Teen banking

How to earn money as a teen

Teen Using Copper Banking App

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!

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Good jobs for teens

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).

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One type of job you can do when you’re a teen is work in retail. Retail can be moderately paced and a place to gain skills with customer service, handle professional responsibility, and meet people—your lovely coworkers! You also may be able to access an employee discount—did I hear someone say perks?

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Cafes & bakeries

Perhaps you’re an early riser—you might get a job at a bakery or cafe. Those are great options for earning money as a teenager! Front of house roles often pay a combination of hourly wages and tips, plus you’ll get to enjoy delicious coffee and the smell of fresh pastries!

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Restaurants can also be fun, fast-paced workplaces that have good jobs for teenagers. You might find work as a busser, food runner, server, host or dishwasher. You’ll gain skills that will be transferable anywhere, and you may get tips and even get shift meals while you’re there too. 

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Friends and family

Or maybe your family owns a business. Getting involved with the family biz can be a great way to start making money and learn about the company, as well as bond with the fam.

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Important tips for getting a new job

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!

Creating a resume

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.

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Laying down the law

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.

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Knowing your rights 

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.

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Minimum wage

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.

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…And taxes

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.



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How teenagers can earn money without a job

Even without a regularly scheduled job, there are many ways to start making money offline as a teenager.

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Playing to skills you already have, you can tutor kiddos or even your classmates in academics, sports, or music. Having good grades, high standardized test scores, or an impressive athletic record that you can point to will help you get tutoring roles, which can pay well above minimum wage.

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Errands and chores

Or you could do errands and chores for people you already know, like neighbors and family friends—things like grocery shopping, yard work or helping with home improvement projects. If you already have experience with fixing things, gardening, house painting or cleaning, these skills could be helpful in finding new gigs for pay.

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Another classic is babysitting! Sometimes this is as easy as watching tiktok while the parents are at dinner and their tot is asleep. Babysitting is often a relatively well-paying gig, considering that you are looking after the people most precious to their parents. Babysitting gigs typically pay hourly, and you can charge more if you have more than one kid to look after. It's also not uncommon for parents to tip their babysitters. You may also be able to get CPR certified or take a class in childcare, either or both of which may help you earn more money. Combine babysitting fees with tutoring fees for the same child and work two jobs at the same time!

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Selling things

Another good side hustle is selling things you have lying around. If you have clothing or other things in good condition you don’t want (like that random stuff your great aunt gives you for Christmas) you could sell them to a thrift or consignment shop. The better condition, the better value you should be able to get for them.

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Tips for finding babysitting and other gigs

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!

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Making money online as a teen

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.

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Selling clothes online as a teen

A great way to earn some extra cash is selling clothing and other items that you no longer want. You’ll also be diverting these items from going to the landfill—living green while making green! There are many sites that allow third parties (that’s you!) to list and sell their items, and each has slightly different rules and payment structures. 

You can sell clothing and other items on Depop, though you will need help from someone who is over 18 in order to go through their PayPal (PayPal also charges transaction fees). Another option is Poshmark, though you must be 18 to use the site in the US. There's also Vinted, where you can sell clothing, accessories, or (unused) cosmetics. Vinted charges the buyer, not the seller, for shipping and fees, so you keep the entire item price that you listed. You must be 18 to use Vinted. If you’re 18, another option is Facebook Marketplace, where you can list anything from furniture to sneakers. And it wouldn’t be a list of online marketplaces without the granddaddy of them all: eBay. You can sell clothes and pretty much any other item on the site (electronics, furniture, you name it), provided you are 18 or have the permission of the official account holder to use the account. 

Pro Tips: To see what will sell best, you can check fashion blogs, or browse other listings. The better the pictures are in your listing, the more likely you are to make a lot of sales! Be honest in your listings about the condition of the goods, and ship the items freshly cleaned. Be careful who you engage with online, and report inappropriate behavior to the website you’re using. The last word on these sites: don't get distracted by the cool stuff for sale! Remember, you’re there to make money, not spend it.

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Selling arts and crafts online

If you’re a crafty cat with artisanal wares to share, you can get involved with online marketplaces. One of the most well-known is Etsy, where you can run a shop if you are 13-17 with a parent or legal guardian’s help. Amazon has also gotten into the crafts scene with Amazon Handmade. To join, you pay a fee to become a seller, then go through Amazon’s authentication process to verify that the products follow the site’s requirements. You must also have the supervision of a parent or adult over the age of 18.  Once your virtual shop is approved, the monthly fee is waived and you will pay a referral fee per sale. indieCart is another, much smaller site that charges a monthly fee to list your wares. With a site like indieCart, there may be less site traffic, but also less competition for customers. They also allow sellers under 18 who have supervision from a parent or guardian. Zibbet is a new platform that is fee-free if you list 10 items or less on their site. They also permit vendors under 18 who have their guardian’s permission and supervision.

