During my week of work experience at Moneywise, I was asked to investigate the various ways teenagers in 2017 could make some extra money.
As a teenager myself (I’m 16), I know that as you get older the number of things you want to buy increases at an alarming rate – I am constantly thinking about adding to my wardrobe, my bookshelf, my music library and my cosmetics cupboard, not to mention the added expense of going out more; cinema, concert and festival tickets mean that I am always feeling short of cash, despite the weekly allowance I get from my parents..
Add to this the ominous threat of my rapidly approaching future after I leave school, which I should supposedly be saving for, and it is easy to see why I, along with most of my peers, am keen to find ways to increase the amount in my bank account.
So how can we teenagers do this? The most obvious solution is to get a part-time job – a prospect which is both exciting and very daunting. Many of my friends say they are uncertain of both where and when they are legally able to work, as well as the best places to look for employment, so I thought this was probably the best place to start my investigation.
What are the rules?
UK law states that the youngest age a person can work part-time is 13 (unless they work in television, theatre or modelling, in which case they need a performance licence). During the school term, all teenagers over 13 years of age can work part-time for a maximum of 12 hours a week, while during the holidays, 13- to 14-year-olds can work up to 25 hours a week, and 15- to 16-year-olds can work up to 35 hours a week.
There are also strict laws regarding the distribution of these hours across the week – for example, up to the age of 16, teens can only work for two hours on a Sunday. There is no minimum wage for people under the school leaving age.
Teenagers can only start full-time work once they reach the minimum school leaving age of 16 – they can then work up to 40 hours a week. Once someone reaches 16 they are entitled to earn at least £4.05 per hour and for ages 18 to 20 the minimum wage is £5.60 per hour.
There are many laws regarding which areas of work teens can work in; as a rule, people under 18 are not allowed to work in any environment which could put their health or wellbeing at risk, however there are specific restrictions which should be checked online on the government’s website. As well as these restrictions, some local authorities have by-laws which further dictate which fields of employment teenagers can work in.
Teenagers aged 16 to 17 only pay income tax if they earn more than £113 a week.
So, with all these restrictions in place, what jobs are teenagers allowed to do? Here are eight tried and tested ways young people I know have found employment:
Work in a shop
A part-time job in a local shop is a very good way to make some extra money; anyone aged 13 and over can work in retail if they follow the restrictions on work hours for their age.
The best way to find a job is to go in to as many shops as possible along your local high street, asking if there are any vacancies for a part-time worker and handing in your CV to the manager (always try to speak directly to the manager).
It’s worth thinking about what sort of shop you’d like to work in, but ultimately the best approach is not to be picky; you could be offered a position in a supermarket, a retro clothes shop or a hair salon – you never know what will be available. Obviously, the more shops you approach, the more likely you are to hear back from one of them. Bear in mind that some stores may not want to hire teenagers as their restrictions on work hours may not suit the available positions in the shop.
Become a waitress or waiter
From 13 upwards, it is possible to be employed as a waitress or waiter, although you can’t serve alcohol until you are 16, so it would be better to look for employment in cafés rather than restaurants. For teens between 16 and 17 years of age, it is legal to sell or serve alcohol in a restaurant without supervision if it is sold to be drunk with a table meal in a part of the premises used only for that purpose.
Working as a waiter or waitress is also a great opportunity to make money because you may receive tips on top of your hourly pay.
Become a pool lifeguard
Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification course (NPLQ) with the Royal Life Saving Society. The course, which costs £150-250 depending on the provider and location, doesn’t take long to complete – around a week – and means you could be hired by any leisure centre or pool to work as a lifeguard, a job which generally has flexible hours so is perfect for students and teenagers.
The pay is pretty good too; you can expect to make about £6-£10 an hour, according to my friend who recently got her NPLQ. It goes without saying that to do the course you already need to have a high level of fitness and be a confident swimmer.
Become a sports coach
If you are involved in any sports teams or clubs, it may be possible to be hired as a coach to younger members of the team. I know several people who were asked by their sports coach to teach Saturday morning classes. One friend, for example, makes £7 an hour coaching her local rugby under-5s team. So, if you are already part of a team, it may well be worth asking if there are any vacancies for instructors.
Babysitting is one of the easiest ways to make money as a teenager. If you are good with children, are responsible, and have a friendly attitude, most parents will feel confident leaving you in charge of their children for an evening.
The amount you make can vary according to who you are babysitting for, but it is typical to make about £5 an hour. I started by asking my neighbours with kids if they would be interested in hiring me as a babysitter. Anyone with younger siblings is also in an ideal situation – you can find lots of potential families to babysit for by asking the parents of your sibling’s friends. Otherwise, you could put up advertisements in local shop windows, in the local children’s library or on local neighbourhood social media sites, to notify parents that you would be willing to look after their children.
Sell old things
One way many of my friends have made money is through the mobile app Depop, which works in a way like eBay but is more informal and is very popular with teenagers.
Some people use it to occasionally sell their old unwanted clothes for low prices, but anyone with an entrepreneurial streak can use it to make a significant profit. Once you get the idea of what kind of clothes are popular on Depop, you should be able to visit car boot sales and charity shops and collect lots of interesting vintage clothes and brands at very low prices. You can then sell these clothes on the app at a higher price to make a profit. I picked up an American Apparel skirt on one particularly rainy day at my local car boot sale for £1 (the stall-owner clearly wanted to dispose of his stock as quickly as possible and go somewhere warm and dry) and then sold it on Depop for £25! With commitment, it wouldn’t be too difficult to create a small business on Depop, and many teenagers do.
Become a dog walker
This is an especially good way to make money during school holidays when many dog owners must leave their dogs at home all day while they are at work. If you know anyone in your neighbourhood who leaves their dog at home during the day, you could offer to take it out for a walk around lunch time to give it some exercise.
Most dog walkers charge £8-£10 for an hour’s walk, but you can earn more by walking multiple dogs at a time. You do need to be very confident handling dogs, however, as well as being prepared to clean up after them. Some councils have limits on how many dogs you can walk at a time, and a few parks require you to buy a licence if you are using the park to run a business, so check out your local council’s website to make sure beforehand.
All dog-walking companies that I contacted only employ over 18s. You could try advertising in your local library or local neighbourhood social media group.
Sell your crafts
If you enjoy arts and crafts, such as knitting, sewing or making jewellery, consider selling your work – either in craft fairs (around Christmas is a good time for these) or online, using sites such as Etsy and Folksy. These websites have small fees for selling items – Folksy, for example, charges 15p plus VAT to list an item and takes 6% plus VAT in sales commissions, but it is an easy way to get your crafts seen by people all over the world. Etsy has regulations on minors using the site – check these out online - you will need a parent or guardian’s permission.
If you have a talent for drawing or painting, you might want to consider uploading your designs onto “print on demand” websites such as Zazzle or Redbubble (you should be over 16 for Redbubble). These allow you to put your art on t-shirts, phone cases and other products, which anyone can buy from the website. Each product has a base cost of manufacture, which you can then add a profit margin on top of. For example, on Redbubble the base cost of a hardcover journal is £10, and if you used the default profit margin of 20%, the retail price would be £12 and you would make £2 profit per journal sold.
If you are interested in using your art to make money, you might also want to think about promoting it on social media – with perseverance you could gain large followings for your art account on platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr. The more followers you have, the more people are likely to buy your products off Redbubble. You could also offer to do commissions for people and charge a fee.
Really helpful for me :)
Really helpful for me :)