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Jobs For 17 Year Olds – What You Need To Know

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Finding the right kinds of jobs for 17 year olds can be a challenge. This is particularly true if you are working around a school schedule where your hours of availability are extremely limited. Nevertheless, there are jobs you can find to work around your schedule and pick up great experience at the same time.

Jobs For Quality Experience

At this age you’ve probably already thought about where/if you will go to college, and maybe even what you plan to pursue as a career. The first bit of encouragement I would offer is to not think about this potential career path as something far off in the future. The quality job experience you earn today will pay dividends in several ways.

First, practical application of your studies will really help you add perspective to the “why” behind your college journey. If you walk into your professional education with no real life experience, it can be tough to connect the dots of how it relates to what you will be doing in the future.

Second, relevant experience will help set you a part from other applicants in school and in your future career. Many students don’t have much experience to list on a resume, particularly any experience that includes a “real” job with relevant experience. If you can list an internship or employment with a local company in the same industry, it shows you are serious and puts you a step ahead of your competition.

How To Find A Quality Job

80 Percent of Jobs For 17 Year Olds Aren't Listed
The number of jobs filled on the “hidden” market

Now that you are convinced (hopefully) that the right job for a 17 year old should revolve around quality experience, let’s talk about how to find one. According to experts on the matter, about 80% of jobs that are filled never get listed. What this emphasizes is the importance of networking and “pounding the pavement.”

The first thing you need to come to grips with is that you may have to take less or (gasp!) no money. You have to believe that the real value isn’t in the wage you are earning now, but in the real world experience you are gaining that most others your age will not. Trust me, this is invaluable. Perhaps you find a good internship in your field of interest and after a few months realize you really don’t enjoy it at all. While this may be disappointing, this is still invaluable! You can now refocus your efforts and save thousands of dollars in tuition that you didn’t waste on a major that you would eventually hate! How else would you know this without experience?

On the other hand, maybe you love the work more than you anticipated. Besides the value of the experience we’ve talked about, you now gain confidence and a boost of energy as you prepare to educate yourself in the field. Motivation is key to momentum.


Once you get past the road block of what you are going to make, it is time to start networking. No matter how you feel about that word, you have to do some form of it. If not, you are missing those 80% of jobs we talked about earlier. Who cares if the place is “hiring?” They may well need help with a project but don’t want the cost and hassle involved in sifting through a bunch of candidates, so they put it off. You have to go find them.

Pavement Pounding

Pounding the pavement is literally about getting out of the house and walking into some places, seeing if you can help out. Again, you have some leverage because you aren’t concerned about pay. You can also send some emails or make phone calls, but if it is a business nearby, drop in and introduce yourself. Maybe you are a web designer and you noticed that they have a crappy site, offer to build a new concept for them for free. If they are wondering why you would do that, tell them you are trying to pick up experience before you enter your college classes.

Could you imagine if they decide to use your design? They might give you some money for your trouble, but at least you would pick up other referrals when people ask them “who designed your web site?” You would also pick up some great tangible experience for your resume, that will pay off in a big way down the road. Employers love people with initiative, so taking steps like this speaks volumes about you.

Web design is just one example. Think about what you can offer and how you can add value to others. Perhaps you like to bake, look for a bakery or catering service. Like tools? Why not work for a machinery shop or with a construction crew to learn more about the business?

Another great way to “pound the pavement” is using social networking. Reach out to friends and family who are working full-time and see if their employer needs any part-time or seasonal help. Ideally this would be a business that interests you personally or lines up with your future career aspirations. You’ll typically have a better chance at picking up some ad-hoc work from a smaller company. A giant corporate bank will have a bunch of hoops for you to jump through, which may not be your thing. Often a place with only a few employees will welcome help from an eager, talented 17 year old and be happy to “show you the ropes” as part of the deal.

Personal Enrichment Jobs For 17 Year Olds

Under the heading of jobs with quality experience, you may well find “personal enrichment” in these same types of positions. However, in this section we are going to focus on those of you who may not have any idea what you “want to be when you grow up” but are still looking for job opportunities that provide great personal growth.

If you like to travel, one thing you may want to consider as you get to the point of graduation is teaching English abroad. This goes by a few different abbreviations, such as TEFL (Teaching English as Foreign Language), and generally requires some form of certification. The good news is, this certification is very affordable and there are online programs available. Click here to check it out.

If you have the adventurous bug, you’ll likely love the idea of spending a year or so overseas and getting to see and try new and exciting things. Besides the fun you’ll have it can be a great resume builder. The ability to relate with another culture and the leadership qualities to control a classroom are attractive things to have in an employee. While you likely won’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity at age 17, it is something you can start working on after high school so start thinking about it now. If it is an area of interest, find an exchange student at school and offer to be a “conversation partner.” This simply means that you hang out and chat about whatever, and you would correct any mistakes they make in their grammar.

If traveling abroad isn’t your cup of tea, you can no doubt find enriching employment near you. Generally any work you can do which helps others or builds into them is something that will make you feel better about yourself and give you great experience working with people. Some ideas include working for a local non-profit or charity, like the boys and girls club where you can pour into the lives of young people in your community. Some of this may be volunteer work, but they also have paid positions in some cases. Stopping by in person will be the quickest way to find out what is available.

Jobs For 17 Year Olds That Pay Well

Despite the fact that most 17 year olds have little to no experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make decent money. Many times it is difficult to find something where you get paid for your time, and get paid at a high rate. For instance, if you work in retail or fast food you’ll probably be paid somewhere in the neighborhood of minimum wage. Basically we are paying you $9 per hour to be here for 8 hours, whether we are busy or if you only have 1 customer during that time. So that is $72 before taxes, which means you might net about $50 for that 8 hours of your time.

If that doesn’t sound like much money, that is because it isn’t.

If your objective is to make as much money as you can, you’ll likely want to look for job where you’ll be able to be paid on the value you can offer. This often is in some type of a service role, or maybe even in sales if you can find a job where you would be paid commission on the things you sell. At 17, something in the “service” industry is more likely  to be available.

Server Jobs

One classic example is being a server at a restaurant. While you are paid a very small wage by the hour, the bulk of your earnings are based on the value you provide. No doubt you’ve had a great waiter and a terrible waiter at some point in your life. Generally people will reward the great waiter with a great tip, for going above and beyond. This means the person with a good attitude and work ethic could work a full 8 hours on a Saturday and come out with $100 in cash, plus $2 – $3 per hour for their work. If you do a poor job, it can work the other way as well. So if you are a go-getter with a positive attitude, there is money to be made in waiting tables. The general rule to follow is to work for a place that stays busy as this will dictate your income potential.

Other Service Jobs

Two other good examples of jobs for 17 year olds are child care and lawn care. Both are things you can do well at 17, and both are things where you are typically paid by the job instead of by the hour. For instance you may negotiate to do your neighbor’s lawn for $35, and that job may only take an hour of work for you. As far as value is concerned, this is way better than our 8 hours of retail work mentioned earlier! For your neighbor, they may not have time or have the physical ability to do their own lawn, so $35 represents great value for them personally. The same logic applies for childcare.

Find opportunities to add value and be rewarded accordingly. If you have any ideas to share as it relates to jobs for 17 year olds, please share below!

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