WELCOME TO THE WORKPLACE
A summer job is a good opportunity to learn important life skills and make some spending money. Up to 60 percent of teens had summer jobs in the 1950s through the 1990s, but by 2011 that was down to about 40 percent -- and according to job experts Challenger, Grey & Christmas, that's not changing. Many teens now take summer classes, prepare for tests, and do unpaid extracurricular activities and internships instead. They also face competition from older workers, some of whom took low-paid and part-time positions in the wake of the recession. Even so, there are jobs available for teens who want to work.
Camp counselors develop leadership and team-building skills as they work with children, enforce basic rules, and plan and organize activities. A good counselor needs patience and a love of the outdoors, and some camps require first aid skills. Most camps run their own counselor training programs at the beginning of summer.
According to PayScale, the median lifeguard wage is $9.31 an hour, but an open-water (ocean and lake) lifeguard can make more than $20 an hour in some areas. The Red Cross' training and certification course takes 25 or more hours to complete.
Retail jobs aren't glamorous, but they offer a steady paycheck. Many retail jobs pay better than minimum wage, too. Costco, REI, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's all pay at least $11 an hour.
Restaurant work can pay well for an entry-level job, and the experience can have lifelong value. Newbies usually have to work their way up, though, busing tables or hosting before becoming a server, and it can be hard to convince a restaurant to train a short-term employee. Restaurants in summer resort areas are the best bet for finding a position.
Catering is similar to working in a restaurant, but there's no competition among servers and no pressure to upsell the guests. The schedule can be flexible, as well. The hourly wage is generally higher than what restaurants pay, but there aren't as many tips and the work may not be as steady.
One of the classic teen jobs, babysitting is in high demand over the summer with children out of school and parents in need of a helping hand. This job can continue into the school year, whenever parents plan a night out. Teens should aim to establish good relationships with a few families early on and expand through word-of-mouth recommendations.
PET SITTER AND WALKER
Someone has to walk, feed, and play with the pets when the neighbors are off on vacation. This isn't likely to be a steady job during the summer, but it's an easy way to earn a little extra spending money.
As summer blooms, teens who aren't afraid of physical labor and getting dirty can find plenty of yards in need of work. Recurring tasks such as mowing grass and pulling weeds can provide a steady income stream throughout the summer. Teens can build their own little landscaping business or find work with an existing contractor.
Summer is catch-up time for students who need extra help. Some parents hire juniors or seniors to tutor younger children in basic subjects and test-taking skills. Tutoring gigs can continue throughout the year, and tutors who can prepare students for the SAT often earn a higher wage.
Some employers hire workers only in summer. At many theme parks, ice cream stands, and swim clubs, the work lasts just a few months. It pays to find a good seasonal gig early on and return to it throughout high school and college, ideally with an annual raise.
VOLUNTEERING AND INTERNSHIPS
For teens whose main goal is improving skills and helping others, an internship or volunteer position might be a good fit for the summer. Any type of work shows initiative and time management skills to colleges and future employers, and unpaid work is usually easier to find.