If you're wondering how to make money as a teenager then you came to the right place! If you are a teen, then you are at a formative point in your life, and it's important that you develop a positive relationship with money as early as possible.
This article will help support you on that journey. We'll be covering the reasons why teens should be making their own money, 28 different ways to do it, and what to do with it once you've earned it.
There's a good chance that you've made money before, either as an allowance or by helping out around the house. If so, you've already gotten a taste of what money can do for you, and it's perfectly normal to want more of it.
Now, this list is meant to inspire you and show you how to make money as a teenager, but it won't do the work for you. If you're drawn to a certain option on this list, you'll likely still need to do more research on it before you can dive in. We're not providing any serious legal or financial advice. Just ideas.
Also, not every idea on this list will be right for everyone. Some of you might be missing necessary equipment, or the idea won't align with your lifestyle (schedule, location, etc.), or your parents will disapprove of it. The point is to get creative and find a way to make money that fits your unique circumstances. If it aligns with your interests and sets you up for the future, even better.
You might be saving up for a car, for your education, or just to have some spending money for with your friends. Either way, let's start off by looking at the benefits of drawing an income as a teenager.
Benefits Of Making Money For Teens
#1 - It Builds Independence
Our teenage years are when we need to equip ourselves with the skills and experience needed to function as adults. In only a few short years, you will transition from being dependent on your parents to living in the real world independently. Making money as a teenager speeds up this process because it allows you to learn valuable skills like budgeting, saving, and delaying your gratification (i.e. thinking about the future). These are all valuable skills if you are looking to become financially independent.
#2 - It Provides Valuable Work Experience
Finding a job isn't always easy, and finding one that pays well can be even more difficult. Typically, the more a job pays, the more competitive the application process will be. Employers are looking for candidates with relevant work experience, which most teens have only started to develop. Making money as a teenager, either with a job or with a side hustle, can provide you with solid work experience that you can put on your resume. This will make you much more employable as you move forward.
#3 - It Teaches The Value of Money
Children are expensive, and part of what makes them so expensive is that they don't quite appreciate the value of money. This all changes once you begin working. When you start making your own money, you'll start to realize how expensive things are, and this will give you an appreciation of the lifestyle that your parents have been paying for. You'll begin to appreciate the value of saving money and spending it wisely.
How To Make Money As A Teenager In 2021
#1 - Get A Job
Getting a job is usually the first thought people have when wondering how to make money as a teenager. Teens can often find employment at movie theaters, coffee shops, restaurants, call centers, or even construction sites. The benefit of getting a job is that you receive formal work experience, regular hours, and a reference once you move on to the next opportunity. But, it doesn't always pay the best.
#2 - Yard Work
Yard work is another classic way for teenagers to make money, and it's one that you're probably already familiar with. People will often pay you to rake their leaves, shovel their snow, or cut their grass. You can find customers by posting local ads or knocking on doors. Compared to a job, it pays pretty well. The real value in this option comes from creating an ongoing relationship with your customers. It's easier to keep a returning customer happy than it is to constantly find new ones.
#3 - Tutoring
Tutoring is a great choice for teens with a strong academic track record. Chances are, there are kids in your grade or those below you that need help with their schoolwork, and their parents will be willing to pay you to tutor them. After all, you just went through the course yourself and did well. You can realistically expect between $15 - $60 per hour depending on how well you can sell yourself.
#4 - Babysitting
If you're wondering how to make money as a teenager, and you haven't considered babysitting, then you're doing it wrong. Babysitting is a timeless opportunity for responsible teenagers to make some money. If you're mature and responsible, then babysitting might be your best option. You can start looking for opportunities with your parents' friends, younger schoolmates, or through community connections.
#5 - Become A Camp Counsellor
When I went to summer camp as a kid, the majority of our camp counselors were teenagers or in their early twenties. While this isn't a good fit for younger teenagers, older teens may be able to find work as a camp counselor, either at a day camp or at a sleep-away camp. These jobs typically provide you with pay, meals, and sometimes accommodation. It looks like a fun line of work, too.
#6 - Dog Walking
Do you like dogs and walking? If so, why not kill two birds with one stone and get paid to walk other people's dogs? Some people have busy schedules and can't provide their dogs with the attention and walking that they need. This is an easy gig to get started with, and you can usually find customers in your neighborhood or social circles. There are also apps like Rover that can matchmake you with a dog owner.
#7 - Pet/House Sitting
Similar to dog walking, pet sitting is an easy way to make money as a dog lover. When people leave town, they will often want someone to check in on their house, and take care of their pets. They will either ask you to stop by periodically or even to stay at their house. It's not uncommon to get paid upwards of $100 per day, which is easy money for the amount of work it requires.
#8 - Become A Lifeguard
Lifeguarding is one of the most lucrative options on this list. Teen lifeguards can work at public & private pools, beaches, and other fun locations like waterparks. You can expect to get paid quite well for your age, but the work naturally warrants it. This will work best for teens who are no stranger to swimming lessons, and it can also set you up with a great source of income after high school.
