The Minimum Legal Working Age in West Virginia

Working Can Help Youth Become Independent

If you're a West Virginian who wants to land your first job, you should familiarize yourself with what the minimum legal working age in your state is. If you're indeed eligible to work, you can set some financial goals.

Maybe you just want spare cash to go out on the weekends or to buy video games. Maybe you want to save for some pricey sneakers your family won't foot the bill for, or maybe you have some serious money to save for college tuition, transportation or daily living expenses if you're on your own.

How Old Do You Have to Be?

Both federal child labor laws and West Virginia state law agree that the minimum age to work is 14 (with some exceptions). But child labor laws in each state may also indicate the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the stricter law will apply. According to the West Virginia labor code, children younger than 14 may work in the following capacities: 

  • Agriculture and horticulture activities which have not been declared hazardous by the secretary of the United States department of labor
  • Domestic services within the residence of the employer
  • Work for parents or legal guardian in their solely owned business (with some exceptions)
  • As actors or performers in motion pictures, theatrical, radio or television productions
  • Newspaper delivery.

Before youth begin their jobs, it is important to review more regulations related to child labor laws.

Certificates Needed

West Virginia state law requires child employment certificates for youth under age 16. Employment certificates are provided by the school. Just ask your school's administrative office for one or contact the labor department. Also, youth younger than 18 will be provided with an age certificate at the request of an employer.

The board of education for the school district they live in can issue an age certificate. 

What Hours Can Teens Work?

Although teens ages 14-15 can work in a variety of jobs, including in retail stores, offices, and restaurants, the hours they can work are limited. Youth this age are prohibited from working more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day or 40 hours during a non-school week. 

Also, these teens must work hours that fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when working hours last until 9 p.m.) Teens ages 16-17 have more flexibility and may work longer hours during a wider time span. However, teens of all ages are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations that might cause injury, death or adverse health effects.

For more information on the minimum age to work in West Virginia and how to obtain employment certificates, visit the West Virginia State Labor Website.