If you’re 18 years old, for most intents and purposes, you are now an adult. Congrats! You’re probably finished with (or about to finish) high school and the “real world” awaits. Whether you choose to immediately start college, take a gap year, or focus on building a career, you’re probably wondering what the best way is to earn money at 18. Being 18 years old means your opportunities for employment will grow exponentially, but of course, there are some that pay better than others.

In This Article

Are There Any Limitations to Working at 18?

As an 18-year-old, age is no longer a barrier to getting a job. You are now considered an adult for most intents and purposes, are no longer subject to the federal child labor provisions, and can work in nearly all industries. However, there are still a few limitations.

While you are technically considered an adult in the eyes of the law, employers can still pay you with Youth Minimum Wage at 18 years old. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for most employees. However, based on the Youth Minimum Wage Program of Department Of Labor, the wage is only $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment or until you reach age 20, whichever comes first. Note: Individual state governments may have different laws, including higher minimum wages. For example, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11 per hour. See the U.S. Department’s of Labor Wages page for more information about wages.

The only other limitation to working at 18 is experience. Most higher paying jobs will require, on average, at least 3-5 years experience and a college degree. Luckily, there are some jobs you can apply for that have opportunities for growth and do not require a college degree. You can establish a resume and a reputation as a competent and dedicated employee as you work your way up to earning more money.

The 10 Best Paying Jobs for 18-Year-Olds

1. Administrative Assistant

Average Earnings: $14-20 per hour

An administrative assistant position can be a great starting position for an 18-year-old, with many opportunities for growth. You’ll handle everyday tasks around the office, including (but not limited to) answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, data entry, handling mail and email, filing, and numerous other computer tasks. Depending on the type of industry, an administrative position has potential to earn you more than most other starting positions.

2. Bank Teller

Average Earnings: $11-15 per hour

18 is the entry-level age for a bank teller. It may be harder to score this starting position without some experience and background, but you have to start somewhere! This position typically pays higher than most other starting jobs and definitely looks good on your resume — ultimately preparing you for your future career.

3. Delivery Driver (Pizza)

Average Earnings: $8 per hour, plus tips

If you have your driver’s license and enjoy driving, you can earn money as a pizza delivery driver. It may not be the most glamorous of jobs, but it has potential to earn you some decent dollars. Although pizza delivery drivers don’t earn much as far as an hourly wage, there is the opportunity to score some tips (especially on nights and weekends).

4. Delivery Driver (Other)

Average Earnings: $15 per hour

Aside from pizza, there are many other options for delivery drivers, including (but not limited to) shipping services, grocery, furniture, or even Amazon Prime. These drivers earn a bit more of an hourly wage than pizza delivery drivers, but one of the requirements for many services (UPS, FedEx, etc.) is the ability to lift up to 70 lbs or more.

5. Nanny

Average Earnings:

  • $13.63 per hour if working in a family’s home
  • $14.72 per hour if you hold a high school diploma
  • $15.39 per hour if you’ve completed some college

According to Care.com, full-time nannies working 40 hours a week and caring for one or two children can earn nearly as much as an entry-level position after college. Wow! In order to be a nanny, you’ll, of course, have to love kids, have some experience in taking care of them, and probably pass some sort of background check. CPR courses and the like will also be assets on your resume when searching for employment as a nanny.

6. Receptionist (Spa, Salon, Hotel, Office)

Average Earnings: $13-$15 per hour

Working as a receptionist is a great way to earn money at 18 years old if you’re an outgoing individual and love people. Typically, a receptionist’s duties include greeting people on the phone and in person, maintaining security, directing visitors, monitoring the guest book, answering visitors’ questions, sorting mail, and more. It’s a fairly easy job for entry-level employees with potential to move up in the company.

7. Sales Associate

Average Earnings: $9 per hour

Being a sales associate is not for everyone. You’ll most definitely gain respect for every retail worker you interact with forever after working as in the industry. It’s worthwhile if you love talking to people and getting discounts at the store you work for, but you’ll need a lot of patience to earn those dollars.

8. Trade Apprenticeship

Average Earnings: Start at about $15 per hour, with many opportunities for growth

Learn-on-the-job trade positions, like construction, electrician, mechanic, plumber, HVAC, and others, can be extremely rewarding — in terms of money and growth. It may take a few years to make decent money, as you’ll be learning on the job first. You’ll also need to pass certification tests and programs and get really good at one thing. These positions are ideal for those 18-year-olds that don’t necessarily see college in their future.

9. Waiter/Waitress

Average Earnings: $9-10 per hour

Waiting tables is many 18-year-olds’ first introduction into the job force. The hours are long and it can be tiring, but you have the potential to earn a high salary depending on the establishment you work for. The more upscale the restaurant, the more tips you’ll get. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to spend nights and weekends at work if you want to make the big bucks.

10. Web Design

Average Earnings: $22 per hour

Advanced computer skills are always in high demand, especially web design skills. At 18, you can earn a great deal of money designing websites and graphics from the comfort of your home. It may be quite challenging at first to find a company or client to work for, but in the long run will definitely be worth it.

Other Ways to Earn Money at 18

At age 18, you may find it difficult to enter the workforce with little to no experience. Luckily, even the most inexperienced can find alternative ways to earn some money. Side gigs and work-from-home opportunities can help you learn some new skills while making some extra dollars. It’s a win-win. Here are a few ideas for side gigs while you search for other gainful employment or while you’re in school.

  • Blogging or content writing
  • Dog Walking
  • House Cleaning
  • Social Media Influencer
  • Tutoring
  • Virtual Assistant

In Summary

At 18, there are no longer restraints on your ability to earn an income. While you may not be making six figures right away, there are some options for jobs that will earn you a decent income as you enter the adult world. Plus, with some initiative and hard work, you can establish a reputation as a competent and dedicated employee, gain some useful work experience, and collect positive references from employers to help you advance gracefully to the next level of your career and life. The “real world” awaits you.