The Best Jobs for High-Schoolers and Teenagers (and How To Find Them)

Danika McClure
A high school student in a red uniform working at a convenience store
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Finding a job as a teenager can be a daunting task. Not only do first time job seekers have to find positions with employers who are willing to hire with little experience, but they also have to search for positions that are flexible with their scheduling, pay well, and offer a worthwhile experience.

Below, we cover some of the best positions that teenagers can have for their initial job.

Best First Jobs for Teenagers and High School Students

When applying for your first jobs, filling out a resume and interviewing for jobs can be challenging, especially if you’re just starting your job search as a teenager or young adult. There are a number of positions available for teenagers, high school students, and young adults who lack work experience.

Search options can be limited depending on your age, and the laws of state you live in. It’s also important to keep in mind location, travel, your schedule, and the experience you want to have at work. The following lists can be used to begin your search, or to help you optimize your first resume and help you think critically about your own skills and interests that may help you successfully apply for your first job.

Food Service Industry Positions

There are a number of food service industry positions that are willing to hire and train people with little-to-no work experience. If you are able to do basic math, prioritize, multitask, and interact well with customers, the food service industry will be able to bolster your resume for any future industries that might require those skills–for which there are a number. If you’re browsing the newspaper and the internet for available food service positions, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Waitress/Waiter
  • Dishwasher
  • Busser
  • Hostess/Host/Front of House
  • Caterer
  • Barista
  • Grocery Store Clerk/Stocker
  • Cook
  • Cashier
  • Food Prepper
  • Food Service Team Member
  • Delivery driver

Retail Industry Positions

Retail positions are also quick to hire employees that might not have a strong workground. Retail gives people the opportunity to interact with customers, stock merchandise, learn about new products, dabble in sales, and gain experience with handling money as well as returns and exchanges. Often, these companies promote from within, meaning that there is the potential for numerous opportunities moving forward, should you choose to remain at the company you work for.

As Allison Zeller writes for the National Retail Federation, “Today’s working teenager may be a retail company’s future store leader, product designer, data analyst or even CEO.” In fact, she continues, “Retail companies are continuing to employ more teenagers each year post-recession. The retail industry relies on teenagers to fill entry-level jobs, just as teenagers rely on retail for much-needed cash and real-world skills training. Since 2008, retailers have employed at least 55 percent of the country’s working teenagers.”

If you’re looking to find a job that provides you with business training and a strong customer service background, there are entry level store associate positions in retail establishments all over the country. While online is always a great search option, you might try your hand visiting local businesses, malls, department stores, and others to see if these establishments are looking for hired help.

Recreation and Entertainment

Recreation and entertainment is a huge part of American culture, and naturally there are a large variety of entry level positions that teenagers and those looking for their first job might be eligible to participate in. These openings typically require some sort of athletic skill, cleaning skills, the ability to prioritize tasks and multitask, and customer service. You might be able to find entry level positions in some of the following:

  • Public Pools/Athletic Centers
  • Movie Theaters
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Game Rooms
  • Ice Skating Rinks
  • Golf Resorts
  • Bookstores

Child/At Home Care

Child and at home care can also provide a boost to your resume if you’re looking to expand your people skills, your skills in education, and teamwork. If you have an interest in helping others, you might try looking for positions such as a:

  • Babysitter
  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Tutor
  • Camp Counselor
  • Library Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Dog Sitter/Walker
  • Gardener

Best Part-Time Jobs for High School Students

The best jobs will depend on your future goals, what you hope to achieve post-graduation, and your particular circumstances. When considering accepting your first job, it’s important not only that you keep state laws for labor in mind, but it’s also important that you consider any schedule restraints you may have, such as homework, sports, volunteer positions, and extracurriculars you may be a part of.

While having spending money and developing your career experience is important, it’s also important to make sure you’re able to successfully graduate from high school, and engage in activities that look good on collegiate resumes if you’re considering continuing your education.

Look for positions that offer flexibility to student workers and have a number of employees that might be able to take over should you have any conflicts with school. If it is unclear in the job description, be sure to ask when you interview for those positions. After all, if you happen to find a job in office administration that requires you be at your desk during certain school or extracurricular hours, it’s not going to be an ideal fit.

Typically, if you’re working part-time and balancing extracurriculars, the most ideal positions are those in retail, food service, and positions where you can make and manage your own schedule, such as babysitting, dog walking, or other household services. Many of these positions offer short shifts on nights and weekends that make them ideal for high school students and those with limited free time.

Best Summer Jobs for High School Students

Summertime opens a whole slew of job opportunities for high school students. If part-time work during the school year is something that is slightly out of reach timewise, or even if you just want to have new resume building experiences without having to juggle multiple parts of your life around, a number of companies hire teens and those without prior work experience an opportunity to pick up seasonal work during the summer months.

Summer jobs also have a number of educational and career benefits.

“Those who work [during the summer] not only earn money and gain experience, but also build confidence,” Chelsea Brennan, a contributor for Forbes writes. “It also creates an opportunity to learn about money. As teens naturally treat money earned differently than money given.”

If you’re interested in traveling and seeing new things, finding positions at summer camps, the national parks, or tourist destinations may be a good option. There are also a number of programs that exist that allow high school students to travel abroad in order to gain work experience, many of which are dependent on your age and desires.

Retail and food service jobs also tend to pick up steam in the summer months, so finding positions shortly after the school season lets up may be helpful in your job search.

The Best Paying Jobs for High-Schoolers and Teenagers

Most first time positions for those without job experience tend to be in the minimum wage, which varies state-by-state, and also by your age and the industry that you work in. In general terms, those who work in service based industries have the potential to make a larger sum of money, even if their base hourly pay might be lower, just due to the amount of money they can earn in tips.

Other jobs, such as those in construction and manual labor also have the potential to make more per hour, but those jobs are typically in more strenuous conditions and may have stricter age or physical requirements.

For others though, it may be worth considering your long-term goals. If you’re hoping to eventually gain management experience or move up in a company, it may be worth pursuing a position that pays lower wages at first, in order to gain skills that will eventually lead to promotions, advanced job experience, and eventually higher pay.

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