Jobs are usually classified into a few different categories:
• Full-time positions,
• Part-time jobs, and
You can probably define full-time employment: some variation of the full-time work schedule — Monday-through-Friday, 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. Full-time work tends to come with benefits, including health insurance and paid time off.
Freelance work is somewhat self-explanatory as well. Freelancers or independent contractors usually have some sort of set agreement with their employers about their general schedule and hours, however regular or random they might be.
But how many hours is part time? Part-time employment may not sound very complicated, but a part-time position can mean wildly different things depending on the employer and industry.
Here are some of the things you might consider if you’re thinking about pursuing a part-time job.
A full-time employee typically works at least 40 hours per week. The workweek for someone with part-time employment is less clear-cut because employers decide which positions they consider to be part-time.
A part-time employee might work less than 35 hours per week, or simply might work fewer hours than the number of hours an employer deems “full time.” Some part-time employees may have an agreement with their employer that they put in 20 hours per week (which is half of what typically constitutes a full-time job).
There are no clear-cut laws or policies in the United States that specifically lay out how many hours a full-time worker must work or a part-time worker must work. It is generally up to the employer to decide how many hours a part-time worker is allowed to work based on budget, resources, and the amount of work required of the employee.
Generally, part-time work is described as any time between one and 34 hours of work per week.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 sets standards for labor laws but does not specify what constitutes full-time or part-time work in terms of hours worked. So technically, a part-time employee can be asked to work 40 hours without the benefits of a full-time, salaried employee. However, employers are required to pay overtime to nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week — whether they are full-time or part-time.
Some pursue part-time opportunities because of their work-life balance needs. Examples include:
• A mom or dad who wants to be able to pick up their child from daycare midday and then spend time at home, working as a part-time or adjunct faculty member at a college
• A full-time student who’s unable to commit to full-time employment, working as being a part-time nanny to offset tuition costs
• Workers who have two or more part-time gigs whose hours add up to a full-time job
When comparing part-time vs. full-time jobs, one important aspect to consider is benefits. Part-time positions usually don’t come with the same benefits that someone with full-time status might enjoy, like health insurance.
If you already get health insurance through a spouse or parent, you may not be worried about this. But if you count on receiving health insurance through your own employment, you need to look into what a prospective employer offers (or doesn’t offer) when it comes to benefits.
If you are interested in a part-time job and you do need benefits, don’t despair. You may be able to find an employer whose benefits coverage does extend to part-time employees. For example, Amazon’s creating 5,000 part-time jobs — and employees who occupy them will be eligible for benefits like maternity leave. Similarly, IKEA’s parental leave policy applies to all employees, both salaried and hourly.
Moreover, if your part-time job doesn’t come with benefits like health insurance, you simply need to spend some time understanding how to obtain health insurance yourself, as opposed to through your employer.
Understanding health insurance isn’t always easy, but it is one of the main benefits that often comes with full-time work — so if you’re not in a full-time position that provides you with access to health insurance, spend some time researching different types of health insurance, health insurance providers and health insurance companies to ensure you choose the plan that best suits you.
There is such a thing as part-time jobs that pay well, like being a part-time nanny. If you’re worried about what kind of wage you’d get with a part-time position, do some research and you’ll discover that some positions, like tutoring and nannying, often offer a desirable hourly wage for a flexible or short workweek.
The best part-time jobs, or high paying part-time jobs, often require a specific skill set or area of interest (for example, not everyone wants to be — or has the training to be — a private fitness instructor or a dental hygienist).
That said, there’s quite a variety of good part-time jobs out there, so no matter what you’re interested in, you can probably find one that fits what you’re looking for. Whether you’re searching for part-time jobs for moms or part-time jobs for students, there are countless resources out there to help guide your part-time job search.