Job Ages, Wages & Rules



Rules are rules.  As a teen, you can work and get paid by your parents, neighbors or a friend at any age.  But if you want to get paid by a company, certain rules kick in.  Most employers have to consider your age before they determine what kind of work you can do and how many hours you can work.  Before you think about getting a job, know the applicable State and Federal rules.  Then read our Job Search, Interviews & Questions To Ask Before You Look For A Job section for some tips.



Federal Laws

The U.S. Department of Labor sets the Federal rules for jobs including minors, those under 18. Basically 14 is the minimum age for employment.  If you're under 16 the Government limits the number of hours you can work.  Rules vary depending on the kind of work and job you want.  Below is the Department's Website, a great source of information:



State Laws

Each State is different.  Some States require permission from your school and/or the school district where you live.  If you happen to go to a private school in a town other than the one you reside in, you not only will need papers signed by your school, but also someone in the school district where you reside.  The Youth Rules Website is a great tool for information about employment for teens.  The site link's you to your local State, by clicking on the State:  You can also call your State Department of Labor or your County or City Department of Labor.



Federal Laws Regarding the Number of Hours You Can Work

If you are 14 or 15 you can work:
  • Outside school after 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when you can work until 9pm
  • No more than 18 hours during a school week
  • 3 hours on a school day
  • 8 hours on a non-school day
  • 40 hours on non-school weeks
If you are over 16 you can work:
  • Any day
  • Any time of day
  • Any number of hours
  • No restriction on the number of hours
Rules can be very different when it comes to agricultural jobs, so check first.



Kind Of Jobs You Can Do By Age

Here are the Federal Guide Lines from Youth Rules:


 When You Are 13 Or Younger . . .

  • You can deliver newspapers
  • You can work as a baby-sitter
  • You can work as an actor or performer in motion pictures, television, theater or radio
    You can work in a business solely owned or operated by your parents
    You can work on a farm owned or operated by your parents
    (Parents are prohibited from employing their children in manufacturing, mining, or any other occupation declared hazardous, listed below, by the Secretary of Labor)
When You Turn 14 . . .
You Also Can Work In
  • Office
  • Grocery store
  • Retail store
  • Restaurant
  • Movie theater
  • Baseball park
  • Amusement park
  • Gasoline service station
You Generally May Not Work In:
  • Communications or public utilities jobs
  • Construction or repair jobs
  • Driving a motor vehicle or helping a driver
  • Manufacturing and mining occupations
  • Power-driven machinery or hoisting apparatus other than typical office machines
  • Processing occupations
  • Public messenger jobs
  • Transporting of persons or property
  • Workrooms where products are manufactured, mined or processed
  • Warehousing and storage
In addition, you may not work any other job or occupation declared hazardous (listed below) by the Secretary of Labor.

When You Turn 16 . . .

You can work in any job or occupation that has not been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.



Hazardous Occupations

You generally may not work in any of the following hazardous occupations:
  • Manufacturing and storing of explosives
  • Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle
  • Coal mining
  • Logging and sawmilling
  • Power-driven woodworking machines
  • Exposure to radioactive substances
  • Power-driven hoisting apparatus
  • Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines
  • Mining, other than coal mining
  • Meat packing or processing (including the use of power-driven meat-slicing machines)
  • Power-driven bakery machines
  • Power-driven paper-product machines
  • Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products
  • Power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears
  • Wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations
  • Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof
  • Excavation operations
There are some exemptions for apprentice/student-learner programs in some of these hazardous occupations.

Hazardous Occupations Note: When you are 18 you can work any job for any number of hours.  The Child Labor rules no longer apply to you.

NOTE: Different rules apply to farms, and individual States may have stricter rules.  Here is another website regarding Child Labor:



Minimum Wage

The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.  Many states also have minimum wage laws, which can vary compared to Federal guidelines.  In cases where an employee is subject to both State and Federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage.

Wages can vary according to type of job, especially summer jobs, such as camp counselors.  Make sure to check with the state guidelines where you are seeking employment.



Important Job Tips

The National Consumer League has published the following tips which you should follow when you look for a job:
  • Ask Questions
    To protect young workers like you, State and Federal laws limit the hours you can work and the kinds of work you can do.  For State and Federal child labor laws, visit Youth Rules.
  • Play it Safe
    Always follow safety training.  Working safely and carefully may slow you down, but ignoring safe work procedures is a fast track to injury.  There are hazards in every workplace — recognizing and dealing with them correctly may save your life.
  • Ask Even More Questions
    Ask for workplace training—like how to deal with irate/upset customers or how to perform a new task or use a new machine.  Tell your supervisor, parent, or other adult if you feel threatened, harassed, or endangered at work.
  • Make Sure the Job Fits
    If you can only work certain days or hours, if you don't want to work alone, or if there are certain tasks you don't want to perform, make sure your employer understands and agrees before you accept the job.
  • Don't Flirt with Danger
    Be aware of your environment at all times.  It's easy to get careless after a while when your tasks have become routine.  But remember, you're not indestructible. Injuries often occur when employees are careless or having fun. 
  • Trust Your Instincts
    Following directions and having respect for supervisors are keys to building a great work ethic.  However, if someone asks you to do something that feels unsafe or makes you uncomfortable, don't do it.  Many young workers are injured—or worse—doing unsafe work that their boss asked them to do.



Basic Empoyee Rights

 You Have The Right To:

  • A safe workplace
  • Refuse dangerous work and to file a complaint if your job is unsafe
  • Safety clothing, equipment, and training
  • Payment for your work
  • Medical care if you get injured or sick because of your job
  • Work without racial or sexual harassment