While it’s true that a portion of part-time workers would prefer to work full time, the majority of those who work part time do so voluntarily. Family obligations, attending school and medical limitations are just a few common reasons cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for why someone might have a part-time job.

More Americans are also taking on part-time work on the side of a full-time job simply to cover everyday living expenses. According to a Bankrate study, 41 percent of adults with a side job needed it to cover everyday expenses in June 2022.

Whether you’re interested in part-time work due to other life obligations or looking to earn some extra income, there are many different part-time job opportunities that can help you make ends meet and contribute more to a savings account.

Here’s a deeper dive into the role of part-time jobs for American workers.

Part-time job key statistics

  • The BLS defines a part-time worker as someone who works less than 35 hours per week.
  • As of October 2022, the total number of part-time workers aged 16 and over in the U.S. is about 26.6 million.
  • About 85 percent (or 22.6 million) of part-time workers are part time for noneconomic reasons, such as family obligations or being retired.
  • Meanwhile, around 2.4 million workers are part time for economic reasons, such as needing extra income to pay for living expenses.
  • Over 60 percent of part-time workers are women.
  • Bankrate’s survey on side gig income found that the largest portion (41 percent) of those with side jobs need it for paying for everyday expenses.
  • The second most common reported reason for having a side job was to have disposable income for spending (26 percent), followed by boosting savings (17 percent) and paying down debt (12 percent).

Sources: BLS, Bankrate

Jobs for teens

In most states, the minimum working age is 16 years old, though there are a few exceptions. Still, minors in many states are limited in how many hours they can work per week — child labor laws ensure that those under 18 years old have sufficient time for schooling, recreation and social development.

Part-time jobs, then, are a great opportunity for teens to start making their own income during the summer, after school or on weekends. The BLS reports that there are about 3.8 million part-time workers in the U.S. who are between the ages of 16 and 19.

Summer jobs tend to be more common among teens — 36.6 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds had summer jobs in 2021, compared with 30.5 percent for the rest of the year, according to Pew Research Center. The most common of these summer jobs for teens are food preparation and services and accommodation (36.2 percent), followed by retail (21.3 percent).

Here are the top part-time jobs for teens to take on in the summer or after school.

Job Median hourly wage*
Restaurant host/hostess $11.83
Food preparation $13.84
Retail associate $13.79
Lifeguard $12.32
Babysitting $13.22

*Median wages sourced from 2021 BLS data.

Jobs for college students

Students in college may find themselves having a slew of new financial responsibilities, including paying for college tuition and supplies, buying their own food and severing much of their financial dependence on parents.

College years are also an important period of time for developing career skills. But, of course, the main focus should be on school, which is why part-time work is perfect for college students. They can remain in school while building up work experience and taking on more financial responsibilities.

In 2020, 40 percent of full-time undergraduates and 74 percent of part-time undergraduates were employed, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The largest share of full-time undergraduates worked between 20 and 34 hours per week, which is standard for a part-time job.

It’s important for college students to find a job that can help them develop crucial skills while also providing flexibility and not adding much more stress to their lives. Here are some recommendations.

Job Median hourly wage*
Administrative assistant $19.08
Barista $11.83
Restaurant server $12.80
Bookstore associate $13.79
Research assistant $23.90

*Median wages sourced from 2021 BLS data.

Jobs for stay-at-home parents

Stay-at-home parents have many responsibilities that could make a full-time job impossible to take on: taking care of children, keeping up with housework, managing family finances and so on.

But that doesn’t stop these parents from working on the side of caring for children. In 2021, almost six million part-time workers were parents with children under 18, according to the BLS. In many cases, these parents might work part time and stay at home with kids while another parent works full time.

A 2021 study by Magnify Money found that 2.4 percent of parents are stay-at-home parents — and this number has increased by 60 percent since 2019.

