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Supplement your income with a part-time job

CareerBuilder | September 8, 2016

Part-Time Job - Top Reasons for Pursuing Part-Time Work

Whether you're looking for extra work to supplement your income or you need more flexibility in your schedule, part-time work can be a smart solution. Get to know the current trends in the part-time job market, and discover some of the most common part-time jobs that fit your skillset.

Top Reasons for Pursuing Part-Time Work

Tens of millions of Americans work part-time jobs, or positions that require less than 35 hours of work per week. Their reasons for working part-time vary, but a few common themes stand out.

While high school and college students often pursue part-time jobs to pay for tuition, many retirees work part-time in order to alleviate the cost of living expenses. At the same time, millions of entry-level and mid-level professionals work part-time to supplement their household income, especially when full-time jobs or permanent positions in their field aren't available.

For many professionals, increases in the cost of living combined with stagnant wages mean they're struggling to support their preferred standard of living. As The Economist explains, wages have increased at an incredibly slow rate since the Great Recession earlier this century. In fact, the average hourly earnings have grown just 2 percent per year since early 2010. That means part-time jobs often provide essential extra income.

Some professionals approach part-time jobs as opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience in a different field. If you need to pad out your resume in order to land a major promotion or if you're considering a career change, a part-time job could provide just the experience you're looking for.

If you consider flexibility to be a substantial job perk, then part-time work could be right for you. While some employers require similar schedules from week to week, others allow you to set your own schedule or even work when you have a free hour or two. When you're juggling family, life, and one or more jobs, flexibility can be priceless.

How the Gig Economy Is Changing the Part-Time Landscape

One of the most visible and significant ways the part-time landscape is changing is the rise of the gig economy. This new method of working requires professionals to bid for one-off jobs, temporary contracts, or short-term assignments. Those making a living in the gig economy might take on several different jobs on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

The gig economy first emerged via online platforms like Elance, which allows programmers, writers, and designers to bid for short-term jobs from clients around the world. In the past five years, however, this emerging economy has expanded quickly. Now real estate professionals can carve out their own space on platforms like Airbnb, creatives can launch stores on sites like Etsy, and drivers can lend their services through Uber, Lyft, and other platforms.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the gig economy could be just the sort of part-time work you've been dreaming about. In this economy, you can take on as much or as little work as you want, and you can create your own part-time professional empire if you so desire. If you prefer more structure and standard workplace protections, however, you'll probably achieve a greater sense of accomplishment working traditional part-time jobs.

Best Practices for Juggling Multiple Part-Time Jobs

From traditional workplaces to the gig economy, juggling multiple part-time jobs is no easy task. To increase your chances of success, try to maintain a consistent schedule from week to week. If that isn't possible, track your daily agenda on paper, with an app, or using a method that works best for you.

If you'll be commuting to a variety of jobs, try to work for businesses in the same geographic area. That way you can reduce the money lost by commuting, and you'll maximize the time you can spend balancing work and life.

Part-time jobs are smart choices for professionals who get bored easily or need constant challenges. If this sounds familiar, choose your gigs wisely and focus on variety. If you've reached your limit and can't take on yet another job, don't hesitate to set limits and turn down opportunities when necessary.

Job Outlook for Part-Time Workers

In September 2010, at the height of the Great Recession, the number of part-time workers who wanted full-time jobs exceeded 9 million. Today, that number is has decreased to about 6 million involuntarily underemployed workers, but it's still about 2 million greater than the pre-recession figure. If you're one of the millions of Americans who are juggling part-time jobs as you wait for the perfect full-time job to open up, you'll need to be even more organized and persistent than your peers.

As CNN reports, many part-time workers receive lower wages than their full-time counterparts, even when they do the same jobs. Before taking on that new part-time gig, make sure it's worth your time. Don't forget to weigh the benefits that mean the most to you, such as greater flexibility and enhanced experience, against the lack of traditional benefits like health care insurance.

If you've embraced the gig economy or if you appreciate the flexibility that holding part-time jobs affords, you're in luck. The trend toward part-time work only appears to be growing. As a result, the United States economy is primed to undergo a complete restructuring process in the next two decades. As Fast Company proposes, by 2040 the economy might no longer look anything like the economy of today.

Qualities and Skills You'll Need to Excel at Your Part-Time Job

Since the nature of part-time jobs varies from position to position, so do the necessary qualities and skills. For most jobs, you'll need strong written or verbal communication skills, as well as good interpersonal or customer service skills. Hone your adaptability and patience, since you'll need both as a part-time worker. As a part-time worker, you'll also need to be dependable, responsible, and motivated, skills that are particularly important if you're working more than one job.

Across the board, part-time workers should adopt a select few habits, especially if they want to increase their chances of turning a part-time job into a full-time career. First, do your best to add value to your organization. Part-time workers don't always feel 100-percent invested in their employer, but a simple change of mindset can pave the way toward going out of your way to do your best on the job.

Demonstrate that you're in it for the long run by requesting more responsibility. This simple action might not guarantee a promotion, but it lets your employer know that you want to prove your worth. As a part-time worker, you won't get as much face time with your superiors as full-time employees do. That's why it's important to network within your organization and make every interaction count.

Most Common Part-Time Jobs

No matter your skillset, you can land a part-time job that furthers your career or pads your wallet. Take a closer look at some of the most common part-time jobs.

Retail Sales Associate

About one-third of retail sales associates work part-time, making this one of the more common part-time jobs in a traditional workplace. The average retail associate earns a median hourly wage of about $15.50 per hour, but those in specialized stores typically earn more. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects average job growth for this field, which means this position will continue to be a smart bet for many part-time workers.

Food Service Worker

Serving, bartending, and hosting positions are also popular choices for part-time workers. About half of food service workers are employed part-time, and the job market for this industry is poised to grow faster than the average for all occupations. If you're considering a job in this field, keep in mind that servers tend to earn the most, while fast-food employees typically earn the least in this field.

Writer or Editor

Writers and editors who have degrees in English, journalism, or communications are excellent candidates for part-time jobs, especially if they're creative and determined. Full-time writers earn a median salary of about $60,000 per year, and nearly two-thirds of the professionals in this position are self-employed. Part-time freelance writers and editors have the potential to earn much more or less, depending on their level of motivation.


Chauffeurs and taxi drivers generally need state-specific licenses and on-the-job training, but contractors for ride-hailing and ride-sharing companies usually just have to pass a background check before starting work. As a result, the latter type of drivers has quickly become a critical component of the gig economy. The median wage for drivers is around $23,500 per year, and this job allows for an impressive amount of flexibility, making it ideal for many vehicle-owning part-time workers.

From the rise of the gig economy to the increase in contract work to the growth of traditional part-time jobs, the nation's workforce is evolving rapidly. Whether you're a motivated entrepreneur or you want to supplement your income, you can find or create a part-time job to help achieve your goals.