Should A Teenager Have A Job?

After-school jobs have always been a traditional stepping stone in adolescent growth and development. Many parents are finding increasingly challenging to juggle their children’s schedules for athletics and arts activities. Many students also participate in scouting, FFA, or faith-based programs. High schools often require volunteer hours each semester – college bound students will not be considered without fulfilling volunteer hours. With barely enough time to catch up as a family, should parents encourage their adolescent children to get a job?

In fact, the tradition holds weight. Aside from earning money and becoming self-sufficient, there are numerous advantages to a teenager working. The teenage years are a time of transition, and working helps teens polish their skills and set their future goals.



Reasons Teens should get a Job.


  • It promotes an early understanding of basic finance and a growing sense of independence.

Children are constantly pestering their parents for things they want on the spur of the moment. They lack the perspective to comprehend the purchase price or appropriateness of the item they want so badly at that moment. As children mature, it’s important that they learn to respect the value of money and the discipline of saving.

Nothing teaches a teen more about money and the true worth of the things they buy than having to spend their own money to get what they want. The weeks or months of saving, the patience required, and the sacrifice of other purchases along the way. This crucial lesson prepares them for their future as responsible adults capable of delaying gratification and functioning well in the adult world.

  • It boosts self-esteem.

It is just part of being a teenager – the struggle with self-confidence, especially in unfamiliar situations. As we age, we learn to tolerate the anxiety in order to complete a task or an activity. A teenager’s first reaction, on the other hand, may be avoidance.

Having a job means that a young person will encounter challenging tasks and some intimidating situations, especially at first. However, avoidance at work is rarely an option. Most people find that the anxiety fades once they have become accustomed to a particular situation or learned a specific task and performed it a few times. By persevering, they are equipped with a new skill instead.

  • It opens new gates.

From the perspective of a teenager, having a job provides a world of opportunities and can foster a new sense of freedom.

When the items on a teenager’s Wish List cost far more than their allowance will cover, getting their first job can help to alleviate this problem. They can spend their money on things their parents might consider frivilous or that their family simply cannot afford.

They can juggle their own spending priorities – concert and movie tickets, those trendy shoes and clothes, or saving for college, travel, and a car. They can say “yes” to social invitations without having to ask their parents to foot the bill.  It’s a taste of independence, tempered with responsibility.

  • It makes them Learn about the real world.

When teenagers begin working, they get a crash course on the ups and downs of the Real World. They learn to how judge character, and spot dishonesty.  They learn how to recover from mistakes and disappointments. They taste both the sweetness and the bitterness of the natural world and begin to accept it.

Teens mature rapidly on their own during this stage. They learn how to pay their bills, groom themselves, dress professionally, and maintain good health.

  • They grow into responsibility.

Trust does not come easily and must be earned consistently over time. Every adolescent must become responsible at some point in their life. They must accept responsibility for own their actions and begin to take care of their own needs.

Teens learn to take responsibility faster when they work. They earn rewards for work well done, face criticism for errors, and find out who they can trust and who they cannot. As a result, they become accountable for themselves before they shoulder the full responsibilities of adulthood.


It’s Not “One Size Fits All”

Teens are under a lot of pressure, particularly in high school, and the added stress of working can place a burden on their shoulders that they may find difficult to bear. For some students, it is difficult enough to cope with school-related stresses without dealing with an additional drain on their energy and focus.

Although working a few hours per week appears to have little effect on teens and their schoolwork. Research does show that when the hours creep up over 20 hours per week, school attendance and grades suffer. Some studies have shown that working more than 20 hours per week can increase the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse.

Another issue with teens in the workplace is that they are often naive and inexperienced, leaving them vulnerable to unfair treatment and exploitation by employers.


Looks great on your resume

Long term, having work experience on your resume is beneficial when applying for future opportunities, whether it is another job, an internship, or a course of study. It denotes a resourceful, self-sufficient, and motivated young person who will be an asset to a company or institution.

When a teenager takes a job, it is still their parents’ responsibility to keep an eye on them. Parents should research and observe to ensure that their working conditions are fair, and make it clear to your teen that they should be treated with dignity. Teens must learn to tell the difference between someone being their boss and someone taking advantage of them, as a parent, you can help them tell the difference.


Nuevo en US and its founder, Steve Cuculich, owner of Car Credit, support the vital delinquency prevention work of The Young Lions in Tampa’s inner city.  Through the generosity of Car Credit, valuable community information and resources are available to both our English and Spanish speaking neighbors.

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