What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift? and Which is the Best?

a healthcare worker sleeping during their shift
  • Save

The hours you work can have a big impact on your pay, health, and personal life.

There are three shifts in many industries- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift.

Nurses often have a choice between which shift they work.

Before you decide which one is right for you, let’s explore them.

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift? Day shift, also called 1st shift, is usually 7am-3pm. The afternoon or evening shift, also called 2nd shift, is usually 3pm-11pm. Night shift, also called 3rd shift, is usually 11pm-7am.

*Disclosure: This article on “what does 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift mean may” contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift?

As we stated earlier 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift is just the breakup of a 24 hour work day divided into 3.

In this instant it’s 7am to 3pm, 3pm to 11pm, and 11pm to 7am (respectively).

Which shift is the best?

While each shift has its advantages and disadvantages, I prefer 1st shift.

The 1st shift is the easiest shift for the body to become accustomed to because you’re working during the day and sleeping at night.

In addition to being the easiest shift on the body, 1st shift also allows you to have more time with your loved ones.

If you have children, they will be in school while you work, leaving the evenings open for valuable family time.

Even if you don’t have children, 1st shift gives you more free time in the evenings to have an active social life.

Pro Tip:
It’s important to note that while I’m a big fan of the 1st shift, many people are not morning people.

Therefore some people will do better working the 2nd shift (3pm-11pm).

The Pros and Cons of the Different Shifts

Here are the pros and cons of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift.

What are the pros and cons of 1st shift?

Pros:

  • It’s easier to fall asleep at night when it’s dark (source).
  • If you have children, you can work while they’re in school.
  • You can be home to eat dinner with your family.
  • You won’t miss sporting events and other special occasions that typically occur in the evening hours.
  • You’re less likely to develop health problems that are associated with working other shifts.
  • You have more support from doctors and other staff during the day.

Cons:

  • If you’re not a morning person, you won’t enjoy waking up early to get ready for work.
  • If you have children, you’ll have to take time off from work to attend daytime events.
  • You’ll need to take personal time for appointments that can only be tended to during the day.
  • Parking, especially if you work at a hospital, may be very limited during the day.
  • Patients may have visitors during the day that you’ll need to work around while you perform tasks.
  • You’re more likely to have management hovering over you during the day.
  • You’re more likely to encounter The Joint Commission (JCAHO) by working 1st shift.

What are the pros and cons of 2nd shift?

Pros:

  • If you have small children, you can be home with them during the day while your significant other works so you don’t have to hire a sitter, which can get expensive (source).
  • You can attend school events, appointments, and other things that normally occur during the day without having to take personal time.
  • You still get to bed at a decent hour and are able to sleep when it’s dark.

Cons:

  • You won’t be home for dinner with your family in the evenings you work.
  • You’ll miss out on evening events if you don’t take personal time.
  • You’re often thought of as the “go-between” for shifts and may feel like you aren’t getting the proper recognition you deserve.
  • You have to work with both day shift and night shift nurses and staff which means you have to learn the names and work habits of double the amount of people.

What are the pros and cons of 3rd shift?

Pros:

  • Night shift nurses usually get paid more than other shifts.
  • If you’re a night owl, you’ll love being able to stay up all night and sleep during the day.
  • There are less traffic and better parking for 3rd shift workers.
  • You can be home with your children during the day or can take them to and from school if they’re school-aged. However, doing this may make an already difficult sleep schedule even harder.
  • There’s often a great camaraderie among night shift nurses.
  • You’ll have minimal contact with management, administrators, and JCAHO.

Cons:

  • The sleep schedule is very difficult to get used to. Some people are never able to adjust to it.
  • Night shift workers are more likely to develop serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (source).
  • Your social life may be impacted, especially if you have a family or a serious relationship. Working opposite schedules from your loved ones doesn’t leave much time for interaction.
  • It may be hard to adjust to a “normal” schedule on your days off and you may feel tired all the time.

Related Article: Tips for Nurses Who Work the 3rd Shift

What jobs/industries offer each shift?

Here’s a list of just some of the jobs available for the different shifts we discussed.

1st Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Teacher
  • Machine operator
  • Car salesman
  • Call center representative
  • Bank teller
  • Retail manager
  • Electrician
  • Construction worker
  • Accountant

2nd Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Hotel clerk
  • Restaurant host/hostess
  • Assembly line worker
  • Engineer
  • Grocery store cashier
  • Warehouse associate
  • Rehabilitation specialist
  • HVAC technician
  • School custodian

3rd Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Security officer
  • Housekeeper
  • Air traffic controller
  • Sonographer
  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • EMT
  • Taxi driver
  • Home health aide

Apply to Available Shift Jobs

Now that you know the differences between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift jobs, you can start looking for and applying to available jobs TODAY.

Conclusion

While each shift has its pros and cons, 1st shift is the easiest one to become accustomed to.

Once you’re on a shift, you’ll likely stay on that shift for awhile.

Switching between shifts can be hard on the body and can make it more difficult to bond with coworkers.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is 1st shift?

The first (1st) shift typically starts at 7am and ends at 3pm. Though some companies might use an 8am to 4pm time slot.

What hours is 2nd shift?

The second (2nd) shift typically starts at 3pm and will end at 11pm.

What hours is 3rd shift?

The third shift typically starts at 11pm and will end at 7am.

What are the 3 shifts?

The three shifts are 1st shift (7am-3pm), 2nd shift (3pm-11pm), and 3rd shift (11pm-7am).

Which is better 1st or 2nd shift?

It really depends on the person. Morning people might prefer the 1st shift, while those who like to sleep in later might prefer the 2nd shift.

Is 2nd shift better than 3rd shift?

It will depend on the person and their family schedule. While 3rd shift might pay more, there’s also negative health consequences associated with it.

How many hours are in a shift?

Typically a shift is equal to an 8 hour work day.

Does 3rd shift pay more?

For many professions (for example health care workers like nurses) there is a shift differential paid out to those who work the 3rd shift (also called graveyard or night shift).

Related Articles to What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Shift

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Get the latest content on nursing life and career.

We won't spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *