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How to Make Money as a Teenager: The Jobs are Out There

Does this sound familiar? “Hey Mom, can I have some money to go to Chipotle?” Setting aside the fact that there’s probably plenty of food for them to eat at home, some days you just feel like the parent ATM. The logical response, and one that many of our parents used, is “You want spending money? Get a job!”

The truth is, there are lots of good reasons for your teen to have a job, beyond the obvious thrill of making their own spending money.

For starters, learning responsibility. It’s one thing when you ask (and ask, and ask, and ask) your teen to take out the recycling, unload the dishwasher, or walk the dog.  It’s an entirely different thing when an employer, to whom they are not related, makes the same request. Your teen will quickly figure out what happens when they don’t comply in a timely and courteous manner.

Having a job is also great for learning time management. Remember that axiom, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”? It’s true. When your teen has to fit in sports or extracurriculars and homework around a job, even if it’s just a few hours per week, they’ll learn that they need to look ahead to see what’s on their calendar so they can get it all done. It takes practice, but now is a great time for them to learn this all-important skill.

Last but not least, your teen will likely get a great confidence boost out of employment. Learning new skills, interacting with people who are different from them, handling a difficult customer, or solving a problem for a grateful boss are all the types of experience that will not only help them grow as a person, but will look great on their first resume or college application.

All of this sounds eminently reasonable, until your teen stumps you with this line of questioning: “Who will hire me? I’m too young. I don’t have any experience. What jobs can I do?”

It’s true that the available jobs will depend a bit upon their age and abilities, and many are seasonal, not year-round. But there are a variety of jobs teens can do at every age that will allow them to start putting some money in their own pocket. While no means exhaustive, here are some ideas of good jobs for teens by age group:

Jobs for 12-13 Year-Olds

  • Babysitting
  • Dog-walking
  • Yardwork (weeding and watering)

Jobs for 14-15 Year-Olds

  • Camp counselor-in-training
  • Lawn-mowing
  • Golf caddy
  • Golf course maintenance
  • Car washer

Jobs for 16 Year-Olds

  • Lifeguard (with certification)
  • Camp counselor
  • Retail/cashier
  • Restaurant host, busboy, or dishwasher
  • Grocery clerk/bagger
  • Ice cream scooper
  • Plant nursery/garden center worker
  • Movie usher or concession worker
  • Rec league umpire or referee

Good Jobs for Older Teens

  • Nanny
  • Driver
  • Tutor
  • Music lessons

With any luck, there will be something on this list that allows your teen to get some experience, put a little money in the bank, and best of all, give the parent ATM a much-needed rest!

Jennifer Proe

Jennifer Proe is a writer and editor with Your Teen Magazine. 

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