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Best Summer Jobs for Teens

I’m noticing an impressive trend when I travel across the country: More and more, I hear about younger generations who are eager to start working—or they’re thinking about building professional skills while they’re still in high school. It seems the days of spending summer break kicked back on the couch playing video games are long gone!

And if you’re a parent whose kid would rather bring home a paycheck than check out with a Netflix marathon, I’ve got good news. There are tons of summer jobs out there that are fun and encourage a strong worth ethic. Bonus points: Your teen will start making extra money. Who doesn’t love that?

And in case you’re feeling unsure about how to help your kid find the right work, we’re going to look at the best summer jobs for teens based on their skills and interests.

How to Look for a Summer Job

When it comes to your teen’s job search, the internet is your friend. While your teen might know how to work the web better than you do, you know more about job searching. Help them find a summer job in your area! Job postings might require them to submit a resumé or fill out an online application, and you can be a big help with that.

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You can also check with your teen’s high school guidance counselor. They might have summer job listings right there in the office. It’s never too early for your teen to learn about networking either, so think of who you know. Ask around and see if anyone within your network works for a company offering summer jobs or internships for teens.

And here’s something else I want you and your teen to remember as you’re looking for summer jobs—get creative! Your community is full of unseen business opportunities. Ask your kid about their skills, dreams, hobbies and passions. This will help you both get an idea of what summer job might be the best fit. They could even start a business on their own—and their business ideas could become a stepping-stone for their career.

Are Summer Jobs Available to Teens Under 18?

Yes! Plenty of businesses hire young employees who haven’t turned 18 yet. So don’t let that limit the search. Depending on what state you live in, your son or daughter might need to get a work permit or papers to get a job.1 You can usually pick up these papers at the school’s guidance counselor office or your state’s Department of Labor.

Every state’s application requirements are different, but generally your teen will need to bring some kind of I.D. (birth certificate, school record, driver’s license, etc.) that includes their full name, date of birth, school grade, age, and your (the parent or guardian) information.

Find out the local laws in your state by visiting the United States Department of Labor website.

Best Summer Jobs for Teens

There are so many options for teens to take on a summer job these days. And it’s an employee market—so employers need the help! From traditional gigs, like being a camp counselor, to more entrepreneurial and creative jobs that can be done remotely, there are plenty of ways your teen can make money and have fun working during the summer season. Here are a few ways they can get started with a summer job.

Get Creative

Make and sell handmade goods.

If your teen has creative talent, have them put it to good use this summer. Websites like Etsy have made it easy to make a buck on the gift of creativity. Anyone 18 years old or older can set up a shop in a matter of minutes and get to work designing gifts and merchandise Things like jewelry, clothing and blankets sell really well. Take a look at the seller fees and know there can be a delay in getting paid if you don’t have the goods ready for sale in advance.

Design.

If your teen is into design, have them think about designing business cards, greeting cards and home décor. They can even offer PDF downloads of their work. Downloads help cut expenses while also making the process faster for customers to receive their designs.

How much money can you make with these summer jobs?

I love any business model that lets you set the price on your good or service. With these options, your teen gets to control their profits, which is great. Just remind them to do a little research and make sure their prices are reasonable. At the same time, encourage them not to sell themselves short. They deserve to get paid for their hard work.

Take photographs.

With so many subjects to photograph, this is a great option for teens who like to express their creativity. If they already have photography experience and a nice camera on hand, this will be even easier. If they don’t own their own camera, ask a family friend if they can borrow theirs, or rent one from an equipment shop. They can take pictures of friends for graduation, family portraits, pet portraits and landscapes, just to name a few.

How much money can you make with this summer job?

It can be tricky to decide exactly how much to charge per session. Your kid could keep it simple by offering a day of mini sessions. They just have to pick a great outdoor location for the shoot, let the clients choose their desired time (during the best hours for natural light), and charge them a flat fee for a 30- or 45-minute session that includes 20 digital images. If your teen charges $80 per session and books five families, they’ll make $400!

If your kid is at least 18 years old, they can also sell their photography on apps like Foap or stock photography websites.

Blog, vlog and help others with social media.

Your teen probably spends plenty of time on social media already, so why not make content for cash? They can set up a blog, vlog and social media profiles all in a single afternoon. It’s easy, but the real trick is staying consistent with the content. It can take a while to gain readers, viewers and followers, but encourage your teen to stick with it. You never know what content will go viral or who they’ll meet in their content community.

How much money can you make with this summer job?

As your platform following grows, you could get the chance to collaborate with other brands. Your teen can absolutely make money this way, but the question here is how much? Unlike a steady paycheck from a part time job, cashing in on this kind of work will take some time. Have them sign up for Google AdSense and look for teen-specific affiliate programs to join forces with. As their platform grows, they’ll have more opportunities to expand.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Take care of lawns.

