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Difference Between FTE and Headcount

FTE vs Headcount

FTE (meaning full-time equivalent) and headcount are two methods of counting a certain number of members in a population or in an organization. Both measures also account for the measurement of rendered time. In addition, both headcount and FTE measures are used in the fields of education and business.

Both measures are used in the Human Resources Department of schools and business enterprises. Also, schools use them to calculate the number of students in attendance and the student’s credits in a particular term or academic year.

“Headcount” means “the actual number of the existing population,” whether as students or employees. Usually, a headcount factors just one individual as one member in a given population. Any attributes or distinctions of an individual like his skills, credits, or hours are not considered. Also, the nature or status of the individual is not recognized. Both part-time and full-time individuals are represented and counted.

Conducting a headcount is the preferred measure in counting the population for a basic demographics profile and analysis.

It also refers to a process in the educational institutions to establish every student’s academic and career potential from admittance to graduation. This process has the assumption that all students have equal abilities and have the same potential as each other. In some educational institutions, a headcount is referred to as “individual enrollment.”

On the other side, full-time equivalent is a measurement for people with either full-time work (for workers) or full-time credits (for students). A person with a full-time equivalent must render a specific amount of hours or credits for a full-time status. In this situation, FTE represents the actual workload hours as an equivalent to the status of the worker as full time.

For example, a full-time worker in any business setting is required to render 40 hours a week. In other situations, such as excess personnel, two or more part-time workers can render full-time services or work as long as the people meet the full-time equivalent (40 hours) in their work hours. In this manner, the company’s labor is evenly distributed with utilization of both personnel and time.

In a full-time equivalent, the main factors in measuring and calculating are the person that is counted as well as the workload hours or credits. FTE is a useful method for calculating work hours, hours rendered and realignment in cases of overtime. After the calculation of FTE, a company can accurately render payment or compensation for a worker’s or personnel’s rendered hours.

In an educational setting, FTE is usually used in enrollment of students for a coming term or year. FTE, in this area, is a type of count wherein one student is attending as a full-time student for a full academic year. This means enrollment and attendance for the whole academic year. In reality, the student’s total credit hours are the subject of the measurement. As in workplace FTE, a student must have a specific number of credits to meet the requirements.


1.Both headcount and full-time equivalent are types of measurements that are used to count and recognize the population in an environment. Both are utilized in schools and business organizations.
2.Headcount, essentially, is the sum and actual number of individuals in a particular group. There is no distinction between individuals. It is simply counting off one member after another to produce a number. One individual counts as one member.
3.On the other hand, full-time equivalent (or FTE) counts for both members and the time rendered for a particular company (for a worker) or amount of total credits in a particular term or year (for a student). In FTE, there is a specific amount of time or credits to be taken before being acknowledged or given the status of full time. For workers, it necessary to render 40 hours of work time (either by an individual or split into several part-time individuals) while students have to take a specific amount of credit hours for a term or year.

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