Part-Time vs. Full-Time Jobs: Key Differences To Know
Updated June 16, 2023
If you're looking for a new job, it's important to consider whether the position to which you're applying is a part-time or full-time one. While both can help you gain valuable work experience, they have important differences to note. Learning more about these two different job statuses can help you decide which kind of role suits your needs and preferences.
In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between part-time and full-time jobs, including schedules, compensation, benefits and how to choose.
What is a full-time job?
Depending on the state in which you work and your specific employer, the exact hours necessary to qualify as a full-time employee can vary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says 35 hours per week is the minimum for full-time work. You may work more or less and still qualify as a full-time employee, depending on your employer. Generally, if you work between 32 and 40 hours per week, your employer may classify you as full-time.
Full-time jobs typically provide various benefits. For example, full-time employees often have a set schedule, making it easier to organize other aspects of their lives. In addition, they know how much money to expect in their paycheck each payment period, so they may experience easier financial planning.
Read more: What Is a Full-Time Job?
What is a part-time job?
A part-time job is one where you work fewer hours than a full-time position. Typically, part-time jobs have a maximum of 35 hours per week. The number of hours you work in a part-time job can also be much lower, with some jobs only requiring a few hours per week. In addition, employers don't guarantee part-time employees the same hours each week or a benefits package, unlike many full-time employees.
A person may choose to work a part-time job for various reasons. For example, a college student may work a part-time job that allows them to have time in the day to study and go to class. Other people get part-time jobs as an additional source of income or because they enjoy the flexibility this kind of job provides over a full-time position.
Part-time vs. full-time jobs
Here are some of the key differences and similarities between part-time and full-time positions:
One main difference between part-time and full-time jobs is the typical schedule. Many people who work part-time jobs have a more flexible schedule. For example, they may work on the weekends or during the night shift. Part-time jobs may also only last for a season. For instance, some companies hire additional help around the holidays or during the summer months.
This differs from full-time positions, which may provide a more consistent schedule throughout the year. Note that your schedule in a full-time position depends on your role, employer and industry.
The other difference regarding the schedule is the days off you receive. If you take a day off of work in a part-time position, you may not receive pay, but part-time employees may be eligible to accrue paid time off (PTO) depending on how many hours they work per week. In a full-time position, you typically receive a certain number of days off each year to use at any time. If you're a salaried full-time employee, you usually receive regular pay for days off, depending on your employer's policies.
In a part-time position, you receive an hourly wage. Your employer tracks how many hours you work to determine your pay. To log your hours, you may clock in at a physical time clock or self-report your hours by filling out a time sheet.
Many full-time employees receive an annual salary that depends on the market value of their position. A salary is a set amount of pay for the year, regardless of the number of hours you work. Some full-time employees can receive hourly wages due to the nature of their roles as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines them.
Related: 20 Part-Time Jobs That Pay Well
Available job benefits
Benefits are additional compensation you receive beyond a wage or salary. In most cases, full-time employees are eligible for benefits such as bonuses, insurance coverage, PTO and retirement options. As of 2023, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that all companies with more than 50 full-time employees are applicable large employers with a legal obligation to offer health care benefits. Small employers aren't exempt from the ACA but follow different rules.
Part-time employees don't have the same federal protection to receive benefits as full-time employees do, but employers can choose to offer them. For example, part-time employees may be eligible to receive vision insurance, dental insurance, education stipends or skills training. Some states may require employers to offer health care benefits to part-time employees who work a predetermined number of hours per week, so you can review your local employment laws to know what to expect.
Job security is similar for both part-time and full-time employees but for different reasons. Many employers view full-time workers as more valuable due to their additional training and experience. Therefore, it can be more challenging to replace these employees.
Full-time employees can be more costly, so employers may prefer part-time employees. This consideration can improve their job security. Because part-time employees earn less money and don't receive benefits, employers may view them as equally valuable.
Requirements for both part- and full-time positions depend mostly on the job itself. For example, some part-time and full-time jobs don't have strict requirements for employment, such as working in retail. At the same time, some part-time jobs require additional education or certifications, such as working as a truck driver. Some full-time positions require a college degree, but some full-time hourly positions don't require a high level of education.
It's important to analyze any job you're considering and see its requirements, regardless of whether it's a full-time or part-time position. While full-time positions may be more likely to have higher requirements, this is not always the case. It's also important to consider the cost of meeting the job requirements and the expected pay. For example, if it's necessary to attend a certification course to obtain a part-time job, ensure that the pay is adequate to justify the cost of the course.
A part-time job may provide better work-life balance because you can determine which hours you're available to work. A full-time job can still provide a decent work-life balance because it often comes with a predictable schedule, but you can better prepare yourself by adjusting to working an average of eight hours per day.
Read more: Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance
How to choose between a full-time and part-time job
Here are some factors to consider when you're choosing between working full- or part-time:
Think about your current schedule. If you have other responsibilities in your daily life, like taking care of your children or attending school, you may consider looking for a part-time job. When you work part-time, you can ask your employer to only schedule you during certain hours.
Consider your career goals when deciding between a full- and part-time job. If you're unsure what to do, you may want to get a part-time job. Working in a part-time position can help you learn more about a particular role or field; you may even get two part-time jobs at once. You might feel content working part-time for the duration of your career, but you may consider seeking a full-time job to work more hours.
Some individuals who've had long, successful careers may not feel ready to leave the workforce altogether. If this is the case for you, a part-time job may allow you to keep working but experience less stress while having time to explore other interests and hobbies.
When considering part-time work, consider the benefits you may or may not receive, as well as your needs. Health insurance may or may not be a consideration. If health insurance is something you're looking for, you are more likely to receive them as an employee in a full-time position at a company with more than 50 employees.
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