Many people are examining the relative advantages and disadvantages of working part time nowadays. Employers have shifted to hiring more part-time workers and fewer full-time employees. As this has caused the choices of available staff positions to shrink, it has also led to many people considering the viability of simply accepting part-time employment and not even actively seeking a permanent position. Other people have personal and career-related reasons for considering part-time work.
There are a number of factors to consider when looking at part-time rather than full-time employment. Many people only tend to look at their absolute dollar income. However, other important elements to include in the equation are health, transportation costs and family considerations.
More Free Time to Pursue Other Projects and Activities
The most obvious major advantage of part-time work is having more free time to do other things. For some people, this may be the most important consideration. A person who cannot find employment in the field of his choosing because he lacks the required academic credentials may elect to work only part-time, thereby freeing up time to spend taking classes necessary to obtain the professional certification he needs.
Others may do the same desire to further advance their training and skills in their chosen career. For example, it is quite common for individuals to obtain undergraduate degrees in counseling, psychology or social work, and then after obtaining part-time entry-level work, continue their schooling to obtain graduate degrees that open up more and more lucrative job opportunities.
Another possible situation that makes working part-time appealing: If an individual desires to pursue a special project, such as writing a novel or working on a volunteer project. Working part-time – at least long enough to complete the project – can be seen as the avenue to ultimately accomplishing more in life.
Opening Doors to New Job Opportunities
Accepting part-time work can sometimes provide a way for an individual to get his foot in the door, so to speak, when there is no full-time position available. The question for the individual to consider then is the importance of working in his desired field as opposed to the importance of having a full-time income.
Working part-time is also one way of gaining experience and training in an unfamiliar job field. An employer may not be willing to hire an inexperienced person on a full-time basis, but he may be willing to take on a person on a part-time basis who expresses an enthusiastic desire to learn the business.
Opportunity to Earn More Money
It may sound paradoxical, but working part-time can actually sometimes enable an individual to make more money – especially if he balances a couple of different jobs. For example, a person might be able to secure a 30 hour-a-week gig along with a 15- to 20-hour per-week gig. The total income from both positions might provide a greater total income than if he held just a single full-time position. And given that many salaried, full-time positions often require 50 to 60 hours of work per week, the individual could still come out ahead in terms of working fewer total hours.
Reduced Stress Levels and Improved Health
Study after study has revealed how perennially tired and "worn out" many full-time workers feel. And a frequent complaint of full-time employees is one of not having sufficient free time for exercise or outdoor activities. Part-time employment offers the opportunity to get back in the gym or get outside more and enjoy the sunshine. Not having to respond to an early morning alarm clock five or six days a week can substantially reduce stress levels and markedly improve the odds of getting an ample amount of sleep and rest.
Even the fact that working only part time sometimes necessitates scaling back one's lifestyle can be beneficial. Many people report reduced financial stress as the result of having to lower their bills to get by on just a part-time income. Part-time employment offers the opposite of lifestyle inflation, the phenomenon by which one's expenses tend to expand with one's income.
Once people make the adjustment to a slightly lower standard of living, they often find working part-time and getting by on less income to be a favorable trade-off as compared to the demands of working full time. Part-time employment makes it easier to find the time for things such as doctors' appointments or just everyday tasks that include doing laundry, going grocery shopping or getting an oil change for the car.
The Importance of Family
For people for whom family is of primary importance in their lives, working part time can be ideal. One of the most recognized disadvantages of full-time employment is the time taken away from relatives. An employee working full time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. faces difficulty if he has children who need to be picked up from school in the middle of the afternoon. Also, the extra cost of things such as day care services may exceed the extra money earned by working full-time.
Ultimately, parents need to consider how much time away from their children they are willing to trade for additional income. Although a certain level is, of course, required to provide for family, beyond that basic financial requirement, the additional hours required by full-time work may at some point come to be an unacceptable trade-off. A certain level of income is required to provide for family members, of course, but beyond that basic financial requirement, the additional work hours required for full-time positions, many of which are salaried positions that actually require 50 to 60 hours work per week or more, may at some point come to be an unacceptable trade-off.
Saving Money on Transportation Costs
One possible situational advantage to part-time work lies in the area of transportation costs. If a person can readily find part-time work near his home, but can only obtain a full-time position by commuting daily an hour or more, he may be able to recoup a substantial amount of the differential in income through transportation cost savings in the form of spending less for gas and overall vehicle maintenance. Also, auto insurance companies usually base premium rates in part on how many miles a person drives back and forth to work each day, so the substantial reduction in miles can represent savings in auto insurance premiums.