Once you turn 18, you’re considered an adult in the eyes of the law. You’re probably finished with (or about to finish) high school and the “real world” awaits — you’ll be faced with a number of choices, such as whether to immediately start college, take a gap year, enlist in the military, or join the workforce and start building a career right away. Regardless of what you choose, you may be 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. Below, we list the highest paying jobs for 18-year-olds, as well as some more details about the types of employment available to you when you turn 18.
Are There Any Limitations to Working at 18?
As an 18-year-old, age is no longer a barrier to getting most jobs. You are considered an adult for most intents and purposes, you are no longer subject to the federal child labor provisions, and you can work in nearly all industries. However, there are still a few limitations.
While you are technically considered an adult, employers can still pay you the 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 from the U.S. Department Of Labor, the minimum required wage is only $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment or until you reach age 20, whichever comes first. Note that 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. Departments of Labor Wages page for more information about wages.
The only other major limitation to working at 18 is experience. Most higher paying jobs will require, on average, at least three to five years of 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.
Comparison Table: Jobs for 18-Year-Olds
You can use the table below for a quick comparison of the highest paying jobs for 18-year-olds, then click any job or scroll for more details.
The 11 Best Paying Jobs for 18-Year-Olds
Below, we list some of the highest paying jobs you can get at age 18, and all of these are jobs that you can pursue as full-time employment, if you choose. We’ve ordered the list below starting with the best options in terms of earnings, required experience, opportunities for growth, and overall job satisfaction.
1. Administrative Assistant
- Average earnings: $14 to $20 per hour
- Required training/experience: Little to none
- More information: 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 the potential to earn you more than most other starting positions.
2. Receptionist (Spa, Salon, Hotel, Office)
- Average earnings: $13 to $15 per hour
- Required training/experience: None
- More information: 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 the potential to move up in the company.
3. Trade Apprenticeship
- Average earnings: Starting at about $15 per hour
- Required training/experience: None to start
- More information: 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 at first. You’ll also need to pass certification tests and programs, but there are significant opportunities for growth. These positions are ideal for those 18-year-olds that don’t necessarily see college in their future and prefer to build a lifelong career in a trade.
4. Delivery Driver (Other)
- Average earnings: $15 per hour
- Required training/experience: Driver’s license and some physical requirements
- More information: 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 or takeout delivery drivers, but one of the requirements for many services (UPS, FedEx, etc.) is the ability to lift up to 70 pounds or more.
Note: Perks of jobs with a big corporation like FedEx may include airfare discounts. For details, see our article about FedEx employee discounts.
5. Bank Teller
- Average earnings: $11 to $15 per hour
- Required training/experience: Some related experience required
- More information: 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 this position typically pays more than most other starting jobs and definitely looks good on your resume — ultimately preparing you for your future career.
- Average earnings: Variable
- $13.63 per hour if working in a family’s home
- $14.72 per hour if you have a high school diploma
- $15.39 per hour if you’ve completed some college
- Required training/experience: None (though some employers may require some relevant experience or certifications)
- More information: According to Care.com, full-time nannies working 40 hours per week and caring for one or two children can earn nearly as much as an entry-level position after college. In order to be a nanny, of course, have to be good with kids, have some experience in taking care of them, and probably pass some sort of background check. CPR courses will also be assets on your resume when searching for employment as a nanny.
- Average earnings: $9 to $10 per hour
- Required training/experience: None
- More information: Waiting tables is many 18-year-olds’ first introduction into the job force. The hours are long and it can be tiring, but you’ll 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 most money.
8. Sales Associate
- Average earnings: $9 per hour
- Required training/experience: None
- More information: 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, and it is a great entryway into other customer service professions. It’s worthwhile if you enjoy talking to people and getting discounts at the store you work for, but you’ll need a lot of patience to earn those dollars.
9. Pizza Delivery Driver
- Average earnings: $8 per hour, plus tips
- Required training/experience: Driver’s license
- More information: 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 the potential to earn you some decent money. 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).
10. Web Designer
- Average earnings: $30 to $50 per hour
- Required training/experience: Training, portfolio, etc.
- More information: 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 when you’re just starting out, and you will need to have training, technical skills, and a portfolio of work to demonstrate your talent, but it can be worth it in terms of potential earnings.
11. Graphic Designer
Our dedicated article has more information about working as a freelance graphic designer.
Other Ways to Earn Money at 18
At the age of 18, you may find it difficult to enter the workforce with little to no experience. This is especially true if you didn’t have a job during school, perhaps because you participated in sports or you wanted to focus on school work. 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 money. Here are a few ideas for side gigs you can consider while you’re in school or searching for gainful employment.
- Blogger or content writer
- Dog walker
- House cleaner
- Social media influencer (See more in our article about getting paid to promote products.)
- Virtual assistant
Hoping to get paid to travel? See our article about how to become a flight attendant at 18 or 19.
There are plenty of high-paying jobs you can get when you turn 18. 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 to the next level of your career and life.