There are a few rites of passage when a kid turns 16: they usually start asking for a car and, in turn, are told to get a job. However, not everywhere will hire starting at 16. So what are the best jobs for someone who is just starting out in the working world? The answer might surprise you.
Typically you’d send your freshly crowned 16-year-old to a fast-food establishment or retailer to get a job. But there are many other places aside from the usual go-tos that’ll hire if a teen is 16 or older. Before you have them collecting job applications, be sure to check out the employment laws. These vary by state. Laws are especially important when it comes to the total weekly hours a 16-year-old is allowed to work.
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Jobs That Hire at 16: Retail/Grocery Stores
Many big-box retailers and mall staples will hire teens when they’re 16 (or younger in some cases). Enticing perks like stocking the latest trends on the shelf and employee discounts will make teens happy for a part-time position. Depending on the role they are seeking or the state you live in, teens may be able to apply at more than the big-box stores listed here. It’s a good idea to call before applying.
As the world’s largst retailer, Walmart has jobs that hire at 16. Positions for teens includes cashier, greeter, and shelf stocking.
The popular clothing store Forever 21 will hire teens for their store associate positions/cashier at 16.
The self-proclaimed “loudest store in the mall,” Hot Topic, will hire teens 16 or older who are interested in music, pop culture, and trends for their sales associate positions.
Aerie looks for brand ambassadors starting at age 16 to work on their sales floor, cash and wrap area, fitting room, and stockroom. Plus, employees get a 40% discount.
American Eagle, part of the same family as Aerie, also hires at 16. The retailer emphasizes the need for nights, weekends, and holiday help, offering employees the same 40% discount as Aerie.
If you know a teen who is a beauty fanatic, a part-time position at Ulta may be the perfect job. Ulta hires for their task associate and prestige beauty advisor positions starting at 16.
National pharmacy chain CVS will hire at 16 for positions like pharmacy technician or retail store associate.
Kroger is ranked as one of the best places to work by the Human Rights Campaign. This is because they are highly attuned to diversity and inclusion as a company. Kroger operates 2,750 grocery stores under a variety of names across the U.S. (King Sooper, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, and Fred Meyer), offering employees 16 and older perks such as discounts and even tuition reimbursement.
Wegmans operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. The grocer encourages teens to begin the application process for a position at their stores at 15, but depending on what department or position they’re interested in, there may be additional age requirements.
Fareway Meat & Grocery
Fareway has 130 stores in the midwest states of Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. They have jobs that hire at 16, like their grocery positions. However, be aware that they’re closed on Sundays, so teens looking for a few extra weekend hours will be out of luck.
Publix, which is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S., will hire at 16 for various positions in their floral department, bakery, grocery, and front desk. Locations are throughout the southeast in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Related: Younger teens can find jobs too. Find out which jobs hire 14-year-olds.
Community Jobs That Hire at 16
Teens who are looking for a job that isn’t in retail should consider contacting their local YMCA or parks department. There are almost always camp counselor, counselor-in-training, or lifeguarding jobs available, especially in the warmer months. To make themselves more desirable for these positions, like babysitting, taking courses in CPR and first aid is a good idea.
Country Club/Golf Course
Check out a local country club for job openings. Become a caddy or work in the pro shop; either of these may be the right fit for teens who love golf. Consider other opportunities like a host or waitstaff position in the dining room, maintenance or landscaping positions for those who love the outdoors, or working at the front desk.
Babysitting can be one of the most lucrative jobs for a teenager. Teens can set their own schedules, choose which families to work with, and choose their own rates. Promote services on community bulletin boards, at places of worship, on social media, and by word of mouth. Then watch the calendar fill up. The only downside is that nights and weekends are usually most in demand. Teens will have to give up at least some of their Friday nights with friends.
Dog Walker/Dog Sitter
People are willing to pay a pretty penny for their pooch. Some of the popular online sites connecting dog walkers to families require a minimum age of 18. This means 16- and 17-year-olds should forge ahead on their own with a dog walking or dog-sitting business. Like babysitting, they have complete control over their schedules, rates, and clients. Building up a network by flyers and word of mouth can lead to a booming business. The American Red Cross even offers a pet CPR class, giving teens with this certification a leg up on the local competition.
If a teen is an exceptional student themself, they can use their expertise to get a little extra pocket money. Typically, teens have similar schedules to their younger counterparts and can make tutoring work at convenient times for families. Setting rates and schedules means more control over when they work and how much they make. There’s also the option to tutor online or in person, depending on what a particular family needs.
Restaurant Jobs That Hire at 16
Since many national chain restaurants are independent, state and individual location guidelines may vary when it comes to hiring teens at 16. Don’t forget to check out local restaurant jobs that a 16-year-old may qualify for, such as busser, runner, barista, host or hostess, server, dishwasher, and food prep cook.
McDonald’s, the world-famous fast-food chain, has over 13,000 locations in the U.S. alone. They will hire crew team members starting at 16.
Chick-fil-A offers teens positions for either front of the house or back of the house. They also provide perks such as tuition discounts for employees. Be aware, however, that they close on Sundays, so part-time jobs for teens will be at other times throughout the week and weekend.
Listen up, Colonel Sanders is calling. With over 24,000 KFC locations worldwide, teens who want to learn more about the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices should consider applying for a team member position.
Teens who live near a Whataburger location can check out this burger spot for a team member position.
Team member positions at the chicken chain PDQ are open for those 16 and up, with locations in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina.
If you know a teen who is a fan of baking, getting a job at Panera may be a great fit. The bakery chain bakes fresh bread daily. They hire at 16 for their cashier position, as well as salad and sandwich maker positions.
Related: If your teen is earning a living, they should learn how to budget and coupon.
Theme Parks/Entertainment Venues That Hire at 16
There are some serious perks to working at a theme park (free and discounted tickets for employees and families is one). You spend your day getting some sun and fun while working as a retail employee, ride operator, or in food service at places like:
Busch Gardens has two locations — Tampa, Florida and Williamsburg, Virginia. Both parks offer teens ages 16 and up the chance to secure a position as an entry level ride operator, food service ambassador, or a parking ambassador.
The popular Pennsylvania theme park Sesame Place will not only hire ride operators at 16, but also park ambassadors, performers, parking ambassadors, and sales ambassadors.
Free park admission, discount admission for friends and family, and discounts on food and merchandise are just some of the perks for teens who work at SeaWorld. Opportunities include park operations host/hostess or park area ambassador.
Most positions at Six Flags locations are open for teens ages 16 and up, including food service, ride operations, and retail positions.
Palace Entertainment oversees more than 25 entertainment venues, hotels, and educational venues across 10 different states in the U.S. Depending on the venue and state, teens are eligible for positions as ride attendants, food and beverage, or retail sales.
The nationwide AMC Theaters chain will hire at 16 for all the movie-loving teens who wouldn’t mind getting paid to watch the latest blockbusters.
Related: Check out the companies that will pay for your college.
Jobs That Hire at 16: Online Services
If a teen is creative and wants to use those skills for some cash flow, encourage them to check out sites where they can work from the comfort of their own homes but still gain experience.
Fiverr, a freelance online service marketplace, can offer teens with parental permission the ability to sign up as a freelancer. They can offer their services in a variety of ways such as writing, video, animation, music, and design.
While not a traditional job, Swagbucks lets teens take surveys, watch videos, search the web, and play video games for cash and gift cards
For teens who love being on their phones but want some perks, Mistplay lets them earn gift cards simply for playing video games.