So, you are ready for your first job. It’s an exciting time with lots of professional discoveries ahead. But it’s good to be prepared.
In this article, learn about what to expect in your first job.
Table of Contents
When should I get my first job?
The first question you might need to answer first is whether you are actually ready to start working. And more specifically — whether you are ready to work in the position you are interested in.
There are also legal considerations, of course. You will need to make sure that you are of legal working age in the country where you plan to take up employment.
When you are ready for a new job is a very personal decision. Some people start work when they are teenagers, while others choose to complete their education and look for a job after graduation. However, according to Pew Research Center, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of teen employment hit its lowest point in almost 20 years.
There are also lots of other options you may consider if you want to experience the workplace:
part time jobs, internships, freelancing and more.
What teenage jobs pay the most?
If you are considering entering the workplace as a teenager, you will probably be interested in how much money you can make.
What you can expect in terms of hourly wage as a teenager depends on several factors. Here are some numbers for you to consider.
As of 2023, the minimum federal wage is $7.25/hour. Note, however, that if you reside in a state with a higher minimum wage, this will be the one in effect.
The average hourly wage for teenagers is estimated at around $10.03/hour.
However, how much you will make as a teenager depends on a number of factors such as:
- Your age, experience and education level
- The country and even state where you reside
- The skills you have and how relevant they are to the job you want.
On average, according to data from BLS, the median salary of a teenager in the United States is estimated at about $566 per week.
In most cases, the more complicated the skills needed for the job are and the more time it takes to develop them, the higher salary you can expect. On the other hand, if the job skills can be mastered after a few weeks of training, your salary will probably be lower.
For example, you will make more money working as a lifeguard at a hotel beach or pool than you would working in a fast food chain.
You may also find it a good idea to seek employment in the area of your education or the field that you are interested in. For instance, if you plan to study psychology, you may look for a job in the field. You won’t be able to get a job as a psychologist — but you may get an internship as a psychologist’s assistant. This will help you get started in the career you want and guarantee you a higher pay compared to a lot of other options. Plus, you may be able to gain useful connections and collect references that you may then use to apply for a full time job after graduation.
If you are wondering “who can I use as a reference for my first job?”, check out post below:
When it comes to entry-level positions, some of the highest paying options include:
- Lifeguard: lifeguards can earn from $10 to $15 per hour. You will need to be a good swimmer and have credentials to prove that.
- Retail sales associate: professionals in the retail industry make from $10 to $14 per hour. By working in retail, you can improve your skills in communication, customer service, time management and more.
- Catering: catering jobs typically pay from $14 to $18 per hour. You may find more openings for catering positions in the summertime where event planners and restaurants need more support staff for waiting tables or prepping food.
- Camp counselor: how much you make as a camp counselor depending on the responsibilities you have. On average, however, the hourly rate for camp counseling is between $10 to $18. Camp counseling may be a good fit for you if you’ve been an avid camp goer yourself and are familiar with how camp life is organized.
- Tutoring: how much you make as a tutor depends on what you are teaching, your knowledge of the subject and experience. On average, tutoring rates vary $10 to $30. If you are in high school, you can tutor elementary or middle school children on a variety of topics from the school program. If you are bilingual, teaching a foreign language can also be an option.
- Customer service: per hour rates in customer service vary from $10 to $14. The job involves answering calls, explaining how products work, dealing with customer complaints and so on. Some companies hire high school aged students for this position and some even offer the option to do the job from home.
- Data entry: pay in this field varies a lot. You will typically be paid on a per-project basis and how much you make depends on the specifics of the project and the amount of work it involves. In a typical data entry job, you will need to transfer information into an Excel sheet from other sources or vice versa.
- Virtual assistant: virtual assistants make from $15 to $30 per hour. The job involves a variety of duties from clerical work to coffee runs.
- Video transcriber: in this job you can make from $10 to $18 per hour. You will need to listen to recordings or watch videos and transcribe lectures, interviews, presentations and more. In a lot of cases, transcribing videos can be done from home.
Understandably, this is not an exhaustive list of well-paying part time job options for teenagers. Depending on your skill level, you may be able to find a lot more opportunities in various fields. This is especially true of online work. With a lot of opportunities in social media management, video editing, translation, gaming and more, having a part time job that matches your interests is easier than ever before.
Learn more about work opportunities here — How to work from home with no experience.
How to prepare for your first job?
Now if you have already found your dream job and are ready to get started, here are a few things that will help you prepare for your first ever workplace:
- Think about what you’ll need. Depending on what job you have signed up for, you may need to have different resources in your possession to do this job well. And we are not talking about skills here — but rather physical resources. For instance, if you’ve decided to work in catering, you will often need a vehicle and a valid driver’s license to be able to go to different locations. If you work as a video editor, on the other hand, you will need a computer with good graphics capabilities and a fast internet connection.
- Get ready to multitask. If you are considering working and studying at the same time, you will need to learn how to manage your time well. Having a job, even if it is part time, means having a lot of responsibilities that will definitely affect the time you have for school. It’s a good idea to read up on some time management strategies or ask your fellow co-workers about their advice on how to better organize work and school.
- Manage your expectations. A first job is exciting and you may have a lot of expectations about how your first day, week and even month will go. However, if you’ve never had a job before, you may run into quite a few surprises when you start working. This is why it’s important to manage your expectations and be prepared that working life may not be quite what you expect it to be.
How to find a job as a teenager: FAQ
Is it hard to find a job as a teenager?
With a lot of options for online work, finding your first job today is probably easier than ever. There are a lot more work from home opportunities, especially in the digital sector. And, provided you have the right skill set, finding your first job shouldn’t be hard.
How much can I ask for in salary as a teenager?
In most cases, how much you make will be determined by minimum wage requirements in your state and the type of work you do. As mentioned above, the higher the level of skill required for the job is, the more you will be paid.
Can I negotiate working hours?
Yes, in most jobs, you will be able to work on your schedule together with your supervisor to make sure your job doesn’t interfere with your studies. However, some jobs require a minimum number of hours — in this case, you will need to carefully consider your workload and whether you will be able to take on a job without it affecting your performance in school.
Let’s sum things up
Getting your first job is definitely exciting and a great way to learn more about the world. It will prepare you for professional responsibilities to come and will help you gain real-life work experience.
With that, it’s important to be prepared.
- Think about what skills you have and which fields they may be useful in.
- Look into salaries in your state and check if you can receive adequate payment.
- Consider your time management options and don’t let your work interfere with your studies.
- Finally, make sure your job application stands out from the crowd. An effective resume and cover letter combo will help you properly present your strong points and get a good job.
Learn about the best practices for writing a first job resume in how to write a modern resume in 2023.