Jobs for Teenagers: 28 Great Ways to Make Money & Get Experience
By Laura Slauson
| Last Updated July 22, 2020
Jobs for teenagers are probably a lot more varied than you realize. In fact, even if you don't have much work experience, a surprising number of options exist. Plus, although making your own money is the most obvious perk, having a job as a teen can pay off in many other ways. For instance, it can give you greater confidence, meaningful responsibility, and a new sense of independence. Teen jobs can also play a key role in helping you choose a career path.
It's true: Entry-level jobs have the potential to help you decide whether certain careers may be right for you. For example, if you have your eyes on a career as a veterinarian or veterinary technician, try pet sitting or working in a pet store to see if you like working with animals all day. Thinking about designing video games? Apply for a job at a gaming retail store or look for opportunities to work as a video game tester. Enjoy sports? Try working as an attendant at a rec center or as a counselor at a sports camp for kids.
Even if you don't have any work experience, you may be able to get hired for jobs that are related to your strongest interests. That's because your enthusiasm for a certain hobby may impress a potential employer enough that they choose you over a more experienced worker.
So, what's the perfect job for a teenager like you? It depends on your goals, interests, and experience. For many teens, the best first job is the one that pays pretty well, helps you gain experience, and offers a schedule that leaves you enough time for school and other important activities.
Whether you want a job related to your future career or just hope to make some decent money, this guide to part-time jobs for teens will help you get started. Check out the following sections to see specific job examples and learn about everything else you should know:
- Jobs for teens younger than 14
- Good jobs for teenagers 14 or older
- Online jobs for teens
- Laws about teen jobs: an overview
- Minimum wage: what teens need to know
- Companies that hire teens under 18
- Tips for success
Jobs for Teens Younger Than 14
Teens of all ages can be hired for the five jobs below. But federal laws regarding jobs for minors restrict the type of jobs that teens younger than 14 can do. These are some of the jobs that are permitted:
1. Newspaper delivery person
Delivering newspapers and flyers can be a good way to make some spending money and get a bit of exercise. The median hourly wage for newspaper delivery people works out to about $10.21.1 But how much money you earn depends on how many papers you deliver (and how often you deliver them). Some routes are daily, while others are two or three times a week. And some require you to work very early in the morning. You'll be expected to deliver papers on all scheduled days, rain or shine.
Babysitting gives you experience at working with kids, which can help if you ever plan to enter the field of early childhood education or any other career that involves working with children. To increase your chances of being hired as a babysitter, take a course through the Red Cross, YMCA, or 4-H in order to learn essentials of the job such as basic first aid. Once you've taken classes, you can determine how much to charge. (Babysitters typically set their own rates.) A study by UrbanSitter found that the average rate for babysitting in the U.S. is $16.75 an hour for one child. Keep in mind that a few states do have minimum ages for babysitting. The oldest minimum age is in Illinois, which requires you to be older than 14 before being left alone without adult supervision.
3. Employee in a parent's business
If you're under 14, you can work for a parent's company as long as you don't work in manufacturing, mining, or any other hazardous occupation.
4. Performer on stage or on screen
Do you dream of a career in the performing arts? You can acquire some experience now. Although young performers are exempt from national labor laws, many states have their own regulations. Talk to your parents if this is a field that interests you so that they can help research your state's laws.
To get started, check out drama classes at school and audition for community and school theatrical productions. Look for any opportunities to be in front of an audience—whether you're paid or not. Any time on stage (or on screen) is good for developing your talents and getting your name out there.
5. Odd-jobs helper
Many adults struggle to check off all the tasks on their to-do lists. And many senior citizens aren't able to do as much as they used to. You can help them out—and make some money—by assisting with basic tasks and errands. For example, you could mail a parcel for a senior, walk a neighbor's dog, or shovel snow off of sidewalks in your neighborhood. With a little creativity and some entrepreneurial spirit, this can be a great approach to making extra cash, whether you're looking for after-school or weekend jobs. For teens, this flexibility is a big bonus.
Good Jobs for Teenagers 14 or Older
After you turn 14, even more options are available when it comes to good places to work for teens. The jobs below generally don't require very much work experience. And their typical hours of work often fit well with teenagers' school schedules. Some of these jobs also have the potential to help with your long-term career goals.
Check out the section on companies that hire minors for specific examples of teen-friendly employers.
