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You may not think about it now, but you will always remember your first job. Whether it was a part-time job at McDonald’s during the weekends or a seasonal landscaping position for an entire summer, you will inevitably look back at this time with great nostalgia, regardless of your choice of career. And why shouldn’t you? This was an important time in your life – a time when you matured and reached an important milestone.
Job prospects for teenagers are greatly different today than they were 20, 30 or 50 years ago. Because employment laws have evolved, labour costs have increased and the makeup of the talent pool has changed, it can seem impossible to come across jobs that hire at 16. Sure, they may not be as ubiquitous as they once were, but you can still find employment opportunities during your job search.
Are you having a difficult time finding job opportunities as a teenager? Fret no more!
Here are the 10 best jobs for 16-year-olds.
Average hourly rate: $10.08 (£7.70)
Let’s be honest: dishwashing is not the most glamorous of jobs. As chefs cook up a storm and waiters bring in the hefty tips, you’re stuck in the back, cleaning everyone’s dishes, cutlery and glasses. It’s tough, and it can leave teens feeling disenchanted at the end of their part-time shifts. But this is a lesson you need to learn in the job market: not everything is going to be perfect.
That said, being a dishwasher is still an integral part to any restaurant. It’s your job to ensure that every plate, fork and mug is clean and sterilised. Remember: without a clean set of plates, patrons cannot enjoy their steak tartar, chocolate mousse cake or overly expensive pasta (it’s just noodles and sauce, so why is it £17?!).
For the most part, dishwashers will be paid the minimum wage. Your best option would be to apply for a dishwashing position at the best of restaurants in your city; these types of establishments often pay their personnel higher wages.
Average hourly rate: $10.01 (£7.65)
Is the role of a cashier becoming obsolete? If you’ve looked around a supermarket, coffee shop or home improvement outlet lately, then you would realise that more businesses are installing self-checkout kiosks. Because of rising labour costs and advanced technology, companies are investing in these types of machines that many people fear will wipe out the manned checkout counter, with one in three people across the board saying their jobs could be replaced by robots.
Well, it isn’t exactly all doom and gloom. A lot of stores still rely on cashiers for their day-to-day operations. Right now, whether it’s a grocery store or a coffee house, businesses complement their self-serve endeavours with human beings. You’ll either check out customers or you can help shoppers with the machines. It’s a perfect job for any teenager.
Browse cashier jobs
Average hourly rate: $10.64 (£8.13)
What is your beverage in the morning on the way to school? What do you drink to stay up on a Saturday night to cram? Is it an iced Starbucks blonde almond milk vanilla latte or just a plain black coffee? Whatever the case might be, you see first-hand how difficult it can be working as a barista. Coffee has become more extravagant these days, so it’s hard to remember how to brew a specific cup.
At the same time, getting hired as a barista is a good employment opportunity, especially if you work at international chains. Baristas are given a wide array of responsibilities, benefits and remuneration, like stock options and bonuses. It’s a superb first job for teenagers – just make sure you’re energetic and friendly and can work in a fast-paced environment.
Your hourly wage as a barista will depend on what business you’re employed by. If you’re hired by a local shop, then you’ll likely get paid the minimum wage. On the other hand, if you’re working at Starbucks or another major coffee shop chain, then you could receive higher compensation, which is why the global coffee juggernaut is regularly a celebrated employer.
Browse barista jobs
4. Movie theatre usher
Average hourly rate: $9.68 (£7.40)
What teenager hasn’t at least considered working at the local cineplex?
When you think of jobs that hire teens, one of the first gigs that springs to mind is that of a movie theatre usher. This is typically a dream job for any teenager: you spend eight hours at your local cinema house, you get to watch films for free, and you’re part of an exciting environment. It’s a superb job for any teen, and it can lead to other opportunities within the organisation.
5. Retail associate
Average hourly rate: $10.75 (£8.21)
Despite the ‘retailpocalypse’ unfolding across North America and Europe, the outlook for retail positions is projected to remain steady for the next nine years in the US. It may not seem like it, but this role has greatly changed over the years, from working with the company’s eCommerce model to managing inventories. Therefore, it’s still one of the best employment opportunities around for teens.
Retail associates are essential for most stores, whether the firm specialises in apparel or electronics. You can boost your human capital, skills and CV by working in retail. Yes, there are times when it can be stressful because of outraged consumers, but it’s part and parcel of the working world.
While some retail jobs will start out at minimum wage, your pay can be increased based on the number of years of experience or by the list of past employers. There are also opportunities for career advancement, higher wages and even benefits and perks.
