When Should Kids Start Working?

Heather and I both grew up in small blue-collar towns in Montana. Most of the kids we went to school with had part-time jobs just to get spending money. It was expected that kids would work. Whether there is a financial need or not, Heather and I would agree that the sense of autonomy Andrew and Chandler have developed from working has made our recommendation to you a no-brainer.

Approximately one in four teenagers works part-time. A 2011 U.S. Census study showed that over 70% of high school students over 16 did not work at all. This is not the world I grew up in and I was very surprised to find that so many kids waited to start earning a paycheck.

In her article entitled, 5 Reasons Why You Should Get A Part-Time Job in High School, Kayleen Padron outlines the benefits of part-time work. Our boys Chandler and Andrew would likely agree with each of the five benefits listed below:

  • The Money: Chandler and Drew have not asked me for spending money since Chandler started working at Wendy’s when he was 15 and Andrew started working at Rosauers when he was 15. They now work at restaurants and make a little more than minimum wage plus tips. They each have a debit card and can go to the movies or buy something whenever they want. They are also able to see that money is worth something. If they want to go to the movies, it will cost them over an hour of work. If they want to buy some name brand shoes, 15 hours of work.
  • It teaches you responsibility: Your kids will meet whatever expectations you set. Heather and I believe that kids who are not responsible for supporting themselves will become adults who are unable to support themselves. We are incredibly proud of Andrew and Chandler and expect them to be able to support themselves.
  • Resume Builder: In addition to showing that you know how to show up for work, part time jobs in high school show that the family you come from respects work. There are givers and takers in this world. A future employer needs to know that you come from a family that appreciates work and required you to get out there and contribute.
  • You learn valuable time management skills: Chandler and Andrew not only work part-time, they also participate in high school athletics, football and track. While they are in their sports season, we only require they work four hours a week. This keeps their foot in their employer’s door and allows them enough time to get everything done.
  • It improves your people skills: Drew works at a bagel shop that is connected to a bar. Chandler works at a sandwich shop. They have to interact with adults who are not their parents. Drew has learned some words that are not commonly thrown around the Foust house and Chandler has had managers who were more than a little testy. You absolutely, positively, have to nudge your kids out of the nest.

Here are some more articles about teen employment:

Why Your Teen Should Work Part-time During the School Year

Should High School Students Have Part-Time Jobs?

Should You Make Your Teen Get a Summer Job?