What is first shift?

Amber Shiflett |

When you work in a full-time, traditional office job, you can expect to be at work from 8am to 5pm. But is that the case when you’re doing hourly, part-time work? 

Not always! Part-time workers have different scheduling options from full-time workers. That isn’t a bad thing, but it means you need to be aware of what work schedules are available to you when you take on an hourly job. 

As an hourly worker, you’re going to come across listings for shift work. A lot of companies use work shifts to keep their business staffed on a 24-hour basis. This gives them coverage so they can always be there for their customers. The neat thing about this is that shift work gives you room to choose your hours. 

What it’s like to have shift work hours

Shift work hours usually involve 8-hour, 10-hour or 12-hour shifts. It really depends on the company and the work you’re doing. 

Keep these tidbits of wisdom in mind when you’re choosing between different shifts:

  1. Fixed shift: You have a fixed shift when you work the same block of hours every week. For example, you would be scheduled from 8am to noon every time you work. This is ideal because it gives you a little more predictability in your schedule. It also means you don’t have to work at 3am one day and be at work at 8am the next. 

  2. Split shift: This is what people refer to when they say, “I’m working a double.” A split shift happens when you work two shifts in a row. Now, legally you get a break between these shifts, but it’s often little more than a lunch break and some time to rest your feet. This is pretty common in the restaurant industry. 

You have to understand how shift work operates to find the right hourly gig for you. If you’re interested in an hourly job as an EMT, in retail, at a restaurant, in a hotel or with customer service, you’ll probably encounter shift work. Pay close attention to hourly job listings! They’ll usually specify which shift the job is for. 

3 shifts to choose from

Which shift is right for you? That depends on your preferences and needs, but you generally can expect to choose between three types of shifts. 

1. First shift

First shift is the most popular hourly job option out there. With this day shift, you can expect to work traditional business hours, which are usually 8am to 5pm. You get a standard workday here, but you do have to deal with annoying things like commutes and traffic. 

With that said, a lot of people want first shift because it gives you time to have a normal life outside of work. You can hang out with friends and family in the evening hours and have a little time to yourself. This is ideal if you have friends, roommates or a partner that works traditional business hours. 

2. Second shift

Second shift (also called the “swing shift”) is the folks who relieve the first shift workers. They usually work from 4 pm until midnight. Since they’re working nontraditional hours, second shift hourly workers earn a little more money. This is a great option if you’re a night owl, college student or if you need to care for your family during the day. 

3. Third shift

Third shift isn’t for the faint of heart! You’ve got to love staying up late to make this night shift work. Also known as the “graveyard shift,” third shift starts at midnight and ends at 8am. Third shift tends to be less busy in many industries, but the hours are killer. Because of that, third shift is the highest-paying. 

If you’re considering a third shift job, make sure you can stay awake! This can also have consequences on your social life. Third shift jobs will turn you into a vampire, where you sleep all day and work all night. 

You do you

First shift is more desirable because it means you can do hourly work and live a normal life. You can still swing by happy hour with your friends after work ends and relax in the evening with your family. 

If shift work is new to you, make sure you do your homework. If you’re okay with turning your schedule upside down to earn a lot more money, second or third shift are good options, too. It’s about finding balance in a job that compensates well. 

Are you not up for a traditional working arrangement? Well, we’ve got the job for you, pal! Check out these 5 quirky hourly jobs you can apply for.