The minimum employment age is 14 years old in the U.S., according to the Department of Labour. There are also a few hour restrictions for people under the age of 16, and hazardous work restrictions for anyone under the age of 18.
It's important to note that laws refer to full-time and part-time employment positions at businesses, so you can’t be legally employed to mop floors or work as a cashier if you’re just 11 or 12 years old either.
But that doesn't mean you can't make money as a kid.
In this post, I'll go through some of the ways you can earn some extra cash at home or around the neighbourhood, at any age. Make sure you have your parents’ permission and supervision to do these jobs, though!
#1 Using Money-Making Apps
Money-making apps are a great way of making some income with your smartphone during your spare time — it depends on what app you use, but some of them are as easy as creating a profile and doing a few simple tasks as you're watching TV.
Of course, using apps that pay higher (like TaskRabbit) would be the most straightforward way of getting money quickly, but there's a catch — the higher the pay, the more time you'll have to spend per task.
The income you can get from apps that have easier tasks can still add up, but it will take a bit longer to do so: in short, you'll need to evaluate how quickly you want to make money before choosing an app.
If you'd like to learn more about money-making apps in general, you could take a look at my article on them here.
Running a blog can be pretty hit or miss as far as success is concerned, but considering how small the initial investment is, it's definitely worth a try.
Having a successful blog is one of the best ways of earning passive income (AKA money that you earn with minimal or zero active effort), and you can learn plenty of useful skills like SEO (search engine optimization) and how to market your blog — however, it can be pretty time consuming (especially in the beginning), so make sure you give plenty of thought to this idea before fully committing to it.
If you're pretty skilled at spotting other people's mistakes when writing, (whether we're talking about spelling, grammar, and/or syntax errors), then becoming a proofreader is the perfect job for you.
There's a lot of advantages to becoming a remote proofreader — you can work from anywhere, there's plenty of job opportunities as blogging becomes more popular, and making money as a proofreader is also pretty easy. The average pay you can expect as a proofreader is $26 per hour.
If you'd like to know more about online proofreading jobs, you might want to take a look at my article here.
#4 Selling Books You Don't Use
If you have a lot of books that you've already read, don't have the time to read or you're simply not interested in reading, then maybe this is the perfect opportunity to do something about them.
Whether it's a ton of academic books or an entire science fiction saga, there's plenty of ways you can sell books that you no longer have any use for — you could do it the traditional way by opening a stall, or you could take advantage of technology by selling them online (Facebook, in particular, is pretty useful for this).
It could take a while for your books to get sold depending on what books you have, but overall, this is another quick way to make money as a kid.
#5 Website Testing
One interesting way you could make money quickly is by using a platform like UserTesting to get paid for testing apps and websites.
You can earn around $10 for every 20-minute assignment, which is pretty good — however, the demand for testers is not constant, so you’re not guaranteed to find opportunities every time you log in to the platform. In some cases, a website may only be looking for feedback from a specific demographic as well, so you'd need to qualify in order to test that website first.
With some luck, though, it's a pretty effective way of making money as a kid.
#6 Having A Lemonade Stand
Lemonade stands are a classic way for kids to make money. It costs almost no money to make lemonade (after all, you can get a lemonade mix container for $3, which should make around 32 cups of lemonade).
Even if you’re only selling lemonade for $1 per cup, it’s an exceptional profit margin, and that's without mentioning tips you could get.
The key to having a successful lemonade stand is where you place it — most kids do this in their front yard for convenience, but if you want even more money, place your lemonade stand where there's a lot of traffic.
Other things you could do are set up a lemonade stand at your sibling's games if they play any sports, and adding iced tea, soda, and water to the menu to diversify.
Make sure to check if you need a permit to set up a lemonade stand, though. Most states require it.
#7 Washing Cars
Although washing cars requires a bit more manual labour and you’ll also have to invest in some cleaning supplies, it's a great side hustle for kids.
There are a few ways to do this. The first is by holding a car wash event — this is done by having some friends help you out and hold up signs around the neighbourhood. Then, you try to wash as many cars as possible during that time.
You can also start washing cars on your own once you build a steady customer base. Your neighbours are once again the best place to start, and if you do well, they can have you wash their cars once or twice per week.
If you’re ready to level up, the next step would be to start detailing cars. This is, of course, a lot more exhaustive requires a lot more time, but you can charge $100 for full details.
