10 Best Summer Job Ideas for Teens

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Overview

Looking back to the late 1980s, right around 57% of 16-to-19-year-old teens were employed during the summer. But today? That number is much lower, with just under 37% of young folks taking home a paycheck while school is out of session. Summer jobs for teens may not be quite as popular or as commonplace as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good idea.

In fact, pursuing a part-time job over your summer break can be a great way to earn some extra cash while also setting yourself up for future success. In this guide, we’ve pulled together all of the summer job information you need—including their advantages, tips for finding one, and some potential positions you can explore. 

Why Take on a Summer Job?

Summer is your chance to rest and recharge after all of the demands and expectations of the school year. So, why would you want to take on a job that cuts into the time that’s supposed to be dedicated to leisure and fun?

Well, summer jobs for teens offer a number of convincing benefits, including: 

  • Money: Let’s start with the most obvious benefit first—taking on a summer job means you can earn some spending money that you can use to fund your passions, hobbies, or social activities.
  • Transferable skills: Even if your summer job isn’t in the career field you ultimately want to pursue, you’ll still build soft skills (everything from communication and teamwork to time management and problem-solving) that you can use to impress future employers. A whopping 85% of job success comes from well-developed soft skills and people skills.
  • Work experience: Beyond the skills you’re picking up, you’re also gaining work experience and learning what it takes to thrive as a professional—which improves your resume and helps you land future jobs. 91% of employers admit that they prefer candidates who have work experience.
  • Connections: Have you heard the “it’s not what you know, but who you know” cliché? While it might seem worthy of an eye roll, it’s true. Summer jobs give you the opportunity to build professional relationships with people who can offer advice, act as references, and boost your future career in other ways. 

Sure, a summer job means a little less time for relaxation and fun. But, this isn’t a zero-sum game. Even a job that requires a few hours a week is a great outlet to earn both money and professional experience, while still leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your summer break.

Even a job that requires a few hours a week is a great outlet to earn both money and professional experience, while still leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your summer break.

Where Can Teens Find a Summer Job?

You admit that a summer job sounds like a good idea, but now you’re faced with this question: How and where do you find one?

There are different routes you can take to find a summer position that’s the right fit for you, including: 

  • Job boards: Online job boards (like Lensa) have plenty of summer job options for teens.
  • Networking with others: Connecting with your teachers, friends, parents, and other family members could alert you to suitable job opportunities that aren’t advertised on traditional job boards.
  • Starting your own business: Teens with an entrepreneurial spirit might opt to start their own business or side hustle, as opposed to applying for a job with an employer. 

What Are the Best Summer Jobs for Teens?

Before you kick off your search for a summer job, you’ll want an idea of what type of position you’re looking for. 

A lot of that will depend on your interests, skills, and availability, but here are 10 popular summer jobs for teens that can give you a starting point. 

1. Camp Counselor

If you’ve ever attended summer camp yourself, then you’re familiar with what a camp counselor does. In this role, you’d be employed by a summer camp and help younger kids with various programs and recreational activities.
Kids at summer camp roasting marshmallows/

2. Babysitter

Many families need childcare over the summer months while their younger children are out of school. You could babysit sporadically for a variety of families, or even find a more steady and permanent nannying position with one family. 

3. Pet Sitter

Summer vacations are a common occurrence, and people can’t always take their beloved pets with them. In those circumstances, you could step in as a pet sitter to care for a family’s companions while the owners are out of town or occupied. You could also pursue dog walking, bathing, and other pet-related services. 

4. Lifeguard

As a lifeguard, you’d work at public or community facilities to keep a watchful eye on the pool area and ensure that all of the swimmers and visitors are safe. Keep in mind that you’ll need to complete a training or certification program, and also get some first-aid training so you’re ready to help when needed.

5. Grocery Stocker or Bagger

Grocery stores need a lot of staff to assist customers and keep food on the shelves, making them a great place to look when you’re searching for a summer job. You could stock shelves, scan items and complete purchases, bag groceries for customers, or all of the above. 

6. Tutor

If you’re a top-notch student or have a really strong grasp of a particular subject, tutoring could be a great summer job option. You’ll work with other students (whether they’re younger or the same age) to help them get a better grasp on course material that they’re struggling with. 
A teen tutoring another student as a summer job.

7. Landscaper

For teens who want to spend the majority of their summer outside, landscaping is a great choice. From mowing lawns to pulling weeds, you can work as a landscaper for an established company or start your own business and provide yard and garden care to families and neighbors. 

8. Retail Sales Associate

Whether you want to work in a big box store or a small, local shop, there are plenty of retail environments that rely on high school students and teens for their staffing requirements. It’s worth checking out which ones in your area are hiring for the summer.

9. Food Service Associate

Food service jobs are equally as common as retail positions. From cooking or preparing food to waiting on tables or seating customers, restaurants are almost always looking for more help. 

10. House Cleaner

If you have a knack for making spaces sparkle and shine, think about taking on a summer job as a house cleaner. While you could work for families who need help with housework, you could also offer your services to clean office buildings and other large or commercial spaces. 

Tips for Finding (and Making the Most Of) A Summer Job

Your wheels are turning about the places you could find a summer job and the types of roles you could pursue. Before you press “send” on a job application, let’s cover a few more tips to make the most of your experience: 

  • Be entrepreneurial: Remember, having a summer job doesn’t have to mean working for a traditional employer. A lot of the above jobs give you the flexibility to start your own summer business, which is an equally great way to gain desirable skills and experience.
  • Keep an open mind: Your summer job isn’t a forever career decision, which means you don’t need the perfect role right now. Focus on finding something that checks the boxes you need immediately and resist getting too hung up on long-term details.
  • Emphasize soft skills: As you brush up your resume or job application, remember to call attention to soft skills (things like communication or problem solving) that make you a good fit for that role. The expectation isn’t that you have a ton of relevant career experience and qualifications as a teenager, so draw attention to the other qualities that will help you succeed.

The expectation isn’t that you have a ton of relevant career experience and qualifications as a teenager, so draw attention to the other qualities that will help you succeed.

  • Do your best: Every job is worth doing your best in. Once you land a role for the summer months, commit to doing your best work and making a positive impression. That experience and those relationships will pay dividends moving forward. 

Find the Right Summer Job for You

There are plenty of summer jobs that are ripe for the taking when you’re a teenager. Start by thinking through some of the primary things you want out of that experience and jot them down. That will give you a list of criteria you can reference as you evaluate your options.

Next? Use this list as your guide and peruse different outlets—like job boards and even your network—to discover what opportunities are available to you. 

Find one that seems like a fit, submit your application, and you’re well on your way to a summer job that gives you experience, boosts your skills, and fills your wallet.

If you’re a college student, an internship might be a better fit than a part-time summer job. Check out our guide to summer internships here.

Kat Boogaard
Kat Boogaard
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer focused on creating content that helps people find and thrive in careers they love. Her byline has appeared in a number of well-known publications, including Fast Company, Forbes, and The New York Times.

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