How to make money in high school, and even during the school year? Great resources for your teen to earn cash (whether they want to find a formal job, or not). 

Most kids want to earn their own money.

teen girl laying on bed with phone, text overlay "how to earn cash for teens - teen job guide"

And by high school? Well, almost every teenager I know is chomping at the bit for extra cash they can call their own.

Whether it’s because they want to save up for a car, pay for weekend activities with friends, buy their girlfriend a birthday gift…there are limitless reasons why a high schooler wants to start earning cash.

If your teenager is considering finding a job or otherwise figuring out how to make money in high school, then send them here.

Because I’m going to outline lots of ways for them to earn money while in high school, as well as what they might want to think about when it comes to earning money at their age.

Oh yeah – and I’ve got ways to earn cash whether they have a driver’s license, or not.

I mean, I didn’t have a driver’s license until I was 17, but I started earning money when I was 14!

It can be done.

How to Make Money in High School During the School Year

When you’re in school, school is the most important thing to be working on.

That’s because your high school diploma, teacher referrals, testing scores, extracurricular activities, and more can really give you a leg up in your young adult life.

Specifically, focusing on your studies can help you to:

  • Get into the college you want
  • Get a scholarship to post-high school training
  • Get excellent referrals for a post-high school job

Still – most teens I know want to earn money as well (I had multiple jobs as a teenager, so I totally get it!).

Not only that, but gaining on-the-job experience can help in many ways, like in getting solid referrals, in figuring out which career path you might want and which career path you DON’T want, and in developing some capabilities you may not have known you had.

During the school year, there are some opportunities to both earn money AND stay on top of your studies.

And we'll go into those below. 

But to start with, you've got to figure out how available you are to work during a school year. Times like winter break, summer break, and weekends could all be used for employment.

You also want to keep in mind activities like sports seasons that you find important. Maybe you are a star baseball player, so the Spring/summer season is going to be ultra-busy, but the Fall would be a good time to hold down a part-time job.

Next up, I want to talk the difference between making consistent income in high school, versus non-consistent. Because you might choose one over the other depending on your needs/wants/parent’s input.

How to Make Consistent Money while in High School?

There are essentially two ways to make money at your age – either with a part-time/fulltime job, or “on the side” from a variety of sources (like taking surveys, occasionally babysitting your younger cousin, and selling some games back to GameStop).

It’s really up to you and your parents if you’d like to make consistent money as a high schooler – meaning having a formal job, whether that’s part-time or full-time – or if you just want to try for side income.

A job will give you consistent money. You’ll likely be given a set schedule (or you’ll have to sign up for time slots to work on a week, bi-weekly, or monthly basis), and so you know ahead of time what your earnings will be.

Without the structure and surety of job income, you’ll have to create your own momentum in earning cash as you want to.

Either way is fine – and there are lessons to be learned from each.

It’s really up to you and your parents whether or not you can handle employment at your age, and if it’s the best use of your time.

You also need to follow any youth employment laws in your state, and make sure you can legally work the way you’d like to, first. Also, keep in mind the Youth Minimum Wage law

Finally, another thing to consider when trying to make money during your school year is giving yourself a big-enough head start when finding employment.

For example, when I was in high school and knew I wanted my old job back at the Chester County Migrant Ministry for summer break, I called my boss around March. I wanted to give her ample time – before she considered hiring someone else – to take me back on. And if I found out that she wouldn’t need me in the summer time? Then I wanted to give MYSELF ample time to look for other summer work.

Consistent Money-Making Opportunities for High School Students:

In this section, find actual places to work as a teenager (part-time and seasonal ideas). 

1. Position at Your School District

Did you know that many schools offer positions to students? Sometimes during the school year, and oftentimes during the summer.  

Check in at the school-district level, as there could be positions in elementary or middle schools, as well.

2. Youth Sports Assistant Referee

Amazingly enough, teens and tweens as young as 12-14 can start refereeing for soccer games!

Check in with your local government for any leagues that are looking for referees or assistant referees, as well as middle schools and elementary schools…even your high school coach may know of an open position (and may be willing to recommend you for it).

US Youth Soccer even gives out an annual Young Referee of the Year Award!

3. Salon Assistant

While you likely don’t have a cosmetology license (so can’t do the actual salon work), a salon is a business, and therefore has other types of work that needs to be done.

Salons have to interact with customers, take payments, keep up with appointments, sweep up hair, disinfect between clients, and more.

4. Teen Apprenticeship or Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Did you know there are federally-backed apprenticeship programs that teens can participate in?

For example, here’s an art studio with a teen apprenticeship program that pays $15.00/hr. Not only do you get paid for the work, but your on-the-job training? It’s paid, as well. Great skills to take with you into young adulthood.

If you complete a program that’s recognized by the government, then you can even get a certificate of completion from the Department of Labor – a great addition to any resume.

Here’s how to find a high school apprenticeship program near you.

5. Work with Animals

There are a variety of jobs working with animals available to high school students. For example, I had a job mucking horse stalls at a local veterinarian’s house.

You could also be a pet-shop assistant and clean cages out. You could inquire about positions at a local ranch or horse farm.

6. Work with Landscaping

My husband held a landscaping position as a teenager. It’s a lot of work, but a great way to both get outside regularly and build up your muscles!

Another way to work with landscaping is to look for jobs at a local greenhouse or nursery.

7. Work on a Farm

I grew up on a dairy farm, and let me tell you – there’s always work to be done. We were a small family farm, and not only did my sister, brother, and I earn money from our work, but my father hired a helping hand (plus other teens, from time to time).

Harvest season is an especially fruitful time to line up a farm job, as they need more hands during that time of the year (and have more income coming in).

