If you are a teen, entering the work force for the first time (or the second, or the third) may seem daunting. You might not know where to start, what you need, or what to expect. You aren’t alone. The application process can be frustrating to anyone, and no one just breezes through their first few interviews.
Luckily, there are some industries that are teeming with available jobs for teenagers. Seeking out employment for the first time doesn’t have to be scary. Yes, there is a learning curve, but there are so many people and resources available to help you through your teenage job hunt.
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Jobs for Teens - Laws and Etiquette
It’s likely that you haven’t been taught about employment in school, whether it be laws or etiquette. It may be a good idea to find a local workshop or course focusing on jobs for teens, or to find online resources than can answer any and all of your questions.
Child Labor Laws
The U.S. Department of Labor has a wealth of information regarding labor laws affecting minors. 14 is the minimum age required for employment and also limits the amount of hours a teen under the age of 16 can be scheduled. They also provide a number of resources regarding jobs for teens.
As a teen job-seeker it is important for you to be familiar with your state’s work permit requirements. The federal government does not require minors to produce work permits, but some states do. Research your state’s requirements for more information.
Personal Information to Know
Many job applications may require personal information that you might not already know. If not required by the application, this information will be requested upon employment:
- Social security number (just memorize it, you’ll need to know it off-hand eventually)
- References (teachers and extracurricular organizers are great)
- Where to find your driver’s license number (if applicable)
- Bank information if opting for direct deposit
- Proof of citizenship/right to work
Bottom Line: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services provides a list of documents that can be used to verify citizenship. Ask your parents where you can find these documents if you don’t already know.
How to Get a Job As a Teen - Unwritten Rules and Etiquette
Your future employer will likely help you through the legal mumbo-jumbo, but it is on you to be aware of the conventions of job hunting. Jobs for teens are in abundance, but only for those who have the manners necessary to get them.
To get the no-brainers of the interview out of the way, be on time (or early), silence/turn off your phone, and be nice. You have to show that you want the job, and also that the employer wants you.
When your turn to ask questions during the interview comes around, ask! Even if you don’t actually have any questions, this shows interest in the job. You can ask what your schedule would be like, about the work-place environment, what the interviewer likes most about the company, anything. Always have at least one question prepared.
After the interview, it is important to send a thank-you note. This may seem cheesy or unnecessary, but it keeps you in the mind of the employer and shows courtesy. You can send your thank-you via email, snail mail, or drop it off—whatever seems most appropriate to you.
Also, ask your references for permission before listing them. Most everyone will be willing to give you hand, but you want them to be prepared to tell employers how wonderful you are and how great you will be on the job.
Industries That Hire Teens
There are some industries looking for experienced and highly educated workers, but there are many companies that mostly hire young, entry-level employees.
Here are just a selection of the various industries that you can break into as a teenager
Fast-food jobs can be some of the easiest to get and best jobs for teenagers. Fast-food restaurants are all over and many are constantly in need of help. If you can follow directions and work efficiently, you will be great in one of these positions.
For the type of work, the pay of fast-food jobs can be pretty decent. Since they are easy to get, these jobs can also be great resume builders and can help you get that experience that other jobs may require.
Babysitting is another one of the best jobs for teenagers. It is a great way to earn some extra cash without committing to the demands of the workplace. It can also be an easy gig to get. You can advertise around your neighborhood or have your parents ask their friends or colleagues if they are in need of a baby sitter.
You should take a babysitting and first aid course to prepare for this job, but otherwise you won’t need any other experience. A bonus of this job is getting time to do homework done once the child goes to sleep.
Retail positions are common jobs for teens, however this is an industry that can be more difficult to break into. Stores will often be looking for someone with experience, so it is important to really sell yourself in the interview.
Therefore, retail jobs are good for extroverts. You should show a bubbly personality and be comfortable talking to a complete stranger right off the bat. This is what the interviewer is looking for: if you can sell yourself, then you can sell their merchandise.
Along those lines, apply to stores that you actually like. It will be easier for you to make sales, and you will also get more use out of that employee discount.
There are a variety of positions open to teens at restaurants. Working as a host/hostess or waiter/waitress can be a great position if you are good with people and enjoy talking with strangers. Dishwashers are also needed by restaurants, and require little to no people skills.
If you are good at it, working as a waiter can bring in a sizeable income, especially if you find employment at a more expensive restaurant. While the base pay may be lower for waiters, the tips you rake in can really add up.
Movie theaters are also often in need of entry-level employees. You can take tickets, sell concessions, or prepare the theater for the next round of viewers. There are many positions open to teens, all of which can be a great time.
Most teens love movies, which makes it a great option for them. Many movie theaters will give their employees free tickets, and more importantly free popcorn. So instead of making money only to spend it at the movies, you can make money and get into the newest blockbuster for free.
Lifeguarding is one of the more standard and often cliche summer jobs for teens, but it can be great pay. You will be required to take a certification course, but after that it is a very rewarding job—just think of the amazing tan you will return to school with.
While this job seems to be all fun in the sun, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. You will have to take charge of emergencies with calm certainty. If you think you are prepared for that, this might just be the job for you.
If you aren’t up for lifeguarding as a summer job, you can look into working as a camp counselor. If you like kids this is a job you will greatly enjoy, and it can also give you useful experience if you wish to pursue a job in child care or education.
For counselor jobs, check your local YMCA or recreation center first. Alternatively you can look into camp centers and retreats that may be looking for overnight counselors. With these jobs you will often be provided with free food and a place to stay, and you’ll also be able to spend more valuable time with your co-workers, creating long-lasting friendships.
Job options for teens are nearly endless. The establishments above are likely to be in need of your help, but you can also get creative and find ways to make money yourself. You can try to find fame on social media for ad/sponsorship money, or make and sell your own creations on sites like Etsy.