Looking for a job is a consideration of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, teenagers included. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, over 1.5 million teenagers (ages 15-17) are already working in the U.S. while more than 2 million of youth aged between 16 and 24 are actively looking for work. If you are just starting out in the workforce, things could be challenging, given the fierce competition and zero work experience. To get started on the right foot, you need look for jobs that don’t require experience and formal skills, and be willing to work minimum wage. To help you out, we have prepared a list of U.S. companies that hire workers under 18, as well as jobs that you could safely do at such young age, tips for landing a job, and many others.

How to Start Working

  1. Informal Jobs

Babysitting, mowing lawns, pet sitting, and shoveling snow are some of the informal jobs many young people start out with. Spring and summer weed control, planting for the spring in the winter, and ranking leaves in the fall are also popular yard-maintenance jobs you could try out.

If you want to find a job like this, check with your social circles, starting with your family members, friends, and trusted neighbors, and expand your search to your teachers, your school guidance office, and other people you know (i.e. acquantances from the gym, dance club or soccer practice). The more people you ask, the better chances you will have to find a job.

  1. Formal Jobs

If you are more interested in getting formal work experience and start building your CV, you could consider looking for a job in the hospitality or food service industry. Other common sectors that hire young workers without experience are retail sales, camps, recreation, and landscaping. The best season to apply for a job in these sectors is summer. And, if it all works out, you may be able to switch from full-time to part-time employment in the fall when school starts again.

  1. Student Apprenticeship Programs & Internships

Student apprenticeship programs is another option you could consider. Visit your state’s Labor Department website and learn more about apprenticeship programs in your area. For example, if you live in King Country or Seattle, Washington, Microsoft offers a number of internships for teens over 16 years of age. Also, American Eagle has summer internships for college students in their junior year.

Work Restrictions for Minors

  1. Age

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the minimum age for most work is 14 (agricultural jobs are excluded). However, minors (people under 18) cannot be employed in jobs that are considered hazardous, such as jobs that require them to operate power-driven machines or using balers. Also, occupations like coal mining and roofing work are also banned for minors.

Having said that, many states have their own youth employment laws. This means that the minimum age might be higher than the FLSA.

Finally, although it is not mandatory all minors hold working papers (see below) to be able to work, some states make this a top requirement.

  1. Hours of Work

The same Act dictates that teenage employees (14-17 years old) can work 3 hours on a school day and 8 hours on a non-school day. The total hours of work cannot be more than 18 during a school week and 40 during non-school week. Also, from Labor Day to May 31, minors can work between 7am and 7pm while from June 1 to Labor Day, they may work until 9pm.

Note: These limits are lifted when you become 18 years old.

Getting Hired: What You Will Need

Based on where you live, you may be required to get working papers (aka employment certificate). These are legal documents (age certification and employment certification) which certify that a person under 18 can be employed. This will help show the potential employer that you hit the age requirements and are legally old enough to work. It is not mandatory to have working papers, but do check out this list of State Labor Laws: Employment/Age Certificates to see if you need to get working papers to work in your state.

To ask for working papers, you can either visit your state’s Department of Labor office or email/call them. Alternatively, you may ask your school’s counselors (visit the school’s guidance office) for some help about how to complete the form to get working papers or where you can get the form if they are not able to provide you with it.

Best Companies that Hire 14- and 15-year-olds

  • McDonalds
  • Burger King
  • Taco Bell
  • KFC
  • Wendy’s
  • Kroger
  • Pizza Hut
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Piggly Wiggly
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Burger King
  • YMCA
  • Wegman’s
  • Boston Market

Companies that Hire Workers Over 16 Years of Age

  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Target
  • Banana Republic
  • Applebee’s
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Gap (Gap Outlet included)
  • Marshalls
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Maurice’s
  • Best Buy
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Papa Johns
  • Six Flags
  • Walmart
  • Staples
  • The Fresh Market
  • Old Navy
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Pipeline
  • Giant Eagle
  • Freddy’s
  • TJ Maxx

To find job listings at these companies, you can either search Indeed.com (use your location along with the company name to get a list of open job positions) or search Google for the company name and then visit their website. Look for their Jobs/Careers section and apply.

Other Part-Time & Summer Job Opportunities

Local jobs sites, the Help Wanted ads in your newspaper, and the Employment Services job listings are all great places to start your job search. Some of the jobs you could consider include the following:

  1. Restaurant or Fast Food employee.
  2. Computer Programming.
  3. Delivery Work by Public Transportation, Bicycle or Foot.
  4. Local Gas Station or Auto Mechanic Employment.
  5. Lifeguard at Local Lakes or Swimming Pools (you need to get CPR certified before).
  6. Car Washing/Waxing.
  7. Tutoring (depending on your area of expertise – could be anything from maths and music to website development).
  8. Exterior & Interior Painting
  9. Warehouse Helper
  10. Seasonal Work (i.e. Christmas and Halloween).
  11. Bike Shops

Note: In the overwhelming majority of cases, employers of young job seekers provide an orientation program that includes the training to all new hires.

Top 5 Sites for Teenage Job Seekers

  1. CoolWorks – You can find jobs at resorts, state parks, amusement parks, and camps, among others.
  2. org – Narrow down your search by location. Also, in the jobs section, click on “Part-Time” to see options in your area. Be careful as to what kind of information you disclose there as the website is frequently affiliated with scams. Always check with your parents if in doubt.
  3. com – Use the site’s Advanced Search option and choose either Part-Time for part-time jobs or Seasonal for summer jobs.
  4. com – You will be provided with a comprehensive list of part-time jobs and internships. You can search by location, job, and zip code.
  5. Monster – It is a job board. Use your location and keywords like “part time jobs for teens” and see what you can come up with. The same can be done with CareerBuilder
  6. Facebook Groups – Search Facebook for “part-time jobs”, “seasonal jobs”, “summer jobs”, “jobs for teenagers”. There will definitely be employers that have set up groups to hire people like you.

Tip: You can use keywords like “part time jobs”, “temporary jobs”, “job boards”, “summer camp”, or “summer jobs”  in any search engine and see listings that can accommodate your work requirements and needs.

Landing A Job: Tips

Once you have found a job that appeals to you, read the job posting carefully and then apply for the job, always making sure you follow the directions exactly. Ensure you have filled out the application completely and correctly and don’t forget to attach any documentation they may require, such as your working papers or your resume. Having a resume in place is actually a big thing, especially if you want to find a formal job or internship, even if you don’t have hands-on experience.

Preparation is the key to finding and finally landing your first job. Being properly prepared for an interview when you get called will show the employer that they are dealing with a  responsible, capable, and mature candidate, which is great news for both them and, of course, you! Mind what you wear during the interview and how you answer the questions you are asked. There is plenty of information online to help you get the right answers and present yourself the best possible way during an interview.

You can easily begin to establish yourself as a competent employee and earn some extra money if you are willing to work at jobs that start with the minimum wage. After a while,  when you will have collected some work experience and showed your employer(s) that you are indeed a good fit for the job, you can ask for positive references from the satisfied employer(s) and move on to other, perhaps, more attractive jobs in the future. Just be careful what information you disclose online and seek your parents help if, for some reason, you feel uncertain about a job or its requirements.

Happy job hunting!