19 Summer Jobs for Teens (and College Students)

Lifeguard is a great summer jobs for teens

Do you (or your teen) have a job for summer yet?

It being graduation season, I thought I’d share some common summer job opportunities for teenagers and college students to make extra money.

Some of these I’ve done myself. Others are just some of the more common jobs you hear about.

Be sure to share your past job experiences in the comments below.

I loved most of my summer jobs. Each brought me a different experience and helped to teach me about myself. Here are 5 jobs I had during the summers and what I liked about them.

5 Summer Jobs for Teens That I’ve Had

1. Lawn Care (Mowing Yards, Baby!)

I earned the most money during my high school years mowing lawns. This was a great summer job. It’s hard and requires an initial investment (which my Dad was kind enough to front me). To get started, you only really need a mower and some gas.

But eventually, you’ll find that you can expand your business with a weed eater, edger, blower, and a truck and trailer full of lawn tools.

Convince a few neighbors that you’ll mow their grass for less than they currently pay. Then word will start to get out and you’ll have several clients. Raise your prices once the demand for your services increases.

I’ll admit that at times this job was tough in the summer heat. But it taught me a great deal of responsibility, taught me about 2 cycle engines, kept me in shape, and it gave me a great tan too. One more thing this job did was teach me to work efficiently.

As a flat rate service, you can raise or lower your hourly wage with how efficient you work. I learned to work fast and earn more money for less time spent on the job.

Related: Skratch.co Review: An App to Help Teens Find Work

2. Grocery Bagger/Stocker

I welcomed this job after my days of mowing laws. Not much hustle or stress involved. It kept me inside most of the time in the cool, conditioned air. It also forced me to be around other people and socialize. This was a stretch for me at the time. But something I needed as a shy teen.

There are many jobs you can find at the market or grocery store: bagger, stock person, checker, cart person, etc.

3. Camp Counselor

I worked as a summer camp counselor during my summers in college. I loved the experience. I worked with the older kids. No tantrums or bed wetting. Just bad attitudes. 😉

Typical summer camp jobs don’t pay excellent, but you have your room and food covered. This job is tough because you’re outside most of the time. However, it’s also rewarding because of the experiences you have the positive impact you get to have on others.

For the kids attending the camp, it’s their best week of the summer. It was great to be a part of that.

4. Sports Umpire/Referee

Working as a referee or ump requires a solid knowledge of the sport, confidence, and a thick skin for dealing with high-pressure situations. I spent some time as a baseball umpire, but primarily as a field ump, where the pressure isn’t as high.

This is a great job for making money for just a couple of hours of work. Just know that there is going to be that one day when you are going to really upset someone and have to deal with the pressure. If you love the sport and can handle the pressure, this job may be a great way to get easy money fast.

5. Lifeguard

Finally, I did one summer as a lifeguard. This was one of my favorite jobs. I actually had to jump in after someone. Thankfully everything worked out okay.

In this job, you’ll get to work alongside other responsible professionals and soak up the hot summer sun. Pay is okay. Double your money if you can do some swimming lessons on the side.

14 More Summer Jobs for Teens to Consider

  1. Movie Theater Attendant – Cool environment, free movies, the permanent smell of popcorn on your clothes.
  2. Fast Food Employee – Free food, fast-paced, the greasiest shoes you’ll ever own.
  3. Car Valet – This job produces quick cash at nights and on the weekends. Show up for a couple of hours (i.e. party or wedding) and pocket $50 to $100 in tips for your time. I enjoyed my time as a car valet parking cars.
  4. Retail Sales Associate – Opportunity for commission, get to dress up, get told “no thanks, I’m just looking” over 500 times a day.
  5. Law Firm Runner – Learn how the legal world works. Be constantly on the go. Get good at ordering Starbucks.
  6. Farm Labor – If you live near the country this one isn’t hard to come by. There are plenty of farmers who need an extra hand or two. My friends used to brag about how much they made bailing hay. I worked in a watermelon patch once and only lasted a week.
  7. Baby Sitter – Get to love on kids, enjoy someone’s house, diapers.
  8. Server (waitress or waiter) – If you’re quick on your feet and have desire to serve, then take on the job of a sever. To be a good waitress or waiter you need to be efficient, honest, and know your menu.
  9. Animal Shelter Associate – If people aren’t your thing then spend your Summer with a bunch of animals instead.
  10. Car Detailing – Good money, work in flip flops, wax on wax off.
  11. Cashier – Want to use your brain instead of brawn this summer? Try your hands at a cashier job. You’ll meet tons of people and improve your math skills.
  12. Mover – If you have your own truck you can create this job yourself. But for a guy looking to beef up, this wouldn’t be a bad job to have over the Summer.
  13. Theme Park Attendant – This job comes with all the free rides and corn dogs you can handle. This is easy money and if you land a job at Disney or other big park, you’ll have a nice conversation piece on your resume.
  14. Odd Jobs – Why work for the man day in and day out. Just take it easy and hit up Craigslist (gigs) when you’re bored and in need of some cash.

Why Work This Summer?

There are a ton of reasons to get off your butt and get a job this summer.

Work because it’s something different. Work because sitting around your house is boring (TV during the day sucks!). Work so that you don’t have to bum money off of your parents for daily spending.

Work so that you don’t get lazy and gain weight. Work to be with your friends. Work to save money for college expenses. Work to get real experience. Work to test out your working style.

To help you find the perfect job as a teen or college student, I’ve provided some factors below to think through before picking your job.

1. Look for a summer job that pays well. A summer job can give you extra spending money, money for nicer school clothes, or it can help you ensure you get to go on that field trip in the Fall with your class. If you’re going to trade your time for money, get the most money you can.

