5 Age-Appropriate Jobs for 12-Year-Olds

Many 12-year-olds are at the point where they want more independence in some aspects of their lives. So this is a great age to begin instilling a work ethic in your offspring, and to educate them about money, responsibility, and how much things cost. 

Legally, 12-year-olds can't work the traditional after-school jobs—such as supermarket cashier—that their slightly older peers are eligible for, and they may not be emotionally ready for such a commitment anyway. But most preteens can handle many side jobs and other ways to earn money.

Availability of some of these jobs varies by season, and there's no set pay scale. Factors affecting pay include location, as well as the difficulty and time it takes to complete a task. You will also need to assess your child's maturity level for particular jobs. While some are casual and fun (helping to rake leaves, for example), others involve the safety and welfare of others.

01
Babysitter

Girl feeding baby brother at table
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Babysitting is a popular job for 12-year-olds. The Red Cross is one of several organizations that offers babysitter classes to prepare kids 11- to 15, training them in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. 

Before your offspring takes a babysitting job, make sure she is mature enough to deal with small children. Some previous experience, such as with younger siblings, is ideal training.

As the parent, you should make sure you're comfortable with any gigs your child takes. You should meet the families your child will be babysitting for and get a sense for the environment in their home. 

02
Yard Worker

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In addition to lawn mowing, children can help out with other yard work that homeowners need. Various tasks could include spreading mulch, pulling weeds, or planting flowers. In cooler months, raking leaves, covering bushes, and shoveling snow are helpful ways to earn some quick cash. 

Again, be sure you know any neighbors your child is working for, and whether she is physically up to the tasks. If your child is going to be handling machinery like a lawnmower or snowblower, make sure she knows how to operate it safely.

03
Dog Walker

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Dogs need to get out for exercise all day and all year long. If your child doesn't have experience with pets, make sure that he feels comfortable with canines and doesn't have any allergies. And be sure you know and are comfortable with the route your child will take. Of course, kids also need to understand that walking a dog also implies cleaning up after the dog does its business.

04
House and Pet Sitter

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A sitter's responsibilities typically include stopping by a neighbor's house to feed an animal and walk it a few times per day while the owners are away. In addition, your child can bring in the newspaper or mail and water any houseplants. This job is to be taken casually: Pets and plants will not survive if your child gets distracted and forgets the work.

You'll want to make sure you know any houses where your child will be performing tasks, in addition to the homeowners.

05
Tutor

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If your child is strong in a given subject at school, she may be able to help children who are struggling. A teacher should be able to assess whether your child is mature enough to handle teaching younger kids and offer connections to kids in need. While some kids are natural teachers, others may need some coaching in how to listen and to be patient. 

Match the Child to the Job

You know your own child. That means you have a pretty good idea of whether a job is right for him. Some 12-year-olds are more than ready to change a diaper, show up even when it's raining, and put away equipment properly. Others may need more time to mature. The important thing is to help your child choose a job he can do well and enjoy doing.