How Long Is a Long-Term Temp Job?

A long-term temp job can fill up your calendar but keep you feeling insecure.
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If you started 2013 working in a temporary job, you were one of the 2.86 million people staffing agencies hired per day to fill temp and contract jobs in the United States, according to the American Staffing Association. While many of the temp jobs filled through staffing agencies last only days or weeks, more workers are being assigned long-term temp jobs in a variety of fields that last several months or years.

Long-Term Temporary

    Three to four months is the average length of a temp job, but some can last for years, according to the American Staffing Association. Along with expanding clerical and manufacturing job opportunities, the trend has been more long-term temp positions opening up in high-skill industries such as engineering, accounting, finance and pharmaceuticals. Workers with strong management education and experience also have more opportunities for long-term temporary executive positions, according to a July 2012 National Public Radio report.

Types of Jobs

    Temp and contract jobs exist in almost every industry including technology, retail, and health care. They also make up 53 percent of the total jobs gained by women between June 2009 and May 2013 in business and professional service industries, according to the National Women’s Law Center. While pay varies depending on the industry and job, the average temp earns $12 an hour, according to the American Staffing Association. While the pay may be less compared to your permanent co-workers, it helps that many staffing agencies also offer benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) and paid vacations.


    As a temp worker, you don’t have the security your permanent co-workers have. You can be the first one that the company cuts loose when times get tight. In such a case, you might also be stuck without unemployment insurance since you work for the staffing agency that assigned you, not the company that let you go. Another disadvantage is that it can be tougher to get a landlord to rent to you or a lender to give you a mortgage when you have a temporary job. With rising competition among temporary workers, if your long-term assignment ends, you could also end up going weeks or months before landing another one.


    The demand for temp workers has increased steadily from 2007 to 2013, according to the National Women’s Law Center. With more temp jobs available, the opportunity for long-term assignments and temp jobs that become permanent increases. One key advantage is that a temp job lets you earn an income rather than be unemployed. Expanding your network of business contacts and developing new skills are also advantages to taking on temp work. A long-term temp job also lets you establish a good relationship with an employer, which can put you in the running if a permanent position opens up.

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