Do you know a 14- or 15-year-old who’s looking for a summer job? While it may take a little extra searching because the hiring age is 16 at many companies, it’s not impossible.
Before you begin your search, your young teen should be aware of the legal restrictions associated with child labor laws. The U.S. Department of Labor has put some limits on the number of hours and type of work that 14- and 15-year-olds can do outside of agricultural work. Here’s a brief summary:
- They can’t work during school hours.
- They can only work three hours or less on a school day, including Friday.
- They can only work 18 hours or less per week while school is in session — and 40 hours or less when it’s not in session.
- They can’t report to work prior to 7 a.m. or stay past 7 p.m., except during the summer (June 1 – Labor Day) when they can work until 9 p.m.
- They can’t take a job that the government deems hazardous, which might include operating dangerous equipment, climbing ladders or scaffolds, or door-to-door sales jobs, among other activities.
- In some states, younger teens need to apply for a work permit (employment certificate) to take a job. Here’s a list of each state’s requirements.
Despite these restraints, several companies are willing to hire teens younger than 16 years old. As a general rule, these tend to be grocery stores, ice cream shops or fast food restaurants. But there are a few, outside-the-box options like amusement parks and movie theaters. And there’s even an opportunity to work for the government! Here are 22 companies that might be open to hiring a 14- or 15-year-old.
Whether they’re bagging groceries, restocking shelves, or greeting customers, teens can benefit from a lot of learning opportunities while working at a supermarket.
While Wegmans mostly hires older teens, this supermarket chain accepts teens as young as 15 as cashiers and in customer service roles. Wegmans has 111 stores in nine northeastern states.
The Kroger supermarket company (which also includes City Market, Dillon’s, Food 4 Less, Smith’s, King Soopers, and Mariano’s) generally hires teens starting at age 16. But in some states, a 14- and 15-year-old can land a courtesy clerk position (cart retriever, bagger or cashier) as long as they have a work permit.
This southern-based supermarket (with 1,380 locations) is especially friendly to young teens: You can start at Publix at 14 years old as a bagger, cart attendant or cashier.
Fareway has more than 130 grocery stores in seven midwestern states. While you have to be 18 to work in the meat or bakery departments, Fareway will hire a teen as young as 14 years old to work in the grocery department.
Hy-Vee, which has more than 285 stores in eight midwestern states, generally has a hiring age of 16. But each store is independently owned and operated, and some locations will hire teens as young as 14.
Ice Cream Shops
Lots of teens work in ice cream shops, probably because they’re available in the summer when these stores are the busiest. And an ice cream shop can be an upbeat and active spot where young teens are less likely to get bored!
At Rita’s Italian Ice, which has over 500 locations in 29 states, the hiring age tends to be 16. But in many of its stores, they hire starting at age 14. Younger teens may need a work permit.
There are over 4,000 Dairy Queen locations, and most of them start hiring at the age of 16. But in many locations, Dairy Queen hires at age 15.
The world’s largest chain of ice cream stores (with more than 2,000 in the U.S.) tends to hire 16-year-olds and older. But that minimum age varies widely based on the state, so check with your local Baskin-Robins to see if they are one of the locations that will hire as young as 14.
With nearly 200 locations in 22 states, this ice cream chain is happy to hire young teens. You simply have to be 14 to work at Bruster’s — that is, as long as your state laws allow minors to work under the age of 16.
Fast Food Restaurants
Teens in fast food jobs get experience in teamwork, customer service, time management and dealing with managers — all skills they can use later in life.
Chick-fil-A has nearly 3,000 independently owned locations, and they each set their own age requirements. The minimum age tends to be 16, but there are definitely some locations that will allow you to work as young as 14 with a work permit.
With over 13,000 McDonald’s locations nationwide, chances are good there’s one near you. The hiring age varies by location, but in some of its restaurants, you can be as young as 14 to work as a crew member.
The minimum age to work at Taco Bell is 16, but since over 90% of its stores are independent franchises, the hiring age varies based on location. Some of its restaurants will hire workers as young as 14 with a work permit.
The typical hiring age at Wendy’s is 16, but that doesn’t mean some younger teens can’t man the Frosty machine! Some locations do hire workers as young as 14.
You can start working as an Arby’s crew member at age 15 with a work permit. (And, with some experience, you can apply to be a shift leader at 16.)
In many cases, the Whopper-flipping hiring age is 16. But depending on a specific franchise’s policies, you can start as early as 14 or 15 with a work permit or parental consent.
At this pizza restaurant (which has over 150 U.S. locations), servers have to be at least 18. But you can be a host at California Pizza Kitchen in some states if you are at least 15.
This rotisserie chicken restaurant has struggled recently and closed a number of restaurants, but there are still 312 locations in 24 states. And the minimum hiring age is 15 for some positions.
Typically, Subway hires its “sandwich artists” starting at age 16. But they will hire a 15-year-old who lives in a state that allows minors to start working at that age.
Amusement parks and movie theaters rely on teenagers — including the younger ones — to help with surging summer crowds.
Teens as young as 14 can work at an AMC movie theater as ushers or cashiers in the concession stand. Plus, they get perks like free movies and discounts on food.
Sixteen is the standard hiring age at Palace Entertainment, an amusement park operator with more than 25 venues. But some of its parks, such as Story Land in New Hampshire, hire team members at 14 years old.
Officially, the minimum age to work at Six Flags theme parks is 16. But teens who are 14 and 15 can work as game attendants or sell merchandise or food.
Teens as young as 15 can apply for a job with the Youth Conservation Corps, working at national parks to clear trails, restore native species and clear out invasive species. While it’s a youth program, it’s also a paying job. The salary is the state or federal minimum wage (whichever is higher) for a 40-hour work week.