It’s never too early to start teaching your children good financial habits, and there’s no better way for them to learn than by earning and managing their own money.
But every parent of an adolescent or teen can tell you that as kids get older, their wants quickly expand beyond what a normal allowance can buy (even if they’re great at stuffing their piggy bank).
Fortunately, there’s no need to wait until your child is old enough to drive to encourage them to start their own business or find a part-time job.
There are plenty of legitimate opportunities for children 13 and younger to earn some extra cash — both online and in the “real” world.
Some of these opportunities are ones that kids can seize with little to no parental involvement, while some require quite a bit of supervision or guidance. In this article, we’ll touch on some of the best ways to make money as a kid, broken down into a handful of categories.
Which one is best for your children and family depends on many different factors, but as you peruse this list, keep one important point in mind: making money as a kid isn’t just about building financial skills and literacy — it’s also about learning important life skills like punctuality, how to get along with co-workers, and how to deal with difficult bosses or customers.
That means the “best” opportunity for your son or daughter might not be the one with the most money-making potential.
Know the Rules About Making Money as a Kid
For decades after the start of the industrial revolution, child labor laws (or any labor laws, for that matter), were virtually non-existent. Very young children regularly performed dangerous work in places like mills and factories, and many were injured or killed in accidents.
Thankfully, that has long since changed. Today, there are laws in place — notably, the FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act — to prevent the exploitation of child labor.
These laws keep kids from performing dangerous tasks and help ensure they’re in school, not in the workplace.
However, these laws also mean that (in general) a child must be at least 14 years old to get a “regular” job.
There are a few exceptions to that minimum age, including:
- Family businesses. Kids are legally allowed to work in a business solely owned by their parents or legal guardians any time of the day, for any number of hours, so long as it does not interfere with their state or federally-mandated schooling.
- Movies, TV, theatre, and radio. In general, minors are allowed to work in the entertainment industry with few restrictions.
- Newspaper delivery. Minors are legally allowed to deliver newspapers or sell them on the street.
- Making holly, pine or cedar wreaths (including the harvesting of the materials). Yes, it’s true: one of the handful of exemptions to the restrictions on child labor laws is making wreaths.
- Babysitting. In general, there are no age restrictions on babysitting.
- Farm work. Kids ages 12 and 13 are legally allowed to work in any agricultural occupation with parental permission, and kids of any age are allowed to work on family farms.
Keep in mind that states have the right to impose stricter guidelines than the federal regulations, which means you should check the rules where you live prior to pursuing any particular opportunity.
Because of these laws, some of the jobs and businesses on this list require parental permission or hands-on parental involvement.
For example, while a child can’t technically have their own Etsy account from which to sell crafts or artwork (because the minimum age to open one is 18), they can sell under a parent’s account.
Help Set Your Child Up for Success
Nothing can be more discouraging for a child than going into a new job or small business excited, only to end up making very little or nothing at all.
Unfortunately, kids don’t always know what’s necessary for a new enterprise to be successful. If you want them to learn that hard work pays dividends, then it’s important to take the time to help them get off on the right foot.
Here are a few important steps you can help with:
Step #1: Set a specific goal
If they have a particular “want” they’re working towards, help them think through how much money they need to earn, and then break that down over a realistic time period.
For example, if they need to raise $500, set that as a goal and then break it down into smaller segments, like $50 per week for 10 weeks. If they don’t have a specific earning goal, then metrics like “X Customers” or “X Units Sold” can be helpful.
The point here is to take something that’s vague and abstract and transform it into something that’s concrete and trackable. Having specific goals allows you to measure progress, which is an important part of staying motivated.
Step #2: Brainstorm ideas
Kids are creative! Encourage them to write down all their ideas, and then add your own to the list. Allowing them to use their imagination promotes unrestricted, innovative thinking. It’s OK if the ideas are bad — you’ll separate the wheat from the chaff in the next step.
Step #3: Narrow the list down to three options, and research them
Take the goal you identified in Step #1 and use it to eliminate options from the list you created in Step #2.
If your child needs to raise $500, show them that a lemonade stand probably won’t do the trick by calculating how many glasses per day they would need to sell.
This is a lesson in both logic and strategic thinking: instead of just going for what sounds like fun (or what sounds easy), you want them to think about how their actions align with their desired results.
Once you’ve narrowed the list down, research the finalists — you can have your son or daughter draft a “memo” for each, or write out a list of pros and cons, before settling on the winner.
