Is a part-time job the right choice for you?

Last updated: April 24, 2024
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Janice Reed
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Is a part-time job the right choice for you?
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Full-time work isn't for everyone. For some, taking a role with a reduced workload is an obvious choice. Working part-time can give you a good work-life balance and help you juggle family commitments.

Others may live in a location with limited employment opportunities, so part-time work can help them get into the job market.

In the US, 26.44 million people are employed part-time, defined as working less than 35 hours per week.

If part-time work is something you're considering, we've put together the complete guide.

We'll give you the top reasons people work part-time and explain what benefits are available to people working part-time.

Plus, we'll tell you what jobs you can do part-time and where to start your job search.

What is a part-time job?

The average full-time job is 40 hours per week but can be between 35 and 50 hours. In comparison, part-time employees usually work less than 25 hours per week.

In the US, employers get to choose how many hours part-time work is. For example, part-time workers can expect 20–30 hours per week at Mcdonald's.

If you have a part-time schedule, you could still be entitled to partial benefits. You could get health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance.

Some people enjoy their role and increase their hours over time until they reach full-time employment.

You can get part-time jobs in a range of industries, including food services, retail, business, administration, daycare, and health.

In some workplaces, two people can share a full-time job. If you have a job share partner, you'll both have to do the same job duties on different days.

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Why do people work part-time?

People get part-time work for different reasons. Let’s take a look at ten of them.

1. Work-life balance

For some people, part-time work is a choice. Family life can get busy, and you may be juggling other commitments.

For example, you could have young children or a relative you need to care for.

Or, you may enjoy having time off each week for your extracurricular activities.

Working reduced hours can give you a good work-life balance if you can afford it. You can either work shorter shifts or skip a day or two each week. If you choose to work fewer days, there will be less traveling to and from work.

A part-time arrangement could help you reduce stress and give you more time to do the things you love.

2. Make more money

Having more than one job can boost your income levels. Sometimes people don't make enough from one job, so they'll look for a second part-time role.

The additional hours can help you save faster. Whether you have debts to pay off or you're saving for a big purchase such as a house or vacation, the extra cash could be just what you need to get ahead.

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If you have multiple jobs, you'll need to make sure the hours don't clash. For example, you could work as a server at night and as an administrative assistant during the day.

Remember, you don't want to take on more than you can handle, and you need to do your best for every employer.

3. Get experience

A part-time position can help you get your foot in the door. If there is no full-time work available in your area, part-time work can be a good place to start.

You'll open up new job opportunities as you gain experience and make new contacts.

Even if it's not your preferred industry, working a few days per week can give you transferable skills. These are skills that can be used in other jobs, and you can add them to your resume.

Top transferable skills include good communication skills, time management, computer skills, and analytical skills.

As an example, you can work part-time in retail and gain cash handling skills and customer service skills. You can then use these skills to get a job in the food service industry.

4. Work and study

If you want to continue learning while making money, part-time work can be a good option. You can continue your degree without the pressure of a full-time workweek.

School attendance should be a priority, but if you're open with your manager, they'll be able to create a roster that works for both of you.

Plus, if you work in a similar field, you can get experience for your future career. For example, if you're studying to be a lawyer, you can work at a law firm. You could get a job as a paralegal or a receptionist.

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If you can study part-time, balancing your paid work with learning will be much easier.

5. Cut down on costs

It can make financial sense to work fewer hours. The way you cut down on costs will depend on your personal situation.

For example, you could swap a full-time position for a part-time job that’s closer to home, or you could choose to work three days instead of five. Less time spent commuting will save you money on transport costs.

If your little ones are in daycare, you could cut down on childcare fees by working part-time. If they're in school, you could work shorter days to fit in between school hours.

And, by working part-time, you may still get basic benefits that'll save you money on healthcare bills.

6. Change in life circumstances

Your personal life circumstances can change over time. There can be reasons why you want to cut down on your hours and switch from a full-time position to a part-time one.

As an example, you may be reaching retirement age but not quite ready to give up your career. If a full-time is too much, you can make the switch to part-time. Depending on your age and circumstances, you may be able to get social security benefits while still keeping some of your shifts.

Alternatively, you may be going through a big life change, such as a divorce or relocation. Or, you could be expecting a child or experiencing health issues. In these situations, a reduced workload could be the right choice.

You may decide to switch to part-time temporarily, or it could be a permanent change.

