1. Counter Attendant: Cafeteria, Food Concessions, and Coffee Shops
Job Description: These jobs require students to serve food and take payments from behind a counter. Some basic food preparation, such as sandwich making or ice cream scooping, may also be required. Although work during early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays is common, most of these positions allow students to work flexible schedules.
Age Requirements: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a large portion of food and beverage serving and related workers were between the ages of 16 and 19 years old in 2014. Workers who are expected to serve alcoholic beverages must be 18 years old or older, depending on their state laws.
Transferable Skills: This job may benefit students who aspire to work in management roles. Students will gain skills in customer service, food safety, and food service procedures. The customer service experience would also help them in any career path that requires good communication skills, such as business, marketing or real estate.
Experience Needed: Previous experience is generally not needed for these positions. On-the-job training is expected.
2. Food Preparation WorkerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Food preparation workers cut, peel, and wash foods, as well as set up workstations. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, or holidays. About one in two worked part-time in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Age Requirements: High school students seeking work as food preparation workers typically need to be at least 16 years old.
Transferable Skills: A job as a food preparation worker may prepare students for future careers in culinary arts or hospitality management. Additionally, their customer service skills will be beneficial in any role that requires good interpersonal communication. Students will also develop strong organizational skills in this role.
Experience Needed: No previous work experience is needed.
3. Restaurant Host and HostessSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Hosts and hostesses greet guests and coordinate seating and reservations at restaurants. Often on their feet for extended periods of time, hosts and hostesses must remain patient and accommodating, even when dealing with difficult customers.
Age Requirements: High school students typically need to be at least 16 years old for jobs as hosts and hostesses.
Transferable Skills: Students working as hosts and hostesses will gain customer service, interpersonal, multitasking, and coordination skills. These skills are beneficial to a future career in hospitality or restaurant management.
Experience Needed: Many of these positions require at least a year of experience in a customer service or serving position. However, it is possible to find positions that do not require previous experience.
4. Retail SalespersonSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Retail salespeople help customers find the products they are looking for, ring up purchases, and answer questions about merchandise.
Age Requirements: Retail salespeople must be at least 16 years old. Sales associates have a better chance at advancing to a managerial position with a bachelor's degree.
Transferable Skills: High school students who work as retail salespeople will learn good customer service skills and effective marketing skills. This job would be beneficial for students who wish to become retail managers or work in merchandising, marketing, or as purchasing agents for a retail company.
Experience Needed: No formal education or work experience is required, but major retailers may prefer students who already have prior customer service experience.
5. ServerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Servers take customers' orders and prepare checks. Depending on the restaurant, shifts during late evenings, weekends, and holidays may be required.
Age Requirements: Age requirements for servers may vary depending on their state laws, but students are expected to be at least 16 years old.
Transferable Skills: This job may lead students to a career in hospitality or food and beverage management. High school students in this job will learn skills in customer service, food and alcohol safety, and serving regulations.
Experience Needed: Some restaurants do not require any formal training or work experience for server positions. Restaurants will provide on-the-job training for high school students with no prior experience.
6. Usher, Lobby Attendant, and Ticket TakerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers collect tickets and assist patrons to their seats. Occasionally, these jobs require handling customer complaints related to seating and ticketing.
Age Requirements: To work as ushers, lobby attendants, or ticket takers, high school students must be at least 16 years old, depending on their state's minimum age requirement.
Transferable Skills: Students will learn skills on the job such as good customer service, active listening, and conflict resolution. This job would help students who wish to work their way up at entertainment or sports events, event facilities, and public safety and security.
Experience Needed: No prior experience needed.
7. CashierSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Cashiers handle customer payments, refunds, and returns. They must think quickly on their feet to answer customer questions and resolve complaints.
Age Requirements: Some cashier positions are available to 16-year-olds, although others may be restricted to those with a high school diploma.
Transferable Skills: Jobs as cashiers help give students the experience needed to advance in higher positions in retail, such as sales associates, store managers, and customer service representatives. They will gain valuable skills in customer service, financial responsibility, and dexterity as they must be able to operate registers and scan purchases.
Experience Needed: On-the-job training provided.
8. Motion Picture Projectionist
Job Description: This role requires operating audio-visual equipment to play films at movie theaters and conducting minor equipment repairs.
