Think because you’re 15 that your income is limited to birthday money and babysitting fees? Think again.
The United States allows teenagers aged 14 and up to work in certain places and certain industries. Because so many laws limit the hours you can work and the jobs you can do, not every employer is willing to take on teenagers. But many of America’s most recognizable shops and restaurants regularly hire 15-year-olds.
Are you looking for an after-school or summer job that pays real money? We put together a list of the best jobs hiring at 15.
Where and How 15-Year-Olds Can Work
If you’re 15 years old, you’re still young enough to be considered “child labor.” Child labor is regulated by the federal government and by the state, and it cares for workers who are 14 or 15 years old.
Congress passed a law called the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA. The FLSA says that any 14 or 15 year old may have a job as long as they:
- Work only outside school hours
- Work in non-manufacturing, non-hazardous, and non-mining jobs
Federal law says that as a 15-year-old, you may work a set number of hours. The FSLA limits your work time to:
- 3 hours per school day
- 18 hours per school week
- 8 hours on weekends or school holidays
- 40 hours during non-school weeks
- No shifts before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. except during the summer when you can work until 9 p.m.
These rules apply to everyone, but your state may have additional regulations that anyone hiring teens under 18 must follow.
Federal child labor laws apply to everyone under 18 years old. The rules loosen when you turn 16 or 17, but you’ll still receive shorter shifts and won’t be able to work after a specific time of the day.
Our List of the Best Jobs Hiring at 15
State and federal law limit the number of jobs a 15-year-old can have and the duties they perform at work. Because of all the additional requirements, most companies on the list of the best jobs hiring at 15 fall under one of three categories:
- Retail & grocery jobs
- Fast food & restaurants
- Entertainment jobs
We’ll share the best companies that regularly hire teenagers and what you can expect on the job.
Retail & Grocery Jobs
Retailers and grocery stores are some of the biggest employers of teenagers in part because they are safe environments that use teenagers to complete easy or menial tasks.
As a teenage employee in a grocery store, your manager must follow the occupation standards for 14- and 15-year-olds.
Until you’re 16, you may be work as a:
- Shelf-facer and stocker
- Grocery bag person
You may also help clean the story by using a vacuum cleaner.
If your store has a deli, you may not cook over an open flame or use manual deep fat fryers, NEICO broilers, pressure cookers, rotisseries, high-speed ovens, rapid toaster, or fryolaters. You also can’t work in the bakery, warehouse, or cooler.
In other words, if a task involves some sort of risk, whether from moving parts, temperature, or chemicals, then you can’t participate in it.
So what grocery stores are known for hiring 15-year-olds? Here’s a list of national chains:
Most Publix locations hire employees from 14 years of age and up. You can work as a grocery bagger, a floral clerk, or as a cashier. All other positions come with a minimum age of 16.
Wegmans hires 15-year-olds for customer service and cashier roles. All other positions are saved for applicants 18 years and older.
If you get a job at Wegmans, you’ll make at least minimum wage. Team member wages tend to sit around $8.90 an hour.
Here are the current jobs at Wegmans.
Safeway hires teenagers 14 and older to work in customer service roles. You’ll greet customers at the door, run courtesy checks, bag items at check out, and retrieve carts.
People who work in similar roles at Safeway tend to make an average of just under $10 an hour.
Click here to see current jobs at Safeway.
In some states, Winn Dixie hires 15-year-olds to work as courtesy clerks, which is another term for grocery bagger. Additionally, Winn Dixie restricts your hours to weekend days only. The average hourly wage at the supermarket chain is around $8.46 for a cashier.
Keep in mind that most Winn Dixie stores set the minimum age for employment at 16.
King Soopers hires 14- and 15-year-olds with school permission. In most cases, you’ll work in the deli with the option to move to another part of the store when you turn 16 or 18. Like most other grocery stores, the average hourly pay hovers below $9 an hour but meets minimum wage requirements.
Click here to see jobs available at King Soopers.
Fast Food & Other Restaurants
You’ll remember that the law prevents teenagers under 16 from working in dangerous environments. You’re not allowed to use ovens, open flames, harsh chemicals, fast-working devices, or fryers without an automatic basket lift feature.
But one of the most reliable jobs for teenagers is in the fast food industry.
Fast food restaurants don’t use open flames or ovens. They also automate many of their processes, which creates plenty of space for young employees to take over a station safely.
Where are the most reliable jobs for those under 16? Here’s where you can expect to work.
McDonald’s is well accustomed to hiring teenagers 14 years and up, but some franchises may set a minimum age of 16. If you work at McDonald’s at 15, you’ll work as a crew or kitchen staff member. You’re not allowed on the tills until you turn 16.
One of the benefits of working at McDonald’s is that the company promised to pay $2.75 above the federal minimum wage starting at the end of 2016.
Click here to see current jobs at McDonald’s.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s typically hires only those 16 and up, but some franchise in some states take on 15-year-olds, too.
If your local Ben & Jerry’s hires 15-year-olds, you might make around $8 per hour.
Dairy Queen hires teenagers at some franchises, but not all. Check with your local DQ to find out if they hire 15-year-olds. Dairy Queen is known for paying minimum wage with an average salary over around $8 per hour.
Visit this link to see jobs at Dairy Queen.
Fifteen-year-olds at Baskin Robins work the cash register and serve ice cream to customers. Baskin Robins pays you around $9 per hour to serve up ice cream and coffee.
Click here for jobs at Baskin Robins.
Chick-fil-A considers teenagers aged 14+ for dishwasher and kitchen staff roles. Getting in at Chick-Fil-A is worthwhile because the restaurant chain pays up to $18 per hour to fast-food workers.
Click here for the current list of jobs at Chick-Fil-A.
Arby’s offers one of the most dynamic experiences for workers under 16. At Arby’s, you’ll be a regular crew member and can take orders, prepare food, and clean counters and tables.
Arby’s pays just below $8 per hour for most crew member opportunities.
Here’s a list of jobs at Arby’s.
Culver’s is committed to hiring teenagers and providing them with the chance to enjoy a real work experience. As a crew member, you might work as a cashier, line cook, or porter. Porters take care of the inside and outside of the store.
Culver’s pays teenagers $8 per hour and workers 18 and over significantly more.
Visit your local Culver’s to see if they’re hiring.
California Pizza Kitchen
Hiring practices depend on franchise and state, but you may score a host position at California Pizza Kitchen as a 15-year-old.
A host role often pays just below $10 per hour.
There exists an entire segment of the law that applies to under 18 workers at amusement parks and other recreation and entertainment establishments. Many of the same rules in the grocery store and fast food industry also apply. You can’t operate power-driven machines, use a motor vehicle on a public road, or participate in almost anything that could cause injury.
Teenagers in amusement parks are typically limited to working in customer-facing positions and cooking positions that involve food prep and no open flames.
Six Flags employ 15-year-olds for customer service and food service roles. Expect to work as an admission host, in one of the food courts, or in merchandising. They also hire lifeguards from 15 years and older.
If you’re 14 and looking forward to your 15th birthday, you can get a job, too. Six Flags considers 14-year-olds for game attendant roles.
The pay per hour is around $8 per hour on average.
Click here for jobs at Six Flags.
Where Will You Work?
A regular schedule with a big paycheck is possible even when you’re only 15 years old. While your hours and options will be limited, plenty of big companies regularly hire teenagers. Which job will you choose?