7 of the Best Summer Jobs for a Teenager

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From age thirteen until I went off to college, I held a myriad of different jobs. I worked as a Little League umpire, a bus boy, a grocery store cashier, a summer camp counselor, a lawn mower, and a focus group participant. The pay for these jobs varied widely, as did the emotional and physical toll they took. While I think it’s important for teenagers to work to get a sense of both the responsibility it requires and the taste of financial independence, some jobs are just better suited to teens than others.

You want to keep your teenager out of high-stress environments. You want your teenager to work manageable shift lengths. Ideally, you even want your teenager to be outside, moving around. Here are seven of the best jobs for teenagers who are joining the workforce for the first time.

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Little League umpire or referee

Little League umpire or referee

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I may be biased because I worked for six seasons as a Little League Baseball umpire, but I’m not sure there’s a better job out there for teenagers. First off, you get to be outside. Second, you’re being mentally stimulated the entire time as you’re an integral part of the game. Third, the shifts are short (Little Leagues commonly have a rule that games cannot last longer than two hours). And fourth, the pay is decent. (When I was a Little League umpire in 2008, I made $30 per game behind the plate, or $20 if I was in the field, and it’s still about the same .)

Sure, this job isn’t for everyone. There is the prerequisite of 1) knowing the rules of baseball, and 2) not being afraid to get behind the plate and call balls and strikes. But if a teen knows the rules and isn’t afraid, this is a great option.


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Working as a lifeguard is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does it keep your teenager active, it forces them to learn rudimentary water safety and CPR training in order to get certified. Additionally, the hours are going to be reasonable as pools typically aren’t open late into the evenings.

An underrated aspect of working as a lifeguard is the community you get to become a part of. When I worked as a cashier at the grocery store, it sometimes felt like I was in solitary confinement. Working as a lifeguard has you interacting with other people your age, as well as members of your community—not a bad way to earn a few bucks.

Camp counselor

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If you ever spent time as a camper yourself, you may have wondered what it would be like to work as a camp counselor, and the answer is: It’s a perfectly fun summer job. Working as a camp counselor is an opportunity for your teen to work with people their age, and also train them to mentor adolescents. Camp counselor work is nice in that even though it’s seasonal, your teen can make a decent chunk of change in a short amount of time by virtue of working five days a week. It can even help them get over the pain of getting dumped with a killer training montage .

Ice-cream scooper

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There’s no better employee discount than for those working at the local ice cream parlor. Not only is this job seasonal, but once tips get factored into the equation, your teenager can come away from the summer having made a pretty penny. And for what it’s worth, every ice cream scooper I’ve known has some pretty jacked forearms, should that be a goal.

A word of warning, though: Change out of your ice cream shop clothes the second you make it home. Any melted ice cream collected on your apron will soon spoil, leaving your clothes reeking in a way you’d never have anticipated.

Concession-stand worker

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If you want your teenager to work at the town pool, but don’t think they’re quite cut out to be a lifeguard, consider a job at the concession stand. Concession stand workers are a vital part of the pool community; people tend to like the person who can cop them a free pretzel or smoothie, after all. Much like a lifeguarding job, you get the perks of doing seasonal work, while also getting to enjoy the outdoors—all without having to worry about the wellbeing of anyone who ventures into the pool.

Dog walker

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Cards on the table? I’m not a dog person. I understand this puts me in the minority, otherwise we wouldn’t refer to them as “man’s best friend.” You should be happy to hear about this opinion of mine, because that means there is more dog-walking work for everyone else. It really is a solid job for the teenager. The hours are flexible, the pay is decent. You get to be outside, and you’re getting a little bit of exercise in, as well. Should your teen be a canine lover, it seems like a great potential match.

Movie-ticket taker

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It’s nice when your teenager’s job can offer them the opportunity to be outside, but there’s something to be said about summer jobs with air-conditioning. Taking tickets at the movies can be a great job for the right teenager. If your teen is interested in arts and film, this will give them the opportunity to make a few bucks while also cashing in on some sweet perks. If they enjoy working there in the summer, they can even continue working shifts on nights and weekends throughout the school year, too.