kids and jobs


First i gotta say that I’m a youngster by standards only 13 years old. I like the straight dope site a lot and enjoy reading these intresting (and at times bizzare) posts. Keep up the good work! =)

Ok. I was wondering if it is legal to give someone my age a job and get payed for it, of course. I know child labor is illegal but would it be considered illegal if I wanted to work? I would like to get a part time job and get payed for it. It’s the only way I can get money (and I like money) and I wouldn’t mind working. I’m not sure if I can get a job because I told my mom this and she went to a Round Table Pizza store and saw this guy who didn’t look much older than me (I’ve matured pretty quickly: I’m about 6 feet tall). So anyway, she asks one of the people working there and I think his exact words where something along the line of “Are you kidding lady? Are you trying to get me in trouble? We don’t even let the 16 year olds touch the knives!”. This strikes me funny because they can’t trust a 16 year old with a knife and I make my own meals since i was 12. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll go on a killing spree or something. I don’t know.

BTW, I know a lot about computer programming and the internet, know how to use a knife without stabbing anyone, and am pretty smart with an IQ of 130. Do you think I can get a part time job?

Thanks for reading, sorry about the long post.


“Life is infinitely stranger than the mind of man can imagine.”

  • A. Conan Doyle

In California, there is nothing preventing an employer from hiring you during the months of June, July, and August as long as they abide by all aplicable laws. (To work during the school year, you will need a permit from your school.) They can’t, for instance, allow you to carry out duties that, because of your age and inexperience, might present a danger to you or others (knives might qualify here). You would also not be allowed to work in any environment that might morally corupt you as a minor, such as drinking establishments or even a movie theater that shows R-rated movies.

13 is rather young to expect “regular” employment. I would suggest a newspaper route or just doing odd jobs for friends and neighbors. Perhaps your parents know someone with a business. Don’t be surprised if the tasks given to you at first seem beneath your abilities. We all start out that way. One more thing; if you don’t already have a social security card, get one before you fill out your first job application.

I wish you luck in your job hunting, but I’d also like to advise you to take advantage of the freedom that comes with not having to work. Enjoy your childhood and don’t try to grow up too fast.

Dave - you’re 13 already and you don’t have your own web-based business?!

The only thing I can add to PB’s post is, you can always try the mow-lawns-and-do-yard-work-for-the-neighbors thing. It’s hard work but at least you can get a tan.

Your best bet, in my opinion, would be a home business. The opportunities are endless and it would be way better than picking tomatoes all summer. Read some books at the library and keep in mind your personal talents.

The pizza guy was right about the knives. There are millions of laws telling employers exactly what kids of different ages can and can’t do. You can’t use sharp things or even the dough mixer until you’re 18. Plus, the hours you’re allowed to work are very limited if you’re under 16. At your age, you’re just too young to hire (unless you want to be a migrant worker in California). By working for yourself, you can put in as much or as little time as you want and probably make a good chunk of change if you have a good business plan.

You still have to pay income taxes.

When I first started working in the early 80’s in Michigan, it seems as though the law was you had to be 14 to work, but you had to get some sort of permit or something. You couldn’t just stroll in and get hired someplace unless you were 16.

Am I imagining this?

Leslie writes:

I believe laws on this vary from state to state. Usually if you are below a certain age, maybe 16, you have to get something signed by your parents or your school, but it would depend on your state.

Around here by the age of 13 you had better be married and on your second child. Just kidding. The second child is not expected until 15.