BACKGROUND: Shift work is associated with health problems, including metabolic syndrome. This study investigated the association between shift work and metabolic syndrome in young workers. METHODS: A total of 3,317 subjects aged 20–40 years enrolled in the 2011–2012 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were divided into shift and day workers. We conducted a cross-sectional study and calculated odds ratios using multivariate logistic regression analysis in order to examine the association between shift work and metabolic syndrome. RESULTS: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 14.3% and 7.1% among male and female shift workers, respectively. After adjusting for confounding factors, shift work was associated with metabolic syndrome in female workers (odds ratio, 2.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.12 to 5.70). CONCLUSION: Shift work was associated with metabolic syndrome in young women. Timely efforts are necessary to manage metabolic syndrome in the workplace.