Feel like you’re ready for your first job? Great instinct.
Your first job as a teenager is a great opportunity for personal growth, whether you’re looking to make extra spending money or get experience in an industry you’re excited about.
According to official data on youth unemployment, 414,000 young people aged 16–17 years old were employed in the UK in November 2023. Meanwhile, 55% of university students were doing paid work in addition to their studies, up from 45% in 2022.
But while the prospect of applying for your first job is exciting, it’s important to seek out suitable opportunities — especially if you’re still studying. The best jobs for teens are engaging, fairly paid, and can be easily balanced with college or uni.
Here are our top 12 jobs for teens in the UK. You’ll need to know how to write a CV for most of these roles, but none of them require previous work experience:
- Fast food worker
- Retail assistant
- Dog walker
- Car washer
- Newspaper deliverer
- Leaflet delivery staff
- Mystery shopper
- Sports coach
1. Fast food worker
Working in fast food is a great opportunity to develop your customer service and teamwork skills. Because you’ll work with the same people daily, you’ll make friends quickly. You’ll also be able to develop key sales, retail, and restaurant skills that you can carry forward into your career if you have an interest in these areas.
The responsibilities of most fast food roles are pretty straightforward and include taking customer orders, handling payments, and handing over prepared meals.
In some roles, you may be involved in food and drink preparation and may need to customise orders (e.g., cooking a hamburger without gherkins).
2. Retail assistant
Working in retail is a great way to develop transferable skills you’ll be able to carry forward into most careers, regardless of whether you remain in sales.
Retail environments expose you to a wide range of people every day, helping you to develop strong negotiation, communication, and customer service skills.
Depending on the role, you might be working on the till, answering customer questions, restocking shelves, or processing refunds.
3. Dog walker
Outdoorsy? Working as a dog walker is perfect if you’re active, organised, and like animals. You’ll also get to know your local community better, which will help you open up new opportunities for yourself in the future.
Formal training isn’t required for dog walking, especially if you’re helping out friends or family members who trust you.
However, if you want to work for a dog walking business, handle group walks, or work with strangers, you may be expected to back up your knowledge of dogs and dog walking with a relevant qualification, such as a Level 3 Award in Dog Walking and Pet Sitting.
Another job that enjoys high demand and a high payoff, tutoring is a great way to use your academic skills.
As a teenage tutor, you’ll gain experience teaching other people, which can help you decide whether teaching is something you’d like to do as an adult — and accumulate experience for your teacher CV. If you have good marks in school, you’ll also be able to make a higher wage than you would in most other teen jobs.
5. Car washer
Car washing is a great teen job that doesn’t require a CV (if you’re not working for a professional car washing service). Washers are always in high demand, and you’ll find many people happy to hire you privately in your local area.
The responsibilities of a car washer involve soaping down, rinsing, and waxing the outsides of cars. You might also hoover and tidy up car interiors.
To find work as a car washer, ask around and see if neighbours or family friends need their cars washed.
Or print out leaflets that introduce you, your services, and your rate and put them through your neighbours’ letterboxes.
- Pay: Rates vary among family and friends. About £15 for a basic wash from a professional mobile cleaning service.
- Minimum age: 13 (by hand in a residential setting)
- Popular employers: Neighbours and family friends, local garages and cleaning services (if you’re school leaving age)
6. Newspaper deliverer
Getting a paper round secures you a steady, reliable income and is a great way to get some exercise while you’re at it.
You’ll deliver people’s newspapers straight to their letterboxes. Depending on customers’ needs, you might also handle money for people who prefer to pay you for their newspapers rather than in the shop or by Direct Debit.
- Pay: Rates vary. Around £15–£20 for 150 papers.
- Minimum age: 13
- Popular employers: Local newsagents
Good time management and great interpersonal skills? A waiting job could be great for you.
As a waiter, you’ll greet and take orders from customers, relay their orders to the kitchen, and serve them meals. You might also offer suggestions for good food combinations and may serve alcohol in certain cases (you need to be at least 16 years old to serve alcohol).
You can apply for server jobs online if the employer is a large restaurant chain. For smaller independent restaurants, you’ll have more luck sending your application by email or visiting the restaurant and handing in your waiter CV in person.
