Job Searching Tips

The 10 Best Fast Food Jobs for Teens

By: Dora Segall
Dec 15, 2020 • 10 min read

The 10 Best Fast Food Jobs for Teens

A food service job can be a great way to gain work experience and make some extra cash while you’re still in high school. About 30% of fast-food workers are teenagers, and many celebrities got their start in fast food, from Lady Gaga to Jeff Bezos. This article will share our top fast-food employment picks and help you optimize your application to be hired. Whether this is your first time applying for a job, or your hundredth, this blog will serve as a guideline to help you navigate the fast-food industry. If you’re looking for a part-time or summer job, check out the top 10 best fast food jobs for teens! 

fast food jobs for teens

Why Should I Work in Fast Food?

Until you’re 18, you’ll probably find that employment opportunities for you are limited. You could babysit or walk dogs, but working in food service gives you more stability in your work schedule. You’ll find that having regular shifts makes your paycheck a lot more predictable, allowing you to save up pretty easily for future expenses. Plus, you won’t have to scramble to find gigs — once your boss hires you, you’re pretty much good to go!

You’ll also be able to begin forming your network. This is an essential part of establishing career progression! Every manager, coworker, subordinate, and supervisor can serve as a future resource. You might even make a few friends along the way who make shifts enjoyable and fun!

Another perk of working in fast food is… well… the food! If you can’t get enough of the smell of hot french fries, why not surround yourself with it several afternoons a week? Most fast-food restaurants offer employee discounts and sometimes even free meals, so you’ll also be able to enjoy your product. Nothing beats digging into a $6 pizza after a long day at school — and then getting paid to make and sell MORE pizza. What could be better?!

10 Fast Food Jobs For Teens:

We’ve handpicked some of the many fast-food jobs available for high school students looking to make a quick buck. Our recommendations are made based on employee reviews and job descriptions that accommodate young students. You can also check local job boards to find more options in your area, such as smaller businesses that are not owned by large chain corporations. Either way, you are bound to gain valuable experience, meet new connections, and grow your savings. 

1. Starbucks Barista

Starbucks has locations all over the world. Its baristas are constantly surrounded by the smell of coffee and baked goods. You don’t need previous experience to be a barista, just the ability to engage with customers and learn quickly. Scheduling is flexible, making it an ideal position for full-time students.

Starbucks baristas take orders, make drinks for customers, and handle cash register transactions. They make minimum wage, usually around $10 depending on the state, and get 30% off all Starbucks products. From a quick online search, you’ll find that many familiar faces worked as Starbucks baristas in the past, including Andrew Garfield, aka Spiderman, and comedian Melissa McCarthy. If you’re interested in following in their footsteps, head to the Starbucks careers page to find a job opening near you.

food jobs for teens

2. Potbelly Associate

Potbelly sells sandwiches and other lunch food at locations across the U.S. and in four other countries. Though their titles sound fancy (your college applications will thank you), Potbelly associates primarily prepare food, serve customers, and clean up the kitchen area. Associates make minimum wage and work either part-time or full-time. Employees get 50% off all meals and can work flexible hours. If you want to spend your afternoons surrounded by coworkers your age and the smell of toasting bread, Potbelly is the place for you. Browse positions now by heading to the Potbelly careers page and selecting “Shop and Manager Positions.”

3. Five Guys Crew Member

Five guys is a Virginia-based burger company. Like the associates at Potbelly, Five Guys crew members work several jobs, from running the register to operating the grill. These positions can be full or part-time and pay minimum wage plus tips and bonuses. A HUGE perk of working at Five Guys is that you get free telemedicine after 90 days no matter how many (or few) hours you work. The minimum applicant age varies by state but is 16 years old in many locations. To find a Five Guys position, head to the company careers page and click “Apply Now.”

food jobs for teens

4. Auntie Anne’s Crew Member

If you were a mall rat pre-pandemic, you probably remember vividly the scent of bread and salt wafting your way whenever you walked past an Auntie Anne’s kiosk. Crew members at this pretzel paradise prepare food and drinks, operate cash registers, and pack everything away at closing time. As a crew member, you’ll make around minimum wage. To find fast-food jobs for teens at this establishment, head to Auntie Anne’s careers page and scroll down to “Work in Our Stores.”

