Due to federal and state labor laws, there are very few businesses that are able to hire 11-, 12,- or 13-year-old employees.
However, there are still plenty of ways for entrepreneurial kids to make money.
Understanding Labor Laws
The United States Department of Labor is the governing body that enforces child labor laws.
The law that has made the most impact on child labor is the Federal Labor Standards Act, which restricts the age at which minors can be hired and the number of hours they can work.
There are very strict limits on the types of jobs those under 14 can perform. The Department of Labor offers a dedicated website to minors seeking to learn about employment; visit the U.S. Government’s Youth Rules website to take advantage of this resource.
The Youth Rules website provides a list of the types of jobs available to those under the age of 14.
We’ve used this information, as well as ideas from other sources, to compile the list of jobs below.
What We Recommend
If you’re looking for a job that you can do from home, that is sustainable (even past your teenage years), and that has high earning potential, consider making and selling crafts or other items.
If you prefer a job elsewhere in the community, consider roles like babysitting, lawn care, and/or dog walking. When you build up clientele in these types of positions, you can expand your business and earn even more.
Jobs for Those Under the Age of 14
Just because you’re too young to be hired at your favorite restaurant or your local grocery store doesn’t mean you can’t earn money — you may just need to think outside of the box.
What skills, interests, or hobbies do you have that could bring value to someone? What chores, errands, or tasks can you take off of someone’s hands in exchange for money?
We list several ideas below.
Jobs Around Your Home
You might not even need to look outside your house to find paying opportunities.
You can do the following jobs from the comfort of your home or yard — we’ve ordered the list starting with the options that are both the most feasible/accessible, lucrative, and sustainable.
Making and Selling Crafts
- How much you can earn: Your earnings will depend on the type of craft(s) you make, the cost of the materials, and the labor involved. You’ll want to charge a retail price for your craft that covers all these costs, plus a little extra for profit.
- How to find these jobs: Sign up for an account on Etsy or eBay to sell your handmade crafts. You can also research local craft fairs, as these events usually allow vendors to rent a booth and sell their goods.
- Age requirements or other limitations: When signing up for an account with Etsy or eBay, you will need to enter a credit card number to charge the monthly fees. You’ll need to ask a parent or guardian before signing up to make sure they’ll let you use their credit card number. A parent may also need to help you with packaging and shipping once you’ve sold an item online. When setting up a booth at a craft fair, if you choose to sell in person, you’ll need their help in transporting your goods to the fair and assistance with setup and tear-down of your booth.
- How much you can earn: This depends on how many items you are able to buy and sell. Since you will likely finance your own business with past sales, takeoff may be slow. The more you sell, the more money you will have to make purchases and the higher your sales will become. There is theoretically no limit to your potential earnings.
- How to find these jobs: See if you can find a few things around the house to sell (with permission), then use the earnings to buy things online and locally to resell.
- Age requirements or other limitations: You must be 18 years old to open a PayPal or eBay account, but a guardian can do that for you. They will have ownership of the account, but if they support your endeavors, you should have no problem operating your selling business. There are no actual restrictions on how old you need to be to buy and resell items.
- How much you can earn: This will depend on the costs of making the lemonade. Calculate the cost of the cup, lemons, sugar, and labor required per glass of lemonade, then add a little bit more for profit. If it costs $0.25 per cup to make the lemonade, for example, consider charging $0.50 per cup for purchase. If you want to earn more, consider selling other items such as homemade brownies or cookies.
- How to find these jobs: No searching necessary — you can set up a lemonade stand in your front yard.
- Age requirements or other limitations: You may need to ask a parent or guardian for their assistance in setting up a table outside and gathering the ingredients to make the lemonade. They may also be the ones paying for the ingredients, so you might want to pay them back before calculating any profits.
- How much you can earn: You’ll need to negotiate this with your parent or guardian. Your pay will be determined by what chores need to be accomplished around the house and how much they are willing to give you for each task.
- How to find these jobs: Ask your parents/guardian what chores need to be completed. You can also ask neighbors if there are any chores they need help with, and if they’d be willing to pay you for your assistance.
- Age requirements or other limitations: If you are already expected to complete chores free of charge, it can be difficult to convince your parents to begin paying you.
Your Family’s Business
- How much you can earn: This will depend on the type of business your family owns and how much the owners are willing to pay you. Family members may be expected to work for less than non-family members.
- How to find these jobs: Ask your parents or another family member who runs a business if they could hire you to help out.
- Age requirements or other limitations: As long as your family’s business does not involve mining, forestry, demolition, or another one of the 17 hazardous industries noted by the Department of Labor, you can go to work for your parents. If your family owns a farm or other type of agricultural business, be sure to check out the Department of Labor’s list of hazardous duties minors cannot perform.
Jobs Around Town
You can expand your opportunities by looking outside your home. You can capitalize on your neighbors’ need for someone to walk their dog, watch their young child, or rake their yard.