Step #4: Write out a business plan
Failure to plan is planning to fail, so this is the most important part of setting your kid up for success. Help them think through exactly what will be needed to achieve their goal.
If they’re aiming for a part-time job, that might mean thinking about how many hours per week they’ll need to work, and how they’ll balance that with their homework and extracurricular activities.
If they’re aiming to start a small business, it might mean thinking about whether or not they need to save up money to buy products and supplies, and about how they’ll market their products and services to potential customers.
With all of that said, here’s our list of the best jobs and businesses for kids…
The Best Overall Job for Kids: Farm Work
Why it’s great: Farm work is the only realistic non-family job that’s legally available to kids ages 12 and 13. But aside from that, we think there are a few reasons why this is the best overall first job.
- It will get your son or daughter out of the house and away from their devices, and force them to connect with nature in a way that’s increasingly rare but no less valuable than ever.
- They’ll learn the importance of caring for animals and the earth, and they’ll be able to see the result of their work in happy, healthy animals and fields full of crops.
- Plus, working on a farm is hard and often dirty — two characteristics that can help build character and toughness.
What it entails: Younger kids can do things like feed animals, muck stalls, man the farm stand (selling food from the farm to the public), and gather produce or eggs. Older kids may be involved in the planting and harvesting of crops and helping take animals to market.
How to get started: There are a number of organizations dedicated to helping children get into agriculture, including 4H and Future Farmers of America. If you don’t have a chapter of either in your area, stop by your local feed or farm supply store; chances are they know which farms tend to hire young workers.
Best Traditional Ways for Kids to Make Money
These jobs might sound familiar. Chances are that when you were a kid (you know, back in the dark ages before the internet transformed the economy), these were the “kids’ jobs” you looked to when you wanted to make some extra spending money. Well, some things don’t change as these can still be great opportunities for your son or daughter.
#1. Yard Work
Minimum age: If there’s no use of machinery (like lawnmowers or weed whackers), a tween can handle most general yard work. Older kids (13 and up) can typically handle machinery in a safe manner.
Expected earnings: $25 per yard (to mow lawns) or $20 per job in the case of things like pulling weeds or raking leaves, is a reasonable expectation.
Summary: Yard work can mean a lot more than mowing lawns. It can include odd jobs like pulling weeds, planting, raking leaves, and shoveling snow in the winter. Most of these activities don’t require any particular skill or knowledge, which is why yard work is great for younger kids.
Parental involvement: Older kids will need you to teach them how to use, maintain, and troubleshoot any issues that might arise with equipment like lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers. If your child is interested in the landscaping aspect of yard work, help them research what certain plants require to thrive in your area .
#2. Washing Cars
Minimum age: As long as they can reach the roof of the car (or can balance on a stool to reach), washing cars can be done by kids who are in their tweens and older.
Expected earnings: The average cost of getting a car wash at one of those drive-through places is $10. That’s a fair price for your kid to charge, and they can add on extras like vacuuming or detailing the inside of the car (or waxing after washing).
Summary: Washing cars can be surprisingly lucrative for kids who live in the suburbs, where almost every household has at least one automobile. And there really is no special equipment required — just a bucket, some soap, sponge and good rags.
Parental involvement: Make sure your kid understands just how expensive some cars are and how expensive it can be to repair something if they aren’t gentle enough — especially if they’re going to be detailing the inside of cars, where there might be leather and expensive electronics.
Also, you’ll need to prepare them for the fact that some people are fussier than others, and what your kid (and most other reasonable people) would consider a great job might not be up to some customer’s standards… especially if they’re one of those people who consider their car their baby.
#3. Caring for Pets
Minimum age: If your family has pets, kids as young as eight or nine might be fully-trained in basic care and grooming, although you’ll probably want them to be a little older to take on solo dog walking.
Expected earnings: $10 for a 30-minute walk or $20 a day for pet sitting (i.e., feeding a neighbor’s animals) are reasonable rates.
Summary: Taking care of pets can be a great way for kids to discover a future career (who wouldn’t love having a veterinarian in the family?). It’s also a great way for a kid who hasn’t been able to have a pet of their own to spend some time with animals and learn how to care for another living being.
Parental involvement: While taking care of pets is rarely dramatic, there is the potential for things to go wrong. An animal could have a medical emergency, run away or — in a worst-case scenario — bite their caretaker. Parents should talk to their children about what to do in such circumstances, and may have to be willing to serve as the go-to adult if the pet owner is out of town.
