How to Make Money as a Teenager (8 Legit Ways)
Your teens are an exciting phase of life, a time filled with growth, new experiences, and perhaps a newfound desire for financial independence.
Whether you’re saving for a special purchase, are tired of asking your parents for cash, or simply want to gain financial literacy, our curated list below will give you a head-start in finding the perfect way for you to make money as a teenager.
8 Ways to Make Money as a Teenager
Finding ways to make money as a teenager can be tough. Due to labor laws, there are various restrictions around age when it comes to most positions. However, there are several opportunities, both in-person and online, that teens can take advantage of.
If you prefer more hands-on work, there are several in-person opportunities to consider.
1. Be a Lifeguard ($17 per hour)
To register for the American Red Cross lifeguard training, students must be at least 15 years old. For other lifeguarding courses, you’ll need parental permission as well if under 18.Once you’ve completed training, you can secure a role at a local gym, community center, beach, or waterpark. Lifeguards in the United States make, on average, $17 per hour.
2. Sign Up to Be a Camp Counselor ($12.32+ per hour)
Typically, camps hire counselors as young as 15 years old. As a camp counselor, you’ll help organize programming and activities for campers, monitor the environment to ensure it stays safe, and keep children engaged while at camp. The downside to becoming a camp counselor is that most camps run during the summertime, when school isn’t in session. During other times of year, you may need to find another role. During the summer, you can expect to make around minimum wage in your state.
3. Work at a Local Grocery Store ($14.39 per hour)
While most stores like Target, Walmart, and Trader Joe’s require you to be age 16 before you’re allowed to work in-store, Publix hires cashiers as young as 14-years-old. You may find that some smaller, local grocery stores hire this young as well, so don’t be afraid to ask around. As a cashier, you can expect to make around minimum wage, or slightly above it, depending on the store and your state.
4. Become an Umpire or Referee ($18+ per hour)
If you’re particularly knowledgeable on a specific sport, consider becoming an umpire, referee, or other official. Search for training clinics near you, enroll in the training, then look for local job opportunities online. Youth sports leagues are always in search of officials to work games. According to ZipRecruiter, you’ll earn around $18 per hour as a referee or up to $26 per hour as an umpire.
5. Babysit Children Nearby ($21.19 per hour)
Babysitting is a classic recommendation, but we have to mention it. With an average pay of $21.19 per hour, it’s a profitable role to pick up as a teen. To find clients, look on local Facebook Groups and community platforms like Nextdoor.
Growing up in today’s digital world provides you with a zillion opportunities to leverage your skills right from the comfort of your bed.
6. Start an Etsy Shop (Earnings Vary)
Etsy allows minors over 13 to run their own shops, as long as a parent’s information is listed on the account, including their banking information. If you have a parent willing to open the shop with you, you can sell a variety of items — from digital downloads to handcrafted creations. Depending on what you sell and how much time you invest into your shop, you could make anywhere from a few bucks to a few thousand dollars per month. To get started, consider learning from Etsy experts on social media. Consuming their content is completely free, allowing you to explore the side hustle before spending time setting up your shop.
7. Freelance Services like Marketing and Writing ($15+ per hour)
If you have a particular skill or interest — like marketing, writing, or design — consider offering your services as a freelancer. Freelancers are independent workers, meaning they offer specific services to clients, one-on-one. While freelance websites like Pangea require you to be at least 18 years old, Fiverr allows you to post listings for your services even if you’re under 18, as long as a parent owns the account. That said, Pangea’s roles pay a minimum of $15 per hour, while Fiverr may leave you competing for low-paid work.
8. Take Surveys ($3.00+ per hour)
Survey platforms like Swagbucks allow participants as young as 13 years old to participate in paid surveys. For signing up, you’ll receive a $10 bonus — a nice way to start your side hustle. Once you’ve signed up, Swagbucks will show you a curated list of paid survey opportunities. Simply complete the surveys, and your compensation will load into your account.
Watch Out for Scams
While unfortunate, scams are common, but with the right knowledge, you can easily avoid them. Here are a few red flags to look out for:
- Guaranteed Earnings: Most roles can’t guarantee pay, unless it’s an hourly position with set working hours. For example, sites that promote affiliate marketing or freelancing with guaranteed earnings are likely scams.
- Make Money Fast: In most cases, you’ll need to spend a bit of time to receive your earnings — for example, working a 3-hour shift at the grocery store or walking a neighbor’s dog. Anything that promises to make you money quickly could be a scam.
- Multi-Level Marketing: Multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) are known for hiding the true cost of participation to those that sign up. In fact, 99% of individuals that participate in MLMs lose money. Avoid MLMs at all costs.
- Too Good to Be True: If the opportunity appears too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut, and don't sign up if you’re sensing that something is off.
Frequently Asked Questions?
What are the Benefits of Earning Money as a Teenager?
While it’s common, and normal, for teens to depend on parents for money, making your own money provides a new level of freedom. You’re able to spend the funds however you’d like, without having to ask for a dime from the ‘rents. Working at a young age also allows you to try out fields you may be interested in. You may find that you like one type of work more than another, or don’t enjoy a task you previously thought you would. As you transition into post-high school life, head to college, or enter the workforce, understanding what you want out of a future career is incredibly valuable.
Why Aren’t Teenagers Allowed to Work Most Jobs?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prevents unfair and unsafe working conditions for minors, setting the minimum age for employment at 14 for non-agricultural jobs and restricting the number of hours teens under 16 can work. It also prohibits youth under the age of 18 from working in hazardous conditions. While this law is crucial to protect America’s youth from potential exploitation, it limits the roles hardworking teens can apply for. That said, there are opportunities available to make money as a teen if you look enough.
How Can I Make Money Fast as a Teen?
The fastest way to make money as a teen would be to sell items you own, bring items to a recycling center, or babysit a neighbor’s child. Each of these would allow you to receive your earnings fairly quickly.