Remote work might be the best option for many stay-at-home parents. Then, they can take on jobs that allow them to complete tasks at home while still looking after kids. Some less conventional ways for stay-at-home parents to boost their income include entrepreneurial opportunities, like selling homemade items on an online marketplace or running a blog.

Here are some part-time options for stay-at-home parents that typically allow for remote work and more flexible hours.

Job Median hourly wage*
Freelance writer $33.42
Online tutor $17.53
Data entry specialist $17.72
Proofreader $21.12
Virtual assistant $19.08

*Median wages sourced from 2021 BLS data.

Jobs for retirees

Retirees might be past the peak of their careers, but that doesn’t mean they must totally give up working. Many continue to work part time in retirement, whether it’s to keep funding retirement dreams, contribute to savings for family or to help maintain an active social and intellectual life.

In fact, those ages 55 and older make up about 29 percent of part-time workers. While retirees can certainly be younger than 55, it remains true that there are limitations (whether due to personal desires or physical and health constraints) on the number of hours many retirees are able to work.

Being retired should allow you to enjoy a flexible lifestyle, so work for retirees might ideally have flexible hours. The type of work is also important — a survey by CoGenerate found that 55 percent of Americans want to prioritize using their skills and expertise for a positive social impact following their primary careers.

Here are some part-time work options that might be ideal for retirees, offering flexibility, the opportunity to socialize and positive social impact.

Job Average pay*
Grade school teacher $67,030 per year**
College instructor $95,200 per year**
Financial planner $37.16 per hour
Conservationist $18.89 per hour
Writer $33.42 per hour

*Sourced from 2021 BLS data. Hourly wages are reported by median.

**Teacher’s and instructor’s pays are reported by annual salary because the BLS does not report wages for jobs that are not year-round.

Jobs for veterans

In 2021, about 18.5 million, or 7 percent, of U.S. adults were veterans, according to the BLS.

Veterans may be able to leverage skills that were picked up while serving to find specialized part-time work. Some of the most common industries where veterans are employed include manufacturing, professional services and transportation.

They may also draw from their experience to contribute to work in the public sector — 22.5 percent of veterans work in the public sector, compared with only 13 percent of nonveterans, according to the BLS. Public sector employment is especially high among veterans with service-connected disabilities, at 26.7 percent.

These are some part-time job opportunities that might be most suitable for veterans looking to move into civilian work.

Job Average pay*
Manufacturer $29.61 per hour
Truck driver $21.91 per hour
Electrical technician $30.60 per hour
IT analyst $47.92 per hour
Legislator $57,110 per year**

*Sourced from 2021 BLS data. Hourly wages are reported by median.
**Legislator pay is reported by annual salary because the BLS does not report wages for jobs that are not typically year-round.

Jobs for people with disabilities

Disabilities can affect the type of work and amount of work that someone can take on. About half of people with disabilities were 65 years and above; for those between 16 and 64 years old who have a disability, 31.4 percent were employed in 2021, according to the BLS.

Workers who had a disability were also more likely to be employed part time — 29 percent of workers with a disability were part-time workers. They were more likely than workers without a disability to work part time due to economic reasons, such as being unable to find a full-time job.

Although these are some part-time job ideas that might be suitable for people with disabilities, the way that a disability can affect someone’s work capability varies greatly by disability.

Some resources for people with disabilities looking for work include:

  • CareerOneStop.org, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a helpful site for searching for jobs, developing skills and understanding job accommodations.
  • USA Jobs Resource Center shares federal job listings that are actively recruiting those with disabilities.
  • Ticket to Work is a free site that provides training for Social Security disability recipients ages 18 to 64 who want to work.

The more popular industries for people with disabilities include service occupations, office occupations and transportation. Here are some part-time work ideas for people with disabilities where they can often find remote work opportunities and can even leverage their disability into the role’s expertise.

Job Median hourly wage*
Accounting specialist $21.90
Counselor $23.73
Pharmaceutical technician $17.66
Legal support $26.38

*Median wages sourced from 2021 BLS data.

Frequently asked questions