Teenagers work on computers and tablets

Jobs for Teens: What's Available?

The legal age of employment restricts young teens from getting jobs at formal organizations and companies like fast food restaurants or retail companies. The legal age varies, but typically ages 14-16 are the earliest teens can obtain traditional jobs. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other less-traditional teen jobs out there. People are willing to pay young teens for services that older-aged teens and adults aren’t usually as willing to do. Look below to learn about jobs for teens within each age group.

Jobs for 12-Year-Olds
If you’re 12 years old and looking for money, the bad news is that many people are going to deem you too young to work or provide services for them in their home. However, many 12-year-olds try to babysit if they can get a babysitting gig; or they will start to mow neighbors’ lawns for cash. Both of these options will set you up nicely for pursuing house and family-related jobs for neighbors and friends as you get older.  If you’re 12, make sure you start planning out what kinds of jobs you’ll want to be able to take on as you get older, but it’s also a good time to take on jobs with your parents and ask to be paid allowance by doing chores around the house.

Jobs for 13-Year-Olds
Like 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds are below the national working age; but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more options for 13-year-olds than 12-year-olds. Many adults view 13 as the age where teens are capable of babysitting after school, so many 13-year olds will start working as a regular babysitter for neighbors and families. Also, 13-year-olds are also allowed to work in businesses if their parents own them. So if you’re lucky enough to be the child of a small business owner, you should ask your parents to allow you to work part-time for them. If you do this, you are typically restricted to working only three hours on school nights, and you won’t be able to work late at night. These laws are in place to make sure teens focus more on their schoolwork than on working at a young age.

Jobs for 14-Year-Olds
Some states allow teens as young as 14 to work in traditional places of employment, but generally speaking, the types of jobs you’ll be able to get will be as a fast food server at McDonald’s or Burger King. However, many 14-year-olds continue to babysit in place of getting a fast food job or start a landscaping business during the spring and summer throughout their neighborhood. One thing to keep in mind is that while fast food jobs may not be your ideal work setting, they may help you get better paying and less-degrading food service jobs when you’re older, and having food experience jobs may help you land a high-scale server or hostess job when you’re 17 or 18. 

Jobs for 15-Year-Olds
Traditional businesses will be more willing to hire you the older you get, so jobs for 15-year-olds are certainly going to be more available than they are for younger teens. Some 15-year-olds can get hired as camp counselors-in-training at summer camps, which is a great opportunity for continuing to get summer work in the future. 15-year-olds may also get fast food jobs, and sometimes even retail jobs, in malls or shopping centers. Age 15 is a great time to get applications out there and see what you can get. Just remember: the older you are, the more responsibility people are willing to give you. If you know you want to continue to work throughout your teen years, make sure to start working on getting your drivers license so you can get to and from places.

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