Age Requirements: 49% of those employed in this position do not have a high school diploma. Some companies may hire employers as young as 15 for these positions.
Transferable Skills: Students interested in film and entertainment will benefit from being exposed to a wide variety of movies in this position. Experience with projection equipment can also benefit those hoping to go into careers related to mechanics.
Experience Needed: Prior projection booth experience is a plus but not required.
1. LifeguardSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Lifeguards learn how to work with the public to assist and care for people. They also gain other practical skills such as CPR and first aid. In some settings, lifeguards may also have the opportunity to teach swim lessons.
Age Requirements: High schoolers who are 15 and older are eligible for an American Red Cross lifeguard certification. Younger students can begin lifeguarding courses at age 14, as long as they will be 15 by the last day of class.
Transferable Skills: Skills high school students acquire in this role could be useful for other customer-service or helping roles requiring strong problem-solving abilities, such as positions in healthcare or law enforcement.
Experience Needed: Some prior experience working with the public and strong swimming skills are useful for gaining employment as a lifeguard.
2. House CleanerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: House cleaners are responsible for keeping homes clean, from tidying messes to scrubbing appliances. Many high schoolers are able to clean multiple homes a week over summer break.
Age Requirements: Most cleaning companies require house cleaners to be at least 16 years old.
Transferable Skills: Teens will develop an eye for detail and a conscientious work ethic as house cleaners. The skills acquired in this role will also be beneficial for other public-facing roles in hospitality, such as catering, hotel customer service and restaurant roles.
Experience Needed: References who can speak to a teen's reliability, integrity, and/or cleaning skills will be helpful in landing a job as a house cleaner.
3. BakerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Bakers follow recipes to make baked-goods such as breads, cakes and pastries. Mathematical ability is often required for these roles. Commercial bakers work in manufacturing facilities to produce large amounts of baked goods quickly and economically. Retail bakers produce baked goods on a smaller scale and have more contact with customers.
Age Requirements: The minimum age to be a baker is typically 16.
Transferable Skills: Bakers acquire skills in food safety, food science, and cooking. Bakers also develop physical strength and stamina by working long hours on their feet and lifting and packaging baked goods. Many bakers progress into other careers in food preparation, such catering or cooking. Some bakers may even work their way up to head chef roles.
Experience Needed: Prior experience with cooking or baking, in a commercial or private setting, is often required for this role.
4. Short-Order CookSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Short-order cooks are responsible for a range of tasks including cleaning tables and food preparation equipment, cooking and frying foods, and placing food on plates before serving them to customers.
Age Requirements: Age requirements for this position range from 16 to 18, depending on the restaurant.
Transferable Skills: Short-order cooks acquire strong teamwork and customer-service skills, as they need to communicate with the larger kitchen team. They also gain experience meeting deadlines, as part of their role is to ensure all food is served together and on time. Teamwork skills gained in this role are useful for other careers involving collaborative work, such as nursing and construction.
Experience Needed: Some experience working with the public is typically required for this position, but on-the-job training is also provided.
5. Amusement and Recreation Attendant
Job Description: Amusement and recreation attendants are responsible for selling tickets, serving concessions, helping patrons find attractions, and recording information about sales, attendance, and equipment repairs.
Age Requirements: The minimum age to operate rides is typically 22, but many parks will hire teens 14 and above for roles requiring less responsibility.
Transferable Skills: Amusement and recreation attendants will learn customer service skills and safety procedures. They will also gain an understanding of all the components required to manage a large business. These skills will be useful for students interested in the business or entertainment industries.
Experience Needed: Prior experience is not required for this position.
6. Landscaping and Groundskeeping WorkerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Landscaping and groundskeeping workers maintain the grounds of a property by watering, trimming, and fertilizing plants and grass. These positions can also involve installing and maintaining sprinklers.
Age Requirements: Employees must typically be 14 or 15 to work in landscaping and groundskeeping. However, teens working in these positions are subject to specific limitations, such as not being allowed to drive motor vehicles.
Transferable Skills: Teens in these jobs will learn skills useful for work as a general contractor or gardener. As this work can be particularly difficult in the summer heat, students will also develop resilience and determination.
Experience Needed: No experience is needed for this role.