Here’s what I know about the lawns in my neighborhood: Grass grows like weeds in the summer, and people don’t like cutting it. If your teen doesn’t mind the sunshine for a few hours, a lawn care service might be for them. They can work on their tan, get some exercise, and help other people. How’s that for a winning combo?

How much can you make with this summer job? 

With a lawn business, your teen is their own boss, so they get to set their prices and hours. Take a look at the neighborhood competition to help them figure out how much to charge for small, medium and large yards. If your teen charges $50 for medium-size yards and mows five in one day, they’ll make $250. Wow!

Lifeguard or teach swim lessons.

Would your teen rather make money by the pool? Becoming a lifeguard or swim instructor would be a perfect summer job. They can interact with the community, soak up the sun, and make good money. To become certified, they’ll need to complete training in CPR, AED and first aid. And, of course, they’ll need to be a good swimmer.

How much can you make with this summer job?

The pay varies based on experience and location. For example, there’s a price difference between working at a community pool versus at the beach. To give you a general idea, lifeguards at the YMCA make a little over $9 per hour.2 Part-time swim instructors make about $12 an hour on average, but they can charge much more as a private instructor.3

Work as a golf caddy.

For more money-making fun in the sun, consider all the summer job opportunities at your local golf course. Golf caddies help carry bags, find balls, and advise on the best ways to play the course. Teens can learn excellent customer service skills at public and private golf courses and get the added benefit of meeting guests and spending their days on the green. (I love spending a Saturday playing golf, and a good caddy makes the game more enjoyable!)

How much can you make with this summer job?

Each golf course will pay a little differently. Some will pay by the hour, and others will pay by each 18-hole round completed, called a loop. On average, caddies can expect to earn about $17 per hour plus tips.4

Be a camp counselor.

Churches, community centers, sporting organizations and even schools host summer camps and weekday activities for younger kids while parents work. And there are plenty of locations where your teen could be a camp counselor. Look at traditional summer camps in the outdoors, city sports leagues, neighborhood churches and even community organizations, like the YMCA. No matter their interests, your teen can serve at a camp that matches their favorite environment and activities.

How much can you make with this summer job?

On average, camp counselors make about $12 an hour.5 Depending on the organization they work for, your teen might be paid on an hourly, weekly or biweekly basis as a camp counselor. Plus, they’ll get to experience all the fun of summer activities with other people their age.

Clean pools.

When the weather’s nice, people want to spend time splashing around in the pool, not cleaning it! Luckily, this is a great opportunity for your teen to make some cash helping neighbors during the summer season. They don’t need to be a master chemist or keep pool chemicals top-notch, but weekly or monthly vacuuming and cleaning out leaves and other debris can really add up.

How much can you make with this summer job?

At $15 per hour for a pool cleaning gig, your teen can make good money over the summer by tapping the neighborhood market!6 If they clean 10 pools just in a weekend, that’s $150. Add in a few eight-hour shifts during the week, and their weekly earnings can go up to $500 or more.

Work Inside

Work in retail or food service at the mall.

If your teen prefers the chill and whir of air conditioning, a summer job at the mall could be the way to go. Instead of spending money at the mall, they could be making money there . . . and as a dad, I’m all about that! Plenty of retail shops, restaurants, cafes and even movie theaters are eager to hire teens. In fact, some of the most popular summer jobs for teens can be found as soon as you step through the mall’s doors. (Just make sure they save and give some of their hard-earned money instead of spending it all on those delicious cinnamon sugar pretzels!)

How much money can you make with these summer jobs?

While most mall jobs pay minimum wage (which varies state by state), they do have some pretty great perks to offer.7 Working at a movie theater can get your teen a free seat to watch Hollywood blockbusters all summer long. And clothing stores usually offer a discount to employees, which will come in handy when it’s back-to-school season.

Clean houses.

For just a few dollars at the dollar store, your teen can make a housekeeping kit complete with sponges, gloves, buckets and spray bottles. Helping elderly neighbors, moms with little kids, and even busy working professionals keep their homes tidy is a great way to make money.

If your teen’s going at this on their own, make sure you know the homes and families they’re serving (it’s only safe). And your teen should set limits on the type of cleaning services they offer. Maybe they can handle vacuuming, mopping, and cleaning kitchen counters and floors, but they should say no to cleaning second-story gutters unsupervised.

How much money can you make with this summer job? 

Teens have a few options when it comes to summer housekeeping jobs. They can work part time for a hotel or other hospitality group, or they can set their own rates and hours with their own clients. Typically, part-time housekeeping jobs pay around $17 an hour.8

Babysit or watch pets.

If your teen loves kids or animals, they might want to start their own babysitting or dog-walking business. They can take on clients they already know and grow from there. You can help by recommending them to your friends, family and coworkers. And of course, they can always advertise on social media and throughout the neighborhood too.

How much money can you make with these summer jobs?One of the benefits of starting your own business is being your own boss and having the ability to set your own price.