(Most of the wage info below represents the average or median for that occupation. As a teen, you'll probably start out at a lower wage than that amount.)
6. Fast-food worker
When you think about the jobs available for teens, fast-food service might be at the top of your mind. Statistics reveal that restaurants employed around 1.7 million teenagers in 2018.
This is a good industry for a first job, partly because fast-food restaurants tend to have a lot of vacancies. In fact, fast-food service can be a great answer to the common dilemma: How can you get job experience if you must have experience to get a job? That's because these businesses often hire people who haven't worked before. In almost every community, fast-food companies are hiring 14-year-olds for entry-level positions.
The average hourly wage for servers in fast food is $11.18. And don't dismiss the value of having fast-food experience on your resume. Many employers say that it shows you have self-discipline and a good work ethic. Plus, the quick pace of this work can be great preparation for many careers. For example, if you want to work in the culinary arts, fast-food cooking can actually teach you a lot—even if your goal is to prepare gourmet dishes in the future.
7. Retail salesperson
Retail stores are some of the best places to work for teens. Working in retail can be especially valuable if you find a job in a store that aligns with your interests and goals. For example, future fashion designers or fashion merchandisers can learn a lot by working in clothing stores.
Although many teens earn minimum wage in retail, it's possible to earn more: The average hourly wage for all retail workers is $14.12. And many retail stores offer good first jobs for 16-year-olds. For example, although hiring practices vary by individual businesses, Adidas, Best Buy, Justice, and T.J. Maxx are retail stores that often hire 16- and 17-year-olds.
Many stores will only hire people who are 16 and older. But responsible younger teens can also find retail positions, so it's always worth asking a store about its policies. The most common companies that are hiring 14- and 15-year-olds are grocery stores such as Publix, Safeway, and Kroger. Teens who work at these stores typically bag customers' groceries and gather shopping carts. Check out additional companies that hire teens in the section below.
Are you good at a particular subject in school? Why not help others learn to master it by tutoring them? Your school counselor can connect you to students who need help. You can also find clients by advertising your services. And you don't have to limit yourself to tutoring other students. For example, if you're a tech-savvy teen, you may have computer skills that many adults want to learn. No matter which subject you teach, tutoring is a great option if a career in education interests you.
Tutors often set their own rates. But do a bit of market research first so that the rate you charge is close to what other tutors charge in your area. The median hourly rate in the U.S. for tutors is $17.75.1
Do you prefer working outdoors to sitting inside? Yard work is a good job option for active teens. You can find your own clients (for example, neighbors or relatives) or get a job with a landscaping company. Just remember that teens who are younger than 16 can't operate certain kinds of equipment such as power-driven mowers, cutters, or trimmers and edgers. But doing any kind of yard work is still a great way to get a sense of what it's like to work outside on a regular basis. And it can give you a head start on becoming a landscape designer.
Landscape and groundskeeping workers earn an average hourly wage of $15.56.
10. Restaurant worker
Are you a people person? Or do you aspire to work in the hospitality industry? Having a job as a host or hostess or as a waiter or waitress can be a great way to get some experience at working with the public. And restaurants often have fairly flexible hours. The average hourly wage for hosts and hostesses is $11.54. Waiters and waitresses earn an average hourly wage of $12.88. This may include a decent share of tips.
If you're not interested in working directly with the public, consider a job as a dishwasher. You'll do your work behind the scenes. Dishwashers earn an average hourly wage of $11.74, sometimes including a share of the tips.
11. Auto detailer and car washer
Are your career goals driven by a love for automobiles? Auto detailers keep vehicles looking sharp by cleaning or restoring them. Older teens can look for auto-detailing work at car dealerships and auto body shops. You could also sell your cleaning services on your own. Taking auto-shop courses in school can help you learn more about this kind of work, and it can give you a head start on preparing for an auto body career. Employers usually expect workers to have a driver's license.
Get started in the business world by working in an office. Having basic tech skills (such as knowing Microsoft Office) will help you find employment. Taking courses in business or communications will also help. These jobs frequently offer opportunities for advancement or networking, so working hard can pay off. That's in addition to the monetary rewards: The average hourly wage for administrative assistants is $18.84.
If you're over 15 years old and a strong swimmer, you could work beside a pool, lake, or ocean. But there's more to this job than working on your tan. To be a certified lifeguard, you must complete a course through an organization like the Red Cross or the American Lifeguard Association. Lifeguards earn an average hourly wage of $12.20, so this is one of the best-paying summer jobs for 15-year-olds who are qualified for it.
