Is it okay to only work part time?

Many people find themselves wondering if it’s acceptable to only work part time instead of full time. There are many reasons why someone may prefer or need to work reduced hours. The answer to whether part-time work is “okay” depends on your individual circumstances and priorities. This article will explore the pros and cons of part-time work and factors to consider when deciding if it’s right for you.

Quick Answers

What are the benefits of part-time work?

Some benefits of part-time work include:

– More free time for family, hobbies, schooling
– Less stress and burnout
– Ability to work multiple part-time jobs
– Flexible scheduling
– Potential for work-life balance
– Can ease into retirement or career change

What are the drawbacks of part-time work?

Some drawbacks of part-time work include:

– Less income and fewer benefits
– May not qualify for health insurance or retirement plans
– Fewer opportunities for career advancement
– Less job security
– Irregular schedules
– No paid time off

Is part-time work looked down upon?

Part-time work has traditionally been viewed as less prestigious than full-time work. However, attitudes are shifting as more people seek balance between work and life. Many respected roles like adjunct professor are part-time. It’s becoming more accepted to customize your career path.

Can you support yourself on part-time work?

It depends on your financial needs and expenses, but it can be challenging to fully support yourself with part-time income alone. However, part-time work can supplement other income sources if you reduce expenses, share costs with others, or have a working partner or spouse.

Factors to Consider

When deciding if part-time work is right for you, here are some important factors to weigh:

Income Needs

Consider your basic living expenses and financial obligations. Do they require a full-time income? Could you afford to scale back? Do you have access to additional income like a spouse’s earnings, government assistance, or other sources?

Career Goals

Will working part-time stall your professional growth or make it harder to get promoted? Some careers lend themselves better to part-time work than others. Evaluate if your skills will stay sharp and resume attractive.


Many part-time workers do not receive benefits like health insurance and retirement plans offered to full-time staff. Have alternate coverage or factor out-of-pocket costs into your budget.

Work-Life Balance

More free time from part-time work allows you to pursue other life priorities. But consider if you will feel unfulfilled or bored without the stimulation of full-time employment.

Schedule Control

The flexibility of part-time schedules can be a major perk. However, part-time workers may be given less ideal schedules with fewer consecutive days off. Consider whether fluctuating shifts will negatively impact your life.

Job Security

Part-time staff are often the first cut when companies downsize. Full-time employees tend to have higher job security. Consider if you could find another part-time job easily if released.

Reasons People Work Part-Time

Here are some of the most common reasons people choose to work part-time hours:


Older adults entering retirement often gradually reduce their hours through part-time work. This allows them to supplement retirement income while enjoying more leisure time.

Raising Children

Part-time schedules offer parents more time at home with kids while bringing in some earnings. Parents may work part-time while children are young and increase hours as kids grow up.

Pursuing Education

Students fitting employment around classes frequently work part-time. This helps cover tuition and costs while accommodating school schedules.

Health Limitations

People with disabilities or illnesses that prevent full-time employment may work part-time when their health allows. This provides income during good periods.

Multiple Jobs

Some people cobble together the equivalent of a full-time income by working multiple part-time jobs with flexibility to set their own schedules.

Work-Life Balance

Many individuals prefer limiting their work hours to spend more time on non-work interests and responsibilities. Part-time work allows them to earn while pursuing other passions.

Making Part-Time Work

If you’ve weighed factors and decided part-time employment aligns with your needs and desires, here are tips for making it work:

Reduce Expenses

Cut discretionary spending on dining out, entertainment, vacations, new gadgets, and other non-necessities. Move to a smaller living space, use public transportation, and look at ways to lower your cost of living.

Use the Gig Economy

Driving for a rideshare company or doing freelance projects from home a few hours a week is an easy route to generate supplemental part-time income on a flexible schedule.

Ask About Part-Time at Your Company

Approach your manager about transitioning to reduced hours in your current position. Offer to job share or fill a part-time need the company may have.

Find Positions Designed for Part-Time

Roles like retail associate and substitute teacher are commonly structured for part-time staffing needs. Seek companies and industries actively hiring part-time workers.

Get a Side Hustle

Use your skills at a freelance or small business venture outside your main part-time job. Monetize a hobby, rent out unused space, sell products online, walk dogs, or consult.