5. Chipotle Team Member

If you’re planning ahead for college, a job at Chipotle might be for you. This is because the restaurant offers up to $5,250 a year in tuition assistance for select degrees! Also, Chipotle employees can eat for free (hello, chips and guac for days). They also face little pressure to work inconvenient shifts, as all Chipotle locations close for major holidays. To operate the grill, work as a cashier, or make salsa, all you need is a desire to cook. Proficiency in a language other than English is a plus if you plan to work somewhere with a lot of non-English speaking residents. Chipotle lists all available positions on their jobs page.

food jobs for teens

6. Panera Team Member

Similar to Potbelly, Panera Bread is a haven for lunch foods. They also carry a wide variety of pastries and other baked goods. Unlike other chains, Panera employees apply for a specific position on the restaurant team. All offer flexible, part-time scheduling for high schoolers as well as discounts and opportunities for tips. Head to the Panera careers page, scroll down to “Restaurant Team Members,” and keep an eye out for these two positions:

Line cook

If you like working with food, look into a position as a line cook. Panera kitchens work like assembly lines, with each cook stationed at a particular group of ingredients. The line cook job will work for you if you’re able to work under pressure and want to prepare items from a wide-ranging menu.

Cashier

Cashiers take orders and handle transactions at the cash register, both at the front of the restaurant and at the drive-thru window for locations that have one. If you like being around people and managing money, a cashier job is calling your name! Applicants should have strong communication skills and a basic understanding of food safety.

brown bread on white ceramic plate

7. IHOP Employee

IHop is a little different than the other options on this list because, during normal times, it offers sit-down dining. Customers can enjoy pancakes, eggs, and other breakfast foods 24 hours a day. Current jobs will vary on a state-by-state basis due to pandemic restrictions. These are the positions usually offered to high schoolers, found under the “Restaurant Careers” section of the company careers page.

Server

iHop servers greet, seat, and serve customers. They also clear dishes and reset tables. Because they must handle menu questions and checks, servers need basic memorization and math skills. Since you are likely practicing these skills in school, this makes IHOP one of the best fast-food jobs for teens! 

Expeditor

This title is basically code for “food quality coordinator.” These employees help iHop cooks prepare orders and make sure that they meet company standards. Typical tasks include putting food in the window for servers and making sure they are brought to customers safely and timely.

Host/Cashier

Hosts greet and seat guests. Doubling as cashiers, they also handle register transactions. Other duties include cleaning restrooms and managing phone calls.

pepperoni pizza

8. Domino’s Employee

Do you eat, sleep, and breathe pizza? Apply for a job at Domino’s! Company employees get 40% discounts off the clock and free meals during their shifts.

Customer Service Representative

This is another job that will look great on a college application. Customer service reps take orders over the phone and in person, prepare food, and handle transactions at the register. The job pays minimum wage and is a great place to start looking for beginner fast-food jobs for teens. 

Delivery person

Domino’s hires employees to deliver both by bike and by car! If you have a valid driver’s license, you can apply to the latter, but you can try for either as long as you have basic math skills and a smartphone with GPS. Delivery drivers and bikers make up to $22 an hour! However, you need to be 18 or older to qualify for a delivery position. 

chocolate dipped waffle cones box

9. Dairy Queen Team Member

If icecream is your calling, head over to the DQ website, and you’ll find several part-time employment opportunities for novice applicants. Most of these positions pay minimum wage.

Cashier

Like at any other fast food joint, cashiers at DQ take orders and man the cash register. Cashiers are also expected to perform other duties like cleaning tables and restrooms.

Chill staff

Also called crew members, most of these employees fill soft-serve orders and restock relevant items. In sit-down locations, some might also deliver food to customer’s tables.

