9 to 5 vs. Shift Work: 15 Things to Consider (Pay, Health, Flexibility,…)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Many people get to a point in their working life when they consider transitioning from a 9 to 5 job to shift work, or vice versa. If you’re at crossroads in your career, you might wonder how the two types of jobs compare. When all is said and done, both 9 to 5 and shift work jobs have their differences, pros, and cons. Today, we’ll share with you a list of pros and cons for both 9 to 5 and shift work jobs that need to be considered before taking the plunge.

Below is a look at the 15 things you should consider before transitioning to a job that demands more or less time from you. They will help you decide which job type is better suited to your personality, preferences, and lifestyle.

15 pros, cons, and differences of 9 to 5 jobs vs. shift work jobs:

1. There’s the possibility of earning more money with shift work.

As it turns out, people who work shifts often have the opportunity to earn more money because they can opt to work the late-night or early morning hours, which often come with a higher hourly rate. Of course, these hours aren’t for everyone.

2. 9 to 5 jobs might promote better overall health.

It’s easier to follow a healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping pattern if you have a set schedule in place. This is something that a 9 to 5 job promotes. In general, working 9 to 5 might lead to better eating, sleeping, exercising, and overall health as a result. 

3. Shift work offers a flexible schedule which can be convenient.

Shift work truly shines when it comes to flexibility. If you work an early shift, you have time available to run daily errands that a 9 to 5 worker won’t have. Much the same, if you work the afternoon shift, you have time to drop the kids at school and go to the gym before work. 9 to 5 jobs don’t offer the same flexibility. 

4. Working 9 to 5 allows you to develop a routine and structured lifestyle.

As mentioned before, 9 to 5 jobs promote structure and routine. This means that you can focus on following your routine to live a healthy lifestyle. Shift work doesn’t stick to a specific routine, which means you could be heading to the gym at different times each day or even missing out on your workout session or planned meal times. 

5. You have more personal time when working shifts.

If you want to study or work on a craft project, a shift work job is going to cater to that because it offers you more free time. 9 to 5 jobs make it possible to only work on personal projects after hours, which can be quite limiting. Shift workers have more opportunities to enjoy hobbies and sleep in from time to time. 

6. There’s more job security with a 9 to 5 job.

There’s no denying that 9 to 5 jobs offer permanent contracts with benefits, and this provides far more security than shift work which is often on a temporary or uncertain basis. Of course, some shift work jobs do offer security, but not all of them. 

7. It’s easier to take unscheduled time off work when working shifts.

When you have an unforeseen emergency or a once-in-a-lifetime weekend away that comes along, will you be able to get time off work on the spur of the moment? If you are working shifts, then you most likely will as your colleagues will be working different shifts. You might be able to convince someone to take on your shifts for you. In a 9 to 5 job, your colleagues will be working the same hours as you, so you won’t be able to get someone to take over your expected work hours. 

8. You get to enjoy a fairly normal social life when working from 9 to 5.

A 9 to 5 job promotes a more normal social life. Take, for instance, an office worker, working from 9 to 5. She will be able to finish work and head out for dinner with friends thereafter, still making it home at a decent hour. Shift workers have it a little harder. Let’s take a waitress working the late shift, for instance. She will finish work and want to socialize, but find that their friends who have regular 9 to 5 jobs are already at home and in bed. She may miss out on a normal social life with friends and instead develop an unhealthy late-night social life.

9. Shift work can interfere with your social life.

Shift work means that you miss out on regular outings. You might be working at night when your family or friends are gathering, or you might have to work over weekends when your loved ones are spending quality time together. 

10. Your sleep patterns aren’t disturbed when working 9 to 5.

When you work a typical 9 to 5 job, you can develop a healthy and set a sleeping pattern. You may go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day. Working shifts might require you to be up early some mornings or work extra late some evenings. You may find that you go to bed and wake up at different times each day, just to fit in with your work schedule. 

11. You may develop unhealthy eating habits with shift work.

Shift work tends to lead people astray when it comes to a healthy diet. Shift workers often find themselves grabbing a bite to eat on the way to work, or some take out on the way home because it is too late to start cooking. A 9 to 5 job typically allows people to keep a healthy meal schedule and stick to a healthy diet of home-cooked meals. 

12. It can be challenging to take unscheduled time off work when working from 9 to 5.

When working 9 to 5, you aren’t going to be able to take time off work as easily as if you have a shift work job. You will need to put in an application for leave when wanting time off from a 9 to 5 job, and even then, you might run out of leave or be denied time off if you are needed. 

13. It might be hard to maintain a workout schedule when working shifts.

While you have more free time when working shifts, it doesn’t really allow for creating a habit of exercising. Most people find it easier to work out if they have a set schedule where they work out at the same time every day. Shift work makes it hard to develop this habit, and so your workouts might become haphazard or disappear entirely. 

14. You are less likely to earn overtime when working a typical 9 to 5 job.

When working shifts, often there is a clock card involved. When you clock in at work, your hours are monitored, and if you work overtime, you will be compensated for the extra time. When working a 9 to 5 job, it is harder to earn that overtime as your hours aren’t as closely monitored. 

15. You could stagnate or become bored with a 9 to 5 job.

Unfortunately, 9 to 5 jobs can become quite monotonous, and you may just find yourself stagnating and not going anywhere. On the other hand, shift work tends to keep things interesting as things are never precisely the same. 

Last word

Whether you would like to transition from shift work to a 9 to 5 job or vice versa, it is best to be aware of what you are in for. Take the time to consider the above pointers when making the decision, and you are sure to make a more informed and level-headed choice.

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.