Once you reach the milestone of being sixteen years old, many work opportunities will become available to you. In most states, labor laws permit 16 year olds to begin working at most retail stores and restaurant chains. You’ll likely be one of the youngest members of your team, but age is just a number! You have a lot more experience and real-world skills than you might think. School-sponsored clubs, organizations, and volunteer work have likely prepared you for your first real gig. You’ll learn a lot along the way, but having this baseline experience gives you a great foundation! If you are struggling to find work in your area, here are jobs for 16 year olds that you can explore now.
In many states, before you can begin working, you must obtain a work permit when you are 16. This is to protect you as an employee and ensure that your employer will abide by labor laws. Work permits are relatively easy to get, but you’ll want to plan ahead since you can’t work your first shift until you have one completed! This document is usually obtained by the employer or applicant’s school. Next, it is approved by the workplace and the public school in the town where the applicant resides. So, head over to your school’s front office to ask for clarification on the process for your town! They will be able to provide guidance for you that is specific to your state and county.
As you transition to becoming an independent and mature member of the workforce, it’s important to become familiar with the laws that protect you. For example, as a minor, you might only be able to work a certain number of days/hours as outlined in your state guidelines. More restrictions include the time of shifts you are allowed to work, responsibilities you cannot perform, or merchandise you’re not permitted to sell. Remember, you have rights as an employee! Take the time to poke around the U.S. Department of Labor website to find out which rules apply to you.
Now, without further ado, let’s explore the possible positions you can apply for as a 16 year old applicant!
Working in a grocery store is a fantastic first job. You’ll be handling familiar merchandise, using basic technology, and practicing customer service skills during every shift. This is a perfect job for anyone who enjoys collaborative work and a team-based career approach. In a grocery store, there are a variety of different departments that all must work together in order to best serve their customers. Produce, dairy, floral, bakery, deli, and checkout all must communicate and synergize effectively. This also means that you will get experience becoming familiar with a variety of different departments and specializations. Don’t just limit yourself to the register! Challenge yourself to branch out.
There are many grocery store positions you can explore, such as:
The restaurant industry is constantly changing. Especially since businesses have had to get creative in order to adjust to pandemic life! Working in a restaurant provides a fast-paced, exciting environment any teen will thrive in. You’ll have to work seamlessly with the chefs in the kitchen, servers, and bussers in order to get through the night. This will help you build excellent communication skills and provide you with time-management experience. Get some comfy shoes, because this is a job that will require you to be on your feet for long hours! You may also have to diffuse stressful customer situations and provide solutions when diner’s are upset. This will require problem-solving skills and the ability to perform well under pressure.
There are a variety of foodservice jobs you can choose from. First and foremost, you must decide what kind of eatery you want to work in before getting position-specific. Do you want a fast-food job? A local small restaurant gig? Or are your interests more aligned with gaining experience working in a large fancy steakhouse? Define what work environment will benefit you the most, and go from there!
Next, it’s time to decide on a position. Lucky for you, the restaurant industry offers a variety of positions that are open for teen applicants. You might have the opportunity to work in multiple departments at some establishments, which is even better! All experience is good experience.
Here are some opportunities you can explore within the restaurant industry:
Child care and pet care are two popular industries you can consider exploring as a 16 year old job seeker. Both require you to be empathetic, attentive, and have good instincts! Daycare centers and animal centers are in high demand. These businesses need a lot of help in order for their days to run smoothly!
When exploring a job in child care, it is important that you have a love and passion for children. Kids can be a big responsibility! If you have prior babysitting experience or have cared for a younger sibling in the past, this will give you a leg up during the hiring process. Be sure to mention any prior childcare gigs in your application and during your interview – this will help you emerge as a top candidate! Many child care jobs prefer their employees to be CPR trained and know basic medical skills. Not only will this give you a competitive advantage, but it is a wonderful life skill to have. Consider earning your certification in CPR and First Aid – you can even complete the course online!
As for pet care, basic knowledge about caring for animals is crucial. If you have experience walking/caring for dogs in your early teen years, or have a pet of your own, include this in your application materials! To be successful in this job, you must have a love for animals and a big heart. You will be responsible for caring for someone’s fur baby! There are many jobs you can explore in this field. You can find open positions at PetSmart/Petco locations, local groomer shops, animal daycare, and more!
Working in a retail/fashion chain is an exciting way to be a part of a large company. You’ll learn a lot about the corporation as a whole, and the environment will likely be more structured than a mom-and-pop restaurant down the street! Many of your favorite places to shop are likely hiring, especially if it is a busy time of year. The great thing about retail jobs is that they tend to hire seasonal employees during winter holidays and other hectic shopping times, so you can try out this industry for as little or as long as you’d like! Working for a company that you love and shop at personally will make you a brand expert, which will likely contribute to you being able to provide excellent customer service skills.
One of the best retail jobs for 16 year old is working for TJX. You’ll get hands-on experience working with a large variety of merchandise while working in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. Plus, you likely have a T.J. Maxx, Homegoods, or Marshalls close to where you live, as these stores are extremely popular! This makes for a short commute and the hours will be pretty reasonable, making this a great first job.
You’ll get experience working in a variety of departments, too. This will help give you exposure to different responsibilities and tasks, so you can find what you like best! Opportunities include inventory manager, checkout associate, sales associate, and customer service. Many new sanitation jobs have also been implemented due to COVID, so you have a wide variety of roles to choose from!
The gig economy has grown in popularity, especially since COVID hit the U.S. With everyone staying in their homes, at-risk community members count on others to run basic errands for them. Examples include grocery delivery, laundry services, yard work, medication delivery, and other errands such as going to the Post Office! If you are someone who is not high-risk and is willing to take proper precautions, exploring the gig economy is a great way to get your feet wet in a bunch of different areas of work. Plus, you’ll gain exposure to a more entrepreneurial side of employment, which is fantastic!
Of course, you can market your skills yourself and work on gaining your own customer base. However, if you prefer to get matched with clients and have a more formal and secure payment system, you might want to use a separate platform to find gigs. Examples include JobGet, Care.com, Uber Eats, Door Dash, Instacart, and more! Your services are in-demand and highly valued, so make sure to put yourself out there!
All in all, there are a wide variety of jobs available for 16 year old applicants. Don’t let your age hold you back! It is never too soon to start gaining valuable experience and building your network. Having a job will provide you with an income, a sense of responsibility, and even integrate you into a community. Don’t hold back – submit those applications and get started!
What was your very first job as a teen? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.
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