Of course, lifeguarding jobs come with a lot of responsibility. But you'll learn to handle emergency situations calmly, which can help prepare you for first-responder careers such as working as a paramedic.
14. Camp counselor
Working as a camp counselor is one of the most enjoyable summer jobs for teens. As a counselor, you can work at day camps or overnight camps and get valuable experience at working with younger people. Look for camps that align with your interests: for example, an arts camp if you want to pursue a career in the arts or a conservation camp if you're interested in environmental science.
The median hourly wage for camp counselors is $9.82.1 But these jobs also often provide food and lodging—not to mention tons of fun activities.
Don't worry: When you're getting paid to clean, it often feels different than when you have to clean your own room. In fact, working as a housekeeper can be satisfying, active work. Housekeepers work for cleaning companies or hotels and motels. Or you can find your own clients by advertising or asking people you know. (Be sure to talk about this with a parent or guardian first.) Cleaners earn an average wage of $12.89 per hour.
16. Carpenter's helper
Thinking of pursuing a trade in the construction industry? Working as a carpenter's helper can enable you to start building your resume. But there are some restrictions for teens on construction sites. To do any work on a site, you must be over 16. And many of the hazardous activities that 16- and 17-year old workers aren't allowed to perform take place on construction sites. As a result, you may be limited to basic carpentry work (without power saws) until you turn 18.
17. Daycare assistant
Depending on state licensing requirements, a qualified 16-year-old can work at a daycare. Some states require that all childcare workers be over 18 years of age, but others have lower age limits. However, many centers prefer to hire workers with a high school diploma, regardless of licensing rules. First-aid certification can help you enter this field. Childcare workers earn an average hourly wage of $12.27.
18. Pet sitter and dog walker
Do you think animals make the best coworkers? Are you interested in working as a vet tech or dog trainer in the future? As an animal lover, you can gain some valuable experience at helping other people's pets stay healthy and active. Start by working for people you know. Rates for pet services tend to vary a lot by region, so ask around when you're figuring out what to charge your clients.
19. Recreation attendant
Love sports and games? Use that enthusiasm to get a cool part-time job. Facilities such as ice rinks, bowling alleys, and gyms all need attendants to keep things running smoothly. And if you prefer adventure sports, places like zip-line parks also need attendants. Basic first aid is good to have for these jobs. The average hourly wage for recreation attendants is $11.70.
Making a good latte isn't just a job; to many baristas, it's an art. And a job as a barista can come with many hidden perks, such as friendly regular customers and the opportunity to learn service skills that can help you in other fields. The median hourly wage for a barista is $10.57.1
To work at Starbucks, one of the world's largest employers of baristas, you have to be 16 (except in Montana, where you can be 14). And a word to the wise: Since many people like to drink their coffee right after they wake up, you may end up with some very early shifts as a barista.
21. Golf caddy and golf course maintenance worker
Do you live for the links? Caddying and doing basic course maintenance enable you to spend your workday on the golf course. The amount you're paid often depends on the course and the level of golf. But there is always the potential for fantastic tips.
22. Movie theater attendant
If you're a movie buff, consider applying at a movie theater. After all, theaters have a great working atmosphere, and they can help you gain insights about the movie-going public—which is useful if you want a career in the film industry. Plus, many theaters offer their employees free passes—not to mention free popcorn. In addition to those perks, lobby attendants and ticket takers earn an average wage of $11.96 per hour.
Online Jobs for Teens
23. Website designer
If you're confident in your ability to design and build websites, why not sell your skills? Many businesses need help putting their best face forward online. The challenging part can be finding customers, so you may have to market your talents. Consider designing and developing some websites for low rates or as volunteer work so that you can create an online portfolio to showcase your talents. The payoff can be lucrative: Web developers earn an average hourly wage of $39.60.
This is a popular dream job. In fact, one survey showed that, when given a choice of five professions, 29 percent of young Americans selected YouTuber as their top career goal. And when you hear about the top online video stars making more than $15 million annually, it's easy to see why. But keep in mind that it can be hard to make a profit when you're just starting out. YouTube payment rates vary, but a typical rate works out to about $3 to $5 per 1,000 views.
This can be a great way to get experience in the media arts. Just make sure your expectations about making money from YouTube are realistic.