As above, we’ve ordered the list starting with the options that are accessible to most and that can earn a sustainable income.
- How much you can earn: It will depend on the going rate in your area. It’s common for babysitters to earn about $10 to $15 or more per hour for one child, plus another $1 to $2 per hour for each additional child.
- How to find these jobs: Ask your neighbors with young kids if they need a babysitter. Find out from your parents if they have friends who need a babysitter, or start by babysitting your younger siblings.
- Age requirements or other limitations: There’s no set age requirement for a babysitter, but a certain level of maturity is needed. It’s a good idea to invest your time in a CPR class, especially if you’ll be taking care of very young children or babies. To help you get certified, the Red Cross offers CPR and child care classes.
Lawn Care & Snow Shoveling
- How much you can earn: This will vary widely depending on your expertise, the equipment you use, and the going rate in your area. See our article to determine how much to charge for snow removal.
- How to find these jobs: Look around your neighborhood for unkempt yards and lawns. Ask the owner if they need assistance with the upkeep of their yard. You can even place an ad on Craigslist for your services or put up flyers around town.
- Age requirements or other limitations: If you can use a rake, you’re probably old enough to do some light lawn care. If you plan to use a lawnmower, weed eater, blower, or another type of small lawn care machinery, be sure you are trained on how to operate it safely and properly.
Dog Walking or Sitting
- How much you can earn: You could potentially command $20 for a half-hour dog walk. You can search the going rates by checking with local vets and dog boarding facilities, as these places typically charge customers to walk their dog. For dog sitting, you could charge even more per day — even around $50 or more — depending on the requirements of the dog and its owner. Again, check with local dog boarding places to find out the current going rates.
- How to find these jobs: Ask your neighbors with dogs if they need their dogs to be walked or watched while they are at work or out of town. If they currently bring their dog to daycare or another facility, you may be able to undersell the professionals if you can prove you’re competent. You can also post an ad on Craigslist for your dog walking and pet sitting services.
- Age requirements or other limitations: If a pet owner does not live within walking or biking distance of your home, you’ll need a guardian’s help in getting to their location. If school is in session, you’ll be limited in the time you’ll be able to walk dogs.
- How much you can earn: Depending on the number of subscribers to the newspaper, you could potentially earn $10 to $12 an hour.
- How to find these jobs: Contact your local newspaper office and ask if there are any available positions.
- Age requirements or other limitations: Some newspapers may require couriers to own a properly registered and insured vehicle. Riding a bicycle to deliver newspapers isn’t as fast or efficient as using a vehicle. Therefore, you may need to have your parent, guardian, or older sibling take you on your paper route.
- How much you can earn: If you’re intelligent and have a talent for teaching others around your age or younger, you can set your own rates, but these will vary depending on the subject, your age, and the age of those you are tutoring. If there are others at your school who are also tutors, you can check with them to see how much they charge.
- How to find these jobs: Inquire with the school you attend and the elementary schools in your area for tutoring jobs. You can also post an ad on a site like Craigslist.
- Age requirements or other limitations: The only limitation is that parents may be hesitant to hire a very young tutor for their child. You may need to overcome this by proving your knowledge of the subject. Be prepared to show off your recent report cards, and consider getting letters of recommendation from your current teacher(s).
- How much you can earn: Earnings will vary widely depending on the farm and the hourly wage it pays its workers. (Most small farms that hire employees under 14 are not required to pay the federal minimum wage, so it will typically be less than $7.25 an hour.)
- How to find these jobs: The best way to find a job on a farm is to inquire with large local farms in your area, or connect with those you may know who work on a farm.
- Age requirements or other limitations: Due to the danger of heavy farm equipment, there are numerous restrictions on the types of machinery a person under the age of 14 can operate. A child aged 12 to 13 may work on a farm outside of school hours only if their parents work on that farm as well, or if the child has written parental consent. Youths of any age may work at any time on a farm that is owned and operated by their parents.
Acting or Modeling
- How much you can earn: Depending on your talent and ability to book jobs, you can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars per gig. Amounts will vary widely depending on the type of job and the company that hires you. Keep in mind that a talent agency will take a percentage of your earnings, and it’s not easy to get this type of job — acting and modeling are both highly competitive and demanding industries.
- How to find these jobs: If you live near a major city (e.g., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, etc.), you can research local talent agencies. Many agencies hire young people for modeling and commercials.
- Age requirements or other limitations: Since you’re under 14, you’re going to need a parent or guardian to accompany you to each casting call and job. In the competitive modeling and acting industry, you should prepare yourself to face rejections before being hired. Additionally, if you live in a small town or rural area, your opportunities can be limited.
If you’re in the 11-to-13 age range now but are interested in the jobs you can hold in a few years, you can also check out our article about jobs for 14- and 15-year-olds.
We also have the list of modeling jobs for teens.