What Age Do You Think Teenagers Should Get a Job At?

Updated on September 01, 2014
D.D. asks from Goodyear, AZ
30 answers

My husband and I feel that our son should be a part time job. Something that he would have to learn to be responsible for his time, his money and getting to work. He was given his dads little Ranger to get back and forth to school, sports practices and occasion pick up his younger siblings. He is putting both feet to the ground and not moving to do it. He joined the volunteer FF, that pays him 10 a call, enough to pay gas, but nothing with set times and steady income to manage.

He feels that he will work the rest of his life, he wants to enjoy his teenage years. Valid arguement. He did work this summer at a youth camp for 2 months. He lived on site and was paid a wage plus room and board. I thought it was wonderful. I didn't have to do anything to help him become responsible for time, HE WAS responsible for everthing. He got a great REVIEW from the staff.

I don't want him working every night, maybe a few hours on the weekends.

What can I do next?

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answers from San Francisco on

When someone will hire them, usually 16. I completely disagree with the argument about enjoying his teenage years. And jobs can be enjoyable, anyway.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Working is fine when school is not in session.
School should take precedence and it's too easy to fall into "I need/want the money" and let school slide.
Working in college is fine as long as the school work doesn't suffer.
Once school/college is done they'll be working full time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How old is he? He can get a job here at fifteen with a work permit. So if he wants money a part time job is a great way to make it. They seem to want things so much more than I could provide for some years ago.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Rockford on

I always feel like the minority here, but I did not pressure my boys to work in high school. I wanted them to have a great time in their teen years, much like your son wants. Both are excellent students, got great ACT scores, and my older one had several AP classes. On top of that, they both are in cross country and track. There was no time for a job. I had no problem with that at all. I worked when I was 16, but I was not in sports or anything, so I had the time. With their sports, they have practices daily and meets on weekends. Right now my oldest is a junior in college and runs 90 miles a week to stay at his top performance. My youngest is a sophomore in college and has the daily practices and weekend meets too. Not to mention how much time they need for college classes. Both are in education, so they have their practicums as well. In my eyes, letting them focus on school and sports paid off much more for them than a job would. My oldest has "earned" $26,000 a year in scholarships and my youngest $10,000 a year. I am NOT trying to brag by saying that, just that their focus paid off in a different way than a job did in high school. It works for them and it works for me. I do expect them to work in the summers though, now that they are in college and are adults. They still have the sports training all summer long, but do not have the classes, so there is less stress in finding time to work. On the other hand, my youngest stepdaughter is not a school or sport person, so she worked. I value what she did just as much as what my boys did, so it all depends on the kid. My oldest stepdaughter did it all and it worked for her. I can't say one way is better than the other, because it's not. I'm super proud of all of them and their choices worked for them. Every family situation is different and every kid is different.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I think it depends... How busy is he with school/extracurricular activities... How is he spending his free time.... How does he do with earning privileges... How much respect does he have for his possessions... How does he handle money... There are a lot of things to consider with teenagers working. I have known plenty of people who did and did not work as teenagers, and honestly I don't really see much of a long-run difference. They either learn slowly with the parental net as minors, or they get a crash-course when going out on their own.

I personally was working from a very young age... Mostly for family, either going to my dad's job and doing small chores, or as a "mothers helper" around 8 until I was old enough to babysit solo. until I got my first official job at 16. Of course, my main motivation was money. We were poor, so if I wanted new clothes or decent shampoo I had to buy it myself. Lol. I have a pretty decent handle on money management. My older brother also started working at a younger age, yet it has had no impact on his financial responsibility and he was constantly struggling to manage his finances for the first year or two after moving out.

Then you look at my closest friend, who never worked while in high school... Yet when she moved out was able to completely support herself and was very responsible. My younger brother also never worked in high school, and is also a complete financial dunce. He has been on his own for about 4 years now, and still occasionally has to call our dad to bail him out. (Though, he has gotten a lot better... Especially after my dad stopped bailing him out so much.)

