Amanda Hutchinson

Benefits of a Summer Job as a Teen

Summer break is not only a time for relaxation but also an opportunity for teenagers to gain valuable work experience, develop essential skills, and earn some extra income. Per the June 2023 Gusto Teen Hiring Report, the national pay average for teens looking for summer employment was $14.89/hr., and teens can find many opportunities within the sports and recreation, food and beverage, education, and retail industries among others. Engaging in summer jobs not only provides financial benefits but also fosters personal growth and responsibility. In this paper, we will explore some of the best summer jobs for teens, considering factors such as flexibility, learning opportunities, and relevance to future career paths. 10 Tips to Save Money on College Tuition Without Debt 

Is it Possible to Work as a Teen Under 18?

There are many opportunities for teens as young as 13 to earn an income over the summer. Per the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines, teenagers between 13-17 years of age may work in a variety of jobs, provided they are not considered hazardous. Once a teen turns 18, they are no longer subject to federal child labor laws, and their options for employment increase. 

Retail Positions:

Working in retail environments, such as local stores or malls, can offer teens a chance to enhance their customer service skills, learn about merchandising, and gain exposure to the basics of business operations. Positions like cashier, sales associate, or stock clerk provide a foundation for understanding the dynamics of the retail industry, and may help provide financial literacy training as well. 

Earning Potential:

The national average for part-time Retail Associate jobs across the U.S. is $16/hr. 

Job Requirements

Entry-level retail associates generally need to possess basic math skills, good communication/customer service skills, and an understanding of the merchandise sold in the store. 

Lifeguarding and Swim Instructor: 

For teens who are strong swimmers and enjoy spending time around the pool, lifeguarding or becoming a swim instructor can be an ideal summer job. Not only does this role promote water safety, but it also cultivates responsibility, leadership, and effective communication skills. 

Earning potential:

The national average for lifeguard jobs across the U.S. is $17/hr. 

Job Requirements:

Check your state/employer for specific requirements, but generally, lifeguarding requirements are that teenagers must be at least 15 years of age, demonstrate strong proficiency and endurance in swimming skills tests, and possess some form of first aid/CPR certification. 

Camp Counselor: 

Working as a camp counselor is an excellent way for teens to spend their summer outdoors while gaining leadership experience. Whether at a traditional summer camp, sports camp, or arts camp, counselors often develop teamwork, problem-solving, and organizational skills while mentoring younger campers. 

Earning potential:

The national average for summer camp counselor jobs across the U.S. is $16/hr. 

Job requirements:

A background check may be required. Prior experience in teaching or directing children’s programs, a background in athletics, art, music or other pursuits, and being a former camp participant yourself are some requirements that can help in your pursuit of summer camp counselor positions. 

Babysitting or Pet Sitting: 

Babysitting or pet sitting is a classic summer job that allows teens to earn money while caring for children or animals. These roles promote responsibility, patience, and time management, and and is they are often flexible in terms of working hours. 

Earning potential:

The national average for babysitting and pet sitting jobs across the U.S. is $16-$18/hr. 

Job requirements:

Babysitters and/or pet sitters require responsibility, patience, ability to prepare meals and care for/entertain others, and time management. 

Internships or Apprenticeships: 

For teens with a specific career interest, seeking out internships or apprenticeships in fields related to their future aspirations can provide valuable hands-on experience. This could include opportunities in technology, marketing, healthcare, or other industries, allowing teens to explore an accounting career, a data science career, or a multitude of other potential career paths. 

Earning potential:

The national average for summer internship jobs and apprenticeship jobs across the U.S. is $16 – $21/hr. 

Job requirements:

Requirements will vary depending on the specific type of role, but it generally helps to have completed some level of coursework in the field related to the role, a strong interest in the role, as well as an energetic personality, and the ability to learn on the job. 

Freelance or Online Jobs: 

In the digital age, teens can explore various online opportunities, such as freelance writing, graphic design, social media management, or virtual assistance. These roles not only provide flexibility but also introduce teens to the gig economy and remote work dynamics. 

Earning potential:

The national average for freelance writing, graphic design, social media management, and virtual assistant jobs across the U.S. is $23 – $35/hr and can vary greatly depending on your experience level and geographical location. 

Job requirements:

Requirements will vary depending on the specific role, but with online jobs for teens, it helps to have strong data entry and organizational skills, attention to detail, an ability to meet deadlines, and work well independently.  

Explore EVERFI’s College and Career Readiness Lessons for Middle and High School Students 

Engaging in summer jobs offers teens more than just financial benefits; it provides a platform for personal and professional development. The experiences gained during these summer positions contribute to building a foundation of skills, including money mentality skills, that can be valuable in their future academic and professional endeavors. Encouraging teens to explore diverse job opportunities during their summer break can set them on a path toward success and self-discovery. 

EVERFI offers several courses that allow students to explore their future career opportunities, ranging from Entrepreneurship to jobs in Data Science or the Accounting professions. Here are some recommended courses to help with student’s career exploration and workforce preparedness skills: 


Amanda Hutchison is a Business and Marketing Teacher at Boyle County High School in Central Kentucky. She spent 11 years in executive leadership before her career in education, so she understands the importance of experiential-based learning that uses technology. As an Education Doctoral candidate at Murray State University, Amanda is focused on research that engages students, improves student behaviors, and impacts teacher retention.