For a 14-year-old, wanting to get a job after school or for the summer shows a lot of ambition. While state and federal laws do restrict the hours they can work and what kind of jobs they can do, parents might be surprised at just how many opportunities there are for a younger teen. In general terms, as long as the job doesn't interfere with schoolwork and doesn't involve any hazardous work or heavy equipment, a 14- or 15-year old can probably do the work.
Jobs That Hire at 14
For older teens, the U.S. Department of Labor and most states specify what kinds of jobs they cannot do. For those who are 14 or 15, the federal government and many states specify only the jobs they can do. If the Department of Labor or your state government doesn't list a job, then it is prohibited by law.
Good jobs for 14-year-olds include:
- Retail jobs: like working as a cashier or stocking shelves, bagging groceries or working in a movie theater.
- Restaurant jobs: like bussing tables in a restaurant, working behind a lunch counter, serving in a cafeteria.
- Kitchen jobs: include reheating food, washing dishes, cleaning.
- Child care: like babysitting or working in a daycare.
- Intellectual or creative jobs: these include computer programming, teaching or tutoring, singing, playing an instrument or acting.
- Errands or delivery jobs: provided the student travels by foot, bicycle or public transportation.
- Cleaning and yard work: provided these jobs don't include power-driven mowers, trimmers, or similar equipment.
- Service station jobs: include refueling cars and trucks, changing oil or washing vehicles by hand.
- Food processing jobs: washing fruits and vegetables, wrapping and labeling, weighing and stocking of items, provided the work is not in a freezer or meat cooler.
- Health care jobs: like helping patients in a hospital or helping seniors in a nursing home.
- Pet care jobs: like dog walking or grooming.
- Farm jobs: provided the work is non-hazardous.
Under federal labor laws, jobs for 15-year-olds are the same as 14-year-olds, with one exception. Once teenagers turn 15, they can work as lifeguards, but not at age 14.
Understanding Youth Minimum Age
In most cases, everyone in the United States must be paid at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour in 2018. For anyone 19 and under, however, employers have the option to pay the youth minimum wage for the first 90 days, which is $4.25 per hour. If a 14-year old works more than 90 days, then the employer must pay him the federal minimum wage. However, if a teenager changes jobs, the new employer can pay him the youth minimum wage again for the first 90 days of his new job.
Federal Hours of Work
The U.S. Department of Labor limits the hours a 14- and 15-year old may work. During the school year, 14- and 15-year-olds may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., excluding school hours, to a maximum of 18 hours each week, 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on non-school days. During the summer, they can work as late as 9 p.m. to a maximum of 40 hours per week, 8 hours each day.
Teenagers who have already finished high school, or if they are in a Work-Study Program or in a Work Experience or Career Exploration Program may be exempt from these rules.
Additional State Rules
Some states have additional laws protecting teenagers. In same states, including Massachusetts and Oregon, anyone under 18 and still in high school requires a work permit before starting a new job. In Oregon, employers can get the application from the state government. In Massachusetts, students can get them from their school boards. Additionally, 14- and 15-year-olds in Massachusetts require a certificate of health from a doctor. Most reputable places that hire at 14 will likely be able to guide a teenager as to what the state requirements are.
In Massachusetts, 14- and 15-year-olds are prohibited from working at many jobs. These include, but are not limited to:
- Working with most machinery.
- Cooking with an open flame.
- Working with powered food slicers, or food processors.
- Working in freezers or meat coolers.
- Working in manufacturing jobs.
- Working on ladders.
- Working at lumber yards.
- Loading or unloading trucks.
- Working in bowling alleys or other amusement businesses.
- Working in barber shops.
- Selling door-to-door.
- Working as a sign waiver.
- Working in a warehouse.
- Working in commercial laundry or dry cleaning business.
- Working as a public messenger.
These are in addition to jobs that are prohibited for all minors, which include jobs such as working on forklifts, working in foundries and other potentially hazardous jobs.