income. Whether you’re paid a fixed salary or by the hour, part-time positions sometimes offer less compensation than full-time positions.
- Fewer advancement opportunities. Many management-level positions require a full-time commitment. If you can’t work full time, you may not be eligible for certain promotions.
Do you get benefits when working part-time hours?
When applying for a part-time job, it’s important to ask employers what benefits they offer part-time employees. While part-time employees generally do not receive the same benefits as full-time employees, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive any benefits at all.
The Affordable Care Act requires any employer with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance to a minimum of 95% of their employees who work an average of 30 hours a week. This requirement may mean that if you’re working part-time hours at an average of 30 hours per week, you’re eligible for health insurance.
If you have health coverage through a parent or spouse, you may not require this type of employer benefit. But if you do need health insurance, you must ask whether you’re eligible before you accept a job offer. Some employers also offer paid time off (PTO)—including vacation days and sick days—for part-time employees, or other perks such as remote work.
Common types of part-time work schedules
Individuals in part-time positions can work shorter workdays or fewer days per week than their full-time counterparts. There are many types of work schedules available to professionals interested in part-time work.
Here are a few popular part-time working arrangements:
In most cases, freelance employees are hired on a contract basis. Depending on the position and the employer’s needs, they may work remotely or on-site. While freelancers usually aren’t eligible for benefits, they may enjoy more flexibility and autonomy than traditional employees.
Schedules that vary from any other schedule type currently used by an employer is considered an alternate schedule. Alternate scheduling may be used to accommodate specific or temporary employee needs regarding pregnancy, family issues or medical requirements.
When an employee has several hours off between shifts they have a split schedule. For example, an employee may work 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then again from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is an excellent arrangement for people who have outside obligations that prevent them from working long shifts.
When on-call, an employee must be available to work whenever necessary as required by an employer. On-call schedules generally rotate among employees so no one worker is required to be on call all the time. On-call schedules are often required in positions with emergency services, such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, paramedics and social services.
Part-time job examples
Employers who provide part-time hours are usually looking for employees who can be flexible and contribute wherever needed. While there are certainly always jobs in the hospitality and retail industries that offer part-time positions, you can also typically find part-time work in whatever field you might be trained.
Here are a few examples of high-paying jobs that can be part-time:
Along with the day-to-day monitoring and maintenance of a business’s financial operations, accountants are also responsible for the analysis and upkeep of company finances, including tracking expenses and preparing taxes. During tax season, you may find accounting agencies, businesses and even individuals hiring part-time accountants.
Computer programmers write computer software with coding languages such as C++ or Java. Programmers should successfully navigate the back end of computer software while optimizing the front-end user experience. Many companies hire part-time computer programmers to assist with special projects or cover additional work that their full-time employees are unable to manage.
Graphic designers create print and digital assets such as logos, email templates, websites and marketing materials including banners, advertisements and postcards. Graphic designers often work on a freelance basis for several clients at once or may work in-house for just one employer.
Management consultants analyze a company’s processes to identify opportunities for increasing and maximizing efficiency. In most cases, management analysts strive to improve an organization’s profits by reducing costs and increasing revenue. If you have extensive experience in a director or managerial role, you may have the skills necessary to work as a management consultant.
Market research analysts identify market trends by observing an audience’s purchasing behavior. Sharing this information with companies allows them to better target and sell to their customers. Employers may hire market research analysts on a full-time, part-time, seasonal or contract basis.
Also referred to as "hand laborers," materials movers transport materials from one location to another. Generally, they work in factories and warehouses. They are often responsible for transporting freight around a storage facility, packaging goods to be shipped and unloading items. This job is often physically demanding.
If you have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology, you might consider a job as a network and computer systems administrator. Network administrators are responsible for building and supporting internal network systems for an organization. They’re responsible for keeping networks is fast and secure. Many companies hire part-time IT consultants on an as-needed basis when issues arise.
There are many types of opportunities for part-time writers such as producing content for blogs, websites, magazines, advertisements, books, songs and film. Some writers work in-house for an organization or company while others work on a contracted or freelance basis for multiple clients.
Editors are responsible for planning, coordinating, reviewing and revising content for publication in newspapers, books, emails, websites or magazines. Editors may also analyze topic ideas and guide the editorial staff.
Because there are no legal guidelines to follow, the number of hours you’ll be expected to work in a part-time position varies by employer. Depending on your arrangement, you may work the same number of hours each week or you may work fewer hours some days or weeks than others.
It’s also helpful to know some employers offer the opportunity to scale up to full-time hours when their needs change or another opportunity becomes available. If your career goal is to work full-time hours with a company, it may be beneficial to accept part-time hours and let the employer know you’re interested in taking on additional work as needed.
Working part-time has several advantages and, if you’re interested in working fewer hours than a full-time job demands, there are many opportunities available.