2. Look for a summer job that’s flexible. Money isn’t everything. You might want a job that allows you to come and go as you please, or have very limited hours. It’s summer after all. Once you’re out of school, unless you’re a teacher, there are no more summers off. Take advantage of them while you can.

3. Look for a summer job in your desired career field. If you’re in college, or you plan to start working after high school, it’s probably a smart idea to start preparing for your career by choosing a job in your career field. If you can find a paying internship, you might even get to spend the summer working for your future employer. This can be a great way to try out your career and decide if it’s what you really want.

Next Step: What to Do with Your Earnings?

It’s your money. Do with it as you please. But if you’re looking for ideas, here are a few. You could stick it in an online savings account until you find a good use for it. You could use it to buy books in college.

You could use it as a down payment on a house. You could reinvest it in your own business. You could invest it in index funds inside a Roth IRA.

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What are your favorite summer job ideas for teens and college students?


  1. Poor Student says:

    I have only had regular labour jobs as summer jobs so far. But I have been looking into starting a driveway sealing business. It could be done on weekends in addition to regular job income and I think the income potential is enormous in my area. Anybody done this particular business before? I would love to hear about it.

  2. Chase Miller says:

    What a great post! Alot of my friends do Car Valet at a local upscale mall and make a good ammount of money. Not to mention they have been able to drive some pretty expensive sports cars.
    Chase Miller

  3. rwohlner says:

    Nice post that made me recall some of the summer jobs I had in high school and college.  I worked on a garbage truck, worked in a sausage factory and worked at a retail shoe store. This summer our son is giving campus tours at the university he attends and our daughter is working as an intern at the British Consulate here in Chicago.  Our older daughter had a number of summer jobs while in college including an internship for the organization she has worked for since her college graduation.  Her first job was one of those you listed as a soccer ref and she had very thick skin having tossed more than one adult coach.  She did this between ages 12-14.  During high school she made great money as a golf caddie.

  4. Very nice post! Sadly a lot of teenagers don’t really understand the value of $1 and probably the same with college students. We just really started getting my sons attention when now he has to spend his earn money to buy video games and these expensive shoes. Now he pays attention and thinks before spending. I remember the lawn care and bagging groceries (the older women always tipped even though the stores usually didnt want allow us to accept it)

  5. My University Money says:

    Wow, we had the exact same summer job experiences! Which was your favourite out of them? Personally, I mowed so much lawn in grades 4-11 that I promised myself I would never half a lawn (my fantasy was just to have a fully paved front lawn to play sports on), but now that I only have one lawn to take care of I actually enjoy it! Being a lifeguard was great for the sole reason I got to talk to girls in bikinis all day and lets face it, in Gr.11/12 I would have done that for free!

    • Philip Taylor says:

      I did the camp counselor thing twice, and that was all summer long so it must have been the most enjoyable for me. I’m itching to have a lawn to take care of again. I live in a managed condo and we don’t have to cut the grass. I’ve actually volunteered to cut my friends and family just to have some grass cutting time. A lawn mowing business is something I think I would enjoy owning again one day.

  6. Ross @ Go Be Rich says:

    My favorite job I ever held while I was in high school was working at Winn-Dixie (a grocery store) when I lived in Alabama. I think it was the people that I worked with that made it fun, considering about 90% of them were fairly close friends. It was also fun competing with the other clerks to see who could sell the most brownies for whatever thing we were trying to push that week.

    My most profitable summer job was running a vending machine route. My dad knew this guy that had just bought a ton of vending machines throughout the area, and he needed someone to drive around once a week and re-stock them. I spent about 2-3 hours a day Monday through Friday doing this, and got a $100 bill every week.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Ross, I loved my grocery store work as well. Cool and lots of interaction to help pass the day. I loved “fronting” the aisles too.

      The vending machine route is something I’ve always wanted to try. Sounds like you were the perfect employee.

  7. i have a friend who works as a little-league umpire and the parents give her crap all the time, but she gets good money. I guess you should take the good with the bad

  8. Panda Mike says:

    I would have loved to work in a video club; watching movies, playing Playstation and Xbox all day… what a dream job!

    Instead, I was delivering bread which wasn’t too bad. You are in your truck all day long and you deliver bread in grocery stores. I really liked it!

  9. @James – Couldn’t agree more.
    @Abigail – Thanks for shedding some light on the movie job. The cleaning up does sound bad. My wife makes me take our trash to the trash can outside. Says it keeps movie costs down. But I’m not sure about that one.
    @Austin – That’s honorable to have done that. We had one week for kids with special needs. I was nervous, and it did require an extra effort, but I was glad we did it. It takes a special person to have done that all summer. Kudos to you, man.

  10. I also went the camp counselor route, but for a special education camp. Let’s say my patience grew a couple of miles that summer and I was glad to get back to campus in the fall.

  11. Uh… I worked at a movie theater for a good chunk of high school. “Fun” is a word to be used loosely.

    I did love the free movies — and this was back when full price was a measly $7 and it was only after 6 p.m. but movie theater customers are really, really rude/harsh/mean. They buy concessions while simultaneously bitching about how much they’re paying, as though someone has a gun to their head.

    That said, the worst part was cleaning up theaters. People would leave their chew cups in there and they’d inevitably get spilled, so we’d have to go through each row mopping it up. Yick.

    Then again, pickings are slim for teens. And considering how much movies cost, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. Just wash your hands. A lot.

  12. summer jobs are a good think, they keep you busy and they allow you to have money in your pocket.

    having these “starter” jobs help you become a better person they allow you to work as a team, learn new skills, learn to work with others and most of all make money to be able to hang with your friends.