So honestly, I think the biggest factor should be your son... If he has already proven himself to be responsible, hard working, and reliable, I wouldn't push a job. He will likely learn quickly once he leaves high school. If he seems like he will struggle with holding down a job, then by all means get him into a position that will allow him to learn these skills before he needs to rely on them, and give him a longer learning curve to allow him adequate time to do so.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Just my opinion... In your situation it sounds like your son has a full busy life. His "job" right now is going to school. So let him enjoy himself and focus on school and his volunteer work now, and work over the summer.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Looking back now all the work I did in high school was extremely valuable to me in life. At 11 I babysat and mowed lawns. As soon as I was old enough to work washing dishes in restaurants and bagging groceries I did (about age 14-15). I also did other odd jobs as they came up. It kept me busy, I made money, I had work friends, I had work experience. I had to balance activities and homework and college prep so I had no time to get pregnant and and loiter around wasting time. I had to pay for all my gas and clothes and any leisure time activities or extras.The lessons I learned from all my first low-paying jobs, even the ones I hated-stuck with me for life and kept me driven.

To be honest, imo, it's not good for teens to "relax and have fun" more than occasionally. They just get overwhelmed in college when they have to suddenly balance all their outside work and class work.

I'd switch his relaxation to a few hours on the weekends and fill the rest with work!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When my kids did high school and ONE sport they were gone 7 am to 6 pm, plus games, meets, etc. on the weekend, so when is there possibly time to work, and um, actually do homework?
I agree that if a kid isn't doing a sport or other activity/club after school a part time job is a very good idea. But around here grades come first, sports/clubs/music etc. come second, the job thing sort of falls into "if you have extra time to screw around then go earn some money" category.
As far as the gas and car thing? Well, we were lucky enough to have a third car and I was more than happy to pay that additional expense NOT to have to put in an extra 40 to 60 minutes a day MYSELF driving kids back and forth across town.
So it really depends I guess...

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answers from Albany on

Depend on the kid. My kids' primary function as teenagers was to take the hard classes and get huge grades.

So, kid 1 got a job at CVS fall of his junior year. Working maybe 12 hrs a week during school sessions. He handled it well, as expected. He liked it, as expected.

Kid 2 did not work at all in hs. Went away to college, worked the summer at our corner convenience store. Different kid, so with his work load at school, it was about all he could handle.

Kid 3 was born 40 and could probably handle a full time job in addition to her AP/IB schedule, volunteer work, babysitting, and her involvement with groups/clubs at school. She just starting working going into senior year. The store she worked at abruptly closed, she's still undecided whether she wants to get something else.

If they were not focused on academic achievement in hs to get into the best college for them, there would def have been more focus on work.

So, it all depends on the kid.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think working is a great thing for teenagers to do. obviously what and how much they do is dependent on the kid's personality and schedule. a kid heavily involved in sports or taking lots of AP classes may not be able to handle a job, but most can. even those who are busy.
mine were homeschooled so had more time than most, and both had jobs before they were 16. my older son had a little business making beautiful hand-made walking sticks, as well as a handyman business with a slightly older friend, that involved mowing and landscaping but mostly haymaking at local farms. my younger landed a computer job collating mailing lists for a company that set up exchange students with families, and was great at it. both of them were well-regarded by their employers, and both went on to get more traditional retail and restaurant jobs when they could drive.
i don't think that working means a kid's teenage years are ruined. and i think the responsibility and experience of working is great for 'em.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

How are his grades? How many hours would he be able to work and keep up his grades to be able to maintain a good grade point average?

Are there jobs available where you live for him to be able to work the hours needed?

I think working is a great experience, it looks great on college applications too. If you think he can handle it, tell him, he needs to find a job or you will take his truck away, because he needs to now also pay for the car insurance.

I would then put that money in savings and give it back to him when he begins attending college.

When I was 12 I started baby sitting. I was considered the person even the teachers used to watch their children. I watched an infant my freshman and Sophomore year a few afternoons after school, while his mom taught at a College here in town,

Once I turned 16, my mom dropped me off at he mall with a bunch of applications and said,"These places are hiring, call me when you get a job. "Do you have enough lunch money? " !

I worked 17 - 21 hours a week, some nights and then Saturdays or Saturday nights. She told me for all of the money I saved, she would match it towards a car. And she really did!

Our daughter did not work while in high school, because she was taking all honors classes and the AP classes along with getting her High School Fine Arts Diploma and she took rowing classes 5 nights a week.