8. Photographer Assistant

Check in with your local photographers (the ones that do senior photos and such), and ask if they need an assistant to help with shoots.

You could scope out new shooting locations, come up with marketing ideas for ways to get more seniors in for photography sessions, be an assistant on weekends for weddings, etc.

9. Research Assistant

There are billions of dollars in research grants given out each year in this country, for projects ranging from lab work to business ventures, to a variety of fieldwork.

In fact, my first job out of college was paid for by a USDA grant (and only lasted one year).

And while I was in college? I found a local non-profit where I pitched myself as a paid intern for $12.00/hour. They accepted! (Hint: that’s how I also got my first job out of college, starting at $40,000 – it was the same company. Paid internships can lead into actual employment).

10. Camp Counselor

Most teens look for these positions during the summer – and that’s a great time for them. But don’t forget that there are also week-long camps during spring break, over the holidays, and even weekend camps.

And if you get in for a short-term and show the camp you have what it takes to work there, then you might get ahead of the competition for a summer camp counselor position. 

Check out your local YMCA, and search for local camps to get started.

11. Work for a Start-Up Company

Start up companies need to find cheap labor to help them as they attempt to survive and grow. Not only that, but many start-up companies have some sort of funding – either from a grant, angel investor, etc.

When I was in college, I found a local start-up company and pitched myself to them as a paid internship. They paid me $12/hr. to work on their international marketing, AND, they offered me a $40,000/year position (paid for by a USDA grant) right after I graduated!  

12. Paid Internship

The two types of internships are either a) a paid position or b) non-paid position.

Seek out paid internship opportunities.

A few places to get you started on your search:

Also, check out paid teen apprenticeship positions (see above).

13. Work on Political Campaigns

Political campaigns only happen every so many years (for example, there’s a presidential campaign every 4 years).

Find out when the local politicians are elected in your area, your borough, town, city, etc., and seek a paid internship or paid position with them.

The job will only last throughout the campaign (and may end abruptly, if they drop out of the political race early), BUT, you could score some excellent references, a little pocket money, and some real-world experience they can’t teach in a textbook.

14. Lifeguard

Use your swimming skills to become a lifeguard. You’ll likely need training, and here’s a Red Cross lifeguard class.

15. Town or City Event Helper

Does your town or city hold an annual event, like a fair, parade, or festival? Could be a great opportunity for a temporary position. You’ll want to find and get in touch with your local town/city officials to ask about work.

16. State Funded Youth Employment Programs

Have you heard of Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEP)? They are state-funded organizations that help match teens (ages 14-24, though dependent on your state) with local summer job positions (typically between June and August).

Here’s how to find one near you.

17. National Parks Youth Program

You can work in a National Park through their youth program, starting at the age of 15.

How Can I Make Money in High School Without a Job?

Thinking about earning extra cash as a teenager, but without a formal job? Or, you simply can’t find a job for summer break/winter break/weekends and you’re still wanting to earn income?

Maybe you don’t have a driver’s license, so a formal job is out of the question.

I’ve got you covered. Here are ways to earn money without a “formal” job.

1. Earn Cash while Playing Video Games

  • MistPlay: If you're 13 or older, then sign up for this money-making app. You'll be given video games to test out, and testing earns you units that are redeemable for gift cards like a prepaid Visa gift card. 

2. Change Your Internet Browser to One that Pays You

  • Swagbucks: I've been a Swagbucks user since 2009, and have earned over $3,000 with them (and they pay by PayPal cash, if you'd like, or through cash-like gift options like a Visa gift card). What's neat is you can earn this money just be searching the internet, or you can earn even more by participating in surveys. And you only need to be 13 years or older! 

3. Teen Surveys that Pay Cash

Did you know that some companies will actually pay teens per survey that they complete? Here are two to check out:

4. Tutor Online

  • SameSpeak: If you're 16 or older, then you can earn $10/hour tutoring online through this company. Nice!

Pssst: you’ll definitely want to check out my full article on 25 online jobs for teenagers that pay.

Teen Job Sources – Apps and Websites

Did you know there are specific teen job apps out there that can help you find local employment?

1. Local U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) programs and services

I was pleasantly surprised to find that some state unemployment offices also have internship and job-finding help for youth, as well!

For example, here in Texas, Workforce Solutions has an entire section on finding summer jobs for high school students.

Check here for local U.S. Department of Labor programs to you.

2. SnagAJob

These guys only list jobs paid by the hour, which makes it the perfect app to search for high school and teen jobs.

3. Skratch Gig

If you have skills or services to offer your neighbors (within 5 miles from your home), then this is a great app to work with.

4. JobCorps

JobCorps is a free, residential education program for teens and young adults aged 16 to 24 years. Here’s how to find a center near you.

FYI: This is a federally funded program, and you’ll need to meet some income eligibility requirements to participate.

5. YouthBuild

YouthBuild employs people aged 16-24 to help rebuild communities.

FYI: this is a federally-funded program, and you’ll need to meet some income eligibility requirements.

Ways to Make Money in High School – Search Locally

I’m actually really good at conducting online research, and after spending hours on this article, I wanted to show you a few key search phrases to use to find local opportunities for you.

Key Terms to Use When Searching for Paid Teen Jobs:

  • Your Local Area/City + “Summer Youth Employment Program”
  • Your Local Area/City + “paid teen internships”
  • Your Local Area/City + “high school Apprenticeship Program”

No matter which type of earning cash you choose – consistent, or not –there are ways to earn money as a high school student. I hope I’ve shown you tons of ideas, whether you want a formal “job” to do it, or not.

Related Teen Money Articles to Check Out:

The following two tabs change content below.
Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2016 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.