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Top 6 Jobs for High School Students & Teens

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Top 6 Jobs for High School Students

  1. Food Service Worker
  2. Babysitter
  3. Dog Walker
  4. Landscaping and Groundskeeping
  5. Construction Worker
  6. Freelancer

Overview

In the 1980s, the summer job was a rite of passage for high school students. Everyone had some gig lined up by the time coursework ended, and older students hung onto those summer spots when school started again in the fall. A lot has changed.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, close to 60% of teenagers were part of the labor force in 1979. By 2011, less than 35% of teenagers were workers.

You can help change that statistic!

A job helps you build skills and experience that could help you both in school and during a job search. There are plenty of companies looking for high school workers right now.

In this guide, we'll tell you:

  • Why working works for you. We'll dig into the skills you can pick up, as well as give you a few data points that could prompt you to start a job search today.
  • Some great jobs for teens. Opportunity is everywhere, but we’ve found a few positions that seem tailor-made for the teen lifestyle.
  • How to work smart. We’ll talk about how much you should work, and we’ll give you some ideas to help you craft a good work/life balance.
  • How to kickstart your career. We’ll explain how to get a job without experience, and we’ll illuminate the importance of hustle.

Importance of Working in High School

high-school-student-studying

As a high school student, you have a lot on your to-do list. Your classes are long, your homework list is longer, and you have chores to tackle around the house too. It’s easy to think about skipping a job search, but do so, and you’ll miss out on three key things that could make the rest of your life easier.

Starting a job in high school can give you:

  • Soft skills. Your education gives you a background in the tasks you’ll need to do the job right. A job, says Stanford University, can provide you with experience in time management, self-confidence, and perseverance. These are so-called “soft skills” you’ll rely on as an adult.

    They’ll come in handy in any career path you might take. Juggling work and school, and excelling in both, is an opportunity you won’t want to miss.

  • Financial security. College is expensive. Experts say average tuition can cost up to $32,410 for private schools. While grants and scholarships help, they rarely cover the whole bill.

    Each dollar you earn in high school could be one less you have to borrow after you enroll in higher education. You’ll thank yourself later for a smaller debt burden.
  • Experience. Researchers say 61% of full-time jobs require three years of work experience. It’s nearly impossible to get a job without proof that you can do it, and if you never start your working career, you’ll never get what employers want.

    Your high school job may not be in your dream field, but it proves that you can hold down a position and do well at it.

Six Great Jobs for Teens

You’re sold on the idea of getting a summer job, but you can’t figure out where you should start. We have a few suggestions for you. Check out these 6 jobs for high school students below.

Food Service Worker

food-service-worker-holding-takeout

If you’re willing to spend your evenings and weekends as a dishwasher, fry cook, or waitress, you could have plenty of job opportunities as a food service worker. Choose to work for a chain like McDonald’s, and you could start the job after your 16th birthday. The Pew Research Center says close to 40% of teen workers hold down jobs in the food services sector, so it’s a popular choice.

National average salary: An entry-level food service worker makes an average of $11 per hour. Some establishments can pay up to $15 per hour, not including tips.

Primary responsibilities: Your responsibilities will vary depending on the type of position you apply for, but here are some common tasks asked of a food service worker below.

  • Take food or beverage orders and deliver them to customers
  • Assist in the kitchen as needed
  • Answer any customer questions about menu item
  • Keep the kitchen and dining area of an establishment clean
  • Follow food safety regulations

Babysitter

National average salary: While babysitting is not always glamorous, researchers say the average sitter gets close to $20 per hour for two children. If you do not work for an agency, the family you work for will most likely pay you directly.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Picking up children from school and driving them to extracurricular activities
  • Helping with homework
  • Meal preparation
  • Supervising play dates

You can set up connections in your community, or you can search on job boards. Hotels, daycare centers, and some corporate offices are often in need of skilled sitters for workers and patrons.

Dog Walker

dogs-on-leash

If you’re athletic and you have a way with dogs, you could land a job as a dog walker, walking pets for busy adults. Fido gets a break when the adults are away, and you get a little cash on the side.

National average salary: The nationwide average of a dog walker is $14 to $15 per hour. Plus, if you're working independently — not for a dog walking company — your employers will most likely pay you directly.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Walk one or more dogs for a certain amount of time
  • Clean up after dogs
  • Coordinate several dog walking schedules
  • Have an understanding of animal restraint and transportation rules
  • Feed dogs, as needed

There are websites like Rover.com that allow you to set up an at-home business, but you must be at least 18 years old to join. Some hotels and boutiques will hire dog walkers for guests, and if you're really willing to get dirty, you could take a job as a kennel cleaner or dog groomer for a veterinarian's office.