#4. Collecting Cans and Bottles
Minimum age: Kids of any age can collect cans and bottles for recycling.
Expected earnings: If you live in a state with a “bottle bill” you can make 5 to 10 cents per aluminum can and bottle.
Summary: In a few states, like California and Michigan, bottles and cans are assessed a deposit at checkout. Of course, to recoup that deposit, you have to actually remember to take them back to the store. Many people just don’t want to bother and toss them in the trash. That’s a great opportunity for a kid, who can offer to buy their neighbors’ cans and bottles for half the deposit and save them the hassle of returning them.
Parental involvement: You’ll most likely need to provide a place to store the bottles and cans until they’re ready to be returned, and you’ll probably have to drive your kid to the drop-off location.
Minimum age: Babysitting used to be the go-to job for kids — sometimes, starting as young as 11 or 12 years old. Today’s parents tend to be a little bit more cautious than in past decades, however, making this a less realistic gig for kids under the age of 14.
Expected earnings: A reliable babysitter can make good money because they’re hard to find and thus get a lot of word-of-mouth business. Charging $8 to $10 per hour (more if there are several kids) is reasonable, but on the low-end of the spectrum. If you have a good reputation, you can easily make $25 per hour — even as a young teen.
Summary: A babysitter’s goals are simple: keep the kids they’re watching safe and (relatively) happy!
Parental involvement: Much like pet sitting, you should be available in case your child runs into a problem or emergency they can’t handle on their own. You may also need to provide transportation to and from the watch site, which can be inconvenient if the clients don’t stick to their expected schedule.
Best Online Jobs for Kids
The internet changed how we all work, kids and adults alike. We’re no longer limited by geography when it comes to finding a job, as there are many legit online opportunities. Your kid probably spends hours on the internet, so encourage them to earn some extra cash while they’re at it! Here are a few of the best ways kids can make money online.
#1. Start a YouTube Channel
Minimum age: Kids must be 13 to create a YouTube channel of their own, but there is plenty of content on the platform featuring younger children. In fact, the highest earner on YouTube in 2019 was an 8-year-old who earned an astonishing $26 million.
Anastasia Radzinskaya is just five and is the platform’s third-highest earner. She made $18 million in 2019 and her videos have been viewed 42 billion times. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
Expected earnings: YouTubers are paid per view. It’s typically between $3 and $5 per 1,000 views.
Summary: It can take years to garner a big enough following to make any money, but during that time, your kid can learn a lot and use that knowledge to improve their channel. Plenty of people make a full-time living through YouTube, so it’s really not as outlandish a career as you might think.
Parental involvement: Not all genres are going to make money on YouTube. The top earner does something known as unboxing videos, which is simply opening packages and reviewing their contents. Work with your child to find out what kind of channel they might be interested in starting and then together research if there’s a potential audience for that subject.
#2. Play Video Games
Minimum age: Two of the biggest gaming platforms, YouTube and Twitch, both require gamers to be at least 13. Tournament age requirements vary, but the Fortnite World Cup — which awarded $30 million in prizes in 2019 — allows kids as young as 13 to enter.
Expected earnings: Gamers can earn anywhere from one cent to $1 per viewer per hour on Twitch. The professional gamers who regularly compete in tournaments average between $1,000 and $5,000 per month.
Summary: Believe it or not, watching other people play video games is one of the most popular forms of entertainment among today’s youth. Twitch is a live-streaming platform specifically dedicated to gaming, and YouTube also offers livestreams (though most creators post videos).
Playing in tournaments can be lucrative, but it’s very difficult to become good enough to win money — compare it to becoming an actor or a professional athlete. That said, some smaller local tournaments still pay out in the hundreds of dollars worth of cash, prizes and/or scholarships (and are a lot easier to win).
Parental involvement: Depending on how old your child is, you may need to be the official owner of the account. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your child’s online communication.
Related: How to make money playing video games.
#3. Take Online Surveys
Survey sites gather consumer data that’s valuable to companies selling products and services. The information is used to improve their offerings. Because this data is valuable, these sites reward users for taking surveys. You can see our list of the best options in this post, but not all of them are open to minors.
Minimum age: Minimums vary from site to site, but a few sites require users to be just 13.
Expected earnings: With consistent use, it’s possible to make a few hundred dollars per year in either cash or gift cards.
