As it turns out, not all staffing jobs are the same. Clients (your future employer) have different needs depending on the positions they’re trying to fill, so it’s important to know exactly what type of job you’ll have when you get your assignment. These are the three major types of jobs offered by staffing agencies:

Temporary: With a temporary job, you will typically know the start and end date of your assignment up front. These will sometimes change in the middle of a job (usually longer rather than shorter), but if you’re looking for a steady routine, this probably isn’t the kind of job for you.
Temporary-to-permanent (temp-to-perm): Lots of people take staffing agency jobs hoping they’ll be temp-to-perm or temp-to-hire. Temp-to-perm jobs are a way for an employer to gauge your ability to work for the company on a regular full-time basis.

Permanent (direct hire): For permanent positions the staffing agency acts as a recruiter by screening and hiring candidates for regular positions. Employees are then hired directly by the employer.

Permanent employeesregular employees or the directly employed work for an employer and are paid directly by that employer. In addition to their wages, they often receive benefits like subsidized health care, paid vacations, holidays, sick time, or contributions to a retirement plan. Permanent employees are often eligible to switch job positions within their companies. Even when employment is “at will”, permanent employees of large companies are generally protected from abrupt job termination by severance policies, like advance notice in case of layoffs, or formal discipline procedures. They may be eligible to join a union, and may enjoy both social and financial benefits of their employment.

Rarely permanent employment means employment of an individual that is guaranteed throughout the employee’s working life. In the private sector, such jobs are rare; permanent employment is far more common in the public sector, where profit and loss is not as important.