Landscaping and Groundskeeping

Put your green thumb to work in a position like this. Your mowing, raking, fertilizing, and trimming keep the land looking beautiful, and you'll take home a nice paycheck too.

National average salary: The median salary range is about $11 to $13 per hour, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Basic lawn care
  • Maintaining and handling lawn equipment
  • Controlling weeds and pests
  • Watering plants and grass
  • Planting flowers
Landscaping companies look for people who are willing to do this work, but smaller companies (including apartment complexes) need help too.

Construction Worker

young-female-construction-worker

We're building a lot in the United States, and that means companies like Bechtel and Skanska need construction workers to keep up with demand. Some positions require training, while others require you to be 18, but some entry-level positions can send you home with a paycheck and a marketable skill.

National average salary: Pay starts at $11 per hour, but the average hourly pay of an entry-level construction worker is $16 and can go as high as $25.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Preparing a construction site for an upcoming project
  • Loading and unloading building materials
  • Following orders from construction supervisors and project managers
  • Operating heavy machinery and equipment

According to U.S. News and World Report, companies are hoping to fill 225,000 jobs each month. Their need could be your perfect fit.

Freelancer

Hiring a full-time worker is a big commitment for a company, especially when the project is small and time-limited. Freelance employees do the work, and their contract is up when the project is complete.

National average salary: There are a wide range of roles and responsibilities of freelance jobs, but according to Business News Daily, the average freelancer can make $21 per hour, making this one of the highest-paying opportunities for high school students.

Primary responsibilities: Although freelance jobs can vary — from graphic design, computer programming, website design, and other technical areas — here are some common responsibilities for freelancers below.

  • Assist a company with daily duties such as administrative work, marketing, IT, etc.
  • Report to a manager who will assign you projects
  • Be overly communicative with your employer as you will most likely be working remotely

Companies like Fiverr can connect you with employers, but sometimes, the jobs are scams. It's best to work directly with a company on a task like this.

Tips to Help You Work Smart

The right job puts you ahead in so many ways, but you'll need to make sure that your work doesn't interfere with your school, family, and social life. It takes a little planning, but you can juggle all your priorities and do all your tasks properly.

Start by:

  • Limiting your work schedule. Students shouldn't work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, experts say. Do more, they say, and your homework will suffer.

  • Keeping tasks separate. Don't do your homework while you're on the job, and don't tackle workplace issues while you're in class. Focus completely on what you're doing in the moment.

  • Making time for sleep. You'll need to rest to retain your school lessons, and some of these jobs are physical, meaning your body needs rest too.
  • Taking care of your mental health. Set aside time for family and friends. Keep up with your hobbies. Your teenage life should be enjoyable.

How to Get Started

Maybe you know just where to go to find the job you want. Perhaps it's an opening recommended by a friend or family member. If you're not sure, use our website, and search for positions by job title and location. You should find just what you're looking for.

Once you've identified a few positions, you'll need to work hard to land that job. You can do it by:

  • Emphasizing your value. You're entering the job market, and you don't come into a position with thousands of demands. That's an excellent selling point, and it should appear in your resume and cover letter.

  • Working your connections. Do you know someone who works for the company? Ask that person to speak up for you, your character, and your work ethic.

  • Grabbing learning opportunities. After you finish a project, ask for feedback. Find out what went well, and see how you could improve. That can help you prepare to do even better next time.

  • Asking for references. When your time at work ends, ask your bosses if they're willing to help you as a reference in the future. You'll need those contacts when you start hunting for your post-graduation dream job.

Most employers know that high school students don't have experience, and they want to help you get off on the right foot in your career, so there's no need to put too much pressure on yourself. Start your search now, and land the job you want later on in life.

References

Teens Trends. (March 2017). U.S. Department of Labor.

A Summer Job Makes a Difference in Classroom Learning, Stanford Scholar Says. (September 2015). Stanford University.

Students and Debt. Debt.org.

Entry-Level-Experience Requirements Could Be Hurting Your Hiring. (July 2018). Society for Human Resource Management.

The Share of Teens With Summer Jobs Has Plunged Since 2000, and the Type of Work They Do Has Shifted. (July 2018). Pew Research Center.

Become a Dog Walker With Rover and Earn Up to $1,000 per Month. Rover.

Where Are All the Builders? (June 2018). U.S. News and World Report.

How to Start Selling on Fiverr. Fiverr.

Is There a Minimum Age to Sell on Fiverr? Fiverr.

2019 Babysitting Rates and Childcare Costs Study. Urban Sitter.

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017: Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers. (March 2018). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why American Teenagers Are Less Likely to Find a Summer Job. (June 2018). Market Watch.

Professional Students: Benefits and Risks of Working While in High School. (June 2015). Concordia University, Portland.

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