Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

Teen-girl-car-hopMy son is 16 years old and like many teens his age, especially boys, he is chomping at the bit for the opportunity to drive and have his own car! And while I think, for a wide variety of reasons, most teens are not fully prepared for the freedom AND responsibility of owning and maintaining a car (future post to come), if they truly want one, I fully believe they should earn it.

My personal philosophy on possessions is pretty simple. The effort it took you to get a possession is about how much value and care you will give that possession. In other words, if everything is constantly handed to you without much effort on your part, then these items become disposable. However, if you have to put work into gaining them, then they inherently have more value. This doesn’t just apply to things either.

Someone who busts their but for an A in school is going to appreciate that A far more than someone who it came easy too. Or the promotion at work that is earned versus just handed out. Think about it. I’m sure as a kid you had things that were just given to you, like a doll or toy truck. With odds in my favor, you probably left that toy truck or doll outside, or at a friend’s house, or perhaps even lost it. But think about the first thing you ever bought yourself with your own hard earned cash! Bet you can probably still remember what it was AND probably kept it for some time. It had more inherent value – not disposable. A car, insurance, maintenance and gas just given to a teen often produces lack of care or concern for their car or its costs and doesn’t really teach them or prepare them for the real world they will soon be facing.

That’s where the summer job or on-going part-time job comes into play. I fully recognize that right now jobs can be tough for anyone to find, especially inexperienced teenagers with restricted schedules. But that does not mean it is impossible. Sometimes it may just take thinking outside the box.

Traditional Types of Employment

Would you like fries with that?

McDonald’s and other fast food establishments are an awesome place to start when it comes to traditional teen jobs. These industries are generally extremely good at hiring teens or just graduated from high school youth. Jobs are pretty much designed for them as these entry level jobs are by nature part-time and teach basic skills. On the plus side, they can be fast paced and teach both the importance of a good work ethic but how to execute things quickly and with accuracy. Additionally, if they work drive through or the register, they can learn good people skills and how to handle difficult clients.


Also in the food industry, coffee shops seem to almost always hire youth, perhaps because they are geared toward the youth. Besides being detail oriented, teens will learn how to multi-task, people skills and can even earn tips.

Any Position in a Restaurant

There are tons of positions in a restaurant that teens can do, and as they get older, can be promoted in to additional positions. The nice thing about working in a restaurant are the tips and that they generally can be pretty good about working with student schedules. Those under 18 can work as bussers, hostesses, expos on the line, and even food runners. As they get older and if an establishment serves alcohol, they can move into waiting tables and bartender positions. Most restaurants will promote from within rather than hirer outside as their staff are already familiar with many of the operations already in place.

Movie Theater

From taking tickets to selling popcorn to cleaning up, there are tons of entry level jobs at a theater. As a bonus, theaters are generally open as late as 12 midnight or later. Students that are willing to be flexible in their hours could find this beneficial to their schedule.

Retail Store Clerks

Another great traditional job that a lot of teens head for. They are perfect if your teen has a special interest such as electronics, clothing, pets and more. They are almost always part-time employment and can be easier to get during peak seasons such as back to school around July and Christmas starting in early November. However, retail slows down a lot during off times so even if your teen is kept on, they may not have a lot of working hours.

Box Boy at a Grocery Store

Or another other inventory based location. Similar to a retail clerk, except working in the food services. Teens can learn a lot from customer service, merchandising and even inventory management. Plus many grocery stores to offer full-time positions and often promote from with in. This can be a great opportunity for college graduates trying to find long term employment yet still need fulltime work while they search. Starting as a teen, keeps doors open.


A tried and true source of income for many a teen girl, these days finding a good AND responsible baby sitter is tough. If your teen gets first aid, CPR and emergency situation certification, it can increase his or her hiring ability. Plus, there are websites where your teen can register as a sitter that help them get jobs. If they impress parents, they can have a steady gig. Additionally, for many places, babysitting can pay more than minimum wage.

Some Not So Traditional Teen Employment Opportunities

Dog Walker/Pet Sitter

Now you do have to have a strong work ethic and be extremely responsible since pets equate to people’s children for many pet parents. But if your teen has a love of animals, then this is an ideal job for them. Plus, as your teen will most likely be working for themselves, they can schedule their jobs around their sports and other extra-curricular activities.


My husband actually started his landscaping business at 11/12 years old and was able to buy his own car by his 8th grade year…not that he could drive it then. BUT teens can make a decent wage. It gets them outdoors, active and since the lawns they maintain will speak for how well they do (not to mention free advertising), it well help teach them the value of both a good work ethic AND the importance of a job well done. Additionally, this is another job that can work around their extra-circular schedule.

Depending on the area you live in, this can expand to changing tasks depending on the season and weather. Not likely to get too much snow shoveling here in Southern California but I’d say odds are in your favor in the Northeast.


