My energetic tween recently asked me, “Mom, can I work?” Given my 20+ years as a career coach, I felt compelled to give an intelligent, knowledgeable response. But in reality, I didn’t have a clear answer for her. Can a ten-year-old do work besides household chores? I thought to myself. “Uh, let me do some research and get back to you on that,” I said while quickly googling the best jobs for 12-year-olds.
While I know my daughter is not quite ready to tackle a babysitting or pet sitting job, she definitely will be in a couple years. Given that fact, I decided to sit down and research all about job opportunities for tweens. Are you in a similar boat with your kids? If so, keep reading to learn about the best jobs for 12- year-olds, as well as general information regarding labor laws and ensuring the safety and protection of your kids as they embark upon their first job experience.
Before I dive into the best gigs for tweens, let me first cover the laws regarding child labor. If you’re not familiar, I’ll give you the general gist: On the federal level, child labor laws are set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets the minimum age requirements for child employment, including restricting the number of hours kids can work, as well as designating the types of jobs children can have. Generally, the minimum age for employment is 14, but exceptions exist for jobs like newspaper delivery, babysitting, and agricultural work, where children can work from a younger age under certain conditions.
Each state may also have its own laws, which can be stricter than federal laws. In California, for example, the legal working age is 14 years old. However, kids under 14 and even under 12 can legally work without a permit doing things like lawn mowing, selling arts and crafts, and babysitting, to name just a few. Minors can also work certain agricultural jobs, if the child is employed by a parent or legal guardian who controls, operates, or owns the property.
Children over 14, while legally allowed to work many jobs, face a lot of restrictions. However, that’s a whole other topic that I’ll likely cover in a future post!
Okay, now let’s get into the fun stuff. Specifically, here are the best jobs for 12-year-olds that offer kids a chance to have fun, develop a good work ethic, learn about themselves, and most importantly, stay safe:(need tips on writing a resume for teens? Check out How to Write a Student Resume)
Let me start by emphasizing that this list is not meant to be in any particular order. With that said, I’m going to begin by writing about babysitting. My very own first job as a 12 year old was, yup, you guessed it, babysitting! It was for a kid who lived next door. And luckily for me, he was an easy kid to watch. Even better, my mom was home while I babysat which gave me peace of mind. It was the perfect job for my first job!
Babysitting, pet sitting, and even dog walking can be great first jobs for tweens. Besides the obvious perks of earning their own money, these jobs allow kids to hone communication skills and learn responsibility. Also, I have to throw in that it will definitely help if your child likes kids and pets. If they are not really into playing with kids and they don’t like dogs, they probably won’t last very long.
My best advice as both a mom and a career coach: encourage your child to do something they like. My daughter, for example, absolutely loves playing with younger kids and she adores dogs. Like, seriously LOVES them. Maybe even more than she loves me. But I digress. Anway, that’s how I know she will really enjoy babysitting and pet sitting. This is not to say that your child can’t do these jobs if they are not natural caretakers. Caring for kids and animals is definitely a skill that can be learned. They just might not enjoy it as much.
Before my daughter takes her first babysitting job, I’m going to ensure a few things are in place. Number one, I want her to take a child CPR and first aid course. The last thing I want is for her to be in an emergency situation while she is babysitting and not know what to do. Another factor (and the most important factor) for me is safety. Before she accepts a babysitting job, I will vet the family and ensure my daughter will be in a safe environment. In fact, her first jobs will likely be with families we already know and trust.
#2: Creative Jobs
If your child has a particular strength and is self-motivated, you can help them look into ways to earn money doing what I call “creative jobs for tweens!”
I recently chatted with a mom friend of mine who said her daughter was earning money making hand-written thank you notes. She explained that her daughter is working for a friend of theirs who owns her own online store selling handmade items. The shop owner couldn’t keep up with the personalized thank you cards for her customers. So, she hired a tween to do it for her. Brilliant!
I just love this job idea for so many reasons. First of all, it plays to this particular child’s strengths (whom I know well because she also happens to be my daughter’s close friend). She has naturally beautiful handwriting. Also, it’s uber-flexible. My friend told me the best part is her daughter can write thank you notes from anywhere and write them at odd hours, whenever she has the time and energy.
Other ideas for jobs like this one: If your child is artistic and loves creating, they could make and sell handmade art or items on Etsy or a similar site (an adult will need to create the account). Does your kid love to write? What about submitting pitches or articles to children’s magazines? I cannot think of a better way for a child to hone writing skills and gain confidence!
Is your child more tech savvy than you (don’t worry, your secret is safe with me)? What about researching ways to develop these skills like developing an app or video game?
Is your child a natural-born performer? What about looking into theatre or television acting or even voice-overs? These types of jobs do not have age restrictions and can be a wonderful way to allow your child to hone their acting and singing skills while also earning some money.
#3: Mother’s Helper
“Mother’s helper” is another popular job for tweens. This can involve helping with laundry, making snacks, babysitting, dog walking, and other household tasks. The nice thing about this type of job is that if your child is on the younger side (like ten or younger), they can do the job while being supervised by an adult.
Another perk of this job is that you can easily find a mom or caregiver you already know who needs help. Start by sending out a message to your immediate circle of mom friends and/or family to see if anyone needs extra help. You can also post in a local mom’s group depending upon your comfort level with allowing your child to enter another home. For me personally, if I went this route, I would first interview the family and make sure the environment is safe and secure. I would also likely go along with my child the first couple visits.