8. Leaflet delivery staff
Another job that’s good for your health, leaflet delivery involves being responsible for an area of your town and delivering leaflets and brochures to every home. You’ll be walking a lot and potentially climbing stairs if there are a lot of flats in your delivery area — so good stamina is an asset.
Most leafleting jobs are available online. If you’re expected to drive to the delivery location, make sure the company covers your petrol costs and that you have a valid driving licence.
- Pay: £6.70–£15.65 an hour
- Minimum age: 13
- Popular employers: Various. Check job boards for leafleting, leaflet runner, or leaflet delivery jobs.
9. Mystery shopper
If you’re looking for a varied, engaging teen job, mystery shopping is a good option. Mystery shopping involves going into shops and restaurants and evaluating the service or product quality.
If you’re over 18, you may also be asked to buy alcohol or cigarettes to check if shops are IDing customers properly.
The benefits of being a mystery shopper include interacting with a variety of people and businesses and trying out new products and cuisines. It’s worth noting that sometimes your ‘pay’ will be a free product or meal rather than money.
Modelling is a confidence-building job that can be an exciting gateway into industries like entertainment and fashion.
You’ll earn competitive wages, and you’re also likely to receive free products such as the clothes you model and the makeup you’re asked to wear.
Get started by sending an application to reputable local modelling agencies or larger agencies that have a nationwide presence. If you’re under school leaving age, you’ll need to look for agencies that represent ‘junior’ or ‘child’ models. You’ll need to apply to your local council for a special licence if you’re under 16.
If you’re sociable and physically active, working as a lifeguard will be a fun and fulfilling way to earn some extra cash.
Lifeguards help swimmers stay safe by making sure they follow rules and rescuing them when they’re in danger. Depending on the situation, lifeguards may work at leisure centres, water parks, and beaches.
Most jobs require you to work mornings, evenings, or on weekends — making lifeguard work relatively easy to balance with school and university.
To get started as a lifeguard, you’ll need to be a strong swimmer, pass an enhanced background check, and obtain either a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification or level 2 certification in Pool Lifeguarding.
12. Sports coach
Big into sports? Coaching is a fantastic way to combine work with something you love, sports coaching. Regardless of the game you play, coaching allows you to develop strong leadership and teamwork skills while also allowing you to build teaching experience for your coaching CV.
To start out as a coach, you’ll first need to pass an enhanced background check and a relevant coaching course (e.g., the FA’s Introduction to Coaching Football). You may also need to complete a safeguarding course if you’re working with younger age groups.
- Pay: £10–£12
- Minimum age: 16
- Popular employers: Pro Sport Coaching
Finding jobs as a teenager: what you should know
The work you’re allowed to do as a teenager depends on how old you are and where you live in the UK.
The number of hours you can work, the minimum wage you should receive, and the tasks employers can give you will change as you get older.
Here are a couple of things to remember before you get started on your job hunt:
1. There are different minimum wages for young workers
The National Minimum Wage in 2023 is £10.42 per hour, but this only applies if you’re over 23. For younger workers, the minimum wage is as follows:
- £10.18 for 21 to 22 year-olds
- £7.49 for 18 to 20 year-olds
- £5.28 for under 18s
- £5.28 for apprentices (under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship).
The National Minimum Wage is updated every year in April. From April 2024, most workers over 21 will receive the full adult wage.
2. You need to be 16 and school leaving age to work in most (but not all) jobs
You’ll need to be at least 16 and school leaving age to work in most formal jobs. School leaving age varies slightly depending on which part of the UK you live in:
- England and Wales: You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.
- Scotland: From 31 May if you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September. Or from the start of the Christmas holidays if you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February.
- Northern Ireland: From 30 June if you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July). Or 30 June the following year if you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August.
3. School-age children can only work a certain number of hours
The youngest age you can work in the UK is 13 years old.
During term time, school-age children aged 13 to 16 can work up to 12 hours weekly, with a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays. 13 to 14-year-olds can work 5 hours on Saturdays, while 15 to 16-year-olds can work up to 8 hours.
You can work for longer during school holidays — 25 hours a week if you’re 13 to 14, and 35 hours a week if you’re 15 to 16.
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