Summer is quickly approaching, and kids will be let out of school for the break soon! Many want to make money over the summer, but most job articles are written for teens and young adults.
What if you are not old enough to get a traditional job in your area because of the child labor laws?
In what ways can a kid make money if you are not legally able to work?
What are the child labor laws in your area, and how do they apply to you?
Let’s discuss finding a job as a kid or preteen and how to work legally!
What Child Labor Laws Apply to Your Situation?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes the requirements for working, including:
- What a fair wage is
- How many hours a child is allowed to work
- Safety standards for working environments where kids are employed
Jobs for kids fall into two categories under the FLSA: agricultural and non-agricultural. The FLSA is the federal requirements for employment, but each state has its own requirements, and state law wins out over the federal if the state law is more strict.
The Department of Labor discusses individual state requirements here.
Summer Jobs for Kids
If you are creative, there are opportunities to make money in any region of the world. When I was a kid, I made money designing tie-dyed t-shirts which later grew into a business. Before starting the company, I was a pet sitter, dog walker, babysitter, and worked as a stable hand for a local horse farm. Each job taught me a great deal about my work ethic and gave me money to spend on things I wanted for myself and my family.
Many farms are willing to hire kids to do odd jobs around the farm because this takes some of the burden off of themselves while paying cash in exchange for labor. Odd jobs around a farm can include:
- General cleanup
- Stacking hay bales
- Babysitting small children while others do farm work
- Moving livestock around for feeding, milking, tending
- Feeding animals
- Selling produce or homemade products at a farm stand
Trip Helper for Parents and Groups
Summertime is the perfect time to take trips to the local water park, amusement park, museums, or playgrounds and parents need help tending to small children and making sure everyone stays safe on the outing. This has become a new trend in babysitting.
Talk to friends, neighbors, and relatives in your area about watching their pets in your home or checking on them at their home while they are at work or away on vacation over the summer. Some websites like Petsitter.com allow kids 13 and older to create a profile to offer your services to a larger audience.
Adults get busy with work and fun activities over the summer, and plants often get neglected unintentionally. Kids can offer their services to homeowners to water plants once per week over the summer and either bring their own watering can or use their hose.
Some kids choose to sell door to door with their parents’ help or help parents with their business over the summer. Who doesn’t love to support a young salesperson by giving them their first sale and supporting their efforts while they learn?
This is a new trend that is starting to take off as more kids want to join the workforce over the summer but cannot legally get a conventional job. A mother’s helper is a kid or preteen who helps out around the house or with tending children but is not old enough to babysit independently. Get paid to play with small children while their Mom gets some work done around the house!
Pictures used to be printed and kept in photo albums, but now that technology has advanced, many of us are looking to move photos online, so we no longer have to keep the albums around the house taking up space. Documents like birth certificates and marriage licenses can be digitized, as well.
Production and Theater Work
By law, kids are allowed to make money in theater, production, radio, and some marketing roles like voice acting. Many areas have local theater troupes that put on live productions over the summer months, and some productions require children cast members or backup roles. Some businesses are looking for voice actors for radio or TV commercials, and that could be a very fun summer job!
Agricultural Stand and Nursery Helper
Many farms have a stand where produce is sold, and adult workers are needed to run the farm, so kids who help with farm stands are valuable helpers. Some farms have a nursery set up for plants that require strict growing procedures and need help watering the plants or tending to their care. This is a perfect opportunity for a kid that is interested in agriculture.
Sell Handmade Items
If you have a passion for making jewelry, soap, or greeting cards, there is a market for making money as a kid. Sell these items online or at a local farmer’s market stand on the weekend. If this is your first journey into sales, figure out how much it costs to buy the material for each unit, add in the cost for your time, and charge with these costs in mind.
Workshops for Younger Kids
This may take some advance planning, but you may be able to rent the room in your local library or community center and host workshops for kids on something you are passionate about or have skill doing. Some ideas would be food preparation, jewelry making, baking basics, or caring for younger kids.
