Teen Employment Rules and Regulations

Father and son working at delicatessen together
••• Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images

Maybe you want to have some fun on the weekends. Perhaps you want to buy some clothes, or CDs or books. Or, you may be trying to save money for college. In any case, you'll need a job. Before you start making plans for your first paycheck, and even before you start job hunting, there are some things you need to know.

If you are under 14 years of age, you may be out of luck. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for employment at 14.

It also limits the number of hours minors who are under the age of 16 can work. In addition, the FLSA generally prohibits the employment of a minor in work declared hazardous by the US Secretary of Labor. Included is work involving excavation, driving, and the operation of many types of power-driven equipment.

The FLSA contains a number of requirements that apply only to particular types of jobs (for example, agricultural work or the operation of motor vehicles). The FLSA has exceptions to these limitations. For example, minimum age requirements do not apply to minors employed by their parents or guardian.

However, minors may not work in mining, manufacturing, and occupations where the minimum age requirement of 18 years old applies. Youths of any age may also deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; and babysit or perform other minor duties around a private home.

Laws regulating the employment of minors vary among states and U.S. territories. Here you will find information on each state's or territory's requirements in regard to employment or age certificates. You are encouraged to also contact your own state's Labor Department.

Alabama

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), and age 18 in mines, issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Alaska

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 17 and under age 19 if employer is licensed to sell alcohol (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Arizona

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Arkansas

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: Age 16 and 17, issued by Labor Department

California

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 who are enrolled in school (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Colorado

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 during school hours (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under 18 except not issued to minors under age 16 for work during school hours (on request), issued by school

Connecticut

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors ages 16 and 17 (mandated), issued by school

Delaware

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Labor Department and school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

District of Columbia

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Florida

  • Employment Certificate: No Provision*
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (on request), issued by school
  • Note: The employer of a minor must obtain and keep on record proof of the child's age.

Georgia

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Guam

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Hawaii

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors ages 16 and 17 (mandated), issued by Labor Department

Idaho

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Illinois

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors from ages 16 to 20 (on request), issued by school

Indiana

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors from ages 18 to 21 (on request), issued by school

Iowa

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors from ages 16 and 17 (mandated) and 18 and over (on request), issued by school
  • Note: Both certificates are also issued by the schools.

Kansas

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Kentucky

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (on request), issued by school

Louisiana

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Maine

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors ages 16 and 17 (on request), issued by school

Maryland

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Labor Department and school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Massachusetts

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors ages 16 and 17 (mandated), issued by school

Michigan

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Minnesota

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 during school hours (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18, except not issued to minors under 16 during school hours (on request), issued by school
  • Note: The employer of a minor must obtain and keep on record proof of the child's age.

Mississippi

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 in mills, canneries, workshops, and factories (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Missouri

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors age 16 and over (on request), issued by school

Montana

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and over: in hazardous situations (mandated) and in other occupations (on request), issued by Labor Department

Nebraska

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and over (on request), issued by school

Nevada

  • Employment Certificate: Issued for minors under age 14 with written permission of district judge (mandated)
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

New Hampshire

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Not issued
  • Note: Employers must maintain on file a signed, written document from the youth's parent or legal guardian authorizing the employment.

New Jersey

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors ages 18 to 21 (on request), issued by school

New Mexico

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by Labor Department and school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and 17; issued by Labor Department and school

New York

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 18 and over, issued by school

North Carolina

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Department of Labor or the County Director of Social Services
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

North Dakota

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by Department of Labor
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and over; issued by Labor Department

Ohio

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 at any time, and at ages 16 and 17 during school term (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Not issued
  • Note: Minors 16 and 17 years of age are required to have proof of age for employment during school vacation. The Superintendent of Schools for the district in which the student lives may approve employment in a seasonal amusement park or recreational establishment without an age certificate.

Oklahoma

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and 17, issued by school

Oregon

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Pennsylvania

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Puerto Rico

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 18 through 21 (on request), issued by Labor Department.

Rhode Island

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and 17 (mandated), issued by school

South Carolina

  • Employment Certificate: No Provision*
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (on request), issued by Labor Department

South Dakota

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Tennessee

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued
  • Age Certificate: Not issued
  • Note: The employer of a minor must obtain and keep on record proof of the child's age (birth certificate, baptismal certificate, passport, or parent's oath as to the minor's age).

Texas

  • Employment Certificate: No Provision*
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Labor Department

Utah

  • Employment Certificate: No Provision*
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (on request), issued by school

Vermont

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 during school hours (mandated), issued by Department of Labor
  • Age Certificate: Not issued

Virgin Islands

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Labor Department
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

Virginia

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and 17 (on request), issued by school

Washington

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Department of Labor
  • Age Certificate: No Provision*

West Virginia

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 16 (mandated), issued by school
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 16 and 17 (on request), issued by school

Wisconsin

  • Employment Certificate: Issued to minors under age 18 (mandated), issued by Department of Labor, through permit officers who are school officials and other public officials
  • Age Certificate: Issued to minors 18 and over (on request), issued by Labor Department, through permit officers

Wyoming

  • Employment Certificate: Not issued 
  • Age Certificate: Not issued 
  • Note: the employer of a minor under age 16 must obtain and keep on record proof of the child's age.

*"No provision" indicates that the issuance of an employment or age certificate is unnecessary because another type of certificate covers all minors.

Source: US Department of Labor