7. Grow your professional network

Getting a part-time job can be the key to growing your professional network. What's a network? It's the people around you who want you to succeed in your career.

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You'll probably already have personal connections in your network. These could be friends and family members who are interested in your future.

However, career contacts such as managers, coworkers, and clients can also be beneficial. These people can give you a reference and vouch for you in the workplace. They can confirm your job duties and your work ethic.

You don't need a full-time gig to grow your professional network because you can make new contacts at any job.

If you’re looking to grow your network, don’t forget to sign up for Jobcase. There are opportunities to network online by joining our community discussions.

8. Focus on your side hustle

Are you dreaming of starting your own business? Or do you already have a side hustle? Whether you're a small business owner or a contractor, part-time employment can be beneficial.

You'll get the security of ongoing work. For example, you'll get regular weekly earnings, so you'll be able to manage your household budget.

Plus, you'll have time to work on growing your business. You could be a guitar teacher offering lessons, a graphic designer building a client list, or a photographer relying on word-of-mouth.

No matter what your side hustle is, having a part-time role in the short term could be the key to success.

9. Transition to the workforce

A part-time job can help you get used to being in the workforce. If you've had a long period of unemployment, jumping straight into full-time work can be overwhelming.

For example, you may have been raising children, lived somewhere without job opportunities, or recovered from a workplace accident. Or you could be one of the 114 million people who lost employment during the pandemic.

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With fewer weekly hours, you can get into a routine without the full-time commitment. Once you're used to your new schedule, you can switch to full-time.

Some companies will only be looking for part-time employees. If there's a gap in your resume, it can be worth applying for a range of different jobs, not just those with full-time hours.

You can learn more about explaining a gap on your resume in our handy article.

10. Make new friends

There are some noneconomic reasons why people choose part-time employment. For example, working can be a good way to make friends with similar interests.

When you see people regularly, friendships can grow. Whether you've just moved to the area or lost touch with old friends, a part-time job can help you meet new people.

Getting a job can help you become independent and gain new skills. You'll have somewhere to go each day, and being employed can help boost your confidence.

If you're looking for a challenge and the opportunity to make friends, consider a part-time job.

Do part-time workers get benefits?

There are potential benefits for part-time workers. Your eligibility will depend on where you live, your weekly hours, and how long you've worked for the employer. Companies can also choose to give workers benefits, even if they don't legally have to.

It's not uncommon for part-time employees to get health insurance. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) says employers have to provide health insurance to anyone working thirty hours or more each week.

Part-time health benefits won’t always be as comprehensive as full-time options. Check out this list of companies that offer part-time jobs with health insurance.

You may be entitled to other benefits such as parental leave, company discounts, and a 401(k) retirement plan. Some part-time employees miss out on full-time employment perks, such as paid time off (PTO) and vacation time.

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If you lose your job, you may be entitled to partial unemployment benefits.

We recommend checking with the employer because the benefits can vary between jobs. Often, the benefits will be included in the job description or on the company website.

What jobs can you do part-time?

Want to work part-time? There are plenty of job types to choose from. More employers are open to flexible work options, giving you the opportunity to work in a way that suits your lifestyle.

Food service jobs can usually be done part-time. For example, students often work as servers, bartenders, and bussers at restaurants and bars. Chains such as Chipotle, McDonald's, and Starbucks also offer flexible hours.

Another option is retail. Cashiers, sales associates, customer service representatives, and security guards are all jobs that can be done part-time.

Plus, there are options in business, administration, education, and construction. There are jobs working in warehouses and jobs as delivery drivers. You can even work part-time from home in customer service or sales.

Where to find a part-time job

Ready to start work? It's time to kick off your job search. Jump over to our job board to find positions in your area. You can search by location, company name, or position title.

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You can include the keyword "part-time" when you search to narrow down your results. For example, you can look for part-time retail jobs or part-time food service jobs.

If you want a work-from-home role, select "remote work only."

Working part-time

Part-time hours are usually less than thirty-five hours per week. There are different reasons why people choose to work part-time.

For example, you can get a good work-life balance and manage your home commitments. You can have more than one job, giving you the opportunity to make extra money.

Some people work part-time to get experience or earn money while studying. When you work fewer hours, you can cut down on costs, such as daycare and transport fees.

If your circumstances change or you have a side hustle, switching to part-time can be the right choice. When you get a job, you can grow your professional network and meet new friends.

Want to see who is hiring right now? Head over to our job board. Then, check out our resource center for more hints and tips.

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