There are many ways for teenagers to make money. All that is needed is the drive to land a job, some creativity and in some cases, an entrepreneurial spirit. If you're having difficulty landing jobs in your area, the following are some ideas and tips to help you get or create that next job.
Work for a Business
Working for a business has both advantages and disadvantages. If you're old enough to work for a business, you may have to give up school activities in order to earn wages. They may be looking for people to work on the weekends and evenings, specifically. One of the perks of working for someone else is a regular paycheck and benefits, like vacation pay and discounted merchandise.
Look to your local grocery store or some of your favorite stores at the mall to find a job. Keep in mind that working will not be all fun and games though. You will be responsible for running a register, stocking the shelves, dealing with unhappy customers and making sure the store stays clean. Working a retail job means a lot of time on your feet too, so even though you may love the cute heels your favorite store sells, you may want to stick to shoes that are more comfortable while you work.
Food Service Jobs
As a teenager, you may not find a lot of work in a sit down restaurant, but a lot of fast food places will be willing to hire you. You will usually be hired as either a cashier or a cook. Cashiers run the register and the drive thru and may also be responsible for cleaning tables, sweeping the floors and taking out the trash. Cooks work in the back of the restaurant, prepping the food. Be prepared to be on your feet and to have to work quickly. Many fast food places reward employees for getting orders right and getting them to the customers quickly.
You can also look beyond retail stores and fast food restaurants to find more exciting places to work. Bowling alleys and miniature golf courses may have openings for teenagers to run the registers or food stands or help keep them clean. If you play a sport, you may find a job as a lifeguard, a referee or a coach through your local community center or YMCA. Don't shy away from unique job opportunities either. Dressing up like a mascot for a children's party place may not seem cheesy, but it can be a lot of fun trying to make little kids laugh.
If nothing is available in your area that suits you, consider starting your own business. You'll only be limited by your abilities, and you can set your own schedule. This may be important if you don't want to give up all your free time to a regular part-time job working for someone else.
Babysitting is one of the easiest ways to make money if you live in town. Increase your earning potential by becoming a certified babysitter or taking babysitting classes. The American Red Cross offers an 'official' babysitting certification course, but you can also check out your local fire department, 4-H group or YMCA for information on classes. You may be able to find classes online as well.
Mowing lawns, though seasonal, can be a great way to earn an extra buck. Add extra yard work, like weeding gardens, planting flowers or leaf blowing to your list of services to earn more money. To get started, create a flyer and put it in your neighbor's mailboxes. You can help drum up business by offering a percentage off the first job or lawn mowed.
Offer your services for house cleaning. This job requires that you understand and can follow directions when cleaning someone's house. Add packing to your list of services and you may land a few jobs helping people move as well.
Are you a whiz at setting up and fixing errors on computers? This may be a great job for you. Many large businesses charge $75 and up to set up a computer system in people's homes. Undersell the competitor by charging $30 instead, and you'll be making great money doing a job that may only take an hour or two. Other services you could offer include teaching people how to use their email, research, using PowerPoint or Excel and creating websites.
During the summer, a lot of new job opportunities open up for teens. You can often work more hours during the summer than during the school year, and you do not have to worry about balancing work and school. Check out a few of the following places to find work during the summer:
- Amusement parks often hire teens to run rides and games, work at food stands and ticket booths and perform general housekeeping duties.
- Water parks need ride operators and lifeguards.
- Summer camps, both local day camps and overnight camps, need cooks, counselors and teens to run various activities.
- Landscaping companies sometimes take on older teenagers to help with lawn mowing, raking and general landscaping work.
Finding a Job
Knowing what you want to do to make money is the easy part. Finding an actual job is harder. Ask family members, neighbors and friends if they know anyone who is hiring. They may even be willing to hire you to do some work for them. Visit local businesses you enjoy and fill out an application. Even if they are not hiring right away, they may keep your application on file for when they have an opening. You can also look for jobs on the following websites:
- Groove Job features hourly and seasonal jobs that appeal to teens.
- CoolWorks offers unique teen jobs, including summer camp jobs and internships.
- My First Paycheck provides you with job resources, tips on finding a job and other information you need to know.
Laws on Teenage Employment
Throughout history, children and teens have been taken advantage of in the workplace. As a result, many states have put child labor laws in place to limit how much teens can work, and the type of work they can do. Before getting a job, check out the regulations in your state and know your rights when it comes to working. For example, many states require that teens receive a break after a few hours of work and do not allow teens to work more than a few hours at a time on a school day. Some of the specific state rules include:
- In California, you can start working at age 14, but you may only work until 7 p.m. during the school year and cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day. Teens can also not wash cars or work in construction and those under 16 cannot bake or cook at work.
- In Florida, you may also start working at age 14, but from age 14-17, you cannot work more than four hours without a 30-minute break and are prohibited from working different types of jobs.
- Illinois has similar child laws, allowing teens to begin working at age 14, although some 12 and 13-year-olds may also work as officials at sporting events.
To find the regulations for your state, search online for your state's child labor laws or contact your state's department of labor. The U.S. Department of Labor also offers a few resources on the type of work you are allowed to do through its Youth & Labor page. Keep in mind that even if the law allows you to start working at 14 or 15, many companies have their own policies. A lot of businesses will not hire younger teens because the laws are too hard to work around.
Perseverance is Key
Remember; don't be discouraged if you are turned down for a job. It may take several or even a dozen job applications before you find a job that is well suited to you. If you're self-employed, you may need to advertise your services even more to get clients. Perseverance is the key to getting the job you want!