The process of job hunting can be incredibly daunting for those trying to find their first role. A rite of passage for millions of teenagers across the US and globally, it opens up a world of opportunities.
A great way to pick up experience, invaluable skills and earn money, your first job is a milestone. But before you apply for your first role, it’s important to know what the working age is in different areas, where to look for age-appropriate jobs and what are good first jobs for those who are just starting out.
Firstly, let’s take a look at how old you need to be to get your first job.
The U.S Department of Labor created the Fair Labor Standards Act (also known as the FLSA) which sets hours, the wage and the safety requirements for those aged under 18. Covered by the statute, the rules vary depending upon the specific job and the age of the minor.
However, the FLSA has set a general rule that sets a minimum age of 14 for employment. Under the act, those aged under 16 will be limited to the number of hours they work.
It’s important to know that the FLSA will generally prohibit minors working within working environments which are considered dangerous by the Secretary of Labor. Examples of which are:
- Working within excavation
- Manufacturing explosives and other hazardous materials.
- Operating power-driven equipment
However, certain industries will allow minors to perform specific tasks at dangerous worksites – these will vary by state and these will be monitored closely by the government.
In agriculture, certain jobs will vary by age and the states in which they are offered. There is an exemption set by parents that allow minors of any age to be employed by them at any time within their own premises.
However, for those looking to work within agriculture on another property, there are rules enacted by the U.S Congress that limits the age to 18 – when heavy and dangerous equipment is used.
Washington, for example, allows those aged 12 and older to work within the farming industry. Permitting them to harvest berries and other fruits/vegetables when they aren’t in school, it’s their first insight into the world of agriculture.
How Much Will You Earn?
Of course, this will vary by where you work. But in general, minors who work within the agricultural industry will earn minimum wage – $7.25 per hour.
As aforementioned, the FLSA has set a minimum age of 14 for the majority of non-agricultural roles. However, if you are looking for a more casual first job – such as delivering newspapers or babysitting, you are legally allowed to work at any age.
Minimum Age By State
Across the US, each state has its own laws regarding the minimum age of employment.
Here are some examples of the legal working age in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, California and Florida. To find out more about the minimum age is your state, click here.
- 21 years to serve alcohol.
- 18 to work within premises: those who are younger are not allowed to work within such businesses.
- Aged 14: 3 hours or less after school and 8 hours or less on the weekend. No more than 6 days and 18 hours work per week.
- Aged 16: those aged 16, 17 and 18 who are in school are not permitted to work after 10 pm or before 5 am. Throughout summer break there are no hour restrictions.
- No working restrictions for the delivery of newspapers, babysitting, cleaning, etc.
- 14: a maximum of 9 hours per day with no dangerous or hard work. Employment is permitted between 5 am and 9 pm. There is a maximum of 23 hours per week.
- 16: requires a work permit.
- 18: unrestricted
- 19: the ability to sell tobacco.
- 21: the ability to sell alcohol.
- 12: employment is permitted for minors aged 12/13 in wholesale and retail.
Work hour restrictions
- 14: 4 hours on a school day, 8 on the weekend. No work before 6 am and not after 9 pm.
- 16: no restrictions.
- 12: employment is permitted during summer break – no working throughout school days. When school isn’t in session, minors aged 12 are allowed to work a maximum of 8 hours per day; 40 hours a week.
- 14: after completing 7th grade, those over aged 14 are allowed to work 3 hours after school – a maximum of 18 hours per week.
- 16: four hours per school day – a maximum of 48 hours a week.
- 18: no restrictions.
- No limits for minors that work within their parent’s businesses that are not declared as hazardous within the Florida legislature.
- 10: the ability to deliver newspapers and work within the entertainment industry.
- 14: minimum age of work
- 16: the ability to work with animals and sell products door-to-door.
- 18: no restrictions.
- 14: permitted to work up to 15 hours per week – although not before 7 am or after 7 pm.
- 16: the ability to work up to 30 hours a week – although not before 6:30 am or later than 11 pm.
The Rest of The World
Across the world, the minimum age varies hugely. For example in Alberta, Canada, there is a minimum working age of 12 – allowing minors to work up to 2 hours a day after school or 8 hours on the weekend. Whereas in the UK, there is a minimum working age of 13 – allowing minors to work part time (as long as it’s after 7 am and before 7 pm on non-working days.
As there are so many different requirements for working in the world, it’s a good idea to fully research your particular state or country before applying for your first role. Of course, many organizations will put an age restriction on the applications. But even before applying, it’s worth looking up what you are allowed to do according to your specific age in your area.
Key Steps On How To Find Your First Job
- Check the minimum age
As mentioned above, the first step to finding your first job is checking the requirements of the role. By discovering the minimum age for the particular role that you are looking for, you can start to diversify your options and search for jobs that you are allowed to perform.
Certain states will also require you to acquire work permits or an age certificate before you apply.
- Make A List of Past Experience
Before filling in an application, write down what experience you have had (if any), your skills and your interests – this will help when it comes to writing your resume.
- Research, Research, Research
In the modern-day, there are so many resources that you can use to find your first job. From doing a simple Google search to going out and asking in shops/your local area, the options that are available to you will become clear.
- Write Your Resume
Once you have found an age-appropriate job and that appeals to you, it’s time to write your resume. You want to write your resume based on your skills and the skills in which are listed on the advert. For example, if the job requires you to have good communication skills, make sure that you highlight this on your resume.
Once your resume is in place, fill out the application and send it off to the employer. This time is very anxious, but don’t worry – if your skills and your experience align with what they are looking for, you will hear back for them asap.
Where Would I Look For My First Job?
You might be wondering, where should I look for my first job? To find a job listing for teenage workers, you can do a quick search for the particular company that you want to work for. By visiting the jobs section on their website, it will show you the available jobs, alongside the requirements. If you want a more specific search, simply type into Google jobs for your age and adverts will appear.
Alternatively, there are other resources which are designed to help. From the USA Gov. website to Indeed.com, you won’t be short on options. For the latter, you can search for the company and your location which will then generate a list of the available roles. As the roles appear, you will notice a minimum age listed in each posting. On this site, you can also navigate the positions by simply typing in ‘14 years old’ or ‘16 years old’.
Alternatively, you can go out and hand your resume out to employers in your local area. Once you see an advert posted, you can then inquire within, informing the owner of your skills and how you are suitable for the role.
What Are Good First Jobs?
Here are some examples of the best first jobs for teens:
- Barista in a coffee shop.
- A Waiter/Waitress in a restaurant.
- A Retail Sales Associate
- A Movie Theater Cashier/Usher.
- A Babysitter.
- A Dog Walker.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list. But all of the above are great first jobs as you will pick up lots of communication skills. Being able to talk and socialize with the public is an invaluable skill that will undoubtedly help you in the future. Simple roles, there are ideal for those who are just starting out.
Good Places For First Jobs
You might be wondering where you should work for your first role. While there are many suitable places – allowing you to gain valuable experience, learn work ethic and be part of a good company culture; we will focus on two in particular – In-and-Out and Six Flags.
Operating in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Texas, In-and-Out is a popular first job choice for many. Why? Because of the flexible hours they offer, the great pay and a good company culture that they portray. Perfect for those looking for a part-time role, they hire minors aged 16+.
Beloved theme parks, Six Flags makes an ideal choice for those looking for their first job. And although the pay isn’t amazing, it’s said to be a great entry job boasting a culture that makes you feel as though you’re part of a family. With a minimum age of 16+, it’s perfect for any theme park enthusiast.