25. Freelance graphic designer
Can you design logos or create custom graphics that follow a client's specifications? Talented artists can sell their graphic-design skills online through sites like Fiverr. The average hourly wage for graphic designers is $27.17. And if you're doing freelance work, you can set your own rates.
Here's another tip: Since a lot of people are trying to break into graphic design, having a niche market or speciality can help you stand out. For example, you could focus on creating business cards or designing logos for minor sports teams.
26. Online entrepreneur
Websites like Etsy help people sell things they've made. For example, if you like to make jewelry, you could sell it online to customers all over the world. (Note that Etsy has some restrictions for teens under 18, and you need to have a parent's permission and supervision.) You can also set up your own website for sales if you know how.
If you aren't crafty, no worries. Did you know you can become an e-commerce entrepreneur and sell products online without ever handling the inventory? Online drop-shipping enables budding entrepreneurs to set up online stores. (A parent may have to be the one who signs up, since you often have to be over 18.) When you make a sale, the product ships directly from a warehouse. You can even sell T-shirts you designed yourself, entirely online. This process may require an initial investment in time and money, so be sure to do your due diligence by researching carefully and reviewing the terms with a parent or guardian.
One cool thing about being an entrepreneur is that thinking outside the box can pay off. For example, you could start a niche blog and make money from affiliate links. Or you could create an app and spread the word about it online. You could even build an online community centered around social issues. Just Google "teen entrepreneurs" to see some inspiring examples.
Also, think about this: The teen years can be a great time to take the risks involved in starting a business. Once you're an adult, you may have more everyday expenses and responsibilities. So why not start now?
27. Video game tester
Finding a video game testing job can be competitive. After all, who doesn't want to make money by playing video games? But this job can also be more repetitive than it sounds. You may have to play the same game over and over—even if you don't like the game. Still, being paid to play video games seems like a good setup. In fact, it's so appealing that there are many scam websites claiming to hire at-home video game testers, so be sure to run any job ads past a parent or guardian first.
28. Online survey taker
It sounds like easy money: Just complete some online surveys and get paid. But many online survey companies prefer to work with people over 18. And although some companies accept teen survey takers, the pay often works out to be less than one dollar per hour. So, although there are legitimate companies who pay you for completing surveys, proceed with caution. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Laws About Teen Jobs: An Overview
As a teenager, you want to stay safe and make sure your schedule and pay are fair. Thankfully, you're protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is federal law. Many states also have employment laws concerning jobs for minors. You can find more info on state laws by checking the website for your state's department of labor.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations that apply to all workers, including teens.
In many states, you need working papers, which are certificates that prove you are able to work and/or meet the minimum age requirements. The exact requirements vary by state. Your school counselor can explain the process that applies to your area and provide the documents you need. You can also check out this list of requirements by state.
When it comes to the FLSA, here's how the law applies to the following age groups:
Under 14—You can work at the age of 13. But you can only work at certain kinds of jobs.
14 and 15—Many companies hire workers who are 14 or 15. However, there are still some restrictions when it comes to jobs for teens under 16. For example, you can't work during school hours. Even if you're homeschooled, go to a private school, or don't go to school at all, the rules about school hours still apply. They are based on the public-school hours in your area.
In addition, you can't work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. During the summer (from June 1 through Labor Day), you can work until 9 p.m.
The maximum amount of time you can work is:
- 3 hours on a school day (which includes Friday)
- 18 hours a week if school is in session
- 8 hours a day if school isn't in session (for example, during summer vacation)
- 40 hours a week when school isn't in session
There are still some restrictions on the types of jobs you can do. But you can work at these types of jobs:
- Most office, retail, or food service jobs, including grocery stores
- Creative and intellectual work such as tutoring, performing, or selling art
- Kitchen duties, with some restrictions (such as not cooking over an open flame or working in a freezer for long periods)
- Lifeguarding and teaching swimming, if you are 15 years old and certified as a lifeguard
16 and 17—At these ages, you have many more options for jobs. At 16 years old, you can work without any restrictions to your working hours, and you can work at any job except the jobs that have been designated as hazardous by the FLSA.
Over 18—After you turn 18, the FLSA rules concerning hazardous jobs for youth don't apply to you anymore (but the OSHA regulations still apply), and there aren't any restrictions on your working hours.
In addition, there are separate laws for agricultural jobs.
