The summer job has long been considered a rite of passage for American teenagers but sluggish job growth has made securing employment – for anyone – a job itself.
With work hard to come by in most sectors of the economy, college students and graduates are snapping up work that was traditionally considered the domain of high schoolers in the past. But if you're a job hunting teenager or the parent of one, don't let this news discourage you. Although increased competition has raised the bar for all applicants there are still plenty of options for teens to consider as the school year comes to an end. To make your search a little easier, we've compiled a list of companies and industries that are teen-friendly and ready to hire.
1. Yum! Brands: Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC
There's at least one of each of these concept stores in every city, if not dozens, making this a good place to start. Food service work is a common first job for high schoolers and a great place to gain people skills. Pizza Hut in particular is on a hiring spree and has just posted over 6,000 openings. Sonic Drive-In is another fast food retailer that's ramped up hiring; it's even posted openings for roller-skating carhops!
2. Movie Theaters
Summer blockbusters are a boon for movie theaters. The influx of moviegoers in the summer pushes theaters into hiring mode in the spring. The great news for teens: theaters love to hire them to run concession stands, act as ushers and sell tickets. Their hiring practices also usually fall in line with their states' minimum age requirements. These gigs also have the potential to turn into steady jobs that students can juggle through their final years of high school.
This is a perfect summer job for athletic kids who want to spend their summer outdoors. Keep in mind that lifeguarding requires training and certification, which typically takes a couple of weeks to complete. This might take as long as a month for students finishing up school classes so it's important to get the ball rolling soon because new hires are usually picked by Memorial Day. The American Red Cross, the American Lifeguard Association and the YMCA are just a few organizations that train and certify lifeguards. The Red Cross's minimum age requirement for certification is 15 but requirements may vary at your local pool, water park, oceanfront or lake.
4. Summer Camps
Working as a camp counselor is an alternative option for outdoorsy teens. Parents are always looking to keep their young children occupied in the summer while they are away at work, creating a great need for counselors. Applicants usually need little or no experience, making this an easy job to score for a first timer. Check at your local YMCA or elementary school for leads on positions at kids' summer programs.
5. Amusement Parks
Most amusement and water parks also require little or no experience. Six Flags has posted over 300 positions for applicants 16 years and older. There may also be opportunities at smaller or privately owned parks, which often hire applicants as young as 14. Teens can work in a variety of roles ranging from ticket attendant to rides or games operator to working at a food stand.