Deciding to work a part-time job, defined as any job that requires 15 to 30 hours a week, is quite common. There are many reasons people work part time: Having a new baby, working on the side while attending school, being semiretired, or just looking for some extra cash.
Whatever the reason, part-time work offers a range of benefits — but some real downsides, too. Here are the pros and cons of part-time work:
You have more flexibility and freedom, but you’re bored and wanting more
Working part time allows you to spend more time with family and friends, perform more errands and chores without feeling too rushed, and allocate more of your time to hobbies and pursuits (like reading, exercising, cooking, etc.). This can be liberating and refreshing.
On the flip side, if you suddenly have enough time to go see a movie in the middle of the day, you may find yourself feeling underemployed and not contributing enough to the family’s finances.
Having free time can be a treat, but after a while, having time to gallivant around can begin to feel like a curse (especially if money is too tight to spend on fun activities).
You can pursue other interests, but you may feel like you’re falling behind professionally
Part-time work, especially freelance work, can allow you to become fluent in different avenues in your field. You can gain knowledge in various related subjects, advancing your professional know-how and padding your résumé by taking on multiple small jobs.
On the other hand, being out of the full-time workforce may make you feel like you’re on the slow track for career advancement and/or promotion. Watching your career pass you by can be stressful and agonizing.
It keeps you in the workforce, but you might lose your benefits
If you’ve had a recent life change — surgery, injury, new baby, sick parent to care for, and so on — you may find that working part time allows you to stay in the workforce so you don’t have to abandon your career entirely.
You can work part time temporarily until you’re ready to go back full time. Part-time work can sometimes serve as a placeholder while life happens.
But beware: Switching to part-time work might mean that you lose your benefits, like health insurance, the loss of which can be a serious problem for many people.
Of course, working part time also means you’ll be taking a pay cut, so an unexpected hospital bill could cause a major financial setback — a real double whammy in this case. However, not all part-time jobs offer zero benefits, so don’t assume that you’ll lose yours.
The bottom line
Take time to carefully evaluate your needs and desires before transitioning from full time to part time. The extra time for family and other interests can be great, as long as you can live with less money and possibly fewer benefits.