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Tips for Teens & Young Adults

Having a job in high school or college can help teens and young adults transition into the adult workplace.  Here are some tips to consider.
  • Determine what your availability for work will be before talking with a prospective employer.  Employers who hire students part time want to know up front what days and hours they can work.
  • Know how many hours you may legally work.  According to current federal labor laws, teens age 14 – 15 may only work 3 hours a day, with a maximum of 18 hours per week.  Teens 16 – 17 may work unlimited hours, as long as the occupation has not been declared hazardous by the US Secretary of Labor.  Workers 18 and over are not restricted in any way.
  • In general, children of any age are permitted to work for businesses entirely owned by their parents, except that those under 16 may not be employed in mining or manufacturing, which are deemed hazardous.
  • Minors delivering newspapers are exempt from federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as its wage and hours provisions.  Those under 18 employed as actors and performers in motion pictures, theatrical productions, radio programs, or television productions are also exempt from FLSA coverage.
  • If you’re under age 18, NC law requires that you obtain an employment certificate.  Completed and signed certificates must be given to the employer on or before the first day of work.  Employment certificates are available through the NC Department of Labor at or through the County Director of Social Services.
  • If you’re in school, try to work no more than 20 hours per week, so work doesn’t interfere with your studies.  Working 3 – 4 days a week, instead of everyday, will be less demanding and allow you to have a better balance of work, school, and home life.
  • Get work experience by volunteering with a civic or community organizations.  
  • Get work experience through an apprenticeship or internship.  Talk with your school counselor about available opportunities.
  • Think outside the fast-food box.  Try to find work doing something you enjoy.  For example, if you love animals, try to find work with a local veterinary office.  If you enjoy babysitting, transfer those skills to working with an after-school children’s program at the local Y or with a child-care center.
  • Check out the help-wanted signs at the mall.  Retail stores are always looking for workers, particularly around the holidays.
  • Plan how you’ll spend the money you earn.  For example, out of each paycheck, determine how much you’ll set aside for college, for clothes or other expenses, and for “fun.”  Keep track of savings and spending so you know where your money is going.

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