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Summer Job Ideas For Teens

Summer Job IdeasVicki at Make Smarter Decisions recently wrote about activities from her teenage years that benefited her later in life. This got me thinking about a summer job for my own children. Although I had teenagers in mind when I created this list, in fact, anyone with free time can start side businesses in these areas.

I recommend everyone start developing an entrepreneurial mindset early in life. And a summer job is a great way to do just that. Learning how to identify an opportunity, sell yourself, and run a business will benefit you in all aspects of your life. And even though you may (and probably will) work as an employee, you can still (and should) have a side business to diversify your income stream.

Some of the ideas below are more entrepreneurial than others. But the one common theme is that each summer job requires developing one or more entrepreneurial skills – sales, people management, training, leadership, organization, time management, and others.


Find a Summer Job to Make Money and Learn

Academic tutoring.  If you are good in school, especially if you’re gifted in math, you might find success as an academic tutor. There are several areas where you can specialize – general skills, specific classes, or even test preparation. I have a friend you made a good tutoring income, preparing students to take the admissions test at private schools.

Camp counselor.  Whether you choose an overnight camp or day camp, counselors work closely with children leading them and teaching them new skills. A camp counselor position is a great opportunity to develop leadership and people management skills. And since you’ll be overseeing children, you need to learn patience as well.

Lawn service.  This is an old favorite summer job, but still relevant. You’ll be competing with larger commercial landscape maintenance companies, but can probably compete on price if you’re willing. Running a summer lawn business will help develop your selling and time management skills.

Lifeguard.  This is a great option for current and former swim team members. To become a lifeguard will require training and certification, but it’s a unique way to combine your skills and interest with making money. At the same time, you’ll learn what it’s like to be responsible for other people.

Music lessons.  Did you suffer through years and years of music lessons only to put down your instrument and never play again? If you can rekindle your past playing ability, maybe try your hand at teaching children to play. Most popular tends to be piano, violin, and guitar, but even if your expertise is in another area, don’t be afraid to put an ad on Craigslist and see the response. Do a little research to determine an appropriate rate, pricing your services on the lower end until you establish yourself.

Private sports lessons.  It seems that everyone these days envisions their child becoming the next professional or Olympic athlete. At a minimum, they are expecting a college sports scholarship. Whether your sport is soccer, golf, tennis, or anything else, there’s a market of parents willing to pay good money to give their child any advantage they can find.

Summer drama production.  This is a little more involved than just getting a summer job. But if you enjoy putting on a production, you might consider this. You can run short individual two-week sessions, or use the whole summer for a single production with each week dedicated to a different aspect of the show – set, music, choreography, etc.

Swim lessons.  Nothing says summer more than swimming. If you’re a retired swim team veteran, you can try to go it alone, but you might be better off signing on with a local country club, health club, or public pool. After spending years swimming for hours and hours every day, put all that knowledge to good use. Plus it’s a great way to stay in shape.

Wait tables.  I think everyone should spend a little time working as a waiter. Not only is it a great way to meet people and develop your social skills, it will also help you appreciate the challenges of working in the service industry. For the most part, waiters earn less than minimum wage before tips. They are dependent on their own ability to serve customers to generate tips. And often things are out of their control, but they pay the price in their tip. It’s a great introduction to the challenges of customer service.

Window washing.  I’ve mentioned this business before, but window washing as a summer job is such a great niche, I’ll say it again. Start a window washing company. Nobody likes to wash their own windows. It’s dirty and time-consuming. If you’re willing to climb a ladder, this is a great way to make money over the summer. You’ll learn sales, organization, and if you hire a helper, you’ll learn to manage people.


The above list is just a small sampling of things you can do as a teenager to make money. No matter what money-making method you choose, in addition to the economic benefits, focus on developing entrepreneurial skills that you can carry with you in future endeavors.


Readers, do you have any other summer job ideas or creative ways for teenagers to make money and develop new skills?



