‘Teens are at a distinct advantage’ for finding work right now: 5 smart side hustles for teenagers

"Teens can find opportunities ... and receive higher than usual compensation."


Summer jobs have long been a teen tradition, with the number of young people in the workforce growing considerably between April and July of each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even during the pandemic, the youth labor force (ages 16-24) grew by nearly one-fifth, 19.8%, in July 2020. A total 21.5 million young people were working or looking for work.

If you're a teenager keen to make some extra cash, "this is a unique moment in the labor market, and teens are at a distinct advantage," says Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter. That's because there is "a record-high number of job openings in the U.S. right now," she says, including classic summer jobs like camp counselor, retail, or fast-food worker.

If you're entrepreneurial or like a more flexible schedule, there are plenty of side hustles to dive into as well. Some jobs and side hustles may only be open to older teens, though: "Most side hustle platforms require freelancers to be 18, mainly because that's how old you need to be to sign a legal contract," says Kathy Kristof of Sidehusl.com. And even younger teens have options.

Here are five side hustles that experts say are ideal for teenagers.

Social media manager for local businesses

Younger people are often seen to have more social media savvy than most adults. "Teens are perfect for social media manager positions and can make money doing something they enjoy doing," says side hustle expert Daniella Flores. "They can find these gigs by following local small companies on Instagram or TikTok and reaching out to those that look like they need a hand."

Can a local ice cream shop be doing a better job presenting its delicacies? Can a local barber shop be using better hashtags to get the word out about its services? Start following local businesses' social media accounts and taking note of the ones that may not be making the most of those platforms, then reach out with a strategic offer for how to improve on their activities.

Social media managers make an average of $16 per hour, according to PayScale.

Sell crafts on Etsy

If you're creative and have been making unique jewelry, pottery, or even digital tools like "planners, stickers, social media templates, [or] photo presets," says Flores, consider opening an Etsy shop to sell your items.

"Etsy is open to any artist over the age of 13," says Kristof, so even younger teens can sell their creations. Sellers between the ages of 13 and under 18 must follow specific guidelines, however, so make sure to read the site's policy carefully to ensure you're following its rules.

When pricing, keep in mind the price of materials and shipping costs. Some handmade jewelry on the site is going for as much as $60 per necklace, while some stickers are selling for $10 each.

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Sell your stuff online using sites like Poshmark or eBay

If you're 18 or over, consider starting a side hustle selling some of your old clothes on sites like Poshmark or your old toys on sites like Mercari or eBay.

Even young sellers can be wildly successful on these platforms. Aleah Mazyck started selling her old clothes on Poshmark during her freshman year of college and has since grossed more than $30,000 on the site, and Matthew Fiore started selling used LEGO on eBay as a young teen and has since grossed more than $30,000 on the site.

Go through your closet to see what items are in good shape that you could potentially sell, then see how much like products are going for on the sites and price accordingly. Remember to consider the cost of shipping and shipping material. When you're done with your own items, see if friends or family members might need help selling theirs.

Walk dogs or pet-sit

If you're 18 or over, look for side hustle apps and services for "anything related to fur-kids," says Vix Reitano, who built her digital content side hustle into a six-figure business. People adopted 1.6 million pets last year, so "pet care, vet care, overnight sitters, you name it, there's a need for it," she recently told Grow.

Sign up to walk dogs or pet-sit on sites like Rover, Care.com, or PetSitter.com. Dog walkers make an average of $20-$40 per hour and pet-sitters make an average of $25-$30 per day, according to Thumbtack. Because you'll be interacting with strangers, it's also smart to let your parent know when you'll be picking up a job.

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Offer your services on Nextdoor or Facebook

There are also numerous sites to find one-time or ongoing jobs in your neighborhood. "Teens can find jobs on the neighborhood site Nextdoor by simply stating what they want to do," says Kristof. This can include tutoring, walking dogs, or yard work, she says.

You can list your services on neighborhood Facebook groups and let your parents know to spread the word to friends that you're looking for babysitting gigs, housesitting gigs, and so on. Google to find the typical rates for these gigs and include them in your pitches online and to family friends. The average hourly babysitting rate, for example, is $17 for one child, according to UrbanSitter, and the average rate for an overnight housesitter is $50 to $100 per night, according to Thumbtack. Again, if you end up working for strangers, it's smart to keep guardians in the loop.

"Amid the current labor shortage, teens can find opportunities for which they would not have been eligible in the past and receive higher than usual compensation," says Pollak. "In addition to being attractive now, that experience can look good on their resumes and help them get better jobs in the future."

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