But she did tutor a bit , and she did babysit. every once in a while and she always did a tremendous amount of volunteering every year.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Depends. If he's in school all day and does sports, when does he have time for a job? What are his grades like? I worked at a movie theater in high school and college, my only extra curricular was drama and my job allowed me to run lines at work when it was slow, and grades came super easy to me in high school, so it was no big deal to work a couple nights a week and all day Saturday.

If he's so busy, it's probably best he only gets summer jobs. Sports and school are pretty much full time jobs themselves. When will he have downtime if he is working?

Is there something he could do for you or friends to earn some extra cash if he needs it? Something like mowing lawns or shoveling snow or something?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My older kids started working year round at 13, during college had multiple jobs. Good students too, doesn't hurt them at all to work.

My third is spectrum, I am letting him wait until he turns 16 next year. My youngest we start working next summer at 14.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Are you giving him money for movies, dates, video games, whatever? I often saved my money from summer jobs and used it carefully during the school yr. If he still has money that's fine. If he's relying on you for spending cash: not fine.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

With my kid's schedule I have a hard time imagining when they would have the time. I worked from 14 on and before that babysat and helped a neighbor with her home business. That was a different time though, I cannot compare my teen years to the rigors of a teenage life in 2014.

Even the seventh grader has an activity almost every day after school, homework, family time and social there isn't much time left.

As for the 15 year old, she is expected to attend meetings and rehearsals most days after school. There are mandatory events on some weekends for Mock Trial, she can't miss for ANYTHING or she will lose her position. School requires hours of homework almost every night. She also has volunteer hours and is working on taking over her friend's babysitting clients as those girls are headed for college soon.

I guess I just don't feel the old school idea that they need a job to learn responsibility applies. The stuff they are involved in is teaching them responsibility and discipline, there will be lots of time to earn a paycheck in the future.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

As soon as legally able.

I'm not exactly the best person to ask this question. When I was 10 I was washing cars. 13 I was mowing lawns. 14 I was babysitting overnight. By 16 I was taking the bus to the grocery to sack groceries 3 days a week, and to McDonald's to work on the weekends. I've been working since I can remember, because I wasn't into sports, hated school (cliques...ick), and wanted a car.

I truly think y'all made a mistake giving him the truck without his putting some of his hard earned money into it. But that's done, so...what now?

Well, I'd make it clear that he needs a job to put money into savings, because when he's old enough to move out you're not paying his bills anymore. I'd also stop giving him cash for extras. He should earn to spend on the junk he likes. The fact is, your job as parents is to teach him how to fly and the give him a little shove out of the nest. But fledglings don't just fly off. They spend a lot of time on the ground learning to use their wings, and the parents spend a lot of time nearby making sure they're not screwing it up and about to get eaten by a housecat.

He needs a job. A couple of afternoons a week will be good for him. Good for you for instilling a work ethic in your young man.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When I was younger, I was working as soon as I was legally able to and I held down 1-3 jobs throughout high school and college because I was the one paying for everything.

Fast forward to our 19yo daughter in her 2nd year of college. We have not required her to work. Her grades have been her job all through high school plus she was in cheer and spent a year as co-captain and 1yr as Varsity captain. Those assignments were a job within themselves. Talk about having to deal with 20 emotional teenagers and a coach making you responsible for them.. NOT easy.

Since she was 13, she has done quite a bit of babysitting. She opted for this on her own for extra money. She has 3 families that pay very well and she has babysat for them exclusively since the age of 14. She typically babysits one night a weekend and brings in $100 cash. She sits more around the holidays for the holiday parties and she is requested because at holiday time when she goes to babysit, she takes a gingerbead house kit for the children to do while parents are gone. They all love this.

She is on my payroll for a small salary monthly for helping me. Basically, she is learning how we run our business and how business works which will come in handy for her degree. It is also helpful in the event she wants to takeover the company after her MBA if she chooses.

So, as far as any required work time.... no, we do not do that. We want her to enjoy her time as a student, focus on grades (she is on the Dean's list with a 4.0) and have fun in college.

Her degree does require an internship which she already has lined up for next summer for 2 months which is in marketing at a National top company.

