The nature of work is changing. Scratch that — it’s already changed! More and more people are exploring how to craft a career that not only supports them financially but enables them to live their life on their terms.
Some folks are starting a business or going freelance. Others are working multiple part-time jobs instead of one full-time role. You wonder — is having two or more part-time positions better than having a single full-time gig?
Well, it depends on your situation and goals. As you can imagine, there are pros and cons to both arrangements. We’ll discuss them here so you can decide for yourself.
Please note: Sometimes, people find themselves working part-time jobs or participating in the gig economy because they can’t find a full-time job. In this case, they’re in this situation not by choice, but due to necessity. This article examines the part-time jobs versus full-time position option from the perspective of being in a situation to choose what’s most appropriate for your life.
Pros of Working a Full-Time Job
Full-time positions come with the perception of stability and safety and often offer several perks such as a:
- Predictable income
- Benefits package
- Comfortable routine
- Clear career trajectory
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
With a full-time job, you’re either getting paid a set salary or working a certain number of hours per week. That means you know how much each paycheck will be (at least roughly).
This knowledge will make it easier to create a budget and follow other financial plans. It can make life feel more stable.
When you work full-time, chances are your employer will offer you a valuable benefits package. This package typically includes important perks like health insurance, life insurance, and a retirement savings plan.
Since your employer provides these benefits to you, you won’t have to set them up on your own, which can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money.
As a full-time employee, you can get into a rhythm. You know your schedule. Your surroundings, co-workers, and responsibilities become familiar.
You may form bonds with other people in the company or feel a deep connection to the work because you invest so much time and energy at your job.
Clear Career Trajectory
If you’re thinking about climbing the company ladder, it’s probably easier to do so as a full-time employee.
Often, organizations will give preferential treatment to their full-timers when they need to fill a managerial position. That’s because, as a full-time employee, you’re more acutely aware of business operations and have better availability to perform the role.
Cons of Working a FT Position
However, despite its potential advantages, a full-time job can have some drawbacks such as:
- An inflexible schedule
- No income diversification
- Less exposure to new skills
- Fewer opportunities to network
Let’s review each of them.
As a full-time employee, you’ll typically give 40+ hours per week to your employer. And, in many cases, you’ll be required to work a set schedule.
This obligation can make it difficult to tend to other areas of your life, like your family, a passion project, or even household errands.
No Income Diversification
When you rely on a single source of income, you set yourself up for a potential financial disaster – especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.
Unfortunately, as secure as your full-time job might seem, it can go away in an instant.
When your company is in fiscal trouble or wants to go in a different direction, you’re on the chopping block. If you don’t have sufficient cash reserves, it can be hard to recover from a layoff.
Less Exposure to New Skills
Your full-time job may offer professional development opportunities to you. But, in general, those opportunities will understandably be geared towards the role you’re currently performing.
That means you probably won’t learn skills solely based on your interests or for a job you might like to have someday. You won’t be able to branch out on the company dime.
Fewer Opportunities to Network
You’ll meet plenty of folks while working your full-time job. But — chances are, most of those contacts will be from your own company or people doing business with your employer.
You won’t have the opportunity to rub elbows with folks from different industries. This could limit your ability to make a career change down the line.
Related Reading: How Can Networking Help My Business Thrive?
Pros of Working Multiple Part-Time Jobs
Working multiple less than full-time positions can have many advantages, like:
- A flexible schedule
- Income diversification
- More professional development opportunities
- More chances to network
Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
Working part-time can allow you to have more control over your schedule.
For example, let’s say you need to be home in the afternoon when your kids get home from school. You might work at a coffee shop until lunchtime and then pick up a few evening shifts at a local retailer.
Your situation and the type of work may vary. But the point is — working multiple part-time jobs can let you prioritize your life while still earning a living.
When you have multiple income streams, it doesn’t hurt as much when one of them dries up.
Expanding on the example above – say you get laid off from your job at the coffee shop. You still have a paycheck coming from your retail position. And, if needed, you might be able to get extra shifts at the store to make up for some of the lost wages.
Bonus thought: You might be able to earn more money working multiple part-time positions versus a single full-time job. For the sake of simple math, say you earn $10 per hour (regardless of the role). If you work 40 hours per week at a full-time job, you’ll make $400 before taxes. But, if you put in 25 hours per week at each of your two part-time roles, you’ll earn $500 pre-tax (25 hours X 2 X $10 per hour).
More Professional Development Opportunities
When you work multiple jobs, you’re almost sure to add variety to your skillset — especially if you perform different functions at each company.
You’ll have the chance to try new things and see what types of roles you enjoy. You’ll also get your foot in the door of multiple industries, which could be useful if you ever want to pursue related full-time employment.
More Chances to Network
Your array of part-time jobs can also present you with more chances to network. It makes sense — the more companies you’re involved with, the more people you’ll meet.
You never know when one of those new contacts will help your career — or when you’ll help theirs.
Cons of Working Multiple PT Gigs
Even though working multiple part-time jobs has its perks, there are some potential disadvantages like:
- Less predictable income
- No benefits package
- Cumbersome schedule
- Flat career trajectory
Less Predictable Income
While you could conceivably earn more money working multiple part-time positions than a single full-time job, chances are, your income will be variable.
Full-timers are generally guaranteed a certain number of hours per week. Part-timers are not. You could work 50 hours one week and 30 hours the next, making it difficult to budget.
Related Reading: How Do I Budget with a Variable Income?
No Benefits Package
The lack of benefits is perhaps the biggest pitfall of working part-time.
When your employer doesn’t pitch in for your health insurance or give you a match on your retirement savings, it can have a significant financial impact.
You’ll be fully responsible for any benefits you want, which can be very expensive.
Even though working part-time can allow for scheduling flexibility, it can also be a logistical nightmare.
What happens when two of your part-time jobs want you to work at the same time?
You’ll need to prioritize one at the expense of the other, which could result in you losing a job. You’ll need to set precise availability with each company, and hope management honors it.
Flat Career Trajectory
If you aspire to get into management, working a part-time position likely isn’t the best way to achieve that goal.
You’ll probably have minimal opportunity to move up in the company as firms tend to invest their efforts into grooming full-timers for leadership roles. You may need to be content staying in the same position indefinitely.
Part-time Jobs vs. Full-time Position?
The route you take is a very nuanced decision. Base your choice on your goals and personal situation. Here are a few guideposts to aid your thinking:
Working a full-time role might be right for you if you:
- Absolutely need a predictable income.
- Feel comfortable with just one income stream.
- Rely on employer benefits.
- Want to climb the company ladder.
- Like the routine that comes with it.
Working multiple part-time jobs could make sense if you:
- Feel comfortable with variable income.
- Like the idea of having multiple income streams.
- Can get the benefits you need elsewhere.
- Need a more flexible schedule.
- Enjoy regularly learning new things and meeting new people.
Working multiple part-time roles instead of a single full-time position can be an excellent option for some folks.
But, before you make any rash decisions, be sure to think through the implications of each on your finances, family, and other important components of life.
If you need personalized guidance, consider speaking with a career coach or counselor.
Article written by Laura