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Million dollars
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This is an online resource for the book The Teenager's Guide to the Real World by Marshall Brain, ISBN 1-9657430-3-9. The online resources are offered as a free supplement to the book. They help you access the huge library of material for teenager's available on the Web. For more information on the book please click here.

Part-time Jobs for Teenagers

As a teenager you likely have: A) a fair amount of spare time, and B) a desire to earn money. As described in Chapter 1 of The Teenager's Guide to the Real World, money gives you freedom. By working to earn money yourself, you can learn a lot about the value of things as well as the world of business.

To earn money, one option you have is to go get a job. Typical and obvious jobs for teenagers include:

  • working at a fast-food restaurant
  • working as a clerk in a store
  • working as a bag boy at a supermarket
  • etc.
What you get out of a job like this depends on your attitude. If your attitude is, "I hate this job," then obviously you will get nothing out of it.

If, on the other hand, you look at your job as an opportunity to learn how a business works from the inside out, then you can get a lot out of it. Many of the millionaires in this country, for example, are owners of franchise and private restaurants. Many of them learned how to run a restaurant by working in a restaurant.

Owning a restaurant is not easy, It requires quite a bit of knowledge and skill to be successful. Start gathering the knowledge and skill as a teenager by working in a restaurant. Try as many positions as possible and ask lots of questions about cash flow, staffing, inventory, etc. Also keep in mind that there are lots of different kinds of restaurants: fast food, family dining, elegant dining, etc. They pay differently and appeal to different people. Look around at the options before making up your mind.

If you apply this attitude to any job you have, you can give yourself a tremendous boost. See the article How to make a million dollars for lots more information on this approach. For a great book describing this process, see the book Dave's Way on the books page. This book shows how the founder of the Wendy's chain got his start as a teenager. A fantastic, fun-to-read book!

For many teenagers, the problems with this "go get a job" approach include:

  1. You may not be old enough
  2. You may lack reliable transportation
  3. You may not have enough total time available or a regular enough schedule for someone to be willing to hire you
  4. You might not be able to find a job in an area that you enjoy
If any of these problems holds true for you, then working for yourself on a part-time basis may be the best way to go. Here are some ideas:
  • Baby-sitting - Babysitting is a tried and true way for any responsible teenager to make money (IF you like kids!). Any community that has families with small children needs baby-sitters. However, it is extremely hard to find trustworthy and reliable baby-sitters who are available on a regular basis. Your business would provide in-home baby-sitting services. There are several things you can do to make your services more valuable. First, you should go take a Red Cross first aid course so that you know how to handle emergencies. You might also want to volunteer at your church if there is a day-care center there. You can pick up a lot of valuable experience that way. Second, you might want to consider teaming up with some like-minded friends. That way your group will be able to say "yes" more often and that will increase the number of calls you get. See this page for some great advice on babysitting.
  • Lawn or yard care - Another perrenial favorite. During the summer you mow lawns, trim hedges and so on. In the fall you rake leaves. In the winter you shovel snow.
  • Indoor house painting - You advertise your ability to paint individual rooms in a customer's house. Before undertaking this adventure you should make sure you know what you are doing by reading, working with someone with experience and practicing in your own home.
  • Baked goods (cookies, cakes etc.) - Many families are too busy to bake their own cookies and cakes these days. However, having fresh-baked goods around the house is nice. Also, a family might need a home-baked cake for a school bake sale or a party. You could provide baked goods for special occasions like these or sell baked goods at local craft or farmers' markets. Check local health laws as you are starting this sort of activity.
  • Cleaning - If you enjoy cleaning and do it well, then house cleaning for others is straightforward and easy. Find busy people in your neighborhood and clean for them once every week or two.
  • Dog walking or vacation pet care - Most people who have pets want to give them the best care possible. Your business would help pet owners to do that by walking their pets daily or by providing in-home pet care when owners are on vacation.
  • Errand-running for busy people - Busy people often do not have time today to stand in line to get their license plates renewed, to buy groceries or to run other errands. Your business would handle these tasks for them.
  • Washing cars for neighbors - You can simply wash cars. There is also a whole industry called "car detailing". A detailer washes and waxes the outside and REALLY cleans the inside: vacuuming, washing the windows, armor-alling, etc.
  • Teaching older people how to use computers or the internet - Many older people are totally affraid of computers. If you understand computers you can help them. You could come to the customer's home (or they to your home) and you could charge on a half-hourly or hourly basis.
  • Using a computer application - learn Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, etc. and then go get or create a part-time job in a small business using your skills (see also the Job Skills article).
  • Creating Web Sites - If you are artistic and technically minded, there is a great opportunity available right now creating web sites for small businesses. Or try creating your own web site that generates a lot of traffic and make money selling ads on it. (see also the web site article)
  • Making and selling something unique: A newsletter on something that interests you, something arty, etc. If you are artistic create greeting cards or draw portraits. You will discover that your greatest difficulty doing this is finding outlets, so work to solve that problem (you will learn an incredible amount in the process).
One question you will have as soon as you choose an activity is, "How much should I charge?" This is a good question. It is best answered by doing a market survey. In a market survey you call around and ask potential customers what they are used to paying and/or willing to pay, or you ask your friends what they are able to charge for similar activities. In the case of an activity like car washing, you could also call car washes or detailers in your area and ask what they charge. Chapter 44 of The Teenager's Guide to the Real World offers a good guide to starting your own part-time business. Check there for more information on topics such as business planning, advertising, rates, etc.

If neither of these ideas appeals to you, then two other ideas are:

  1. Working in a small business in order to learn the business
  2. Working in a volunteer position
Although it may not be obvious to you, any community has thousands of small businesses. They do all sorts of things: printing, plumbing, landscaping, construction, computer programming, business promotion, advertising, health care and so on. Really--there are literally thousands of these small companies hidden in business parks and office condos all over town. A lot of these small businesses could really benefit from a part-time, minimum wage helper who is reliable and mature. In return, you can learn an amazing amount about the business because you will be in contact with everyone in the business every day. Think about what sort of work you might find interesting. Then look in the yellow pages and find small businesses with related interests. Write a letter to the owner or make an appointment and make a pitch. Some places will say no. That's life. But if you try a few places someone will likely say yes. Once you get in the door learn EVERYTHING you can about the business. You will be surprised at how quickly you become a valued part of the team. See also Chapter 6 of The Teenager's Guide to the Real World.

Volunteer positions are another option. You can volunteer at many hospitals, senior citizen homes, and most any charitable organization or political group. You won't earn any money, but you can learn a lot and colleges are normally quite interested in charitable works.

If you have other part-time money making ideas for teenagers that you would like to share, please send them to: Thanks!

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Keywords: teenagers, teenager, teen age, teenage, teens, teen, adolescents, adolescent, parents, parent