I say let him be the guide with how much he wants to work. He has it figured out already that work = paycheck! It is a lot easier when you have children who are motivated and driven... Good for you!! If my daughter were a lazy butt just wasting her time, then I would have a completely different view of things.

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answers from Erie on

Our kids started washing dishes and sweeping floors at our restaurant at age 10. This would have been twice a week. Now the teens help with prep work and washing dishes there. We are about to open our own full time restaurant, and they will all come there after school, and spend some time during the summers there, working. I started volunteer type work at age 11 and was making a wage by age 13. My husband's first job was fixing bikes at age 13.

Your son runs errands for the family, volunteers as a on-call employee for the fire department, and spent two months this summer working at a summer camp. He understands the meaning of work. How is he handling the money he makes? Do you think he just needs something more regular in order to understand money management? Don't discount all he is already doing, and make sure he knows that. Maybe if he understood your reasoning behind it, he would be better willing to comply. Our kids were always motivated by the money. We cover basics, but the kids have to earn the rest - for toys, games, junk food, movies with their friends, etc... Our two teens work for their cell phones and spending money. We won't be covering car insurance or gas for them if they decide to drive, but in your case, since he does those errands for you with his sibs he should be compensated a little for it, by expecting him to pay only part of his insurance.

I hope that helps.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm a big proponent of kids having jobs and learning that money comes from work and learning how to manage money. That being said here are my thoughts/ questions:

1. He does have a summer job so he is hopefully learning a work ethic
2. Is he saving all that money and does it last as his spending money all school year?
3. He is learning time management from juggling school work, sports, and picking up younger sibs.
4. Working doesn't need to be clocking in at the grocery store or burger place. It could be he mows a couple of yards a week during growing season or repairs computers maybe babysit. There are many more things he could do depending on his interest and talents. He could referee youth sports younger then him

I see two options:
1. He gets some work that isn't very time consuming
2. You take what you spend on him each month and transfer it into a checking account (yearbooks, sporting fees, clothes, whatever you'd normally spend on him specifically each month). When the money runs out it runs out don't give him more. (I stole this from Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz)

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answers from Oklahoma City on


Just a second thought. When I had a calling in our Young Women's program at church we'd go to the different congregations we were over and talk to the YW leaders. Almost every single leader said their youth programs were nearly nonexistent.


Not because the kids were working and couldn't get off work on Wednesday evenings but because they have too much homework to go to church during the week.

To me, that especially makes my point, that kids today don't have the same stresses we had as kids. I didn't work because I played softball all the time. I played in college so playing softball got me in college. Therefore it was important.

To most of these kids though, they only have school and homework. They got full college scholarships to college based on grades and achievements through school. Having a job would have screwed that all up.

In my opinion kids already have a full time job, it's about 35-40 hours per week and then they bring home their work and spend hours at home doing it, it's called homework.

They spend so much time on their job and if they're active for even more things then they have a full schedule.

Teaching them to manage money and time and other stuff is good but what do you want him focusing on???

Education or making some money and not doing well in school?

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answers from Washington DC on

I started working part time when I was 16, but I did struggle with homework and it was really hard to keep up. Because of that, I feel that when my kids are in high school, it will be their job to go to school and study and be a kid. I agree with your son on this one. Sorry!

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answers from Cleveland on

I think it depends. I worked as soon as I could but only did a spring sport so worked summer, winter and fall and stopped in spring. If he's playing a sport and going to school, does he really have a lot of down time? If he's goofing off a lot and has lots of time then sure, 16 is the age I'd say. But if he only has a few hours on weekends to just chill, I wouldn't expect him to work those hours. I was just reading an article about the enormous amount of homework these days and I don't know any kids can work during the school year from the sound of it.

