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What is 3rd Shift? The Hours and Key Benefits of 3rd Shift Work

Female office worker relaxing after the 3rd shift
Written by Amanda Nunez

Today’s labor market is a vast, varied place that holds opportunities for a wide array of skill sets and skill levels. In addition to the various skill-based options available to them, laborers may also find enough work in their area to be choosy about other facets of a job, such as their pay schedule, break schedule, or the length of their commute. 

One of the most important decisions a worker will make during their job search is the timing of their shift. A work schedule can impact everything from pay rate to sleep patterns, but depending on your lifestyle, the benefits of an unorthodox work week may outweigh the necessary adjustments.

In this article we’re discussing 3rd shift hours, and the potential benefits to this flipped work schedule. 

What is 3rd Shift?

The term 3rd shift is a designation given to a work shift performed overnight, usually from the hours of 11 p.m. or midnight to 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. The name’s origin comes from its relation to the other two common workplace schedules: 1st shift, or a shift that occurs from approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and second shift, which takes place from about 4 p.m. to midnight. 

Scheduling during 3rd shift hours has become a necessary component of organizations that provide essential services, like law enforcement and healthcare, as well as companies that require around-the-clock output to meet production goals.

The Benefits of 3rd Shift

While the idea of working in the middle of the night may have some running for the hills, this work schedule may just be the perfect fit for individuals with special circumstances, routines, or even personality traits. Here are some of the potential benefits to what some may see as a wonky schedule: 

Increased Focus on Tasks

When you’re at work during what’s usually the least populated shift, you may notice increased productivity. During a 3rd shift schedule, there may be less meetings, a smaller number of coworkers to act as distractions, and a quieter workplace that’s either calming down from the hustle and bustle of the day or gearing up to start it all over again.

Speaking of hustle and bustle, there’ll be less vehicles on the road during the commute to and from the workplace. An added perk that may not increase your own productivity, but it will certainly give you some time back in your day.

A Higher Pay Rate

One of the most alluring aspects of the night shift is its salary. Many companies that run a 3rd shift offer a perk called shift differential, which adds pay to the rates of workers who perform their duties outside the hours of 1st shift. Workers who choose the 3rd shift usually experience better short and long-term wage growth. 

Part of that growth has to do with the increased opportunity afforded when there’s less competition. A 3rd shift worker will typically work alongside a smaller number of coworkers than their 1st and 2nd shift counterparts, meaning they’ll have a greater chance of taking on multiple responsibilities or receiving cross training to cover any gaps in skill sets. This exposes them to facets of their company they may otherwise never see and makes them a better employee—and a better candidate for shift leadership or broad management positions. 

Work-life Balance

If you’ve ever been confined to a 1st shift job but wishing you were out in the world taking care of your large to-do list instead, a schedule change may be just what you need to bring some normality into your life. That may sound counter-intuitive given the lifestyle change that comes with 3rd shift work, but for the modern adult, the importance of that extra time during daylight hours can’t be understated.

Most errands, such as medical appointments and some necessary shopping, need to be done during daytime hours. Free time during the day also allows parents to see children onto or get them off the bus from school, cook meals for them and possibly avoid costly childcare services. It’d be easier to see retired family members, too. Depending on a 3rd shift worker’s schedule, it may even be possible to meet up with friends before or after their shifts for lunch or dinner. 

One of the most important responsibilities that can be taken on during the daytime is education. Working a late shift affords the opportunity to work a full course load while still earning a full-time income—it also allows for a slower trip through academia without forfeiting years of gainful employment. 

Tips for Working 3rd Shift

Maintain Your Routine

The joys of the weekend are plentiful, but it’d be wise for a 3rd shift worker to enjoy them within their already established sleep schedule. This can be difficult—especially for families with young children—but finding a way to make it work is key to your continued health. This can be easier if other activities are included as routines, not just sleep. Try maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits, too.

Get a Healthy Amount of Deep Sleep

Give the body enough time to recharge by setting boundaries with cohabitants and create a supportive environment by utilizing options like blackout curtains. When you’re starting out working a 3rd shift, allow time to sleep longer than you usually would until you’ve adjusted to the new schedule.

Common 3rd Shift Jobs and How to Find One

The aforementioned professions of healthcare and law enforcement carry 3rd shifts because demand for their services never ceases, but they aren’t the only options for a 3rd shift schedule. Today, 3rd shift hours are available to workers looking for everything from service industry positions like bartenders and gas station attendants to professions like flight attendants and funeral directors. 

Opportunities to take advantage of the benefits of 3rd shift are out there. No matter which path you choose to take, start at TheJobNetwork to begin your 3rd shift journey with a database of open positions that can help you achieve your goals.

About the author

Amanda Nunez