- Swagbucks: This site has lots of ways to earn points, such as surveys, web searches and playing games. Users can redeem their points for a variety of gift cards or cash via PayPal. The minimum age to join Swagbucks is 13. PayPal offers student accounts for those under 18, but a parent must sign for it and act as the primary account holder.
- Survey Junkie: This site is mostly surveys, although they do offer a referral program to earn additional points. The points you can earn per survey range from 10 to 200, and surveys take between 3 and 23 minutes. Points can be redeemed for gift cards or cash via PayPal. The minimum age to join is 13.
- KidsEyez: This site is specifically for kids ages 6 to 12, although parents must sign up for the user account. This is a survey site, but it only sends out a few surveys per month. Points can be redeemed for cash via PayPal or check.
- SliceThePie: This is a community to review things like songs, clothing and accessories, and commercials. The reviews provide valuable feedback to the creators. Each review pays between $0.02 and $0.20, depending on what is being reviewed. Payment is made via PayPal, and the minimum age to join is 12.
Parental involvement: All of these sites are legitimate and safe for kids to use. In some cases, you’ll need to create the account and, if your kid prefers cash over gift cards, set up their student PayPal account.
Keep in mind that your child will be providing data about their online activity, habits and preferences. While this data is typically anonymized, you should read the specific terms and conditions of each site to make sure you understand what’s being collected.
#4. Become a Writer
Minimum age: Any age!
Expected earnings: Varies widely depending on age and type of writing.
Summary: There are many real ways for talented young writers to earn money from their work.
- Become a blogger: It’s easy, cheap (costing only a few dollars per month for hosting), and can teach valuable tech skills like basic web design. Plus, blogs can be about literally any topic your child is interested in. Some blogs make no money while some make millions of dollars, but to be honest, your child should expect to make closer to the low end of that spectrum. However, a moderately successful blog can bring in a steady stream of revenue. You can read more about how to start a blog here, and about the different ways to monetize a blog here.
- Write short stories and sell them on Amazon: You don’t need to be a novelist to self-publish on Amazon. If your child enjoys writing fiction or poetry, they can upload stories or collections as short as a few pages long and offer them for prices as low as 99 cents. It’s true that their work probably won’t be adopted by the wider literary world, but if you’re willing to promote their efforts on your social media accounts, they can earn a little bit of money while also building their confidence and chops as a writer.
- Write stories or poems and enter contests: Many schools, non-profit organizations and libraries offer fiction and poetry contests that pay out cash prizes and scholarships, and they’re often surprisingly easy to win (as few people enter). Just be advised that legit contests at this skill level never charge an entry fee.
Parental involvement: In most cases, you’ll need to be the account holder for the above options, and you may need to provide technical support. Plus, starting a blog does come with some costs (such as web hosting) that require a credit card.
#5. Take Pictures
Minimum age: Most sites that sell stock photos require sellers to be at least 18, which means your child will need to sell under your name.
Expected earnings: The average payment for a stock photo is $0.25 to $0.45 per photo.
Summary: Professional photographers sell their images on sites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, although even they don’t make a ton of money. That means your son or daughter will face tough competition. But remember, this isn’t just about the money.
Photography is a legitimate career, and if it’s something that interests your kid, taking and trying to sell stock photos can give them years of practice and experience before they even reach adulthood.
And even if they never make a cent (or don’t want to pursue photography professionally) it’s a fun, creative hobby.
Parental involvement: If you’re so inclined, you can set up an account on a photo selling site and allow your kid to sell under it. Some subjects sell better than others, so help your kid research the best sellers and encourage them to find a niche within one of those subjects. Choosing a small niche means less competition.
Best Small Businesses for Kids
Encouraging your kid to work and make some extra money is great, but what’s even better is encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit. Running a small business imparts all kinds of lessons, including inventory control, quality control, accounting, and sourcing, to name just a few.
#1. Buy, Trade and Sell Collectable Cards
Minimum age: Any age!
Expected earnings: Varies widely depending on skill and investment.
Summary: Remember back in the 1990s when Pokemon cards were a thing? Well, they’re actually still a thing — and a shockingly big one. Collectible card games — like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering — are a huge business, and many kids make the equivalent of a full-time living by trading, buying and selling them.
Does that sound crazy? Maybe, but it’s true. Millions of people play these games both casually and competitively, with the most in-demand cards selling for between $20 and $200 apiece.