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answers from Chicago on

My older kids are 15. Almost old enough to have jobs. They want to work so they can make money. Fine, but I also think it is important to have those teen years. When I was 16, I got a job on the weekends. It was actually part of an office occupations "class" with school. We were graded kind of. I think my kids should have some type of summer job next year but during the school yr, especially if they are involved with sports/clubs etc, they should also be able to have some fun. A lot of places don't give an couple hours a day. I know teens that have jobs during the yr and they work 2 hours a day and 4 or 6 on the weekends. And that time is not 8 -12 s they have the rest of the day to enjoy their childhood. It is 1 - 5 or something like that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I started working full time at 14. I am guessing he is at least 16 if he is driving, there is zero reason he should not be working. While most 16-18 year olds I worked with only worked 20-25 hours a week, I knew several others, my self included, who worked 40 hours a week all through High school and I honestly feel I am better for it. I bought my own car ect and I never felt like anyone owed me anything (including time to just be a kid, once you are teen your kid days are over, it is time to start showing you can make it in the "real world"). JMO

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My kids aren't there yet. But my knowledge from neighborhood teens is that most get summer jobs, but during the school year do more informal occasional work like babysitting, shoveling snow, and mowing grass for friends and neighbors.

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answers from Phoenix on

It sounds like he does have a part time job...as a volunteer fire fighter.
The problem we've seen with part time jobs is they want the kids to work way more hours/days then we the parents want them to work. They end up working school nights and holidays too. And if he's involved is sports and fire fighting, he's going to have a tough time getting someone to work around all of that.
What does he want to do for a career? If it's fore fighting, he need to experience and exposure to get hired in such a competitive field. He will also need a degree to advance in the field.
Do you think he just being lazy or that his plate is already full...

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answers from Grand Forks on

Sixteen is usually the age kids start working here. They can work at 15, but need to get a work permit, but at 16 they don't need a permit. At 16 kids can drive, which makes having a part time job easier.



answers from Chicago on

My kids, 14 and 17, do not work during the school year. The 17 year old works during summer and the 14 year old will work next summer. I feel that their "job" is to be a student. With after school sports and activities and home work, my kids do not have time to work. They usually get home 6:00-7:00 pm, eat dinner, do homework till 10:00 or later. They are both at a very academically challenging school and 2-5 hours if home work is typical. Weekends are track meets and school play rehearsals and some needed down time/social time. I worked all through high school and college and while I do think working is a good experience for teens, school activities and good grades are just as important.



answers from Boston on

If he's old enough to drive, he's more than old enough to work. My oldest son got his first job last summer at age 15 and worked this past summer as well. It's seasonal work so he will be applying at a grocery store this week so that he has income during the school year and once he is driving, he'll also work as a hockey referee. My step-daughter is also 16 and has been uncharacteristically lazy about working. My husband made her get in the car about a month ago and drove her around to a bunch of places and made her go in and apply and accept the first place that would give her a job. She worked at a pizza shop for about 2 weeks and bitched and whined and complained about every second of it. She then got a job as a hostess at a restaurant and quit the pizza shop job. She hates this job slightly less but is still indignant that we expect her to work LOL.

My kids have to pay for driver's ed, their license fees, their car insurance, gas and maintenance so if they don't work, they're free to get around via bicycle or foot forever but I'm certainly not paying their car expenses while they sit around having all the time in the world to do whatever they please. My son actually loves working and having money and is looking forward to getting his license and having some independence. SD isn't quite on board with that yet but whatever, I don't really care, this is life and she'll just have to get used to it.

FWIW I baby-sat every day after school when I was 12 & 13 and FT during the summer, then worked two jobs starting in high school and earned enough to pay part of my tuition (private school) as well as buy a car and cover all of my transportation and have money left over for fun. It was great. And no, it didn't cut into my academics or extra-curricular activities either so I don't buy the argument that kids can't work and do well in school, participate in sports and activities, etc. They are capable.

If I were you, I would cut back on what you're covering for car expenses and make him cover some of them himself.



answers from Washington DC on

Somewhere between 14 and 16. We nagged my stepson from about 15 to 17 til he finally got a job. He wailed that we were "ruining his childhood" and DH said, "Boy, you are 17. Your childhood is over." We also discontinued regular allowance and started making them pay for more of their own things. They were not permitted to get a license til they had a PT job and could pay for gas. We expected them to have school as #1 and if working through the school year was not going well (AP classes) then we gave them that time to focus on education, but they had to do something in the summer. I quit a job I had that was weekends and 1 night a week when I had a senior year load of several advanced classes and I felt that offering the kids the same was reasonable, as long as they truly focused on their grades.

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