Part-Time vs. Full-Time Jobs: Definitions and Differences

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Depending on the company and industry you work in, you may choose between part-time and full-time status. Though they both provide you with earnings and offer you a job title, they have a few crucial differences. If you're applying for a new position, learning more about the difference between part-time and full-time can be beneficial. In this article, we explain the differences between part-time vs. full-time jobs, define each work style and provide helpful tips for choosing the one that works best for you.

Part-time vs. full-time positions

Though part-time and full-time positions are both jobs, they each have unique traits. Depending on your situation, a part-time or full-time position may suit you better. Here's an overview of some differences between them:

Wages and earnings

Different types of staff members can earn varying amounts of pay and through different methods. Because they often work less, part-time employees may earn less than those who work full time. Part-time staff members are also more likely to earn through wages, which directly relate to how many hours they work. Full-time employees may earn salaries, which the company does not calculate hourly and instead stays consistent regardless of the hours they work.

Related: How To Discuss Your Salary Expectations (With Example)

Potential benefits

Many companies choose to offer benefits to their full-time employees. They may choose to invest in them because they're more likely to maintain employment and offer more value to the company. Businesses and organisations rarely offer benefits to part-time employees, which can save the business money. Benefits a company may offer include health, dental and vision insurance.

Schedules and shifts

The schedules and shifts for each type of team member can vary. Part-time employees usually work fewer than 30 hours a week, though it can depend upon the industry and the business they work for. Full-time employees may work more than 30 hours each week, depending on their responsibilities and if they hold a leadership role. Part-time employees are more likely to have flexible schedules and only work a few days a week, while full-time employees usually have more consistent schedules.

Related: A Guide To Work Hours in Hong Kong (With Types of Schedules)

Position security

The level of security you may have in your job can vary depending on if you're full-time or part-time. Many organisations prefer to retain their full-time positions when downsizing, as those employees may be more essential to basic business functions. Part-time positions may also have higher turnover rates than full-time positions, meaning when companies decide to downsize with the newest employees first, they usually begin with part-time jobs.

Requirements

The requirements for part-time and full-time positions can vary depending on the company you work for. Because full-time positions are usually more relevant to basic business functions, they may have more requirements. For example, to receive an offer for some full-time positions, you may need a university education or certifications. Many part-time positions don't require the same qualifications.

Related: Sharing Your Educational Background on Your Resume and in Interviews

What is a part-time job?

A part-time job is any position in a company in which the employee consistently works fewer than 30 hours a week. Part-time employees are more common in retail, convenience and foodservice industries. Part-time positions can offer flexibility and supplemental income for those who don't need full-time positions. For example, a university student may take a part-time job on the weekends for income, but not have time for work during the week because of classes and homework.

Some part-time positions are seasonal, like shops that hire staff members over the holidays but no longer need them when the season is over. Many part-time positions offer second and third shifts in which employees can work from afternoon to evening or throughout the night. These shifts offer further flexibility for those who need to schedule their work around other responsibilities.

What is a full-time job?

A full-time job is any position within a business or organisation in which the employee consistently works more than 30 hours a week. Full-time employees are more common in traditional office settings, like sales teams and accounting departments. You may also see many full-time positions in industries with large labour forces, like construction and landscaping.

Full-time positions can offer security and consistency, but may not offer flexibility depending on the industry and organisation. Those with full-time positions usually qualify to receive benefits like insurance and retirement plans through their employers. Full-time positions typically include day shifts where employees work from the morning to the evening, and some full-time positions don't require their staff members to work on the weekends.

Other types of employment

These are some other types of employment you may encounter:

Zero-hour

A zero-hour employee is a staff member who doesn't work consistently. The company may only need them occasionally and contact them in those situations. Zero-hour employees can be ready to fill shifts or supply additional help in certain situations, and this may be a part of their contract. This type of employment is common for independent childcare specialists and other household support staff. Zero-hour employees rarely have a determined amount of time they work each week.

Temporary

A temporary job is a type of employment in which the staff member only works for a determined amount of time. This may be to assist the company or organisation with projects or to fill the position of another employee who is on leave. There are agencies and other organisations dedicated to supplying businesses with temporary workers to support unexpected declines in employment, and many temporary workers find jobs through these. A temporary job can last between a few weeks and a few months, depending on the person and the company.

Seasonal

Seasonal employment is like temporary employment, but it follows a fixed schedule that usually aligns with weather and seasons. In industries or businesses where the climate affects traffic and revenue, seasonal employment is especially prevalent. For example, retail stores may experience higher demand during holiday seasons, ski resorts during the winter and beach resorts during the summer months. Many seasonal employees also work within agriculture, to prepare and harvest each year as produce grows.

Freelance

A freelancer is a skilled individual who accepts work on a project basis. Freelancers rarely charge based on the hours they work, but on the amount of work they supply to the client. For example, a company may hire a freelancer to write a newsletter or other article for them, and the freelancer receives pay based on the length of the letter, rather than the time they spent on it. Freelancers are usually independent workers and receive no benefits or guaranteed compensation.

Related: What Is Freelancing?

Consultant

Consultants are professionals who offer professional and specialised advice on particular subjects. For example, there are financial, business and personal consultants that companies may hire to improve their workforce or business practices. Consultants can assess a company or business and determine the areas in which they need to improve, then offer advice on how to increase efficiency or revenue. A consultant likely only provides service for a few weeks or months and receives payment for their work.

Tips for choosing between part-time and full-time

These are some tips for choosing between part-time and full-time positions:

Consider your current schedule

If you currently have many responsibilities to manage, like schoolwork, other jobs, family or projects, consider how full-time or part-time positions may work. If you don't have many events in your schedule, full-time may be best so you can earn more and experience job security. If you are a student or entrepreneur, consider a part-time position to offer supplemental income while you work to achieve other primary goals like graduating or starting your own business.

Understand the potential earnings

Before choosing between part-time and full-time positions, it's helpful to consider your financial position and how much you need to earn to support yourself. If you need more income or higher earnings, you may need to choose a full-time position with higher pay. If your financial needs are not as high, consider a part-time job instead. Part-time jobs usually receive hourly wages and may not have many opportunities for overtime, while full-time positions can allow you to work more hours and earn more money.

Determine if you need benefits

Benefits are additional forms of compensation a company can offer its employees to support them and attain top talent in the industry. Benefits can include things like rest days, annual leave, family leave, retirement plans and bonuses. Depending on the position and industry, the company may also offer transportation accommodations, an assistant or other specific benefits. If you are interested in additional benefits, a full-time job may work better for you.

Related: How To Write an Annual Leave Request Email in 6 Steps

Plan around your other tasks

You can communicate with the leaders manageing your employment to determine which days and times they need staff members for both part-time and full-time employment. If the available shifts that fit with your other tasks only amount to part-time status, then you may not work more than 30 hours a week. If there are enough available shifts that you can work, you may consider full-time status instead.

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