So you are looking for jobs for 15 year olds? We have you covered. We will start with information about the legality of 15 year olds working in the US, and then move on to talk about the kinds of jobs you should be looking for at this age. We’ll also share tips to make sure you are prepared to nail the interview and land the job.
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 15, then you would have to adhere to the laws of your state instead. If your state said 15 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.
Don’t get too hung up on all the laws involved, as this can be overwhelming to try to deal with all the nuances. There are many more “informal” jobs available to a 15 year old which aren’t really subject to these laws. Babysitting and lawn care are 2 good examples. These are usually jobs where you work for yourself and get paid cash from an individual. The nice thing about this type of arrangement is that you get paid immediately, you often can make your own schedule, and you can work as often or as little as you’d like. In other words, if you only have time to take care of 3 lawns in a week, you can simply stop taking on new lawns when you are at capacity. Let’s talk more about the job opportunities for a 15 year old…
Jobs For 15 Year Olds – Thought Process
The first question you need to answer is why are you looking for a job. That sound simple enough, but do you really “need” the money or is it more about filling some time or maybe looking to build experience. Depending on your answer to that will determine the kind of jobs you should be open to. Let’s talk first about jobs which pay well for a 15 year old.
Jobs for money
We’ve already briefly mentioned two, which are babysitting and lawn care. People pay well for these services, and you get paid in cash. You might get paid $20 – $40 for mowing a neighbor’s lawn, which may take you less than an hour. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 per hour. To give you some perspective, $30 per hour would be doing well at almost any age, but particularly 15.
The same goes for babysitting. While depending on the age it can be more difficult, you can spend a night in with a couple of kids and pull in $40 or $50 for a night’s worth of “work.” If you really enjoy taking care of children, then babysitting probably doesn’t feel like work at all. If you have someone you regularly sit for, let them know you enjoy it and would be happy to do it more often. Also ask if they have any friends who need a sitter from time to time. This is a great way to spread the word that you are looking for more “work.”
Working in a service field like a restaurant can also be a good business to go into. Depending on your state and the policy of the restaurant, you may not be able to get hired as a waiter or waitress at the age of 15. However, you could start out busing tables or working behind the scenes. Some restaurants will do a tip share system, where other staff get a portion of the tips paid to them at the end of the night. Often this can lead to a better than average pay for someone your age. Ultimately the best money in this field is made by the servers, so you would want to work your way into that job by the age of 16. This is done through hard work, and not complaining about the work you are tasked with upfront. The nice thing about being a server is that you can really influence what you make with your attitude and hard work. Good food service makes good money in tips, so you want to find a local restaurant that always has a bunch of customers.
Also, don’t think that starting out as a dishwasher or waiter is always some temporary dead end job. The COO of IHOP started out as a waitress there when she was 16. It is pretty cool story – check it out.
Jobs for experience
There isn’t always a clear delineation between jobs for 15 year olds which make good money, and those which provide good experience. Obviously you can find the best of both worlds at times, but again depending on what your focus of finding a job is can determine the types of jobs you should consider.
Maybe at 15 all of your bills are paid for by mom and dad, and you don’t really need to work. However, you know that eventually you are going to get a “real” job and you are ready to start preparing for that. That is a great reason to work as well! If that is the case, you really shouldn’t be worried about what and even if you get paid. That’s right, I said “if you get paid.”
While that may sound crazy, sometimes you can find an unpaid internship that is virtually priceless as far as the experience it affords you. For instance, if you already have a strong inclination that you want to go into graphic design and you really enjoy that; go into the best graphic design place you can find and simply ask if you can help out. That may sound oversimplified, but that is really where I would start. Tell them you are in school, you love learning about graphic design and you just want to learn whatever you can – “how can I help?” Don’t be surprised if they let you do some job shadowing or give you some project work to take home. Maybe they’ll let you do a version of whatever logo or project they have going, and then provide feedback for you. You may not realize it now, but this is extremely valuable.
Experience is Valuable
Why is it so valuable? First, it looks great on your resume. Although it is a couple of years off, you may go to college or technical school for graphic design. By the time you are looking for permanent jobs, you’ll be able to list some real world experience that many of your competitors won’t have. Secondly, it is great for networking. This simply means you have an opportunity to make some great connections in the industry. Impress this company with what you can offer and they may hire you straight out of school. If not them, they would be happy to write a recommendation for you or be a handy reference for a different position.
This is applicable to any industry, although we listed graphic design as our example. Look for people in the game right now and find out how you can add value to whatever it is they do. In adding value for them, or providing them some benefit, you’ll automatically get all the benefits discussed earlier. This is truly a win-win and puts you way ahead of the game at 15.
How to search for a job at age 15
You may think all of this sounds great, but how do I know who is hiring? You can always check online with job postings on Craigslist or other local sites you know of. However, the vast majority of jobs that are filled are never posted. Many places that hire 15 years olds are perpetually hiring. This is simply because many people your age don’t stick with a job very long. This isn’t always for a bad reason, perhaps they went back to school or moved to a different part of town, etc.
I recommend starting by just walking in to the places you like to eat, shop, or visit and ask if they are hiring. You might be surprised to find that they are, or maybe you fill out an application and they’ll call when a job opens up. There is no harm in asking, just make sure you have a smile and a friendly demeanor about you. In other words, act like someone they would love to have as an employee.
Another strategy for finding jobs for 15 year olds is to network with friends, family, and counselors at school. Many times finding out one of your friends got a job through a Facebook post can give you an opportunity to ask if they are still hiring. You may find out that the company is looking to hire a few more people and suddenly you have a good lead. You can also talk to your parents and parents of friends to see if their companies have any openings where you would be a fit. Sometimes a 15 year old could get on as the person who keeps the building organized or some other relatively simple task that has to get done. The same goes with guidance counselors at school. They interact with so many people they may know of good openings nearby where you could pick-up after school work or maybe a job for the summer.
Interviewing for a job at 15
More than likely, any “real” job you find will have some sort of an interview process. Here are some great tips to follow when preparing for your first job interview:
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.
Here is a video that talks more about an interview question you will almost assuredly hear – “Tell me about yourself…”
Feel free to comment your own experiences and suggestions below about finding jobs for 15 year olds!