There may be no better time than now to be a teenager looking for a job. Many businesses are scrambling to find workers to fill spots that were held by adults, pre-pandemic.
Those adults haven’t returned to the workforce yet, or at least they aren’t going back to their old jobs. It’s retail and hospitality industries that are hurting the most and teens are coming to the rescue.
To lure prospective employees, some businesses are paying higher hourly wages and offering signing bonuses.
Where once high schools students were aced out of some retail and fast food jobs by college kids and even older adults, they are now coming to the rescue of businesses desperate to fill openings.
We’ve got some ideas about how teens can save those bigger paychecks for college and cars or even a gap year.
Statistics show they are responding to the calls of industry. The unemployment rate for teens ages 16 to 19 has been below 10% for May through July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, that’s the lowest rate since January 2019.
4 Jobs For High School Students
Teens have worked in retail and fast food since the beginning of retail and fast food. But now is the time to jump back in as salaries and perks are higher than ever. Here are four examples:
Bike Delivery Service
No doubt you already know that restaurants and fast food chains need workers to deliver food. Sure, many rely on delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats, but larger chains have their own delivery services.
Not only are they struggling to fill roles for workers to make food, they’re also struggling to find people to make deliveries, too.
Even if you don’t have your driver’s license yet (or have total confidence behind a wheel), don’t get discouraged. If you live in an urban area, plenty of chains let you use your bike to make deliveries. You may also be able to use your scooter so check that out when you apply.
Places like Jimmy John’s are looking to fill positions for delivery drivers that have their own bikes or e-bikes. They advertise that with tips, you can make up to $20 per hour. You can choose how many hours you want to work, from less than 10 up to 39 hours a week.
There are also courier companies in more urban areas like New York City that hire those who have their own bikes to make deliveries with varying distances. Some also pay upwards of $20 per hour, more if you’re experienced or fast. Plenty of them also allow you to choose your hours and make as many deliveries as you want.
Think about it: you make money and get in some exercise at the same time. Talk about efficiency.
Fast Food Restaurants
The quintessential teenage job is working the takeout window and flipping burgers at a fast food joint. Those businesses are so desperate to fill positions that they are boasting about higher wages, with a few offering signup bonuses.
For instance, McDonald’s is one of the more well-known companies offering up to $400 in bonuses just for working there. Their hourly wages depend on the location — some areas are reportedly paying up to $15 an hour.The chain also offers other benefits like scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs, perfect for those who are off to college soon.
Other places like Pennsylvania chain Primanti Bros. are offering $300 bonuses for hourly workers. Chipotle is offering employees free college tuition if they work at least 15 hours a week once they work at least four months. Even Burger King in some areas are offering a $250 bonus for working there.
Both Walmart and Target have generous tuition programs that pay up to 100 percent of college tuition for certain programs and at specific schools. This could be a game changer for older teens tired of pet sitting and dog walking.
You can now earn more bagging groceries than ever before. Aldi, a major grocery chain operating all over the U.S., offers up to $16 per hour for ringing up groceries and stocking shelves. At many grocery stores, it doesn’t take long to move up the ladder.
If you happen to live near an Aldi warehouse (you know, where the masses of groceries are delivered from to retail locations), you can earn some sweet signup bonuses. You will have to be on your feet (it’s physical labor after all), and depending on the shift, you’ll earn up to $750, paid in three installments.
Other grocery stores, like Kroger, get paid at least $16 per hour. Publix, another popular chain, pays cashiers up to that same hourly wage as well. Publix, like many grocery chains that hire teenagers, is good at working around high school schedules, which is especially great for students involved in sports, music, theater or other extracurricular activities.
Are you good with gardening tools or a lawn mower? Don’t mind working outside?
The good news is that there are plenty of landscaping companies out there looking for people to hire. Summertime is the best time to look for these jobs because well, the warmer weather means more homes need outdoor maintenance. In some locales, like Florida and Arizona, lawn maintenance is a year-round gig.
The national average is around $15 per hour, but using your sleuthing skills, you can surely find something that pays more. Put in calls to local landscape companies and be ready to work right away.
Other than landscaping companies, don’t forget to look at other places like theme parks and zoos. These places also need help with watering, weeding and general landscape maintenance.
Contributor Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance writer based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in real estate, insurance, banking, loans and credit. She is the host of the Buzzsprout and Beyond the Dollar podcasts.