The jobs for 14 year olds can vary quite a bit based on your geographic location, skill set, and general condition of your local economy. We’ll start by looking at the legality of 14 year olds having a job, and then share some advice from career experts on how to be prepared and some ideas on the specific employment opportunities for 14 year olds.
14 Year Old Job Laws
According to the U.S. Department of Labor:
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the minimum age for employment in non-agricultural employment is 14. Hours worked by 14- and 15-year-olds are limited to:
- Non-school hours;
- 3 hours in a school day;
- 18 hours in a school week;
- 8 hours on a non-school day;
- 40 hours on a non-school week; and
- hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9 p.m.)
Youth 14 and 15 years old enrolled in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) may be employed for up to 23 hours in school weeks and 3 hours on school days (including during school hours).
The FLSA does not limit the number of hours or times of day for workers 16 years and older.
Many states have enacted child labor laws as well. In situations where both the FLSA child labor provisions and state child labor laws apply, the higher minimum standard must be obeyed.
In regard to a potential state law, basically this says that the bare minimum are the rules listed above. If your state happens to have a more strict law on the hours you are able to work at age 14, then you would have to adhere to the laws of your state instead. If your state said 14 year olds can work 80 hours per week (probably a fictitious example), then you would still be subject to the laws of the federal government which say the max is 40 in a non-school week.
In my opinion you shouldn’t get too overwhelmed by trying to understand all of the laws as it pertains to teenage employment. That’s not to say ignore the law, or violate it intentionally, but there are plenty of ways to make money that aren’t really governed by these laws. Think about all of the jobs for 14 year olds which would pay cash. A simple example is that when you mow your neighbor’s yard and he gives you $30 for it. Do you think this is being monitored as your working hours during a school week? Of course not. There are an infinite number of ways to make money, even for a 14 year old. The key is to be creative and persistent.
Ideas of Jobs For 14 Year Olds
It is likely at the age of 14 this is the first time you’ve considered getting a “real” job. Let’s first state that like in our earlier example of mowing grass, it may not always be necessary to get a “real” job. If you can make the money you need by providing some service to others, that is probably a better way to go. First you get paid cash, and you have some elements of running your own business. If you are mowing lawns, in order to keep your “customer” you need to do a quality job and do it on time. If that goes well, you may hear of other people on your street that would also be interested in lawn service. Before you know it, you have 5 or 6 lawns to cut on a weekly basis making $20 to $30 each. For many of you that may sound a lot better than working at McDonalds making minimum wage and likely giving up a lot more of your time to make the same amount of money.
Remember that your time has value. In fact, your time has a ton of value. I’d suggest an early shift in your mentality towards finding a job and look to be paid for the value you provide, rather than the time you spend. I’ll keep going back to the lawn care example. If it takes you 30 minutes to mow your neighbor’s yard and he pays you $25, some quick math suggests that you were just paid $50 per hour. You’d probably have to work a full 8 hour shift at a fast food restaurant to come out with $50.
Your neighbor isn’t necessarily paying you for your time, but rather for your value. Perhaps it hurts his back to do the lawn, or his work schedule doesn’t afford him many opportunities to take care of his own yard. To him, it is well worth $25 every week to not have to worry about the hassle of maintaining his landscaping. In other words, your service has great value to him. He doesn’t care if it takes you 5 minutes or 5 hours, as long as it is done right he has decided that is worth $25 to him. So whenever possible, seek out opportunities where you can be paid based on the value you provide.
There is one assumed underlying trait that you must have in order to make all of this work. That is a strong work ethic. I’ll give you a hard truth about how many adults feel about your ability to work as a 14 year old. Are you ready?
Many adults you’ll run into in the workplace think you are lazy. Many teenagers come in with the attitude that they are owed something, and aren’t willing to put in their time to earn it.
This may or may not be true of you. If it is true of you, you probably wouldn’t admit it or maybe even realize it. However, this stereotype doesn’t have to be true. You simply have to be ready to work hard. Be ready to listen and learn from others and work as a team. Be dependable. You aren’t coming into most situations as a 14 year old that they want to run the company. While you are certainly a needed part of the team, realize that you are the new guy or gal and you have to earn respect through hard work. One great insight came from Doug of Taos Cyclery in New Mexico on this topic:
Because teenagers don’t have a lot of work experience yet, they will be asked to do the most simple and least paid jobs. This means picking up after a supervisor and cleaning up, “boring”. However, the ability to do these jobs well and without complaining will mean moving up into better paying jobs quicker. The first thing teenagers need to do is learn how to
work. That means doing something repeatedly for six to eight hours. Easier said than done, as many adults I know can’t do this well. Busing tables or washing dishes in a restaurant are good jobs for teenagers. If you like being outside, then try landscaping or construction. Don’t focus too much on a particular type of job, but on learning how to work.
Sadly a mentality that can creep in is that a particular job function is beneath you, or your are too good to do that. Whether it be washing dishes, working as a custodian, or just in a fast food restaurant. For whatever reason, many people unfairly label these jobs as something you would only do as a last resort. Here is an idea, take some time to watch the biographies of great businessmen on CNBC. One thing you’ll see over and over again are people who started with very little and through hard work and passion were able to build a business empire. Perhaps at 14 your goal is just to make a few bucks, not really to build a business empire, but nevertheless it is a good reminder that starting with a job that may seem insignificant isn’t always a bad thing!
