Should I Take the Third Shift?


Working third shift has become increasingly common in recent years. In fact, three million Americans now work it, and an additional four million go to work during the evening shift or have erratic schedules that include night work. Here are some of the main pros and cons of this schedule so that you’ll know whether or not it’s right for you.

The Pros

You Often Earn More Money

Although employers aren’t legally obligated to pay third shift workers more as it’s not a federal requirement by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it’s a common incentive. So odds are you’ll earn more working at night than you would during the first or second shift.

There’s Minimal Traffic

Traffic congestion has reached epic proportions in many cities, and the average American commute was 26.9 minutes in 2017. Multiply that by two for going to and from work, and most Americans spend nearly an hour sitting in traffic every single workday. Working third shift, however, allows you to bypass a lot of that traffic, which can shorten your commute significantly.

It’s Easier to Stand Out

Because there will be fewer people working at this time, there’s less competition with your co-workers, making it easier to stand out. If one of your main goals is earning a promotion, this can potentially work in your favor.

The Cons

It Can Negatively Impact Your Sleep Schedule

Perhaps the biggest drawback is the sleep issues working third shift can create. Being up all night and trying to sleep during the day can throw off your circadian rhythm. And if you live in a place with a lot of noise from friends, family or traffic, it’s hard to sleep properly. This leads us to our next point.

Health Issues Can Potentially Arise

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Long-term night shift work is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, as well as metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity.” While the impact may only be minimal if you briefly work third shift, this is something to keep in mind if you plan on doing it long-term

It Can Put a Strain on Your Relationships

Finally, there’s the issue of relationships. Because you’re sleeping while most friends and family members are awake and vice versa, it may create friction, for instance, you may not get to spend as much quality time with your kids, which can be problematic

Many employees are presented with the option of working third shift at some point in their careers. Knowing the pros and cons should help you make a well-informed decision and one that best suits your lifestyle.

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