How to help your teenager get their first job

When your teenager starts wanting to buy things that their pocket money doesn’t cover, it might be time to talk to them about getting a part-time job. 

Entering the working world is a big deal, and a major step towards financial independence. It can be overwhelming for teenagers and parents alike, but with the right preparation and support, you can find a routine that works for everyone. 

Here, we break down everything you need to know about helping your teenager to get their first job. 

Before applying

Once your child has decided they’re ready for their first job, it’s time to think about logistics.

Availability: Determine how many hours a week they can work, without impacting their schoolwork, extra-curricular commitments (like music lessons or sports) and their mental health. It’s important to find a balance that allows them to earn some money without burning out. 

Travel: Find areas that are easy and safe for them to travel to (or convenient for you to drive them to). This will depend on their main mode of transport – if they’re old enough to drive themselves and have a car they can use easily, they might have more options. If they rely on public transit or a parent to drive them, it might limit the areas that are easily accessible. 

Suitability: Think about the type of job that your child would qualify for that suits their skills and personality. If they are sociable and like talking to people, they might do well in a busy retail or restaurant environment. If they prefer to work independently, it’s worth looking at jobs in smaller stores or back-of-house positions.

Job ideas for teenagers

Jobs for teenagers are typically minimum wage positions that require a basic set of skills, such as good communication, professional experience, and a willingness to learn. 

Some popular jobs for teens include: 

  • Courier (packages or food delivery)
  • Packer of goods in a warehouse
  • Sales assistant in a store
  • Host or waiter at a restaurant
  • Barista
  • Cashier at a shop
  • Fast food or cafe attendant

Remember: A law-abiding employer will not accept a teenager if the work is associated with conditions that are dangerous to life and health, and if it is necessary to work with hazardous chemicals, underground, alone, or at night. Selling alcohol and cigarettes at a young age is also prohibited by law.


Applying for jobs

Work with your teen to look through job vacancies and create a resume that highlights their attributes and accomplishments. This might include awards they’ve won at school, volunteer experience, and extracurricular activities. 

Once your child has completed these steps, they are ready to start applying! 

The job application process varies depending on where you live and the type of job your teen is looking for. Typically, it’s best to pursue a few different routes. 

Start with the old-fashioned method and keep an eye out for ‘We’re Hiring!’ signs in your local area. Encourage your teen to keep a few resumes neatly tucked in a folder with them when they’re out and about. If they find somewhere they’d like to apply, advise them to ask to speak to the hiring manager and present themselves with confidence.

While the traditional method of passing out paper resumes is still effective, many companies have shifted to online applications. Encourage your child to regularly monitor reliable platforms and websites, such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn, as well as local community job boards.

Some schools and community centers also have youth work placement schemes that your child may be eligible for. 

Working from home

There are a lot of remote work options that some teens might be qualified for, such as typing and editing texts, processing photos, leading groups on social networks, and managing the placement of advertising campaigns. 

Websites like Upwork and Fiverr can be a good place to look for quick freelance projects. Just bear in mind that not all online roles are legitimate, and internet safety can be a concern. Work with your child to make sure they’re looking at an ad that’s coming from a reliable source. 

Setting expectations

Finding a job usually takes a bit of time and effort. It’s rare that the first job that your teen sees and applies for will work out. Encourage them to take initiative and constantly look out for opportunities by checking job-related websites daily and applying directly to companies they’re interested in working for. 

Benefits and considerations of having a job

As you probably know, working comes with a long list of benefits and considerations. There are a few things your teenager should think about during their job hunting journey. 

Of course, earning money is the biggest benefit. With the income they earn, they’ll have extra money to spend on the things they want, as well as funds to put into a savings strategy

Using their savings, they will be able to choose a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound goal) and have the means to save up towards their goal, such as a new phone, car, or for post-secondary schooling.

Working is also a valuable life experience. Challenges such as communicating in a professional setting, handling money, learning new tasks, and managing stress and time will serve your teenager for the rest of their life. 

There are also some important considerations to talk to your teenager about before they start working.

As with any new responsibility, a job can be a new source of stress. Your teen must be careful that they don’t overburden themselves with work, amongst an already busy schedule. While they go to school and work, it’s still important for teenagers to engage in social activities, like hanging out with friends, sports, and time for themselves. 


There are many things to consider when your teen starts looking to make their own money. With the right planning and consideration, a first job can be a big first step towards adulthood. It will help them learn all sorts of new skills, as well as risks to manage, which is an important part of growing up and a stepping-stone to becoming financially independent.