Benefits of a Teenager Getting a Job

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 10, 2023
4 min read

As teenagers get older and start to take on more responsibility, many want to get a job to start earning their own money. You may be thrilled since teenagers can be expensive. If your teenager is driving, costs for a car, insurance, and gas can add up quickly. While many teenagers work at some point during high school, you may also be wondering if it's a good idea for your teenager to work. 

There are definite benefits to teens holding down a job, including: 

Earning money. This is usually the most obvious benefit, especially from your teen's perspective. Having their own money to spend offers teenagers a tangible reward for their effort. From earning to spending to saving, they'll learn important lessons in money management. They will also feel more independent and empowered. Working part-time is a great way for your child to transition into making their own money and learning to manage it effectively. 

Learning important skills. High school students who work learn good time-management skills and organization. They learn important communication skills and how to work on a team. They develop a work history and can take those skills with them to the adult working world.

Building character. Working teaching kids responsibility and accountability. They can also learn to take initiative, function independently, and keep commitments.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets standards about how many hours minors can work, how much they get paid, and safety standards. Children under 18 are not allowed to do hazardous work such as excavating and operating heavy equipment. The number of hours they are allowed to work depends on their age, with older teens being allowed more hours than younger teens. 

There are exceptions to the rules for particular circumstances, such as agricultural work and children working for their parents. Each state also has its own laws regarding child labor. If the state law is different from the federal law, then whichever guideline is more protective of the child applies. 

Within those guidelines, there are lots of options for teens looking to work. Some of the best part-time jobs for teens include:

  • Dog walker
  • Dishwasher
  • Server
  • Camp Counselor
  • Cashier
  • Sales Associate
  • Tutor
  • Landscaper
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Barista

One of the biggest disadvantages to having a job for teens is that work and after-school activities may conflict. If your teenager is involved in sports or a lot of other extra-curricular activities, they may not be able to keep up with them if they start a job. If they are taking a heavy load of classes, work may interfere with homework and school projects. 

Researchers have not been able to determine a single, clear-cut answer as to whether working is good for teenagers. It depends on several different factors. One large study that followed teenagers who worked classified them into four groups. The "most invested" group worked an average of 22 out of the 24 months they were followed and worked over 20 hours weekly. The "steady" group worked 22 out of 24 months but for less than 20 hours weekly. The "sporadic" group worked more than 20 hours but for only 10 to 12 months out of 24. The "occasional" group worked less than 20 hours weekly for 10 to 12 months out of 24.

The steady and occasional groups were more likely to attend a four-year college and graduate quickly. The most invested group was more likely to attend a community college or vocational school. They moved more quickly into jobs that they considered their careers. The sporadic group was more likely to be unemployed and out of school during the years immediately following high school. 

If you decide that working is a good fit for your teen, you should make sure your child's workplace is safe. Check with your state's labor laws so you're aware if your child's employer is abiding by them. You should also monitor how much your child works to make sure that working is in line with their goals. If your child is planning to attend a four-year college, you may want to limit their working hours to under 20. 

It's also a good idea to steer them away from high-stress jobs with little learning value. Additionally, you may want to discourage work that doesn't leave room for them to participate in valuable extra-curricular activities. No one job is good for all teenagers. But a good, safe job that fits well with your teenager's schedule can teach them responsibility as well as giving them some new freedom.