This is often overlooked by many teens. Even if they think of it, they often stop as far as the outlets offered at their high school for tutoring. But there are definitely other places to explore. Schools in their own district as well as in immediate surrounding districts, former teachers and family friends that are teachers are all good resources to build clientele. But, teens can check with libraries, cities, churches and other community based centers to see about tutoring opportunities. Plus, there are also tons of private tutor centers that hirer teens and young adults to their staff. If they pursue this on their own, then they can also set their own hours and wages (within reason). Now, then do have to excel in the subjects they will be tutoring but, it does teach them people skills and training skills.

Sports Instructor/Tutor

Similar to the above but with sports. Many cities and community based centers hirer for these types of positions. They can even pursue this on their own as well.

Lifeguard & Swim Instructors

Now, they absolutely need their CPR and lifeguard certification but a lifeguard can find employment through the city at local lakes and community pools, at water parks, private clubs and pool facilities, the YMCA, amusement parks and more.

Water and/or Amusement Parks

Since many parks, not all, operate almost exclusively during summer months, they typically hire teens and those interested in summer employment exclusively. Though not always the case, these are great full-time summer positions that allow teens to earn decent money in summer months without a year long commitment. Other parks that operate year-round, also offer extended hours that may work around a high school teen’s schedule.

Parks and Rec Assistants

Parks and Rec Centers and those operated through the city often hirer part-time staff that is more inline with the youth they are serving. After all, who can relate better to kids than someone who not so long ago was their age. Typically, these jobs are seasonal but this can be great for a teen who has a busy school year schedule. If they like being outside, this could be their ideal job.

Summer Camp Counselors

These can be all summer long day camps or week to month long camps, but they provide an excellent opportunity for teens that like working with kids and like working outdoors. They also offer a wonderful opportunity to develop leadership skills, teaching skills and the ever needed patience…after all they are working with kids.

After-School and Summer School Aids

Almost every after school or summer day school that I have seen has teen assistants to help with the kids. Again, if your teen like kids and being active, this could be for them.


Most teens I know are not neat freaks, but if yours is then housekeeper might be the perfect part-time job. As a job they can manage on their own and that can be done around their schedule, its a very viable job. Just as with landscaping, they get free advertising every time someone walks in the door plus it teaches good work ethic and the value of the job being done well and completely.

Golf Caddies

This was not the first job on my radar but having recently chaired a golf tournament, it definitely came to mind. It does require that you have an understanding for the game AND physical endurance. That said, if your teen likes being outdoors, doing a lot of walking, then this could be for them. From what I have learned for about 4 to 5 hours worth of work (the average length of time for an 18 hole round of golf), they can expect on average $50 to $100 and perhaps even a tip. Checking with local golf and country clubs can help them learn more about opportunities in their area.


My son is a part of a friend’s company’s maintenance crew. Just as with housekeeper and landscaping, being responsible enough to do the job well and completely is important. However, many maintenance jobs provide a lot of autonomy.

Personal Care Aids

If your teen would enjoy working with those in need or the elderly, this may be a good opportunity for them. There are many people that are not as mobile as they would like. A personal care aid travels with them to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, errands, etc. and assists them in daily life activities. Teens can either offer to assist people they know through family and friends or they can seek employment at one of many care facilities that provide in house or at home care.


My little cousin is the king of making money with what he has. He has, with some guidance, turned his stuff into profit. He takes items he has enjoyed but is finished with and sells them on eBay. Not only does he earn cash but he also keeps the clutter down. This is not for every teen but can work for many. I know my father in law, brother in law and nephew in law all make decent profits buying items that need rehab, rehabbing them, and turning them for a profit. If your teen is an expert in something, say a total car and car part buff, this may be a great opportunity for them.

And I know there are tons and tons of more opportunities out there. The web is an awesome resource. A few sites I found that were either feeder sites that listed a myriad of websites gear toward teens find jobs or were actual teen help sites. I have listed several below.




Bottom line is, your teen can find a way to earn their own money and what an awesome opportunity for them to gain the skills necessary to functioning in the work force when its completely safe for them to mess up. After all, they don’t have a family (hopefully) to support yet.

Out of curiosity, I’d love to know what your first job was? Was it one of the opportunities listed above?

One Response to Does Your Teen Want a Car? How About They Get a Job?: Traditional and Non-Traditional Summer & Part-Time Employment for Teens

  • Great article! I worked in the local library putting books back on the shelves. I had to understand the Dewey Decimal System. I also helped at the front desk where I checked out books and guided people to sections where the books they wanted could be found. And for those who think minimum wage is low pay, I did this job Saturday, after school, and full time during the summer throughout high school for a whopping fifty cents an hour. My last year I got a raise to sixty cents an hour, lol.

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