Some other strategies for finding jobs for 14 year olds is to simply ask around. Often called “networking” in the business world, simply tapping into who you know and any connections you have can work wonders. The vast majority of jobs are never posted online, you just have to go find them. Have an ice cream shop you really like near your house? Ask for a job application. Remember that even in a situation like this, you are basically interviewing at that moment. What I mean is, even when you just ask if they are hiring, you are making a first impression on that person who may be a manager or someone with influence in determining who they hire. Generally speaking, people want to work with people that they like. So as you are searching the informal job market, keep your smile handy and dress nice. First impressions are critical.
Once you’ve stopped by any local businesses where you like to shop, eat, or frequent; ask your friends and family if they know of any openings. Maybe you have a friend at school who works somewhere you’d also be interested in – ask them if they are hiring. Often a current employee may know that they aren’t hiring yet, but they plan to next month and can get you in touch with the right person. The same goes with family members, if you know anyone who works at a place you think would be interesting – ask if they have any jobs you can do. Sometimes people will make up a new position just for you if you show initiative and make a good impression. Maybe they could use someone part-time to organize the office, tidy up after hours, etc.
As you pursue that first job, remember that people skills are the number one thing you should look to develop. No matter what you do later in life, you can bet that other people will be involved! It is never to early to start earning respect and trust through your work ethic, and taking pride in what you do. These two things will win a lot of people over and leave a positive impression of you in their mind. Simply treat people as you’d like to be treated and you’ll do fine. Here are some other jobs for 14 year olds that you may not have thought of:
1. Babysitting. Ask family and people at church if they need someone to watch their kids. You can also sign up at Care.com
2. Lawn Care. Put up signs in the neighborhood or just go door to door and ask if they want you to mow their lawn.
3. Newspaper Delivery. Find out if your local circular needs someone on bike to deliver
4. Local Farmhand. Depending on where you are located, maybe there is a farm nearby that could use some help. This could be picking vegetables, planting, caring for animals, etc. but makes for great experience and gets you outside.
5. Intern. If you have a good idea about what you want to do with your life, find a company in this industry and intern. Sometimes this isn’t a paid job, but many times they will pay you at the end of a project. Really, the value here is getting to know people in the profession and picking up vital experience which should help you determine if this is right for you.
6. Small Business Assistant. I love this idea. Small businesses tend to have a great amount of flexibility to make decisions quickly. In other words, if it is a shoe repair shop with 2 employees, they likely won’t have a big formal process to go through to get hired. Simply walk in, introduce yourself and tell them you want to learn more about their business and would like to help out. See what they say. You’ll likely pick up a ton of different skills and experiences as a small business owner has to do a little bit of everything. Just walk in and strike up a conversation!
Tips for your first job interview
Depending on the path you take to finding that first job at age 14, you may have to get past the hurdle of the job interview. If you are mowing grass, you probably won’t get interviewed by the home owner. However, if you go to work at a restaurant or in retail, you undoubtedly will have an interview. Here are some tips to ace the interview process.
1. Be polite and courteous. Use “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” until the interviewer says to call them something else. You’d be surprised how many people your age miss this step and make a terrible first impression. Using your manners will help you stand out from the crowd.
2. Dress well. When in doubt, where a shirt in tie for guys or a nice, modest dress for ladies. Again, many 14 year olds won’t do this and it will help you make a good first impression. If the place you are going to work is casual, perhaps you could get by with khaki pants and a button up shirt. Even if you overdress, this will almost never been seen as a negative thing as the person knows that you care about the job opportunity and take it seriously. That sends a great message.
3. Know about the job. Take 10 minutes and Google the company if it isn’t a place you already know well. Find out what they do, and ideally what your job will entail. This will help you ask educated questions when the time comes and again show that you took time to prepare.
4. Ask questions. It is expected that you ask questions, even if deep down you feel like you don’t have any. Here are some good samples of what you could be asking. Remember that you are interviewing them as well, so try to find out if this sounds like a place where you would enjoy working and get some benefits out of. You don’t want to come right out and say “do I get paid vacation?” or “how much are you going to pay me?” in your first interview. Those things will come up later, but find out about the company and the job you are applying for.
5. Practice. Ask your mom or dad to do a practice interview with you. It is likely that they have been in your shoes, so they can do a test interview with you at home. While that might sound horribly awkward, you’ll be surprised how much that helps your mind get in the right mode before the interview. If there is something you struggle to articulate, it is better to figure that out beforehand so you can work on it.
6 Focus on experience. “But I am 14 years old! I don’t have any experience.” It doesn’t have to be job experience. The person interviewing you understands you are only 14 as well, so they aren’t expecting you to have a job history. However, they will want to know about situations where you were a part of a team and accomplished a goal. So think ahead of time of experience you’ve had a school, church, and other groups and what lessons you’ve learned that might be beneficial toward getting a job. This could be charity work you’ve done, fundraisers, sports teams, missions trips, etc.
As long as you practice and are prepared, you can just relax and be yourself in the interview process. Here is a short video that helps you with a question that you will inevitably hear at your interview: “Tell me about yourself.”
I hope this guide has been helpful in your search of jobs for 14 year olds. Feel free to leave a comment with any of your own ideas or tips, we’d love to hear it!