7. TelemarketerSee Related Jobs >>
Job Description: Telemarketers are sales representatives who persuade potential customers to buy goods and services over the phone. They may also follow up on initial sales or research contact information for potential customers.
Age Requirements: Companies typically require that employees are aged 16 or older.
Transferable Skills: This role requires strong sales skills, and teens will learn to interact with a wide variety of customers. Those interested in future customer service or sales positions may be a good fit for a summer job as a telemarketer.
Experience Needed: Prior customer service experience is beneficial but not required.
Job Description: Dishwashers work in commercial kitchens to clean dishes, utensils, and equipment.
Age Requirements: Dishwashers must be age 16 or 17 depending on state and restaurant regulations.
Transferable Skills: This job requires diligence and attention to detail. Dishwashing can often be the first step in a food service career.
Experience Needed: No experience is needed for this position.
More information about state regulations for employing minors can be found at state labor office websites. Additionally, state restrictions on the maximum number of hours minors are permitted to work can be found here. Labor laws vary when applied to minors working in agriculture. Age requirements, weekly hour restrictions, and required certifications can be found here.
Minimum Age Requirements at Popular Companies
While each state has its own minimum age restrictions for employment, individual companies are also able to establish age restrictions. Below is a chart with the minimum age required to work at popular American retail companies, as well as example positions. All positions listed below are open to minors under 18 years of age.
|Min. Age||Company||Jobs available|
|15||Amazon||While Amazon does hire minors, employees under 18 years of age are restricted from performing hazardous work.|
|15||McDonald's||Roles include working as a cashier, host, kitchen staff, drive-thru attendant, maintenance personnel, or delivery driver.|
|16||Albertsons||The only position available to minors aged 16 is courtesy clerk. Courtesy clerks assist with bagging groceries and helping customers around the store.|
|16||Safeway||Teens may work as a courtesy clerk, which includes bagging groceries, greeting customers, and sanitation. Positions such as pharmacy clerk or delivery driver have higher minimum ages.|
|16||Starbucks||Starbucks hires minors starting at age 16 to work as baristas.|
|16||Subway||Minors are able to work at Subway stores as sandwich artists.|
|16||Target||Individuals must be at least 16 to apply for a Target store job, and 18 to work in a Target Distribution Center. Available store positions include cashier, guest service desk personnel, cart attendant, and food service team member.|
|16||Trader Joe's||Minors aged 16 or older are able to join the Trader Joe’s team as food demonstrators, sign artists, and cashiers.|
|16||Walgreens||Employees help maintain Walgreens’ strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. While Walgreens does hire starting at 16, leadership roles and pharmacy positions are restricted to individuals 18 and older.|
|16||Walmart||While the minimum age of hire is 16, certain positions require a minimum age of 18. Positions include cart attendant, stocker, cashier, and sales associate.|
|16||Wendy's||Roles for minor employees include working the drive-thru, helping in the kitchen, and taking customer orders.|
|17||CVS||CVS hires employees starting at age 17 to work in their physical locations. Employees help stock shelves, answer questions, and help customers check out.|
What is a work permit for a minor?
Work permits are certificates that protect employers from prosecution when hiring workers under 18 years of age. Possession of a work permit also means that employers must comply with minimum age requirements. For this reason, it’s important for employers to receive the appropriate work permits from their workers.
What is an age certification?
As seen above, different states and different companies all have restrictions on what jobs minors of certain ages can perform. For this reason, some states will require employers to obtain proof-of-age certifications from their minor employees.
Further information regarding work permits can be found here.
What kind of jobs require a minor work permit? Do I need a work permit?
The United States federal government does not require minors to possess work permits or age certificates for employment. However, many states have their own laws regarding these documents, and whether or not a minor is required to submit a work permit or age certification depends on the child labor laws of the state they reside in. In some states, working in the entertainment industry as an actor or actress or doing agricultural work does not require a permit.
A good resource for students to reach out to regarding their state’s labor laws is their school counselor.
Where can I find my state’s work permit?
Does working as a minor mean that I will be paid minimum wage?
Underage minors in the US are paid minimum wage for the first 90 consecutive calendar days of their employment. More information on minimum wage laws by state can be accessed here, and federal minimum wage laws can be found here.
What happens if I am unable to obtain a work permit?
Underage workers without a work permit in states that require permits are liabilities to their employers.
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