Nearly half of all moms with children under age 18 consider part time work the best possible scenario for their family. I'm one of those moms. I want to focus the majority of my attention on my son and maintaining the home front, but I would like to keep my finger on the pulse of the working world. I certainly don't want to re-enter the workforce at age 45 with no more chance at a job than a 22 year old college grad (actually, a lesser chance due to the inherent bias towards good-looking women).
While part time work could be plausible in almost any circumstance, some careers lend themselves to a scale down better than others. These are five careers where some style of part time work could keep you earning, learning, and engaged at work even while you shift your focus to your family.
Doctors, nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists are in high demand, and many hospitals, retail medical centers and offices are willing to take part time employees who earn hourly rates close to their full time counterparts. However, the style of part time work tends to be fewer days in a week or month rather than fewer working hours in day.
Going part time isn't without its sacrifices. Many medical professionals graduate with six figures of debt and will need to have a plan for attacking the debt on less than a full time salary. If you are depending on public service loan forgiveness, you will need to check if part-time work will keep you moving towards the debt payoff
Massage therapists, nail technicians, personal trainers and hair stylists can all find flexible, part time work in their field of choice. Some personal service providers choose an entrepreneurial route by maintaining a list a small list of clients, but keeping this a part time job typically requires outsourcing activities like bookkeeping and marketing. Typically, entrepreneurs will find their part time work to be the most financially lucrative.
However, personal service providers can contract with gyms, spas, and salons to offer part time work. This is typically a form of W-2 employment which minimizes the time spent on bookkeeping and marketing.
Book keepers, accountants and tax preparation professionals can recast themselves in part time roles with large retail firms or as a self employed virtual assistant. In general, part time employees in these fields should expect to work for smaller firms, but they may still have as many learning opportunities as their full time counterparts. While part time work in these fields tends to have competitive compensation, the highest paying consulting jobs are typically reserved for full time employees or entrepreneurs.
IT or BI Operations
Information technology and business intelligence are fields where contract work is remarkably common, but contract based work should not be mistaken for part time work. While contract work tends to be high paying, you should expect to work 40+ hours per week for the duration of your contract. However, small companies with minimal IT or BI needs will sometimes take on part time professionals for basic operational reporting and analytics and troubleshooting.
Typically, these businesses will hire for a set number of hours per month, or as an on call basis. If you have a connection to small business owners, you may find this to be a great option for you.
Software trainers are another position that IT and BI professionals can find part time work helping businesses get up to speed on new versions of their analytical software tools.
The downside associated with each of these part time positions is that they rarely allow IT/BI professionals to grow in their skill set and competencies. That type of growth will require extra study to stay up to date on your specific profession.
Elementary and secondary education
Elementary and secondary teachers who have tenure in their district can sometimes find job-share opportunities. These tend to be paid at exactly the proportion of their teaching day, but of course require extra time for coordination. For a field that is already among the lower paid fields this can be a big drawback. However, many parents will appreciate the opportunity to see more of their family, and to suffer less burnout during the day.
Teachers can also have part time options that will help them keep their skills sharp and advance their network through activities like tutoring, coaching and substitute teaching.
Part Time Cautions
Despite the availability of part time work, these options tend to have some significant drawbacks. The obvious drawback is that for many of these careers, benefits aren't offered to part-time employees since you are a contract worker rather than a W-2 employee. Another problem is that the most interesting work related problems tend to go to the people who appear to be the most engaged. Unless you are an extremely good self-marketer, your likely to get stuck on routine tasks or simple troubleshooting that doesn't help you learn and grow the way you want.
Part time work can help you with marketing yourself for full time positions, it can help you engage parts of your brain that daily life with toddlers won't engage, and it can help you to keep your network in touch.
Do you see part time work as a meaningful option in your career?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.