What Is the Minimum Legal Age to Work in Texas?

Know the rules about the kinds of work minors can do

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In Texas, the minimum age to work is 14, in keeping with federal child labor laws. Unlike some states, though, Texas does not require juvenile workers to obtain a child employment certificate or an age certificate to work, but minor workers may be provided with one if they request it via the state labor department.

Minor Workers' Hours

In Texas, older minors—meaning 16- and 17-year-olds—may work as many hours as they'd like. But for youths 14 and 15 years old, the state sets some restrictions. 

Young people ages 16 and 17 may not work more than eight hours per day or more than 48 hours in one week. They're also prohibited from going to work before 5 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on a day before a school day, which includes summer school sessions. In addition, juveniles in this age bracket may not work past midnight on a day before a nonschool day.

The work practices for minors ages 14 and 15 are subject to federal law also. Federal law prohibits people these ages from working during school hours, more than eight hours per day, or more than 18 hours per week. They may not work more than three hours in a day during parts of the year when school is in session.

Moreover, these teens may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year. Federal law allows young people ages 14 and 15 to work extended hours, up to 9 p.m., from June 1 to Labor Day. Children in special circumstances or in severe need of earning money—because they are supporting their families, for example—may request exemptions from these rules.

Texas Work Permit Regulations

Texas doesn't require work permits for teenage workers. A prospective employer that wants one can request a certificate of age for any minors it employs, obtainable from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport, is required to get a certificate of age, as is a recent photo of the applicant.

Jobs Available to Texas Minors

A Texan age 14 or 15 is limited to doing certain kinds of work in certain types of businesses, which include retail and food service establishments and gas stations.

They can do office and clerical work, which includes operating office machines such as copiers and fax machines, and can serve as cashiers in most retail locations. Exceptions would include a store that sells adult merchandise or an establishment that serves or sells alcohol.

Teenagers 14 and 15 years old can price merchandise with pricing devices or by hand, and can assemble merchandise as well as pack it and place it on shelves.

Bagging groceries or other merchandise also is permitted, as is delivery work, if done by bicycle or public transportation, or on foot.

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds can't use power mowers or other cutting machines, but they can use vacuum cleaners and floor waxers as part of cleanup and maintenance work.

Kitchen work and food prep are allowed in certain circumstances, including using dishwashers, toasters, blenders, and coffee grinders. Teens these ages can serve food to customers.

Restrictions placed on gas stations limit 14- and 15-year-olds to working in the following capacities:

  • Dispensing gasoline and oil
  • Courtesy service on premises of gasoline service station
  • Car cleaning, washing, and polishing

Finally, cleaning and wrapping vegetables and fruits are permitted jobs, as is stocking goods on grocery shelves, as long as the 14- and 15-year-olds are not handling prepared meat, and aren't working in freezers or meat coolers.

Child Performer Exemptions

Children under 14 who are employed in the movie or television industries may be able to obtain a child actor/performer authorization, allowing them to work hours outside of those permitted for other jobs. The child's parent or legal guardian should apply for this exemption from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Hardship Exemptions

In some conditions, Texans under 16 years of age can appeal for an exemption to the restriction on when and how many hours they can work. The appeal should include a detailed outline of the work to be done, the working conditions, and the number of hours the child would work.

Hardship exemptions are granted in situations where the work is necessary to allow the child to support himself or his immediate family.

A letter from the employer that details the work to be performed also should be included in the appeal, as well as a letter from a school official such as a principal, indicating that the school is aware of and in agreement with the work exception.

Additional Resources

For more information about working in the Lone Star State, visit the Texas State Labor website. For other states' requirements, consult state Labor Departments. The information they provide can be especially helpful if you live close to a state border and working out of state might be more convenient, or if you plan to spend your summers working in a different part of the country.