Pros, cons of part-time professionalism

Quality time with 3-year-old Tucker. That's the reason Jessica Smith bowed out of her corporate career.

"I have eight years professional experience in business development, marketing, and recruitment," said part-time professional Jessica Smith.

So when she set out to find a part-time job, she demanded the best of both worlds.

"I was looking for something flexible and family friendly and it's important that I retain a professional title," said Smith.

Now he works 20 to 25 hours a week as an executive at a new social shopping network. While you may not think of "the corner office" gig as part time, growing number of agencies actually specialize in that type of professional work, including 10 til 2, which currently has over 14,000 jobs. The average placement:16 hours per week.

"We're finding part-time works almost across all industries from a small home-based business to a large corporation," said Jill Ater, 10 til 2.

Everything from law offices to construction, insurance to accounting companies. Part-time is not just retail and fast food anymore.

"In a tough economy, some companies are more open to hiring part-timers because they don't want to hire that full-time person but they have that work in front of them that needs to be done," said John Challenger, CEO Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Employment expert John Challenger says the trend goes beyond parents looking for time with their kids.

"Part time work allows people to explore new fields, to basically not be tied down to one single place," said Challenger.

That's the appeal for attorney A.T. Kippes who initially scaled back to be with her ailing father.

When you give up hours, you may give up other things too. Only 32 percent of part-time workers in the private sector have access to retirement benefits. The number drops to 24 percent for health benefits. And there are other challenges too.

"The biggest thing is that you're not always there to answer the phone when somebody calls, so you have to let the people you're working with know, 'These are the days I'm in, these are the times I'm in,'" said Jill Ater.

Working fewer hours allows A.T. Kippes to teach a paralegal class. Does less time in the office make her less of a lawyer?

"I think it actually makes me a better attorney because I am not tired and burned out," said Kippes.

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