For babysitting, your teen can set prices based on the number of children and how many hours of care are involved. A babysitter here in Nashville could make anywhere from $11.50 to $16.50 an hour watching two children for 20 hours each week.9 When it comes to pet sitting, many people set their rate around $13 per hour or $27 a day.10

Teach What You Know

Tutor students.

School’s not necessarily out for the summer for everyone. In fact, the demand for help with homework carries on into the summer. Whether it’s helping juniors and seniors prep for the SAT and ACT or helping students taking summer courses, there’s money to be made in tutoring. If your teen is an academic superstar, have them explore tutoring options through their school or community learning centers.

Share your skills.

Does your child have the heart of a teacher but can’t imagine spending the summer cooped up inside? In that case, why not encourage them to teach others by sharing their passions, hobbies and skills? I’ve known teens who make great money teaching kids how to dance, play a musical instrument, or do any number of other artistic or practical skills.

How much money can you make with these summer jobs?There’s serious money available for teen teachers. It’s typical for a high school student to charge $15 to $50 an hour for tutoring or teaching services.11 That’s great summer pay. Teens can earn up to twice as much (depending on location) giving a private music lesson.12 

Start a business.

Some teens are self-starters with their own vision of how to make money. In fact, some of the most successful people started companies as teens and young adults. (Think Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.) If your kid has an interest in entrepreneurship or freelance, help them start their own business! The sky’s the limit when it comes to the businesses they could launch. Help your teen think about what they’re good at and what their favorite hobbies are.

Use Media To Make Money

Transcribe videos and audio.

Does your teen enjoy media? Why not suggest they make money by listening to audio recordings and videos and creating transcripts? Websites like Rev pay transcriptionists by the minute, and there’s no shortage of work your kid can take on if they enjoy it. Bonus: This is a perfect indoor option to earn money during those hot summer days.

How much money can you make with this summer job?

Rev pays $0.30 to $1.10 per minute of audio transcription and $0.54 cents to $1.10 for captioning services.13 Freelancers earn an average of $245 a month, which isn’t bad!14 Also consider sites like Upwork, where your teen can take transcription jobs from anywhere in the world and choose jobs-based project lengths and pay rates (as long as they’re 18 or older).

Take surveys and play games for pay.

If your kid is a computer whiz, why not have them spend a few minutes making money by taking surveys? In as little as two minutes, they can start earning money and gift cards just by answering a few questions. Now, it’ll take a few surveys for the pay to really start adding up, but every little bit counts. Some of the top survey sites you and your teen can check out include InboxDollars, Swagbucks, LifePoints and Survey Junkie. Each website has a minimum age for someone who can participate, so you’ll want to double-check the requirements before signing up.

How much money can you make with this summer job?

Each website will pay a different amount per survey. For example, on Swagbucks, you can expect to make on average $0.50 to $1.50 per survey.15 Some sites even include a sign-up bonus! Depending on the survey platform, your teen can get paid with a check, PayPal, or maybe even choose gift cards to your favorite storse, like Amazon, Old Navy and Walmart.

Sell stuff online.

If your teen has some extra time on their hands outside of other work opportunities or summer school, why don’t you encourage them to resell some of their stuff? This is a great way to clear out the closet before going back to school and make some extra money. Stuff like books, clothes and gift cards can easily be sold on secure resale websites, like Mercari, eBay, Poshmark and ThredUP. They can even flip bigger items, like bikes and sporting goods, at neighborhood garage sales. (Be aware that some resale websites have age requirements, so you might need to help your teen get started.)

How much money can you make with this summer jobs?

For motivated kids, the sky’s the limit when it comes to reselling stuff online. What your teen sells, the website they use, and even the amount of stuff will determine how much extra cash they make. And if they get really into the resale game, there’s no stopping them from opening a store on a platform like Shopify—as long as they’re 18 or older.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun With a Summer Job!

Here’s what I want you and your teen to remember most this summer—a teen job should be fun! This is a time to gain real work experience—and make money—but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t have fun while doing it. Remember, this is a seasonal job, not a full-time career. (But if they find work they’re passionate about during this time, maybe it can turn into something in the future!)

If your teen has a hobby or passion that could make some cash, why not help them learn business skills to monetize their interests? The Foundations in Entrepreneurship for Self-Study online course is perfect for kids and teens in grades 7–12. They’ll learn skills in management, communication, finance, marketing and more. Check it out!

Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is America’s Career Coach and author of the national bestselling book From Paycheck to Purpose and the #1 national bestseller The Proximity Principle. He hosts The Ken Coleman Show, a nationally syndicated, caller-driven show that helps listeners discover what they were born to do. Ken makes regular appearances on Fox News, and he co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation with 18 million weekly listeners. Through his speaking, broadcasting and syndicated columns, Ken gives people expert career advice, providing strategic steps to grow professionally, land their dream job, and get promoted. Learn More.

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