The U.S. Legal Age to Work and Where to Find Jobs as a Young Teenager

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k

Perhaps you’re a teenager looking for some extra spending money or trying to save up for college. Maybe you’re a parent who believes it’s time for your child to start earning money and learning about work ethic and responsibility. Either way, you may be wondering—how old do you have to be to get a job? And how do you find jobs as a minor?

Read on to find out the legal age requirements for working and the best place to look for a part-time gig as a teenager.

Laws Concerning Age Restrictions

How old do you have to be to work? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age of employment for non-agricultural work at 14 and limits the number of hours minors can work under the age of 16. Specific laws concerning child labor laws and whether you need an employment certificate vary from state to state

However, according to the Department of Labor, there are some types of work minors may perform at any age, such as:

• delivering newspapers

• performing in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions

• working in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs)

• and babysitting or performing minor chores around a private home

Minors may not work in any job considered hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

Hourly Restrictions

Specific federal hourly restrictions on when and how much work minors may perform are outlined as follows:

14- and 15-year olds

• No shifts during school hours

• Limited to three hours per school day and 18 hours per school week / eight hours per nonschool day and 40 hours per nonschool week

• May work only between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm during the school year (Labor Day through May 31st) and between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. during the summer (June 1st through Labor Day)


• No hourly restrictions

Can I get a job at 14 or 15?

The short answer is yes, you can certainly get a job at 14 or 15. In most cases, you can expect to receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. You should also know that employers may pay employees under the age of 20 youth minimum wage of $4.25 for the first 90 days are they are employed.

Can you get a job at 13?

There are many informal jobs you can hold under the age of 14 (see the guidelines above). Positions such as babysitting or working for a parent can be good practice for a more established role in the future—plus, you’ll gain references that can help you land a formal job.

It is also a good idea to look into unpaid or volunteer work you can perform as a 13-year old. Again, this will give you experience for a paid job in the future and help you learn important skills and values, and you’ll find contacts who may be helpful in finding or referring you for work when you’re a little older.

Companies that hire teens

Some national chain retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses frequently hire teenagers to perform work. Keep in mind that, as per FLSA, these jobs must not be considered hazardous. Examples of hazardous jobs include but are not limited to:

• excavation

• manufacturing explosives

• mining

• operating many types of power-driven equipment

Regulations vary according to your state. The DOL website also states: “Certain industries allow minors under age 18 to perform certain tasks at worksites whose primary work activity is dangerous, but these tasks are very specific and the state and federal government closely monitor compliance.”

These laws may limit the type of work minors may perform at these companies, so even if a business is open to hiring teenagers, you may not be able to perform certain types of work there.

What companies hire at age 14, 15, and 16? 

These national businesses often have positions available for teenagers. Note that specific roles and availability vary according to your location and state.

AMC Entertainment
Boston Market
Burger King
Dollar General
Dollar Tree
Family Dollar
Foot Locker
Forever 21
J.C. Penney
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Old Navy
Pizza Hut
Steak n’ Shake
The Home Depot
Toys R Us

Job Search Websites for Teens

These job search websites provide information, tools, and listings for teenagers looking for work. 

1. Groove Jobs

Groove Jobs helps teens find part-time, hourly, seasonal, or student jobs. You can apply directly through the site, but you will need to register in order to do so. You can also use the resume builder to create your resume.

2. My First Paycheck

Find jobs by age (14, 15, 16, or college age) or industry, including movie theater, grocery, retail, babysitting, or restaurant jobs. The site also has resources and advice for young job seekers.

3. Teens 4 Hire

Register for free and search listings geared toward workers between the ages of 14-19. Once you create a profile, you can share it with a prospective employer. Job categories include health services, banking, law and security, and skilled trades. You’ll also find useful information about labor laws and advice for teen job candidates.

Where to find jobs when you’re under 16: Other places to look

In addition to job search websites, you should network among parents of friends, friends of your parents, teachers, and other adults in your community. Other places to look include:

• Local nonprofits, such as churches, synagogues, and community centers

• Neighbors for jobs like babysitting, dog walking, yard work, and more

• Newspaper listings for seasonal work

• Classified flyers and flyers at coffees shops, libraries, and other high-traffic spots

• Local small businesses

• Parks, beaches, and pool clubs

More Resources to Help You in Your Job Search

Whether you’re looking for a part-time or hourly gig as a high-school or college student, an entry-level job as a new graduate, or your next great role as a seasoned worker, your application materials matter. Check out our resume and cover letter guides to make sure yours stand out from the pack.

Article Sources

About the Career Expert:

 Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.