What is the Difference Between Full-Time, Part-Time, and Contract Work?

What is the Difference Between Full-Time, Part-Time, and Contract Work?

There are many reasons why you may choose full-time, part-time, or contract work. Companies choose to have a variety of employees to improve productivity and sometimes reduce costs. There is more to consider than just how many hours you want to work. You need to calculate the benefits, tax laws, income, and hours. Each commitment has pros and cons to review before deciding what the best route is for you.

What is Full-Time Work?

Full-time work is often the traditional route post-education and into adulthood. It may include a written contract with an outline of the work you're expected to complete and the compensation package.


There are obvious positives to having full-time work. The first is financial security. In these types of jobs, an employer must pay you the agreed-upon salary. There are usually industry standards, but you can negotiate this value before you start. Even if work is slow, you get your money, and it's on schedule.

Next up - benefits and security! Employers are obligated to provide full-time staff with benefits. These come in the form of paid sick leave, vacation days, health insurance, retirement contributions, and parental leave. This ties into job security. Employees don't have to worry about going unpaid when they're just too sick to come to work or setting aside money for retirement.

Full-time work also comes with a support system and community. These types of jobs are often on location or at least hybrid. You have regular interactions with colleagues both for professional teamwork and on a casual basis at lunch or work events. There will also be colleagues who act as a support system, including HR and management.


The negatives mostly come in the form of time commitments. When you have a full-time contract, you're expected to complete all the work that's assigned to you. This often means working outside of office hours (usually unpaid). When work runs into your personal time, it takes away time spent doing what you love. Balancing a personal life becomes difficult when you consider that we spend two-thirds of our life at work.

Due to emotional investment, a lot of time and energy goes into these types of jobs, which can result in burnout. Pressure and workload combined with little time for yourself amplify stress levels. It's easy to put your health on the back burner when you're invested in a project with a tight deadline.

What is Part-Time Work?

Where full-time work is usually a 30-40 hour per week commitment, part-time work means fewer hours and different pros and cons. Employers choose to have part-timers to save on costs and provide employees with the option to have other commitments.


These types of jobs can be shift work or have varying weekly hours. With less commitment, you have greater flexibility to pursue personal interests or commitments. This is perfect for students and parents who need an income but can't commit to full-time hours.

With more flexibility, part-timers can have more than one job at a time to broaden their skills. Your resume can boast multiple jobs with varying responsibilities. This demonstrates good time management and broader experience. It also means more networking opportunities which could lead to the dream full-time job.


The downside to not having set hours is of course a lack of income security. Employers don't have to guarantee hours when work is slow unless you agree to set hours in your contract. This could result in small paychecks that disrupt budgets and threaten financial security.

Though a part-time position may come with benefits, they're usually not the sick leave benefits or retirement contributions of full-timers. This keeps unnecessary costs down for employers. These missed benefits include the ability to progress in a company. As a result, a part-timer may become bored or feel less valued.

What is Contract Work?

Contract work is usually done by an expert in a field who is employed for a specific task. These include freelancers, gigs workers, and consultants. In the digital age, more people are choosing these types of jobs. They allow you to become an expert in your field and dictate how your skills grow.


When you do contract work, you choose your hours. If you want to spend two weeks on an island, nobody's going to interrupt you. You can take on multiple jobs at a time and complete them at your own pace. Usually, a company will ask for the task to be completed by a deadline at an agreed-upon price.

That leads me to my next point - you choose how much money you earn. How much you charge for a job is up to you, and that can mean an impressive income. If you are an absolute expert in your field, those recruiting you for one-off projects are usually willing to pay a large sum of money.

As you are not connected to any of these companies, you have fewer commitments. Nobody is asking you to attend work events or to work overtime. Much like part-time work, this leaves more room for personal commitments.


Because contract work is as-needed recruitment, there isn't guaranteed work. You may be left without an income for unpredictable periods of time. This may not be sustainable for someone with pressing financial commitments.

These types of jobs do not receive benefits. Without a direct link to companies, you will not have provided health insurance or parental leave. This means that you must sacrifice or allocate money and time to cover yourself.

When doing contract work, you're responsible for paying your taxes. By law, you are required to declare your income and pay the appropriate taxes. This usually requires you to recruit a tax accountant who is familiar with contract work tax obligations.

Consider Your Options

You must consider a lot before committing to full-time, part-time, or contract work. Many prefer the stability and benefits of a full-time job. For some, personal commitments mean restricted availability. Others want to become experts in their field and dictate their hours and income. Consider your options and choose the best type of job for you.

Written by Career Specialist Feb 01, 2023
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