Grill Staff

Also known simply as cooks, grill staff prepare hot food items for customers. This position pays a little higher than the others mentioned above.

10. Cold Stone Team Member

Another option for high schoolers looking to work with their favorite frozen treats is to apply for a job at Cold Stone Creamery. Crew members at the company mostly make ice cream and baked goods, but they may also serve customers and do some cleaning. They make minimum wage. Cold Stone is perhaps best known for its employees who sing when they receive a tip. This might sell or repel you if you’re a high schooler looking for a part-time fast-food job.

assorted doughnuts on white ceramic plate

Tips on Applying to Fast Food Jobs for Teens:

Before you decide to apply for a job in fast food, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. First, you need to make sure that you have all of your required documentation so that if you are offered a position, you can accept it with ease. You’ll likely also need a license, birth certificate, passport, or another form of government-issued identification to apply successfully. Once this step is done, you can focus on your application materials such as resume, cover letter, and interview prep. Then, you’ll need to check-in with yourself and sharpen your time management skills to ensure that you can successfully hold a job while attending to all of your other commitments. These are crucial elements that must be completed to get hired!

The Commitment

Before you jump at the chance to work at a fast-food restaurant, make sure you have the time and means to do so. If you’re hired, you’ll be expected to dedicate several hours of your day to your job multiple times a week, regardless of homework or extracurricular activities. Plus, you’ll need a way of getting to work. Plan ahead, so you don’t end up overextending yourself or working at a restaurant too far away from school or home.

Your Resume

Writing your first (or even your second or third) resume can be scary. If you’ve never written one before, check out our beginner’s guide to get started. Make sure to include any previous work experience you have on your resume, especially if it’s related to the job for which you are applying. It doesn’t have to be identical — for example, if you sell baked goods for your swim team and want to work at Auntie Anne’s, mention your bake sale background! You can also put down any unpaid tasks you’ve done that relate to your prospective job. So if you’re the treasurer for your school’s environmental club and are trying to be a cashier, use your money experience to leverage your application.

In general, leadership and volunteer positions work great for a resume when you’re applying for an entry-level job. You can also feel free to add any clubs you are a member of at school or any after-school activities that have helped you gain a sense of responsibility. These experiences will show your potential employer that you are a hard worker with initiative and passion. 

For more tips on completing your first job application, check out our job search tips for high school students!

Prepare for Your Interview

Like any other employer, a fast-food company will want to chat with you before making a hiring decision to see if you’re up for the job. Prepare for questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “Why do you want to work here,” and “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” For the last question, be honest. Your potential boss probably won’t expect a 16-year-old applicant to plan on a life-long career in the fast-food industry.

At your interview, a good appearance is also important. Dress to impress! Even though you’re applying for a job for which you’ll probably wear a functional uniform, wearing a business casual outfit to meet your future employer will show you’re serious about becoming a part of the team.

The last thing to keep in mind at your job interview is how you present yourself beyond your clothes. Maintain eye contact and act excited to be there. No one wants to hire someone who seems to hate their job before they even start. Plus, a friendly demeanor will show that you have good communication skills for customer service. Customer service is a critical skill to possess when searching for fast-food jobs for teens! 

person showing laptop computer on table

Take Your Time

Don’t apply for the first job you see on Google. You might find that you like the benefits one company offers more than others, or that one restaurant is higher for shifts that work better with your schedule. You must read a job description fully before you apply. You might find that the dress code or vacation policy (e.g., being required to work holidays) are a drawback for you. That said, you won’t necessarily find one perfect job. Weigh your options and apply for the job that matches your needs best.

A position at a fast-food restaurant can do a great first job. You’ll learn a lot, and you might even make some new friends along the way! Apply for one of the positions we’ve listed here or find it on your own. Just make sure to read employee ratings for any company we haven’t mentioned so you know it treats their workers well. If you apply for any of these positions we listed above, connect with us on social media and let us know! We would love to hear about your experiences, advice, and feedback. Good luck!

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