5 Types of Jobs and What They Mean for You

What types of jobs can you get? Discover the benefits of full-time vs. part-time positions and learn about the five types of employment.

portrait of Whitney Sandoval
by Whitney Sandoval

Updated March 1, 2022

Reviewed by Sarah Holliday, MS

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5 Types of Jobs and What They Mean for You


Did you know the average person works about 12 jobs in their lifetime? Whether you're a college student, a recent graduate, or a veteran worker, understanding the different types of jobs and their pros and cons can help you make the best professional decision for you.

Where and how we work is continually evolving. There are several types of jobs that exist in the market beyond the traditional 9-to-5 career. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 7% of employees in 2017 worked as independent contractors.

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Ready to start your journey?

Here are important things to know about the five main types of employment.

What Is a Full-Time Job?

Although employers may define full time differently, the typical full-time employee works at least 30 hours a week. Full-time work may also look different depending on your career. For instance, nurses may work four 10-hour night shifts rather than a typical 9-to-5 schedule five days a week.

Employers also generally provide benefits for full-time employees that may not be available to part-time workers or contractors. These can include health insurance and other medical benefits like dental and vision insurance.

Other perks may include life insurance policies and matching payments into retirement funds or even toward student loan repayments.

Depending on the employer, you may receive paid time off (PTO) or paid vacation days. In addition, you may have access to paid holidays. Full-time employment provides most people with a consistent, steady paycheck.

What Is a Part-Time Job?

Ultimately, there is no federal definition of full-time and part-time employment based on a set number of hours. Each individual employer determines how many hours are considered full time. A part-time job indicates a position that requires fewer hours of work than the company's defined threshold for full-time jobs.

Part-time employment may be desirable for students, parents, or anyone looking to earn extra money. Part-time jobs may allow flexible hours that work around your class schedule or childcare responsibilities.

Working part time can also provide you with a paycheck as you pursue other passions.

Sometimes working for a company part time can lead to full-time employment. Although there are some companies, like Starbucks, that offer health benefits to part-time workers, most of these employees do not receive the same perks as their full-time counterparts.

What Is a Seasonal Job?

Seasonal jobs operate for one or more seasons during the year. For instance, many jobs at mountain resorts and amusement parks are seasonal — employees work for a set number of months, like during the ski season or summer season.

Depending on the position, a seasonal job may be temporarily full time or part time. During the holiday season, retail businesses often hire extra workers to help meet additional customer demands. These positions offer a variety of shifts. Some warehouses, for example, may need workers to fill overnight shifts, while department stores may need additional weekend workers.

Although seasonal jobs do not guarantee steady, year-round employment, they can be great options for students who are home for summer vacation or for those who want to earn extra income during the holidays.

What Is a Contract Job?

Contract employees are typically hired for a set amount of time with a wage predetermined by their contract. Freelance writers and artists are commonly thought of as contract employees, but even jobs like nursing can offer contract work.

Though you could get hired as a W-2 employee, many contract jobs hire employees with a 1099 form. This means your paycheck is not automatically taxed, and you will have to keep track of your own earnings and submit quarterly taxes. Typically, contract employees are not offered employee benefits.

Being a contract employee can offer flexibility and allow you to pick and choose your projects. Those who enjoy consistent paychecks may struggle with the unpredictability of contract jobs.

What Is a Temporary Job?

Temporary jobs can be part time or full time and last for a finite amount of time. For instance, if a company needs someone to cover for an employee on parental leave, the business may hire a temporary worker to fill in.

Even if a temporary job is full time, you may not be offered the benefits a traditional full-time employee receives. You may not have any sick or personal time, either. That said, you can hone transferable skills during your employment and build a strong relationship with the company.

A temporary job might be a good fit if you need immediate work. Temporary jobs can offer you flexibility and help you avoid gaps in your resume.

Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Employment

What is a part-time vs. full-time job?

The federal government does not define what counts as full- vs. part-time work. However, full-time jobs typically consist of a 40-hour work week. Some employers define full-time employees as those who work 35 hours a week or even 30 or more hours a week. Part-time staff work fewer hours than whatever the employer considers full time.

Full-time jobs often come with benefits that part-time jobs do not, like health coverage and paid time off.

What does the W-2 form tell you?

Both full-time and part-time employees may need to fill out a W-2 form. The form allows your employer to withhold income taxes, Medicare, and Social Security benefits from your paycheck. You typically fill out the form when you complete your hiring paperwork. You can opt to have more taxes taken out of your paycheck if you wish.

What is a 1099 form, and who gets one?

Employers fill out 1099 forms for various reasons. Workers who are hired on as independent contractors or are self-employed will often be sent this form at the beginning of the year.

If you make at least $600 from an employer in a one-year period, you should receive a 1099 form. Even if you do not reach this threshold, you are still required to report all the wages you have earned on your tax return.

How much is self-employment tax?

In 2021, the self-employment tax rate was 15.3%. This rate is made up of two taxes: 2.9% for Medicare and 12.4% for Social Security. Traditional W-2 employees are taxed a similar amount.

Feature Image: Ridofranz / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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