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  1. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions

    Wow – thanks for the shout out! I was never a camp counselor but I think I would have loved that. I went to camp for years but then just got other jobs in my town instead. As a swimmer, it would have been hard to be at an overnight camp because of missing practices all summer. But there are also tons of jobs in our town for kids who want to work at the local daycares or Y programs where kids go in the summer when parents are at work. I think there is a market for kids who want to work with technology helping us “digital immigrants” with things like websites too 🙂

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    1. Financial Slacker

      You’re welcome. It was a great article that got me thinking.

      I hear what you’re saying. My children are year-round swimmers and it’s difficult to have time for much else. The team works around your schedule when you’re a lifeguard or swim instructor, so those are both good options for swim team members.

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  2. Dividends Down Under

    Hey FS,

    I didn’t do any summer jobs when I was younger, I wish I had. I could have developed some of my attitudes and abilities a lot earlier. I didn’t have hustle back then! They would have been a great confidence builder too.


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    1. Financial Slacker

      One of the biggest things I learned from my summer jobs was to stay in school and get a degree.

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  3. Untemplater

    I used to babysit in my teen years when I wasn’t away at summer camp or summer school. I tried getting a part-time retail job a couple times but never got hired. Whatever type of job you can get is great experience as a teen. Not only does it build character, it helps teach teens about budgeting and working hard.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Babysitting is another great teen job. And I agree, work experience does help teach budgeting and hard work, both great skills to learn as early as possible.

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  4. ambertreeleaves

    When younger, I did a variety of students jobs: working at a bakery (I did not like these Sunday morning 6am shifts), admin in big corporates, and lawn.

    Good that you compose such a list. I do think kids should work a bit to get some extra cash to realise a dream. A computer was one of mine… Imagine, it had a whopping 480K of Memory…!

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    1. Financial Slacker

      I do remember those first computers. My first real computer was an Apple IIe. My father would not let us buy any games for it until we learned to program our own game.

      It was a good experience as I taught myself how to program in BASIC an in turn, learned analytical skills. And I’ve carried those skills with me into other ventures throughout my life.

      You never know how the things you learn when you are young will benefit you many years down the road.

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  5. zeejaythorne

    Working at a summer camp during middle school was really wonderful. So many of my first job skills are directly useful now. No one has asked me to measure turbidity, but they have asked me to inspire tired, whiny people to complete the task at hand.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Good point. Probably also helps you deal with employees screaming profanity at you which seems to happen too often at work these days.

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  6. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    I wish I saw this list in high school!

    Nowadays, I’ve noticed a few of my professional colleagues and friends become tutors for admission tests. Similar to your tutoring example above, many of these people are pros at the GMAT/LSAT/GRE/etc and they’re able to share their knowledge. The one big advantage they say is tutoring a student after college is easier since the student himself/herself is invested.

    My summer job back in the day was boring. I would drive to pick up supplies or move items around. Pretty much janitorial level work (including cleaning bathrooms). I wish I could say I learned some lessons during that time, but really, I just kept thinking I needed to be paid for my thoughts/ideas as opposed to my time. That’s one of the sparks that led me to graduate with an accounting degree and become a CPA. No more cleaning toilets! 🙂

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    1. Financial Slacker

      I learned the same thing. I wanted to get paid for my mind not physical work.

      My dad had a client in the commercial laundry business. It only takes one day working in that environment to make you realize that there are much easier (and more pleasant) ways to earn a living.

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  7. MrSLM

    Another 2 to add to the list: Painting and Construction

    Really physically demanding work, long hours, often out in the sun, but pays extremely well.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Good adds. Funny story. Had a friend working construction on a house. He was walking along the framing with a nail gun in his hand. Somehow put a nail through his shoe and into the wood frame. Luckily it didn’t actually go through his foot, but it would have been amusing seeing him trying to take off his shoe without falling.

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