The Meaning of FTE: What It Is and How To Use It

How can the acronym FTE be used in various ways? What does it most commonly stand for? This article will tell you all about the meaning of FTE.

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If you just started a new job, there’s probably a ton of new jargon thrown at you that you don’t understand. What’s a 401K? What does it mean to “ping” someone on Slack? And what is FTE? 

Today, the Word Counter is going to tell you everything you need to know about the meaning of FTE so that you can get back to work!

What Does FTE Stand For?

The acronym FTE stands for full-time equivalent. This is a unit of measurement equivalent to in business that indicates the amount of time that an employee or student is working. 

For example, FTE uses 1.0 to represent a full workday and 0.5 to represent half of a workday; this might be used by part-time workers.

This unit of measurement is calculated by taking the average number of hours x worked per day multiplied by the number of days y worked per week. This equals the total number of hours of work per year. 

With this perspective on the FTE value, resource management can determine the number of full-time, part-time, contract, and seasonal workers to hire that makes the most sense for a company’s budget.

Sometimes, other terms like work year equivalent (WYE) are used in place of FTE, such as when referencing a contractor or freelance employee. FTE can also be represented as WTE, or whole-time equivalent.

How Do Businesses Use FTEs?

FTEs are most commonly used in human resources and accounting to determine the equivalent number of full-time employees in a company, comprised of the work hours of both part- and full-time employees. This equals 2080 hours per year.

FTE salary calculation might be used to weigh against business expenses as well as other things like mortgages, rent, and even planning project work like deadlines and budgets.

These numbers, once calculated, are used to determine the company’s expenses and available wages to be paid to workers. When employees work less than the standard 40-hour workweek, it is usually company policy that the part-time personnel will not receive group health insurance or the same kind of coverage as a full time employee. Therefore, a business will use FTE to calculate whether their wages are better spent on an equivalent salary for more part-timers or fewer full-time employees plus benefits. 

Additionally, different federal programs might give a credit to small business owners depending on the types of employees they have and the number of hours they are working. This will differ from a business that is an ALE or applicable large employer.

The role of FTE is also applicable in calculating a business’s eligibility to be borrowers for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a public service loan from the Small Business Administration — to receive a tax credit. Small business tax credits are crucial for many businesses and business owners.

What Are Other Meanings of FTE? 

FTE has other meanings in various contexts outside of human resources and accounting. Since the letters F, T, and E begin several words, this acronym can stand for many phrases other than full-time equivalent. 

By looking at these lists of potential meanings for FTE from The Free Dictionary, you can learn what FTE might stand for in different fields.

Meanings of FTE in Science

If you work in science, you might hear these meanings of FTE around the bunsen burner:

  • Female Threaded End (pipe design)
  • Flux Transfer Event
  • Free Thyroxine Equivalent (thyroid function marker)
  • Fitted Target Efficacy (luminaire performance; US Department of Energy)
  • Forschung Und Technische Entwicklung (German: research and technological development)
  • Frame Timing Estimation
  • Full-Time Engineer
  • Functional Test Equipment
  • Failure to Eject (firearms)
  • Field Test Engineer

Meanings of FTE in Business and Government

For our business and government readers, these meanings of FTE might be helpful:

  • Flight Test Engineer
  • Firearms Training Elective (AAFC)
  • First Time Exhibitor (trade shows)
  • Fair Trade Egypt
  • Fully Taxable Equivalent/Equivalency
  • Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise
  • Functional-Technical Expert
  • Forages Technic-Eau Inc. (Canadian drilling company)
  • Foundation for Tolerance Education (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Fund for Theological Education
  • Fédération des Travailleuses/eurs de l’Éducation (French teachers union)
  • Festival Theatre Ensemble (Los Gatos, CA)
  • Fixed Term Exclusion (school term)
  • Free Time Expiry (freight containers)
  • Financial Transaction Executive (Perot Systems)

Meanings of FTE in Technology

If tech is more your speed, don’t forget about these common meanings of FTE:

  • Fault-Tolerant Ethernet
  • Ford Tickford Experience
  • Full-Time Equivalent
  • For the Enterprise (SQL)
  • Fiberoptic Test Equipment
  • Fax Thru E-Mail
  • Flux Transfer Events
  • Failure to Enroll

Meanings of FTE as Slang Terms

Finally, we all hear slang terms from time to time. Brush up on these casual meanings of FTE, so you can keep it 100:

  • First Time Ever
  • Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Sarah McLachlan album)
  • For the Emperor (Warhammer 40k gaming)
  • Full Trucker Effect (song and trucker slang)
  • Funniest Thing Ever 

What Are Synonyms of FTE? 

Since FTE is such a specific term in business, it might not be right in every context. If you’re simply looking for a term that means full time, you can use a synonym from the below list of synonyms for full time from Power Thesaurus:

  • afternoon
  • all-day
  • around the clock
  • career
  • clock-watching
  • day and night
  • full employment
  • full-day
  • full-employment
  • regular
  • round-the-clock
  • stable job
  • steady employment
  • steady job
  • twenty-four-hour
  • worker
  • working
  • workman


The purpose of FTE calculating the equivalent of full time employee hours worked by all of the employees of a company. FTE stands for full-time equivalent.


  1. Guidelines for the Definition and Calculation of the Staff Full-Time Equivalent | University College Cork 
  2. FTE – What does FTE stand for? | The Free Dictionary 
  3. Full time Synonyms | Power Thesaurus