They say money makes the world go round, but how do you get it? If you’re ready to start on the grind, there are a lot of options for how teens can make money. So let’s dive in!
Though having a job may seem like part of adulthood, there are many ways you can make money when you’re still in school. A lot of these positions can be part-time, which means you’ll still have time to study (sigh).
It may seem intimidating to start applying for jobs and trying to convince adults you don’t know that you have what it takes for them to hire you. Remember, almost everyone feels this way when they start out!
You can approach your guidance counselor, a librarian, or a teacher for help making a resume, which is basically a fancy word for a one-page document that has all of your work, volunteer, and extracurricular experience on it. There are also plenty of online templates for resumes you can check out, including some designed just for teens.
But how can you create a resume when you’ve never had a real job? You can include any second (or third) languages that you speak, times you helped with bake sales or other fundraisers, skills you’ve gained by helping your parents, and other areas where you excel, like being punctual, keeping organized, your artistic skills, and willingness to get along with others.
Safety Tip: Remember to keep the adult(s) in your life informed of where you are working, and never meet up with anyone alone.
You might be wondering if there is special paperwork you need to start working. In the US, a minor getting a job with a paycheck does not always require special permitting. However, in some states the government does require proof-of age documentation to ensure that the employer is complying with child labor laws. This varies depending on the type of work. For instance, whether you are working in an establishment that serves alcohol, or if the job is especially hazardous, like mining (in Alabama, you must be over 18 to work in a mine. Talk about Copper banking!)
In some states, this documentation can be issued by your school. In others, it is issued by the Department of Labor. It may also require your guardian’s signature. A good place to start can be with your school’s guidance counselor, who can help you through this process.
It’s important to know that there are special protections for teens with jobs. In the United States, minors are not allowed to work under the age of 14 (with a few exceptions) and have limited hours they can work when they’re under 16. Federal law also bars anyone under 18 from working in jobs considered dangerous. Many child labor laws in the US were established by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and you can use this tool on the Department of Labor website to see whether the Act covers your job.
Under federal law, workers who are under 20 years old have a lower minimum wage than older workers, but only for the first 90 days of employment. This temporary minimum wage for people under 20 is $4.25 per hour. The minimum wage for adults, and for teens after 90 days of employment, is the same: $7.25 per hour. If the local minimum wage is greater than the federal minimum, you are entitled to the higher amount. You also have a right to discuss how much you are paid with your fellow workers.
You may be wondering about that ubiquitous part of life: taxes. As a teen earning dough, you may have to pay taxes on your income if you make over $12,550 a year at your job. With Copper you can set up direct deposit for your paycheck and easily keep track of your income.
Even without a regularly scheduled job, there are many ways to start making money offline as a teenager.
No matter what, people are always going to need help with childcare, house work, yard work, and other chores in their lives. The key to finding these gigs is getting the word out that you are the person to call to perform them. You can print out simple fliers advertising the jobs you are willing to perform (like lawn mowing) and your email or phone number, and post them on community bulletins in coffee shops and grocery stores. Talk to your classmates about how much they charge for these types of gigs—that way you’ll be charging a rate that is fair to your clients and yourself.
Of course, it’s always best to work smarter, not harder—so get people you know to spread the word for you! You can tell your guardians, family friends, and relatives that you are looking to pick up some work, tell them when you are free, and have them ask around. Remember to thank someone if they hook you up with a gig!
Moving into the 21st century, you can make money online starting as a teen! There are many different ways to do this, from selling clothes, to playing games, and even taking surveys and sharing your opinion. In this section we’ll take a closer look at the many ways you can earn money, sometimes without even leaving your room.
Remember to be safe: never give out information like your school, address, or other such information on these platforms.
When you turn 18 you'll have more options for employment, but you may still want that flexibility with when, where, and how much you want to work. Here's some apps that make it easy to find work when you want it.
If you’re fortunate enough to have parents who can give you extra financial support, there are several ways to work with them to earn extra money. Earning your own money introduces you to new fields of financial literacy, like credit, budgeting, saving, banking, and even investing—basically #adulting. And your parents may be happy to help you learn these skills!
You could set up an arrangement with your parents or guardians for a weekly allowance in exchange for a set list of chores. Copper makes it easy for parents to send allowance money right to your debit card.
Your parents may also be able to help you with saving toward a goal. You could talk about making an arrangement to match the money that you are putting into your account—for instance, for every dollar that you save, your parents “match” with fifty cents or even a dollar. With Copper, your parents can track your progress as you earn and save money, and deposit money directly to your account.
Once you’re earning money, it is literally never too soon to start saving for the future… even if you’re making money for the first time in your life. While you are earning extra scratch, it’s a great idea to set goals for yourself, and think about how much you want to save, how quickly you want to build up your savings, and what it will take to get there. Learn more about how to save money.
Copper makes it easy to set goals and even create multiple savings buckets at once that you can contribute to when you earn money. Consider what you might like that seems achievable, whether it's saving for college, a new guitar, skateboard, game, or trip.
If you get money for holidays and birthdays, congratulations! Even though it may be tempting to buy the latest game, pair of shoes, or concert tickets you’ve got your eye on, remember that these gifts can be a great resource to add to your savings and help you meet your savings goals! It’s a great idea to consider putting half of all gifts into your savings. You can even sell gift cards on CardCash, though you must be 18 to use their site.
Under the federal minimum wage law in the US, workers under 20 years old have a temporary minimum wage of $4.25 per hour. After 90 days of employment the federal minimum wage is the same for everyone: $7.25 per hour. This is higher in some places.
Teen jobs generally pay less than adult jobs, but after the first 90 days of employment, both have the same federal minimum wage: $7.25 per hour. Some jobs pay more than others, see which teen jobs pay the most below.
According to data collected by indeed.com, tutoring, pet sitting, and babysitting are among the highest paying jobs for teens and young people. As some online jobs for teens (like taking surveys) are fairly new, there may be less information available on these jobs and their earnings.
Traditional jobs for teens include babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, working at the family business, restaurant/food service, retail, yard work, and household chores. However, these days a teenager can make money from home doing all sorts of work, as we described in the guide above.
You may have to pay income tax as a teen, if you make over $12,550 a year in earned income. Check out irs.gov for more information if you think this may apply to you.
In many states, if you’re under 16 you will need a work permit to start working. This will require a parent or guardian’s signed permission.
For most work, legally you must be at least 14, though some gigs (like babysitting) are allowed when you’re younger.
Talk to the people you know! If you know someone a grade or two above you who works, you can talk to them, or talk to adults in your life about working for them or doing odd jobs. The worst thing that can happen is having to try again! Above all, have confidence in yourself. You made it this far through the guide, you can do anything!
They certainly can! At Copper we can help you open a bank account at any age. All you need to do is download our app, fill out some personal info, get your parent or guardian to do the same, and hit ‘Submit’. See our ultimate guide on banking for teens to dive even deeper into banking.
You've learned most of what you'll need to know about making money while you're still a teen, but we have some other guides that will help you navigate the world of finance well into adulthood.
Teens who learn how to create a budget and stick to their savings goals will build a valuable skill they can use for the rest of their days.
Your teenage years might feel a little early to invest, but the truth is the earlier you get started, the better off you’ll be. In fact...
In this article, you will learn what a credit score is, how to get a good one, and where to find yours. You’ll also earn a good...