First job as a teenager: how to get one and prepare like a pro

First job as a teenager: how to get one and prepare like a pro

Is your teen looking for their first job? If so, they may wonder how to find one when they don’t have any skills. The good news is many jobs suit this age group, from babysitting to shop sales and event work. Here are some first-job options and advice on how to get hired. 


When should your teen get their first job?

Several factors show whether your teen is ready for their first job. Firstly, are they of legal age? In the UK, kids can get a part-time job from the age of 13, though there are restrictions around school hours and safety, which means your child can’t work more than two hours on school days or do something that could be dangerous. Other factors include whether they can get to and from their place of work and whether their school grades will suffer if they start work.


First job ideas for young teens 


The best first job options are the traditional jobs you may have done yourself as a teen: babysitting, a paper round and car washing. These jobs are often easy to find  in your local area, and your child can easily network to drum up work on their own. They are also easy to fit around school hours and don’t have any high overheads or costs. If your child is confident, responsible and has the necessary skills, other good jobs include dog walking, pet sitting, mowing lawns or gardening.


First job ideas for older teenagers 


If your child is older, the options for part-time work are more extensive as these jobs can be further afield and include more structured roles that come with a different kind of responsibility. These types of jobs include waitressing, working in shops, helping run summer play camps, receptionist work, and customer service. Roles like this requiremore diligence and offer more responsibility for more money – as well as the opportunity to learn new skills.


What’s a reasonable hourly wage for a teenager?


There is no minimum wage under the age of 16, and above this age, the rates are as follows:


  •  Age 16-17: £4.81 an hour
  • Age 18-20: £6.83 an hour


 What’s important here is to talk to your child about what you both consider a fair wage for the work your child is being asked to do. For example, earning £1.50 as a waitress isn’t a fair wage for the hours and work involved, but £5 to wash a car would be.


Which types of teenage jobs pay the most?


Payment for jobs depends on your age, the demand for work in your area, how much competitors charge, and the going rate. For example, working in a well-known supermarket would tend to have a similar rate to other supermarkets, so Aldi pays £10.10 an hour, and so does ASDA. Event staff can get paid £10 an hour while waitressing can be anything from £5 an hour. Babysitting rates depend on where you live but could be as much as £10 an hour and as little as £4. For jobs that pay the most, stick to well-known restaurant chains and retailers over small independents.


Steps to help your teen get their first job 


Get them to look close to home


Working near your home has various benefits, especially if your teen has to start work early or finish late. It also avoids travel costs, which means they will make more in the long run.


See if they can ask for help at school


If your child’s school has a careers office, suggest they ask for help with how to approach businesses and ask for part-time vacancies. The department may even have an idea of which local businesses have vacancies.


Help your teen prepare a CV


For many part-time jobs, your teen will need to fill in an application and submit a CV. Many teens will need to gain knowledge of how to do this, so show them how to create a CV and fill in an application correctly.


Point them in the direction of job search sites


Certain job search sites have jobs for 16 year olds looking for part-time work (see StudentJobs and Indeed). Bear in mind that teens usually need help searching for work, understanding job descriptions and applying online.


Ask them to look at student apprenticeship programmes


If your teen is looking for full-time work, an apprenticeship programme may be right for them. Apprentices receive pay while learning how to become experts in a trade such as healthcare, food preparation/serving, manufacturing and public safety.


Tips to help your teen prepare for their first job 


Put teens in control of their work needs


Remind your teen that being ready for work means they need to be in control of all aspects of working, from punctuality to having a work uniform clean and ready, whether that’s one that’s been given to them or a type of clothing that they are expected to wear. 


Talk about the importance of being professional 


Discuss what it means to be professional at work, from listening to what you are told by someone in charge to being positive about work and respectfully talking to customers and colleagues.


Encourage them to stay committed


It’s easy to be excited about work in the first few weeks, but as we all know, teens can lose enthusiasm for something very quickly. Try not to give them an easy way out; talk about how they have committed to doing something and the benefits of doing it to the best of their abilities.


Address work safety concerns


Working for someone may mean coming home late, starting early, or even working with different people and age groups. Talk to your teen about the safety aspects of travelling, how others should treat them and what to do if they feel unsafe or harassed at work.


Set them up an account to get paid into


A first job also means teens need a bank account where they can receive payment. Teens can open a bank account on their own from 16 years old. Another good option is the GoHenry pre-paid debit card. Their account has an account number and sort code, so an employer can pay their salary via a bank transfer or BACS.


Establish how much they will save from their pay


When they start working, suggest that a certain percentage (ideally at least 20%) of their earned income always goes into a savings account. This is an excellent life habit; ultimately your teen will thank you for it. Saving pots can automatically be set up on the GoHenry app, moving money automatically when your teen gets paid.


List of places teens can look for their first job 


The best places teens can look for jobs are in the local paper, job sites and on local Facebook groups but also don’t neglect word of mouth and encourage them to use their initiative and walk into places and ask for work.


List of first jobs for teens 


For ideas on what your teen can do for work consider traditional jobs and thinking outside of the box (see ideas below):

  • Event staff
  • Proofreader
  • Library assistant
  • Waitressing
  • Retail work
  • Customer service work
  • Gardening
  • Childcare
  • Cleaning
  • Car washing
  • Call centre work
  • Stocking shelves
  • Tutor
  • Pet sitter
  • Dog walker
  • Summer camp assistant
  • Office admin
  • Sports coaching
  • Mother’s helper
  • Delivering newspapers
  • Befriending carer


Teen job resource section 


For more help and advice about working and jobs go to Citizens Advice, UCAS and ACAS. For details on teen and child employment got to


Get your teen their own prepaid debit card with GoHenry 


92% of parents say their teens are more money confident, thanks to GoHenry. Benefits for your teens include having wages paid into their account from their first payday onwards, learning more about money skills with an app+ Money Missions and being able to pay in an instant with Apple Pay and contactless debit cards.



Related articles


How old do you have to be to get a credit card?


What age can you get a debit card?


Financial milestones for kids


Financial literacy resources for children


How to teach kids the value of money


Activities to teach your kids financial literacy
Written by Anita Naik Published Dec 16, 2022 ● 3 min. read