Those “in-demand” cards change every few months, so the key to success in this business is predicting which cards will become popular down the road. It’s common for a card that was worth 99 cents to quickly increase in value to $15 or $20 after a few professional players use it in a tournament. (Yes, there are pros…)
Parental involvement: The primary online marketplaces for this type of product are Amazon, eBay and TCGPlayer.com, and account holders must be at least 18.
#2. Sell Crafts on Etsy
Minimum age: Kids must be at least 13, and are only allowed to use an account owned by a parent.
Expected earnings: There are so many variables at play, but it’s not unrealistic to expect to make a few hundred dollars a year selling crafts on Etsy.
Summary: You can find kits in craft stores that allow kids to easily make things like soaps or candles. There isn’t much upfront cost with these kits, and there’s no need to make a lot of stock — these items are quick to produce, so they can be made as orders come in.
Parental involvement: A parent must set up the Esty store. Your biggest responsibility will probably be to make sure your kid is responsible, meaning that he or she stays on top of orders and gets them ready to ship in a timely manner.
#3. Open a Snack Stand
Minimum age: Any age, although younger kids will need supervision.
Expected earnings: If you hit the right event, a kid can really make some nice money. On a busy day, $20 to $50 might not be unrealistic.
Summary: A lemonade stand is the classic example, but there are so many other angles. If it’s a hot day, cold bottles of water and little cups of watermelon chunks might be a hot commodity. Or on a cold day, a cup of hot cocoa or cider will hit the spot.
Parental involvement: Make sure your kid understands safe food handling practices, as you don’t want to poison the neighborhood. If you have the time and inclination, help your kid set up in a high traffic area, like outside the gates of a sporting event or in a park during an outdoor concert. If your kids are small, you might need to be on hand if there are knives, stoves, or cooktops involved.
#4. Selling Fruits and Veggies
Minimum age: Any age, although younger kids will need supervision.
Expected earnings: It will vary depending on what’s being sold and the volume, but selling the right thing at the right venue could bring in $100 or more per day.
Summary: If you have a farm or garden, your wares are in your own backyard. You also might be able to get surplus produce for free, as many people’s fruit trees produce more than they could possibly eat. Some farmers’ markets have strict rules governing where the foods sold at the market are produced, so be sure to know what those rules are.
Parental involvement: Kids should be able to identify everything they’re selling, explain how it was produced (some people will want to know if it’s organic, etc.), and give a few tips about how to best prepare it.
Jobs for Kids: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but we didn’t include them in the list above because they’re a one-off money maker. If your son or daughter has a lot of extra items they don’t need, a yard sale can be a way to make a good amount of money fast, but it’s better to think longer term. For example, instead of a yard sale, consider whether those items could be sold online via an eBay store, with the proceeds then used to invest in more inventory.
The problem with selling baked goods is that the earning potential is very limited. Yes, you can bake a few brownies and cookies to sell to friends and family, but in order to scale up beyond that you would have to deal with having an approved kitchen, product labeling, etc. These challenges make it unrealistic for a child to sell baked goods at a farmers’ market or flea market. We think there are better business ideas.
In terms of raw earning potential, starting a YouTube channel tops the list. But it’s not easy to become hugely successful on the platform, as the competition is fierce and you need real talent to thrive. The next-best money-maker is selling things online via eBay or Amazon, but it requires significant parental involvement — from setting up the account to helping prepare shipments.
How to Make Money as a Kid — Final Thoughts
In some ways, it’s never been easier to make money as a kid. In other ways, it’s never been harder. On one hand, the internet has opened up a wealth of opportunities that didn’t exist even a generation ago. But on the other hand, we’ve become more aware of the risks to our children’s safety; we’re less likely to let our 12-year-old use a lawnmower, and we’re less likely to hire a 12-year-old to babysit.
That means your child will probably make money in different ways than you did… and that’s OK. You don’t have to be an expert in any of the ideas on this list — you just have to be supportive and ready to help when needed.
And remember, whether your child wants to work on a farm, wash cars, or sell cards, the amount of money they earn will pale in comparison to the value of the experience they gain.
Also, keep in mind that there are plenty of hobbies that can be monetized, so your kid can spend time doing something they enjoy and make a little money along the way. And if it’s a hobby you enjoy too, that’s all the better.
Finally, remember that it’s never too early to start investing. We’ve published a guide to investing as a teen, but most of the advice in that article is applicable to kids of any age. The sooner your child starts setting money aside for later, the longer it has to compound — and the better off they’ll be in the long run.