By Janet Fowler | Updated May 12, 2017 — 6:00 AM EDT
That first summer job is often a rite of passage for many teens. It’s the signal that you’re on your way to adulthood, and it’s also a way to money to pay for activities, save for a car or put away cash for college. Some jobs will draw on skills you already have. Others may help you test out your ultimate career goals, especially jobs you get once you have a year or two of college under your belt. But you don’t have to wait that long to start testing out the job market and even opening your first IRA. It’s never too early to start considering the future.
This summer, there are fewer H-2B visas available for temporary foreign workers – and a tight domestic job market – both of which are putting a squeeze on resorts and other seasonal employers looking to staff up, according to the Wall Street Journal. That should be good news for American teens seeking summer jobs in 2017. Here’s a list of opportunities to investigate.
1. Camp Counselor
Are you interested in leadership? For teens who are natural leaders or educators, a summer job as a camp counselor is an ideal pick. This job will allow older teens to spend time outdoors, mentor younger kids and help them to develop new skills. A great perk of this job, aside from being paid to spend plenty of time outdoors, is developing loads of transferable skills that will be useful throughout life, such as leadership abilities, communication and conflict resolution skills. This job also requires teens to live away from home, which can help them to become more independent as they transition into adulthood.
2. Golf Caddy
Perfect for teens who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, caddying can be a great choice of summer job. This job does require an understanding of the game and some physical endurance, as there is a lot of walking involved as well as carrying a heavy bag of golf clubs. However, the pay isn’t bad considering that you can expect to earn anywhere between $50 and $100 for about four hours of work. More generous golfers may also reward their caddies with a tip.
3. Retail Salesperson
Perhaps one of the more diverse job options for teens, retail sales offers a great deal of opportunity for teens that are looking for work. This type of work can pay anywhere in the range of $11 to $13 an hour depending upon the duties involved. Inventory, stocking shelves, product demonstrations, handing out samples in grocery stores, customer service or operating a cash register are all options when it comes to retail sales. If you find yourself working somewhere like a bike shop, it could also draw on your mechanical skills. This type of work can be great for teens who are particularly sociable, as they will often have to interact with the public in addition to working as a part of a team.
4. Food Service Worker
Here’s an opportunity to develop social skills while earning an income. A job in the food service industry is another natural fit for teens who enjoy interacting with the public. This job allows employees to work as a part of a team while learning about following instructions and conflict resolution. This job also comes with an opportunity for high earnings since food service jobs usually come with an hourly wage of about $9 or $10 per hour. Many restaurants also allow their staff to earn tips. Keep in mind that food service jobs are not limited to wait staff. There are also jobs available as hosts or hostesses, busboys or busgirls, and cooks. Regardless of the position, the team needs to function properly in order to keep the business moving, so teens will learn valuable life skills in this type of job.
Internships give teens a chance to try on a potential career choice. They also provide an early chance to gain industry experience that will look great on a resume and even provide the first links in a future job network. Because many of these positions are unpaid, applicants may need to show that they will gain school credit for taking the job – one reason they are generally limited to college students. But it’s worth checking with a high school guidance counselor to try to locate internships that accept younger teens. Being bold and approaching the target companies directly is another way to attempt to gain an internship.
A great choice for teens who are strong swimmers, lifeguarding is a challenging position that comes with significant responsibility. Completion of certification courses is required to be a lifeguard – and you typically need to be over the age of 15 – so pre-planning will definitely be required if this type of job appeals. This job requires a high level of maturity and professionalism, but it is a rewarding job that can help teens to develop their decision-making skills and confidence while earning somewhere between $9 and $10 dollars per hour.
