For kids, summer days are filled with ice cream cones, outdoor play, beach outings—and eventually, their first summer job. Working over the summer is a great opportunity for your kids to adopt important money values—and start earning some cash, too. Plus, a short-term position is a great opportunity to help them explore their interests, so they can start considering what they want to be when they grow up.
From their very first “job,” make sure they’re paying attention to where their earnings go. As they get older, they can start setting aside money for college savings, and once they’re earning taxable income, consider having them set up a retirement account to get used to saving for the long-term.
Below, we’ve outlined some jobs appropriate for kids in different age brackets. Keep in mind that kids can do more complicated versions of “younger” jobs even as they grow up. You never get too old to babysit!
Ages 5 to 7
At such a young age, kids can’t earn income in typical ways. They require a lot of supervision—so why not use that supervised time to build up skills that will be useful down the line?
- Extra chore expert — Think additional responsibilities like sweeping the porch, turning on the lawn sprinklers, or cleaning the family car. Though ultimately it’s up to every parent to decide, we suggest that a child’s everyday tasks, like cleaning their room and setting the dinner table, shouldn’t be paid—those are just part of being a member of the family. Extra chores can be rewarded, though!
- Lemonade stand seller — fresh-squeezed might be too challenging at this age, but it’s all about the sales pitch in the end, right? Keep in mind that a public stand requires supervision. (You can kick it up a notch by teaching your kid how to make brownies or cookies to sell, too.)
- Craft maker — Kids can sell homemade crafts to their relatives to give as gifts. This can include holiday ornaments, napkin holders, or greeting cards—simple crafts that kids can learn to make over and over again.
Ages 8 to 10
Kids at this age can do more advanced tasks, but still need guidance, supervision, and structure. At this age they may be ready to “work” outside your home, whether for extended family, neighbors, or family friends.
- Garden helper — They may be too young to mow lawns, but weeding, spreading mulch, or watering flower beds are all possibilities at this age.
- Dog walker’s assistant — As a first step towards becoming a dog walker, have your child work with the neighborhood dog walker to attach leashes, pick up waste, and fill water bowls.
- Car washer — What’s more fun than taking control of the garden hose? Kids can wash your family car or invite passing drivers for a wash.
- Yard sale helper — By this age kids can probably do the math required to run the cash register at a yard sale—or at the very least, organize items and help carry purchases. They can help out at your family’s or a neighbor’s!
- Jewelry and accessories maker — Kids can sell to family, friends, or if they get really into this one, online through platforms like Etsy.
Ages 11 to 13
Jobs at this age are all about taking on a little extra responsibility—but without completely eliminating supervision. Many of these positions provide essential experience that builds the knowledge and confidence needed to work at more “adult” jobs in years to come.
- Parent’s helper — Though an 11-year-old may be too young to take on full babysitting responsibilities, by taking on some of the tasks of a babysitter—while the young kids’ parents are also in the house—your kid will build up the skills and references necessary to launching a babysitting practice once they’re old enough!
- Lawn mower — Though they can’t use a riding mower at this age, a walk-behind lawn mower will get the job done.
- Dog walker — This is an especially good fit if your family has a dog, so your kid has experience to build off of.
- Plant/house/cat sitter — While the neighbors are out of town, kids can volunteer to feed their cat or water houseplants.
- House cleaner — Maybe neighbors or family friends need an extra couple of hands around the house.
- Newspaper deliverer — This is one of the only “real jobs” kids can legally do before they turn 14, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for something a little more formal.
Ages 14 to 16
Labor laws vary state-by-state, but by this age range, your kid probably can legally work—and begin looking for more “grown-up” jobs. Many of these opportunities involve job interviews—great training for “real” jobs down the road! And keep in mind that an official paycheck may mean paying taxes, too (and potentially opening a college savings or retirement account).
- Junior camp counselor — Responsibilities of these “counselors in training” may include anything from leading group activities and hikes to helping organize camp-wide traditions and meals. If your kid grew up going to a particular camp, ask around about their junior counselor program.
- Lifeguard — This job is great at instilling both leadership and confidence. Look up certification programs in your area to qualify your kid for these positions.
- Family business worker — Do you, an uncle, or a cousin run a company? Consider setting your kid up with a beginner’s office job over the summer. This teaches basic skills needed for a real, grown-up office job down the line.
- Golf caddy — Your kid can get some fresh air while earning tips!
- Grocery store bagger, shop assistant, or ice cream scooper — Your local grocery store may need an extra set of hands—and ice cream shops are swamped in the summer! Local boutiques that get extra foot traffic alongside good weather are good places to check out, too.
- Political canvasser/campaigner — Have a social justice-minded child? Some political campaigns or organizations offer canvassing jobs for students over the summer.
- Babysitter — The old standby, babysitting is a great option for teens looking to make money with a more flexible schedule.
- Summer school tutor — Whether it’s for younger summer school students, or simply ones looking to get a head start on the upcoming school year, this is a great fit for academically-oriented teens.
By this age, kids should be saving money for college or post-high school life. Consider not just the attractiveness of the job, but also its financial benefits.
- Camp counselor — Some camps will hire older teens as full-fledged counselors.
- Amusement park ride operator — When your kid is older and able to take on more responsibility, amusement parks may offer potential work.
- Food deliverer — If your kid has their driver’s license, this could be a great match.
- Web designer or social media manager — For self-starters and tech-minded kids, these are great, flexible jobs. Be sure your child has a clear idea of what they’re signing up for before they take on any freelance projects; small local companies can be good first gigs.
A summer job is as much about preparing a kid for future work as it is about earning actual cash. Even if your kid is too young for the job they really want, you can look ahead a couple of years and think about what your child might be doing then. Want them to be ready to get a yard work job? Use this summer to teach them how to pull weeds and plant bulbs. Think they’ll make a good lifeguard next year? Have them take advanced swimming lessons this summer. Food delivery driver? Start driver’s ed classes. Babysitter? First aid certification.
What kind of summer jobs are you encouraging your kids to try out?