#8 Getting Into Online Tutoring
You can also earn plenty of quick money if you specialize in a particular subject matter, as this allows you to become an online tutor.
There are plenty of subjects currently in demand, but some of the most sought-after are math, science (encompassing subjects like chemistry and physics), and English. Depending on the site you use to engage in online tutoring, you might also need to have more or fewer certifications in order to get started with tutoring students.
If you'd like to learn more about online tutoring, I also have an article on the topic that you can read here.
#9 House Painting
Painting jobs are a job that fits teenagers better, considering it's very likely that you'll need to get on a ladder to complete some jobs.
When you're just starting out, interior painting jobs are the way to go. Family, friends, or neighbours might need a bedroom in their house painted — they’ll buy all of the paint and materials, so all you need to do is the actual painting.
To do this, I recommend you wear old clothes that you don't mind getting covered in paint. Also, take your time and make sure the job is done correctly.
Some professional painters can charge $1,000 per room, which means that you have a huge earning potential even if you charge a fraction of that amount.
#10 Become a Personal Assistant
This is another job that's better suited for teenagers. Basically, if you have a family member that needs help at their job in some way, you can become their personal assistant and earn money that way.
The job description will vary based on who you’re helping out — it could be anything from answering phone calls to getting coffee and opening letters, and it's very likely that you'll be paid a fixed rate for each day you work.
One big pro of becoming a personal assistant is that it actually has potential for career growth — once you’re of legal working age, you could have an advantage over other people applying for the same job, as the hiring manager will already know who you are.
#11 Tutoring Adults On Electronics
Students aren’t the only ones that need tutoring. In fact, there's also plenty of adults that have trouble understanding how electronics work, whether it's a table, a computer or even a new iPhone.
If you’re like most kids, using a smartphone or computer will be second nature to you, so why not take advantage of that?
Explaining how to take pictures, make calls, send messages, and similar features is pretty easy. As far as pay goes, this will depend on the situation — for example, some adults might only need a quick 30-minute lesson on a specific feature, while others may need help learning how to use different types of software on their computer (like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Google Drive, etc) every week.
This job isn’t for everyone and it comes with lots of responsibility, which is why babysitting is a job typically reserved for teenagers.
The best way to get started is by securing a babysitting job with someone you know — maybe a family member or neighbour needs someone to watch their kid for a couple of hours.
After you've done this plenty of times, babysitting families that have multiple kids is a great way of making even more money.
It's also worth mentioning that weekend nights (when parents usually go out to dinner) will usually be higher-paying jobs, so keep that in mind.
#13 Pet Sitting and Walking
Similar to babysitting, pet sitting is another great way for kids that love animals to earn extra cash.
If you have neighbours that work all day, there’s a good chance their pets need to be let out of the house. So, you can arrange to walk some neighbourhood dogs before or after school — this will only take about 5-10 minutes of your time per pet. And the earning potential is pretty good, too: you can earn about $50 per week for each dog you walk.
#14 Fix and Clean Bikes
Another great way to make money as a kid is by fixing bicycles.
Some of these are easy fixes for a bike enthusiast — things like fixing the gears, putting on a new chain, replacing the tires or new brake pads are common jobs, and you could get around $20 for any 30-minute job.
After that, you could earn even more money by providing bike parts — for example, let’s say a bike needs two new tubes. You could get them at Walmart for around $5 each and you could charge $30+ for the job.
#15 Lawn Mowing
Another excellent way for kids to make money is by mowing their house's (or neighbours') lawn.
Ideally, you want to start by mowing the lawn at your own house to practice your skills. In fact, you could even start earning money here by talking to your parents into paying you for doing it.
After that, you can ask your neighbours. Depending on the yard's size, lawn mowing can get you about $10 to $40 per yard.
Most people need their lawn mowed once per week, and each lawn can take you anywhere between an hour or two. So, if you can do 10 yards per week, that’s $250 in your pocket.
While the minimum age of employment is around 14 years old, and there's a wide variety of restrictions for people ranging between 16 to 18 years of age, there are still a few ways you can earn money as a kid.
Whether it's by lawn mowing, fixing and cleaning bikes, or by doing tougher jobs like proofreading and being an online tutor, there are plenty of options available for a kid to earn income today.
Choosing a particular option will vary from person to person, though, so it's worth giving each option on this list some consideration before giving any of them the green light.