A full-time job often comes with benefits like paid time off and medical, dental, and vision insurance, special company perks, and possibly more opportunities for growth because of increased visibility. Admittedly, there’s a lot to be said for full-time employment, but just because the advantages of part-time jobs aren’t the same as full-time roles doesn’t mean they are less significant.
Often, when someone thinks of part-time work, they get flashbacks to their high school jobs that required laborious work, late hours, and very little pay. While those kinds of part-time jobs are certainly still around, they aren’t the only ones out there.
There are plenty of part-time roles that require a certain level of expertise, are limited to regular business hours, and that pay well, but if you’re quick to brush off part-time work entirely, then you’re going to miss out on them.
What Does Part-Time Work Look Like?
Technically, you could argue that a part-time job is working under 40-hours a week, whether it's 10 or 38 hours. However, according to the IRS, a full-time employee is anyone who works at least 130 hours in a month (or an average of 30 hours a week) because employers are required by law to provide certain benefits to full-time employees. The government has to draw a line somewhere. Even though an employer has to provide certain benefits to any employee working 30 hours or more, they still have the freedom to adjust the employee’s salary as needed to reflect the hours they work.
Even if the government qualifies 30 hours a week as full-time employment, it’s still less than 40 hours, so it’s part-time work to you. In a traditional office setting, someone working a part-time job may work four days a week instead of five, they may work half-days three days a week, or one of the many other variations of days/hours a week. In all, they are not expected to show up for eight hours a day, five days a week.
While the reduced hours might be lovely, part-time employees don’t always get the same benefits as full-time employees do, such as PTO, insurance, certain stipends, and perks (unless it’s mandated by the state or federal government). In other words, it means that they have to rely on their partner or the marketplace for health insurance and if they want to take a week off work for a family vacation, they have to sacrifice a week's worth of salary to do it.
The Benefits Of Part-Time Work
Even though these downsides are essential things to consider, there are a lot of perks to working part-time. The most obvious is a reduced work schedule, and if you’re working under 30 hours a week, you can be pretty confident that you won’t have to work outside of those hours very often since your employer would then be on the hook for providing benefits. Frequently, a reduced schedule like this also gives you more flexible options. Depending on your employer, you may get to choose which days or hours you work, and that means you can do things like making doctor appointments without having to tell your boss or pick up your kids from school without feeling any guilt.
Beyond the scheduling perks, part-time work can also have professional benefits. In many cases, if you perform well in your part-time role—the company will eventually offer you more hours, convert your role to full-time, or offer you a different full-time position within the company. So part-time jobs can have a lot of growth potential.
Similarly, part-time work offers the opportunity for you to work for multiple companies at the same time or have dedicated time every week for your side hustle and or any continuing education you’re focused on. With this kind of flexibility, you can bring in just as much, if not more, income as you would have in a full-time role, but have more variety and gain more experience than you would in a single 40-hour-a-week job.
Finally, part-time work can be less stressful than full-time. You’re less likely to get regular after-hours calls asking you to complete something urgent (and if you do, you’ll actually get paid for that time, unlike you would if you were salaried), your boundaries are already established, and your time is limited. So, you probably won’t get asked to take on a bunch of extra unpaid work during business hours. Even though you might not earn PTO, that usually means you aren’t limited to how many days you can take off in a year (which is helpful for parents of young kids who are not yet self-dependent).
Is Part-Time The Right Fit?
You’ve found a part-time job that looks like something you’d enjoy, now what? Now, you need to do a little work to decide whether or not working part-time is suitable for you and your family.
Here are some things to consider:
Can you afford a possible salary cut (including unpaid time off)?
If a part-time salary isn’t enough, is there another part-time or freelance job you can do in tandem to make up for that lost income?
What will you do about medical, dental, and vision insurance for your family?
Does this job allow you to get your foot in the door at a company you want to work?
Are there professional benefits to taking this role (i.e: gaining experience for a career pivot or having a big name on your resume to give you more credibility)
Will taking a part-time job make a significant positive impact on your personal life and/or mental health (i.e.: more time with your kids, a significant reduction in stress, or more flexibility to care for a sick loved one)
If you have a partner, do you have their support?
Are you in a position where you can stay in the role long-term? Or, are you in a position where you need some income, even if it’s not full-time for now?
Does taking a part-time role bring you closer to your goals professionally and or personally?
You have to weigh the risks and rewards when it comes to part-time work, and unfortunately, it’s not something everyone can swing.
If this is something that does sound appealing, though, then you have a few options. If you’re currently working full-time and you’re happy where you’re at, have a conversation with your boss to see if there’s an option for you to cut back your hours a bit (remember, as long as you work 30 hours a week, you are eligible for certain benefits). Whether you’re re-entering the workforce or considering a new job, consider part-time roles in your job search. Remember to avoid jobs that advertise hours that aren’t ideal for you or even full-time jobs because if you’re a good fit for a job—an employer may be willing to negotiate a schedule that works for both of you.
Taking a part-time job may be too much of a risk for you or it might not align with your professional goals right now, and that’s okay. It’s not necessarily for everyone. However, if it’s something that could potentially work for you, it’s really worth considering because there is usually a lot of opportunity for growth tied to part-time work. Break the habit of automatically filtering out part-time roles when you’re searching for jobs because there could be a much better opportunity waiting for you there than you’d think.
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