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Career Outlook article page

Part-time jobs that pay more than $20 per hour

| June 2017

Want more time for pursuits other than work? A part-time job may be for you.

But because part-time work may result in less pay, you’ll want to maximize your earning potential. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can help you identify occupations with average wages for part-time workers that topped $20 per hour in 2016.

Reduced hours, high pay

The BLS Current Population Survey defines part-time workers as those who usually are on the job between 1 and 34 hours per week. About 18 percent of all workers were part time in 2016. And data show that most of those people worked part time voluntarily, rather than for economic reasons (such as being unable to find a full-time job).

Another BLS survey, the National Compensation Survey (NCS), classifies workers as part-time based on how the employer defines the term. The tables that follow show some occupations that, according to NCS, have hourly wages for part-time workers that are higher than $20—nearly triple the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In each of the tables, occupations related to healthcare are most prevalent.

Male nurse talking with a patient

A mean wage is an average, and it can help to indicate how much workers in an occupation might expect to earn; however, industry, geographic location, and other factors affect wages that employers pay. NCS does not calculate the average wage for all part-time workers.

The occupations in the tables are grouped by educational attainment, based on BLS determinations of what is typically required of entry-level workers. Individual workers in these occupations may have more or less education than what is typically required for entry.

To help you assess an occupation’s outlook, the tables also include data showing its rate of growth projected between 2014 and 2024. Many of the occupations in the table are projected to grow much faster than 7 percent, the average rate of growth for all workers. These data come from the BLS Employment Projections program and are for both full- and part-time workers, because projections are not calculated separately for part-time workers.

Associate's degree

Table 1 highlights selected occupations in which entry-level applicants typically need a high school diploma, a postsecondary nondegree award, or an associate’s degree. New workers in some of the occupations may need experience in a related occupation to be hired or may have to get on-the-job training to attain competency.

Table 1

Physical therapist assistants, with a wage of nearly $27 an hour for part-time workers, is projected to be the third-fastest-growing occupation in the economy over the 2014–24 decade. The two highest paying occupations in table 1, dental hygienists and diagnostic medical sonographers, also are projected to grow much faster than average. 

An associate’s degree was the most common education level among the occupations in table 1. Associate’s degree programs usually involve at least 2 years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

Shorter-term credentials, such as certificates or other postsecondary nondegree awards, may be another option. Diagnostic imaging workers, for example, sometimes complete a 1-year hospital or college certificate program in lieu of earning an associate’s or higher degree.

Bachelor’s degree

At the bachelor’s degree level, there are a variety of occupations that offer high wages for working part time. Among them are those in education, healthcare, and business. (See table 2.)

Table 2.

The largest occupation in table 2, registered nurses, had the highest wage for part-time workers: just under $37 per hour. It also had the most workers in 2014, more than 2.7 million, and employment in this occupation is projected to surpass 3 million by 2024. All but one of the occupations in table 2 are projected to grow much faster than average.

A bachelor’s degree generally prepares you for a variety of occupations in about 4 years of full-time study after high school. But for some of the occupations in the table, you might need to major in a specific discipline, such as medical technology or adult education.

And although you typically qualify for the occupations in table 2 with a bachelor’s degree, there may be additional requirements. Management analysts, for example, often need several years of work experience in an occupation related to their area of expertise in order to enter the occupation.

Master's or higher degree

The occupations in table 3 typically require you to get formal education after a person earns a 4-year college degree. Some of these occupations had mean wages near or above $40 per hour for part-time workers.

Table 3.

Of the occupations in table 3, nurse practitioners had the highest wage for part-time workers—almost $48 per hour. This occupation also had the fastest projected employment growth: a 35-percent increase over the decade, which places it among the 10 fastest growing overall.

Earning a master’s degree typically takes 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study after a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral or professional degrees generally require you to have at least 3 years of study after a bachelor’s degree.

Psychologists typically need to complete an internship to attain competency in the occupation. And many of the occupations require workers to be licensed.

School psychologist working with a young girl

For more information

Read more about the occupations mentioned in this article, along with hundreds of others, in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The occupations highlighted here are among those for which wages for part-time workers can be modeled using data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS) and the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. Search for additional occupations, and for part-time and full-time wages by work level and geographic location, using the NCS database tool.

Additional projections and education and training data are available from the BLS Employment Projections program.

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at

Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Part-time jobs that pay more than $20 per hour," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2017.

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