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Employment Rights of Teenagers and Youths in US: Federal Laws

July 22, 2013

What types of jobs can you do as a teenager?

Types of legal jobs for teenagers and youths vary depending on age. See our article on prohibited and restricted jobs for teenagers and youths in US for more information on banned and restricted jobs and on exemptions to the obligation to pay minimum wage to teens.

Jobs for teenagers and youths below 14 years old

Teens below 14 can only take on casual jobs.

  • Deliver newspapers or make newspaper rounds
  • Casual work as a babysitter. This means that you cannot be employed as a full time babysitter
  • Casual work as an actor or performer in the entertainment industries e.g. in movies, radio, theater, TV etc
  • Casual work for a family business unless the family business is in mining, manufacturing or in a prohibited occupation for teens and youths below 18
  • Casual work in the agriculture industry – but many restrictions apply. See our article on employment in the agriculture and farming industries.

Jobs for teenagers and youths between 14 and 15 years old

Working hours

Teens between 14 and 15 years old can be hired for specific jobs and occupations but are not allowed to work the following hours:

  • no working during school hours (after school only)
  • no working more than 3 hours a day during school days (Monday to Friday)
  • no working more than 18 hours a week during school term or semester
  • no working more than 8 hours a day during school holidays
  • no working more than 40 hours a week during school holidays
  • no working before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day (extended to 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day)

There are certain exceptions to the rules above if the teen has graduated from high school, or is not required to attend school, or if the teen is enrolled in any approved Work Experience, Career Exploration or Work-Study Program.

Permitted jobs

Teens between 14 and 15 years old can take on casual work or can be employed in the following occupations:

  • retail jobs
  • creative jobs e.g. music or singing instructor or performer, academic tutor or teacher
  • intellectual jobs e.g. computer programmer, website designer etc
  • performing errands or delivery work by foot, bicycle and/or public transport
  • yard and clean-up work (but they cannot be employed to use any machinery including power-driven mowers, trimmers, cutters and other similar gardening equipment)
  • car repair shop or outlet
  • kitchen and food service work
  • loading and unloading objects for use at worksites e.g. rakes, hand clippers and shovels.

If a teen meets certain requirements, the teen can be employed as a lifeguard or in sawmills and woodshops.

Jobs for teenagers and youths between 16 and 17 years old

Teenagers and youths between 16 and 17 are allowed to work unlimited hours and can work in any type of jobs except in any occupation that is prohibited for teens below 18.