#4: Photographer’s Assistant
Photographer / Photographer’s Assistant. Does your child love taking pictures? If so, you could either invest in a digital camera or better yet just start with your phone camera. Your child could begin by assisting with taking photos for family and friends for free to develop their skills as well as a photography portfolio. There is always a huge need for photos of special events like birthdays, graduations, and family pictures, to name just a few.
Once your child becomes more skilled and experienced, they can start charging a minimal price for their photography while they continue to hone their skills. Your child can even set up a basic website eventually to promote their services.
#5: Blogger or Vlogger
Blogger or Vlogger. I want to begin by stating that if you kid wants to make some fast cash, this is definitely not the route to go! As a professional blogger, I know from personal experience it takes time and dedication to build your blog or vlog and eventually create an income stream.
That said, I honestly don’t see a major downside to starting a vlog or blog. Kids can hone their writing, oral communication, video editing, and marketing skills, as well as learn the basics of becoming an entrepreneur!
If your kid hasn’t already, I have to warn you that it’s only a matter of time before they ask the inevitable question that every tween seems to be asking these days: can I have a YouTube channel?! YouTube does require that your child be 13 or have parental consent to create a channel. It will also be up to you as a parent to determine the specific parameters of keeping your child safe on YouTube.
Myself and my husband, for example, decided that if we let our kids start a YouTube channel, we will not allow them to use their real name or identity. At least while they are under 13 years old. We’ll see what our comfort level will be when they get older. Every parent obviously has different comfort levels regarding online safety for their children.
In terms of how to start a blog, all your kid really needs is pick a blog topic they are passionate about. That, and ideally something that they want to share with the world and/or something they can teach people about. There are some great free platforms that allow you to easily create a blog like Wix or Ionos. I know that Wix does require users to be at least 13 years old to create a site.
Once your child has an established blog or vlog, they can also market it later on their high school or college resume or even in the college application process. Employers are always looking for skills like self-motivation, creativity, drive, and ambition!
#6: Landscaping Helper
Landscaping helper. This can involve things like raking leaves, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, and other odd jobs. If your kiddo is active and loves being outside, this might well be the job for them! My suggestion is to make a flyer and go around to your neighbors with your child, to see if anyone might need some landscaping help. As they get older and become more responsible, your child can branch out and expand their services.
#7: Lemonade Salesperson
Lemonade stand. Of course, I have to mention the lemonade stand! I don’t know that I would consider this as an actual “job” as much as a way to make occasional money during the summer. But this is a great first job for a younger kiddo who is feeling motivated to make a little cash and test out their sales and entrepreneurial skills!
#8: Help in Family Business
Family business. If you are the sole owner of a restaurant or other type of family business, your 12-year-old child can work in many capacities as long as they aren’t considered dangerous or hazardous. You also need to make sure to comply with your state’s child labor laws regarding the number of hours and times of days that you child can legally work.
That said, this can be a great first work experience for a child. Learning about the family business first-hand will develop confidence, work ethic, and will also allow your child to learn about themselves and their strengths and interests regarding the work world.
#9: Plant Sitter
Plant sitter. This job is excellent for kids who are interested in and who love to learn about gardening and plants. Watering plants for neighbors on vacation is also a great way to earn income while learning about the basics of growing plants, veggies, fruits, and flowers!
#10: Season Job
Seasonal job. Rounding out my top ten jobs for 12-year-olds are seasonal jobs. These jobs can include wrapping presents during the holidays or even helping out with party planning. If there’s one thing that I know most moms would love is a holiday helper or even a birthday party helper. Am I right?!
This time of the year, while certainly wonderful, can also be exhausting for parents. Between getting presents, wrapping presents, decorating the house, and all the other little stuff, it’s a lot. Your child, depending upon their interests and strengths, could offer their services to friends and neighbors during the holiday season.
As you can see, these ten jobs for 12-year-olds offer fantastic opportunities to explore their interests, develop self-confidence, and cultivate a strong work ethic. Encouraging your child to try a job at this young age can be a valuable steppingstone towards their future success.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some popular jobs for 12 year olds?
The most popular jobs for 12 year olds include babysitting, pet sitting, yard work, dog walking, and mother’s helper.
While 12 year olds are not legally allowed to work in more traditional roles like those at fast food restaurants, they can work in a private home setting doing the above mentioned jobs.
Are there any restrictions or limitations on jobs for 12 year olds?
Yes, there are some restrictions and limitations on jobs for 12 year olds. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets guidelines for the types of jobs and number of hours that young workers can undertake. For example, 12 year olds typically cannot work in hazardous occupations or during school hours. It’s important to check with your local and state laws, as well as obtain any necessary permits or permissions.
How can 12 year olds find job opportunities?
Here are a few ways for 12 year olds to find job opportunities:
– Ask family and friends: Let your family and friends know that you’re looking for work. They might have connections or know someone who needs help with odd jobs.
– Local businesses: Visit local stores, restaurants, or community centers and inquire if they have any part-time job openings for young workers.
– Online platforms: Some websites and apps specifically cater to connecting young workers with job opportunities. Look for reputable platforms that comply with labor laws and guidelines.
Remember to always prioritize your safety and well-being when considering job opportunities, and consult with your parents or guardians before pursuing any employment.