An increasing number of students choose to work part time while studying whether to supplement their income, boost their career prospects or build up a network of contacts

As university fees rise and funding becomes increasingly sparse, more students than ever before have no choice but to take on part-time jobs, however work of this nature has a number of obvious benefits:

  • it helps to get your bank balance back into the black;
  • it boosts your transferable skills such as time management, organisational and teamwork abilities;
  • it gives you a taster of day-to-day working life.

Can I study while working part time?

Almost half of all postgraduate students - 234,995 out of 539,440 - studied part time, according to figures for 2013/14 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This extra time allows many students to take on part-time or even full-time work.

Most universities acknowledge the fact that many students need to undertake some paid work during their studies, but recommend a limit of 10 to 15 hours a week during term time. However, not every institution permits it, so it is advisable to check with your university before seeking a part-time job.

If you are not a UK or EEA-domiciled student, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you are allowed to work. For more information, visit UKCISA - Working in the UK during your studies or your careers service.

Think carefully before you decide to take on part-time work and, if it is necessary, consider how many hours you need to do and try to stick to this. Too much work while studying can have a negative effect on your academic work.

Part-time jobs can be carried out during the day when you are free from lectures, in the evenings or at weekends. If you are choosing to return to study after having worked full time, it may be an idea to ask your current employer whether you are able to keep your job but reduce your hours - particularly if your chosen studies will enhance your performance.

Where can I get a part-time job?

Your first stop when searching for a part-time job should be the university Student Job Shop - there will be plenty of opportunities whether it's in the student bar or the university library, and you may even be able to secure work as a teaching assistant.

Many part-time roles are also available locally and are seasonal. Employers recruit casual employees to cover busy periods such as Christmas in retail and summer in hospitality. Visit your careers service or student job shop to find out what vacancies are available. For part-time positions, you can also search:

How do I apply for a part-time job?

Although competition for part-time jobs is often not as strong as for permanent roles, you will still be expected to write a successful job application detailing your previous experience and be prepared to attend an interview.

When will I be paid?

Wages are often paid monthly, sometimes weekly and are worked out by an hourly payment. Depending on your chosen role, subsidised travel and lunches and attendance at in-house training courses may also be part of the benefits. One of the most valuable outcomes will be the opportunity to have an employer referee on your CV, ready for when the time comes to apply for graduate positions.

Once you have obtained a job offer, make sure that you are given a written contract detailing the terms and conditions of employment. If you do not receive one, then ask.

Should I include part-time work on my CV?

To answer this question you need to use your judgement and common sense.

Whether your part-time job is relevant to your course or the job you’re applying for or not, it can still add value to your CV. If the experience is recent or it helped you to gain useful transferable skills that you can use in future positions then it might be a good idea to mention it on your CV.

If your part-time work experience is years old and bears no relevance to the job you’re applying for then leave it off your CV.

How will it help my career?

Most part-time work does not count towards your course or gain you any academic credit. However, by carefully choosing the type of role you apply for, you can gain relevant industry experience relating to your studies, which may boost your employability upon graduation. For example, as well as the transferable skills you will be able to display to future employers, if you opt to take on a part-time job in a sector you hope to work in once you graduate, you will have relevant work experience and contacts to utilise.