When selling crafts, be sure to track your expenses and time spent making and selling your products, so you know that you’re charging enough to make the juice worth the squeeze. Copper makes it easy to keep track of expenses (and income!) so you always know where your money's at.

Pro Tips: You can always sell your crafts the old-fashioned way, at craft fairs and holiday markets! This hustle could even lead to a partnership with a store that specializes in local arts, if you catch the right person’s eye. As these types of markets are generally run locally, often the best way to get involved is to reach out to the organizers and find out how you can become a vendor.

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Making money from online surveys

In your spare moments, you can participate in paid surveys on sites such as Toluna, Branded Surveys, LifePoints, InboxDollars, Survey Junkie or Swagbucks, where sharing your opinion will earn you some extra loot. Swagbucks, InboxDollars and Branded Surveys are available to users 13 and up, LifePoints is for those 14 and up, and Toluna and Survey Junkie are for those 16 and up.

These sites pay per survey, and most have a “cash out” minimum where you must earn at least a few dollars in order to collect your fees. The longer the survey, the higher the pay (which typically range from $.50-$5.00, sometimes more), though higher-paying surveys tend to be more selective in their participant pool.

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Making money gaming

If you’re a gamer, you could explore streaming on Twitch, where if you gain enough followers you can begin to monetize your gaming even if you’re under 18. You can also play mobile games on Mistplay to rack up rewards like visa and amazon gift cards, though you have to be 18 to participate. Swagbucks (discussed above) also has features where you can play games on their site to earn money. Another site, Gamehag, allows you to play for “soul gems” that you can trade in for gift cards and other rewards, and Drop allows you to download games and pays out rewards when you level up in the games. You must also be 18 to use this app.

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Creating content for cash

Let’s say you’ve got something to share with the world as a content creator. You could start a podcast, create a tiktok account or a youtube channel (to create a channel if you’re under 18, you will need a parent’s permission). All you’ll need is a smartphone and a vision to start creating. For podcasting, you just need a good microphone, editing software (some versions are free) and maybe a friend to ‘cast with.

You can begin to monetize your content if it gets popular enough, and there are a few ways to do this. You could make money through affiliate marketing, meaning you refer your audience to products and get a commission when they purchase them, or by traditional marketing, where you are paid directly by the advertiser to plug their product. 

You could also join Patreon, where people can pledge monthly support to creators, sometimes in exchange for bonus content. The larger your audience, the more money you will be able to make. You’ll need permission from a parent or guardian to be a creator on Patreon if you’re under 18

Remember to be safe: never give out information like your school, address, or other such information on these platforms.

22 Ways to Make Money Online (as a teen) Infographic
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Once you turn 18: Using apps

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.

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Odd jobs and shopping

TaskRabbit, Jobble, and Upwork are errand/freelance apps where you can create profiles to perform odd jobs of many different kinds. Another app called Gigwalk pays users to review whether products are being marketed and displayed in stores the way their brand directors…directed. If you have access to a vehicle, Shipt and Instacart allow you to pick up people’s groceries for them—a much needed timesaver! The pay structures differ slightly, but with each you get paid per order.

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Pet care

If you’re an animal lover, you can use popular pet care websites like Wag! and Rover. With these sites you can pet-sit, do drop-in visits, or take dogs out for walks. Care.com takes a broader approach—you can use the site to find tutoring, childcare, senior care, pet care, garden care or more.

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Food delivery

Depending on your access to a bike or vehicle, you can also deliver food from restaurants, either as an employee or through apps like DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub and Postmates (age requirements may be higher than 18 in some areas). Each has a different payment structure, though most of the delivery apps use a combination of mileage and time worked to pay out, plus tips. For delivering humans (via rideshare apps) you generally have to be in your mid-twenties.

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Even more ways to earn money as a teen

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.

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How to save money as a teenager

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.

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Gifts and more

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.

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Wrapping up: Teen Work FAQ’s 

What is the minimum wage for teenagers?

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.

How much do teen jobs pay?

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.

What teenager job pays the most?

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. 

What are the best jobs for a teenager?

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. 

Do teenagers have to pay income tax?

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. 

Does a teenager need their parents’ permission to get a job?

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.

How old do you have to be to work in the United States?

For most work, legally you must be at least 14, though some gigs (like babysitting) are allowed when you’re younger. 

How do you get a job when you don’t have experience?

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!

Can teenagers open a bank account?

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.

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