First Job Ideas for Teens

Teenage employees looking at iPad in cafe
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Are you a teenager who is looking for your first job? If so, you might be wondering where to begin. How can you get hired when you don’t have work experience? When you haven't worked at a real job before, the best type of position to look for is one that doesn't require formal skills.

Best First Job Options

There are plenty of jobs available for those just starting out in the workforce, especially if they are willing to work minimum wage jobs in order to gain valuable work experience.

Employers of young job seekers are willing to train their employees. In fact, training is usually part of the orientation program that employers provide to new hires. Here's some useful information on where to get hired, first job options, what you need to do to get hired, and how to find your first job.

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5 Ways to Get Hired

There are many ways to get work experience and find job opportunities. Even when you’re just starting out, networking is often the best way to get hired. The good news is that you already have a network of folks who are willing to help you, starting with the people closest to you.

1. Start Close to Home

Many young people start out with informal jobs like babysitting, pet sitting, mowing lawns, or shoveling snow. The best way to find a job like this is to check with your friends, family, and neighbors. You may also be able to advertise your services on local social media sites and groups.

2. Ask for Help at School

Check with your school guidance office, teachers, and coaches. The more people you ask, the better chance you will have of finding someone to hire you. Teachers and school staff also make great personal references if you find a job and need someone to vouch for you.

3. Target the Right Industries

When you want to start getting formal work experience, the common industry sectors that hire workers without experience include hospitality, recreation, camps, food service, retail sales, and landscaping.

The peak season for jobs that hire less experienced workers is the summer. However, summer jobs start hiring earlier than you think—sometimes as early as spring break. So, start your job search sooner rather than later.

4. Look for Student Apprenticeship Programs

Another option would be to learn about and apply to student apprenticeship programs that may be available in your area. For example, Microsoft offers a number of apprenticeships to teens (older than 16) who live in Seattle or King County, Washington. You can learn more about apprenticeships for teenagers by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor’s youth programs site.

5. Use Job Search Sites

You can use job sites like SnagAJob, which focuses on hourly jobs, and general job sites like Indeed.com. When using general job sites for your job search, use job titles you're interested in, and terms like "no experience," "no previous experience needed," and "no experience required" to find entry-level positions.

What You Need to Get Hired

Do keep in mind that for some jobs and some jobs in certain locations require an employment certificate (also known as working papers) if you are under 18, as the employers would want proof that you are old enough to work.

In addition, if you are under 16, there are some jobs that you are not allowed to work at, such as bartending, or jobs considered hazardous under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Other jobs, however, don't have any restrictions, especially if you are working for family, friends, or neighbors.

jobs for teens illustration

Alison Czinkota / The Balance

List of First Jobs for Teens

Here is a sample list of titles for first jobs:

  • Activities Assistant
  • Amusement Ride Attendant
  • Babysitter
  • Bagger
  • Barista
  • Baseball Umpire for Little League
  • Basketball Referee for Juniors
  • Bellhop
  • Busser
  • Camp Counselor
  • Camp Counselor in Training
  • Car Detailing
  • Car Wash Attendant
  • Cashier
  • Child Care Assistant
  • Cleaner
  • Concession Worker
  • Counselor In Training
  • Counter Worker—Food Service
  • Crew Member
  • Customer Service
  • Dishwasher
  • Dog Walker
  • Drugstore Cashier
  • Editing
  • Farmhand
  • Fast Food Worker
  • Food Prep Worker
  • Food Server
  • Food Service Worker
  • Golf Caddy
  • Greeter
  • Grocery Clerk
  • Household Chores
  • Ice Cream Shop
  • Kennel Assistant
  • Landscaper
  • Lawn Mower
  • Lifeguard
  • Merchandiser
  • Mother's Helper
  • Music Reviews
  • Music Teacher for Young Children
  • Nursery Worker
  • Office Workers
  • Packing and Moving
  • Paper Delivery Person
  • Pet Sitter
  • Pizza Parlor
  • Programmer
  • Proofreader
  • Receptionist
  • Restaurant Hostess/Host
  • Retail Store Salesclerk
  • Server
  • Sports Coach
  • Soccer Referee for Juniors
  • Stock Clerk
  • Swim Instructor
  • Team Member
  • Ticket Taker
  • Tutor (in-person or online)
  • Waiter/Waitress

The Bottom Line

With a little initiative—and the willingness to work conscientiously at jobs that initially only pay minimum wage—you can begin to establish your reputation as a competent and dedicated employee while earning some extra money.

This work experience, as well as the positive references you can collect from employers who are satisfied by your performance, will help to ensure that future employers will be interested in you as an attractive job candidate.