Teens with a nurturing spirit who enjoy children could consider taking on a summer job as a nanny or babysitter, a position that is in high demand during the summer months when working parents need to secure childcare for their young children. This job requires someone who is highly responsible and can resolve conflicts. Though this job pays reasonably well, generally in the range of $10 to $15 dollars hourly, it can require a great deal of patience. This is a great choice for teens who wish to pursue a career in teaching, childcare, social work or any other field that makes use of social skills or requires interaction with kids. Working for some families, you could find yourself spending weeks in a beach town or other resort setting.
Though teenagers may be often viewed as having a difficult time keeping their bedrooms clean, there are some teens that do well in the housekeeping field. This type of work can bring in about $10 an hour and will allow teens to learn responsibility and develop their organizational skills. This job is also in demand in a variety of industries and settings. The summer sees an upswing in the tourism industry, so hotels are often looking for dependable housekeeping staff, and malls and parks often need people to assist with keeping public areas clean and organized.
Whether you join a landscaping business, or set out to offer your landscaping or lawn care services yourself, this seasonal job is a great choice for teens who love to spend time outdoors. Since many people don’t have time to care for their lawns, this job is often in high demand through the summer months and can extend into the fall. Teens who aren’t afraid to get dirty can cash in on this demand. Along with cash, you’ll stay in great shape physically.
Teens who are academically inclined or aspire to work as a teacher might enjoy spending their summer months tutoring. Kids in summer school often need the extra help, and this presents a real opportunity for teens who are particularly talented in certain subject areas. Teens who opt to take on a job as a tutor can earn about $15 an hour when they first start out, though this rate can increase depending upon their skills and experience.
11. Computer Guru
Technology is transforming the way we do virtually everything and one of the side effects is a career opportunity for tech-savvy teens. Depending on your level of expertise, you may be able to find work as an online programmer or coder, a freelance website developer, an app developer or a theme creator. Other possibilities include launching your own computer repair business or creating a web-based tutorial showcasing what you know via a platform like Skillshare. For example, you may be able to help small businesses in your area set up websites or social media programs, or help older adults master the computer or learn social media skills.
12. Freelance Writer
If you get straight As in English class, a freelance writing career may be your calling for the summer, and potentially beyond. Teens who have a PayPal account can join OneSpace, an online platform that offers daily payments for approved writing assignments. You’ll need to be 18 to create an account. Once you’ve gotten a few clips under your belt, you can look for websites that accept freelance submissions, such as Rookie. If you’re feeling even more ambitious, you could launch a blog and try to monetize it with advertisements, or write and sell your own ebook.
Summertime is when many people head out on vacation but if you’ll be staying close to home, you could earn some spare change by acting as a plant- or pet-sitter. Determine whether to set your rates by the hour or by the job and discuss what you’ll be responsible for while your charge’s owners are away. Consider drawing up a contract outlining what you will and won’t do so you and your clients know exactly what to expect before you take over plant or pet duty.
14. eBay Seller
If you’ve got some unused items lying around and you’re at least 18, you can set up your own storefront on eBay. Firtst, you choose between the Buy It Now or Auction format,. Then you upload pictures of your items from your smartphone, add a description and, voilà, you’re up and running. Just remember that eBay does charge its sellers a fee for listing and selling items on the site. You’ll also have to decide whether to offer free shipping for the items you sell or pass those costs on to your buyers.
15. Movie Theater Worker
Teens who love the movies may find the air-conditioned atmosphere of their local theater appealing when the summer weather sends the temperatures shooting up. You can man the concession booth, be a ticket-taker or clean up after moviegoers. You’ll earn a steady paycheck and as an added perk, you may be able to snag an employee discount to see all the summer blockbusters.
The Bottom Line
Finding the perfect summer job requires planning. Examine the opportunities that are readily available to you and also consider what you hope to get out of the position. Working as a gardener or landscaper isn’t much fun if you hate getting dirty, while being a nanny won’t bring much joy if you don’t like kids. Keep in mind that many summer jobs provide workers transferable skills that come in handy later on in your career. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s wise to start building up your resume while you’re still in school. Earning some extra spending cash never hurt anyone either.