Lower Costs Further with a Roommate

Split housing and utility expenses by adding a roommate even if you downgrade apartments. Two can live nearly as cheaply as one.

Part-Time Job Options

Here are some examples of jobs commonly filled by part-time workers:


Jobs like writing, graphic design, web development, consulting, and tutoring can be done as freelance gigs in your spare time. The pay adapts to the number of hours you can work.

Retail Worker

Stores need part-time staff to cover peak customer hours. Working the register or sales floor allows a flexible schedule.

Restaurant Server

Servers can work lunches, weekends or just night shifts. Tips supplement part-time income from an evening shift a few days a week.

Rideshare Driver

Apps like Uber and Lyft allow drivers to turn driving into part-time income. You control when and how long you drive.

Child or Pet Sitter

Local parents and pet owners need part-time help with babysitting and animal care while they work. You set your own availability.

Adjunct Professor

Teach college classes part-time by working as an adjunct faculty member. You teach specific courses based on your expertise.

Fitness Instructor

Gym classes like yoga, spin, Zumba need part-time teachers. You pick up classes based on your schedule.

Common Concerns

Here are some common worries about choosing part-time employment and how to address them:

I won’t earn enough money.

Work multiple part-time jobs or supplement with freelance work and side hustles. Consider downsizing expenses, sharing costs, or having a working partner.

I’ll miss the social aspect of an office.

Seeking part-time jobs with a workplace community or join local networking and hobby groups to stay social. Coworking spaces also provide camaraderie.

My skills will become irrelevant.

Use spare time to learn new skills, attend conferences, take classes, and network with industry peers to stay professionally fresh.

I won’t get opportunities for promotion.

Ask about pathways to increased seniority through internal promotions. Some roles like adjunct teaching reward experience. Build a personal brand through freelancing.

I won’t qualify for health insurance and retirement plans.

Research insurance options through government exchanges or membership groups. Open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to save for retirement.

I’ll feel isolated and depressed.

Maintain a routine. Communicate with a supportive community. Stay engaged through volunteering, clubs, and causes. Seek help if you experience prolonged depression.

Advice from People Working Part-Time

Insights from people successfully working part-time:

Challenge Assumptions

“Don’t just assume part-time work is unstable and dead-end. Find opportunities with growth potential and professionalism.”

Schedule Meticulously

“Get organized with a schedule to prevent overbooking yourself across multiple part-time commitments.”

Set Boundaries

“Because you work part-time, employers may expect extra availability from you. Politely decline requests outside your schedule.”

Save Seriously

“Contribute to emergency savings and retirement diligently. A part-time instability means you need a stronger financial cushion.”

Enjoy Abundant Time

“Savor and make the most of extra hours gained from part-time work. Use them intentionally for self-care, relationships, and passions.”

Pros of Part-Time Work

Advantages that part-time roles offer:

– Work-life balance
– Less stress and burnout
– Time for family, friends, and fun
– Flexible scheduling freedom
– Ability to travel and take long vacations
– Opportunity to pursue education and growth
– Lower costs by downsizing apartment/house
– Supplemental income while semi-retired
– Customized career paths

Cons of Part-Time Work

Disadvantages to weigh about part-time employment:

– Less income and fewer benefits
– May need multiple jobs to earn enough
– Irregular hours can disrupt routines
– Harder to qualify for a mortgage or loan
– Smaller savings and retirement funds
– Isolation and FOMO toward full-time colleagues
– Juggling multiple jobs can be stressful
– Potentially seen as less dedicated by some employers
– Unpredictable schedule changes
– Less job stability and easier to be laid off

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the “right” choice between full-time and part-time work depends on your individual financial situation, career goals, priorities, and values. There are valid reasons on both sides. Thoroughly assess the pros and cons in the context of your life vision before deciding which employment level is most appropriate.

While part-time work has tradeoffs like less income and security, it offers alluring advantages like abundant personal time and flexibility. With purposeful planning, part-time jobs can absolutely be a viable route to finding fulfillment, work-life balance, and financial stability.

Don’t automatically write off part-time work as inadequate simply because it diverges from the norm of full-time employment. Make an informed decision aligned with the nuances of your needs and aspirations. If you’ve thought it through and part-time work allows you to live your best life, then by all means it can be an excellent path.

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