Indeed, if you are passionate about fashion and sales, advance you career further through an online course in fashion management by Bocconi University.
Browse retail associate jobs
Average hourly rate: $18.08 (£13.81)
Are you an economics guru or a mathematics wizard? Do you adore history? Well, if you have the grades, the communication skills and the will to keep your appointments with other students, you could consider becoming a tutor. Even in the online age of the Khan Academy, Udemy and Skillshare, there will still be a demand for one-on-one tutoring in your neighbourhood, particularly when it comes to harder subjects, like maths and science.
Your job is simple: teach students, ensure they’re proficient in the subject and determine if they understand the material. The most difficult part is coming up with a lesson plan, but if you have a strong education in geography, biology or coding, for example, then it may not be as hard as you think. If you’re tutoring long enough and you build a portfolio of clients, then this would be a great attribute for future employers.
With a growing number of students unable to keep up with their studies, tutors are in demand more than ever before. Since parents are willing to shell out a little bit more for the best of the best, then you could earn as much as you want.
Tutoring can also evolve into other career paths such as teaching. If this is a path you want to follow, then you could solidify your expertise through an online teaching course.
Browse tutor jobs
Average hourly rate: Varies
The rise of the internet has afforded us an incredible amount of job opportunities. From freelancing as a graphic designer to blogging about politics, teens can take advantage of the online job market. As long as you have the skills, then you can start earning supplementary cash on the side or even go as far as launching a freelance business. Indeed, potential clients will not care about your age.
There are plenty of online resources for freelancers – beginners or seasoned veterans – to utilise including Freelancer, Upwork, Freelance Writing Gigs, Fiverr – the list goes on. First, start your own blog, sharing examples of your work and listing your prices. Once this is complete, the world is your oyster, and you can seek out clients – or vice versa.
Like tutoring, your earnings potential for freelancing is what you want it to be. Whether you only want to concentrate on freelancing for the summer or you want to take on assignments every second Saturday, you can still make plenty of money on the side that can go towards your education or more equipment to expand your business.
Average hourly rate: $13.77 (£10.52)
Mowing lawns, planting new flowers and making neighbourhoods beautiful again: this is the life of a landscaper. It’s also a common job for a lot of teenagers who want to sink their teeth into the labour market.
Landscaping businesses are always looking for a few good people to add to their payroll every summer. Since it’s often a revolving door of young people who want to make a handsome sum of money in the summer, the opportunities are out there. It’s up to you to grab them.
Browse ladnscaper jobs
Average hourly rate: $10.97–$13.23 (£8.38–£10.10)
Today, there’s a sitter for pretty much everyone and everything. You can hire a sitter to look after your children, take care of your house when you’re away or ensure your pets have enough attention and food when you’re gone for long periods of time. Sounds easy, right?
Well, in order to get this gig, you’ll need to show how responsible, mature and reliable you are. If you’re hired to be in the house, then you need to be in the house. If you’re tasked with looking after a family’s golden retriever, you’ll need to ensure of the animal’s wellbeing. If you’re tapped to care for a seven-year-old child, then you need to be actively caring for the kid – looking at your smartphone and being in the same room as the boy or girl does not count.
Many sitting jobs are obtained through friends, family and references. Sure, there are websites and businesses that specialise in this area, but sitting opportunities – pets or children – are typically through word of mouth. That said, you’ll still be compensated for your time. Depending on what kind of sitter you are, your location and experience, pay potential will vary, so it’s up to you to negotiate a good pay rate.
Average hourly rate: $11.91 (£9.10)
Yes, teenagers get a bad reputation for having messy rooms. But not all teens are like this. In fact – and there isn’t any research to support this – for every five messy teens, there are two neatniks.
For cleaning jobs, you have a few options: find employment at a commercial cleaning company, search for residential cleaning jobs, apply for window-cleaning jobs (those ones you see people suspended from the rooftop to wipe down building windows) or use the gig economy to find the odd cleaning task.
You may think ‘kids these days’ are too lazy and don’t want to work. And while it is true that the global youth unemployment rate is in the double digits, this shouldn’t stop teens from seeking an opportunity to earn extra cash. This is an admirable pursuit, and they should be commended for being mature about entering the labour market in their formative years.
It can be hard to find jobs that hire at 16 because of all the rules and regulations. That said, with a lot of research, a sublime CV and a little bit of luck, you can land your first part-time job that you will always remember as the years go by.
Browse cleaner jobs
What other jobs would be good for 16-year-olds? Let us know in the comments section below!
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by PayScale. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 23 October 2020.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 31 July 2018.