Another idea for location is to host park play dates where tired moms that need a break can bring their kids to the local park and drop them off with you for a playdate with other kids their own age for a fee. The parent gets to take a breather and hang out with other parents for a bit while still being able to supervise their children playing.
Summer is the perfect time to run a car wash on the weekends when most adults are off work and out and about with the family running errands or enjoying the day. Salt from the roads over the winter will need to be cleaned off cars in regions that have high rates of snow or icy weather during the cold months, and spring/summer is a great time to deep clean the outside and inside of vehicles.
Gardening and landscaping are excellent skills to have because there is a massive market for this service in most cities or towns across the country. Even if homeowners put down weed mats or black plastic to prevent weeds, some will still find their way through, and this can be a pesky task that many adults don’t have time for but still want to have a nice yard. Offer to pull weeds or lay down mulch for a fee every week to get some consistent income for yourself while offering a much-needed service to your neighbors.
Food expires if it isn’t eaten by the “use by” date, and many adults don’t have time to clean out the pantry or inventory what is on hand that needs to be used soon before it expires. If you are skilled at organizing and inventory, this is a great way to provide value and make extra money. Develop a system for charging by the hour or the project for pantry cleanout or inventory.
Before and After School Care
Some families have hectic morning or after-school routines due to Mom and Dad needing to be at work by a specific time and kids need to get off to school on time. Charge a fee to help get kids ready in the morning or watch them until the bus comes to pick them up. After school, charge a fee to walk home with kids in your neighborhood and make them snacks or help with homework before their parents get home from work.
Toys have so many parts and pieces, and many get lost as time goes on because the sets aren’t regularly put back together. It can be really frustrating for kids to want to play with their favorite toy set but not have all of the pieces. Dig through toy bins and baskets to find all of the parts and pieces to each toy set and put these items together. Figure out a system to keep sets together so parents and kids can keep organized without taking up too much time after a hard day of play.
Scanning Shopping Receipts for Cashback
Apps like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards offer cashback on grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and travel purchases. Scan and upload the receipts from purchases in your household or that of your neighbors to qualify for cash back, or help them upload the receipts to their accounts frequently while charging a fee for your time. This is a win-win solution for everyone!
Swagbucks and Surveys
Swagbucks can be used by kids ages 13 and over and is very easy to use to earn gift cards to your favorite shopping destinations like Amazon and Starbucks. Use this search engine instead of Google and watch videos or take surveys to qualify for rewards. This method of earning some spending cash requires quite a bit of time and patience, but adds up quickly while doing online activities that you were going to do anyway, so why not earn some gift cards while you’re at it?
Ask your parents, friends, and neighbors for odd jobs that can be completed around the house, like bathing dogs or helping your dad fix the family car in the garage by handing him tools. This is an opportunity to make extra money outside of your regular allowance by helping out around the house doing tasks that generally aren’t expected of you. There are many different ways to make money in your neighborhood if you are creative and willing to help with odd jobs. Once you find tasks that you enjoy doing, you can specialize in those tasks and potentially start a summer business to bring in consistent income for yourself.
If you have a flair for fashion or beauty services, offer to go shopping with or for the adults in your life or paint your friends’ nails. Summertime is the perfect time for parties, reunions, dances, and summer camps, so beauty services are always required to get ready for these events! Makeup application and hair braiding are traditionally expensive services if done at a salon, so many would pay for your services if you are skilled, allowing you to improve your skills.
Summertime is the perfect time to make some spending money or save up for long-term savings goals like a skateboard or new gaming system. It can be challenging to get a traditional job as a kid because of the labor laws that are in place for young kids and preteens. Use these ideas to inspire some creative ways to earn money for yourself. Build off these ideas and come up with your own if none of these appeals to you!
Before starting any of these, check your local and state labor laws to ensure you are old enough to start them and what requirements are for starting. Know how many hours you are allowed to work per week and what activities you can pursue. This will help you as you mature and begin to look into traditional jobs in your area. Skills learned as a kid will help as you grow and begin to decide what you want to do with your life after finishing school.