Minimum Wage: What Teens Need to Know
It's great to learn new job skills and gain experience. But what you probably want to know most is how much money you can make once you start working. We've already listed the average hourly wages for many occupations above. However, as a teen, you should also be familiar with the minimum-wage laws.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. But for workers under 20 years of age, there is a youth minimum wage of $4.25 an hour. Employers can pay you the youth minimum wage until 90 calendar days have passed from when you start your job. (Note that these are consecutive calendar days, not working days, so the counter is still running on your days off.) This period applies to each job you have. So if you leave one job, the counter starts over at your next job. Fortunately, there are laws that prevent employers from firing workers in order to save money after the 90 days have passed.
As well, workers who receive tips (for example, waiters or waitresses) can be paid lower minimum wages. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour. But hourly pay plus tips must equal at least the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour every week.
Minimum wage laws also vary by state. And some states and regions have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum. The District of Columbia has the highest minimum wage, which is $15.00 an hour. You can see the minimum wage in each state by using this minimum wage map.
Companies That Hire Teens Under 18
No list of companies that hire minors will ever be totally comprehensive or 100-percent reliable. After all, company policies often change and vary by location. And many companies don't have specific policies, but they may hire teens of certain ages on a case-by-case basis. But all of the companies listed below have been known to hire teens before. Although there's no guarantee that they will continue to hire minors (or that every location will hire younger workers), these businesses do have a good track record when it comes to hiring teens.
Also, don't overlook smaller, independently owned local companies. A lot of small businesses take a more personal approach to hiring that enables them to be open to responsible, enthusiastic teens.
These are only partial lists that show some well-known examples. In reality, hundreds of other companies also hire teens of varying ages.
These companies sometimes hire 14-year-olds:
- AMC Theaters
- Giant Eagle
- King Soopers
- Pizza Hut
- Six Flags
These places may hire at 15:
- Boston Market
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Fareway Stores
- MLC Restaurant and Bakery
- Palace Entertainment
These companies may hire 16-year-olds:
- Barnes & Noble
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Best Buy
- Champs Sports
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Chuck E. Cheese's
- Cinemark Theaters
- JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
- Old Navy
- Panera Bread
- Red Robin
- Sport Chalet
- T.J. Maxx
These stores often hire at 17 (and many of them also hire at 16, so check your local store):
- Banana Republic
- Forever 21
- Payless ShoeSource
Here's a tip for finding more potential employers: Use the search function on job sites like Indeed. For example, on Indeed, enter your town or city in the "where" box. In the "what" box, enter your age with "years old" after the number (for instance, "15 years old"). You should see a list of jobs that may be open to teens your age. Be sure to read the job ads thoroughly.
Tips for Success
After reading about possible jobs for teens, you may be ready to go to work. But before you enter the workforce, make sure your school schedule can handle it. Fitting everything in is often the most challenging part of having teen jobs. Part-time work is a big commitment when you are also a full-time student. But it can be done. Many students successfully balance school with teenage jobs. How? Check out these tips:
- Remember that school should come first. Why? Think about the big picture. In the long run, doing well in school will enable you to keep advancing your knowledge and credentials, which will make you better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities you really want in the future.
- Make sure you don't take on too many hours of work. Studies suggest that a "sweet spot" may exist when it comes to the number of hours you work and how well you do in school. A study in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice found that students who work fewer than 20 hours a week tend to have better grades than students who don't work at all. But students who work more than 20 hours a week have lower grades on average. So if you find yourself struggling in school, consider talking to your employer about reducing your hours.
- Make time for fun, including extracurricular activities and social stuff. It's all about balance. Make sure you still have time to enjoy the other parts of your life.
- Don't forget about sleep. Boring topic, right? But getting enough sleep is essential for doing a good job in school and at work.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Tell a parent if you feel overwhelmed. Talk to your boss if you are scheduled for too many hours. Let your teachers know when you're falling behind. If you want to stay on top of your workload, it's important to tell people that you're having a hard time handling everything.
Take the Next Step Toward Realizing Your Ambitions
As you can see, jobs for teenagers are often great stepping stones. The jobs you have as a teen can help you gain quality experience and discover things about yourself that make choosing a future career path easier. Besides, it's never too early to start exploring potential careers. Start right now by checking out the large variety of career-oriented programs that are available. Or enter your zip code into the search tool below to see what kinds of programs are offered in your area!