#9 - Buy & Sell Arbitrage
Arbitrage is a fancy way of saying to make money from buying something at a lower price and selling it at a higher price. Arbitrage can be done anywhere. If your friends are selling their toys (it was Pokémon cards when I was a kid) then you might be able to buy them for cheap and sell them for more at a collector's shop, or on eBay. The point is, if you can find something that is selling for (considerably) less than you think it is worth, you might be able to buy it and flip it for the difference.
#10 - Wash Cars
Washing cars is a very accessible option for those who are wondering how to make money as a teenager. All you need is some buckets, some cleaning supplies, and some customers. While it will be easier if you have your license, it isn't necessary. You can start off by going door-to-door, or by putting up ads in your neighborhood.
#11 - Work As A Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is someone who helps an entrepreneur or small business with their administrative duties. Booking appointments, responding to emails and making phone calls are all examples of what you can expect. The hard part will be to find companies that are willing to hire a teenager, but it's possible. You'll just have to present yourself as mature, organized, and efficient.
#12 - Design Websites For Businesses
While web design was once a complicated process that required a knowledge of coding, this has all changed with the invention of Content Management Systems like WordPress and Shopify. Nowadays, making a website is fairly straightforward, and any questions you might have can be Googled. With some of the things, kids are building in Minecraft, building a basic website should be a breeze.
#13 - Teach Music
If you know how to play a certain instrument, then you might be able to find work teaching it to others. This is especially true for piano, guitar, and other instruments you'll find in a high school band. You don't have to be an expert, either. You just need to be a few levels above your students.
#14 - Become A Sports Referee
Children play a lot of sports, much more than adults. Fortunately for you, these sports often require referees and other officials. If you're in high school then you can likely get trained as a referee, and begin making $15-$40 per hour. Tournaments are where the real money is, and you may find yourself refereeing 8-12 hours over a weekend.
#15 - Rate Music for Money
Did you know that some companies are willing to pay you to listen to music and review it? This helps new artists gather valuable feedback, and it can make you some pocket money as well. If this sounds like something you're into, then check out HitPredictor or SliceThePie. Just make sure that you set realistic expectations because this isn't going to be the best paying option on this list.
#16 - Start a Youtube Channel
Becoming a Youtube star is one of the most coveted jobs for Millenials & Gen Z, and for good reason too. If you can build a following along a certain niche or subject, then you can make tons of money by making sponsored videos, monetizing with ads, or driving traffic to affiliate links. And, best of all, once a video has been published, it can continue to make you money for years.
#17 - Sell Homemade Crafts On Etsy
Were you a high-performer in arts & crafts as a kid? Or, maybe you just know how to follow instructions, and you're willing to learn something new? Either way, many people are making money selling handmade products on Etsy. Soaps, candles, face masks, and art are only some of the things you can sell through this giant online marketplace. You never know when it might turn into a full-time business that you can scale up for the next few years.
#18 - Translate For Businesses
Do you speak multiple languages? If so, you might be able to make money by offering translation services to businesses. Sure, they might hesitate when they see that you're under 18, but if you have the skills needed for the job, then they might just hire you at a discount.
#19 - Take Online Surveys
While the online survey industry doesn't always have the best reputation, taking surveys online can still give you some pocket money every month. Some of the most popular sites include EPoll, YouGov, Branded Surveys, and TellWut. Just double-check the terms and conditions before getting started, since some of them pay in gift cards rather than in cash.
#20 - Refer Friends & Family To Services
Many companies offer referral programs where they will pay you in cash or credit for referring new customers, such as your family and friends. Whether you're encouraging them to use UberEats for the first time or to book their first stay with Airbnb, just make sure you give them your referral code if you want to receive your slice of the pie. Bank accounts are also great for this and will pay you in cash.
#21 - Start & Monetize an Instagram/Tik Tok Page
Similar to starting a Youtube channel, starting an Instagram or Tik Tok page can be a great way to make money. You don't have to make it about yourself either. You can choose a niche (e.g. dogs, sports, travel), create funny/entertaining content, and monetize through sponsored posts and affiliate links. The more of a following you build, the more brands will pay you to promote their products.
#22 - Take Gigs on Fiverr
For those unfamiliar with it, Fiverr is an online marketplace where people with skills & experience can find freelance gigs offered by companies and entrepreneurs. There's way too many categories to mention, but if you're good at something that a business can use, then you can likely make money on Fiverr with it. Just make sure you find a way to get the ball rolling, since starting off as a Seller with no reviews is the hardest part.
#23 - Play Video Games on Twitch
Twitch is an extremely popular live-streaming platform for gamers of all kinds. Anybody can set up a channel and begin streaming as they play video games, or watch others as they achieve challenging gaming feats. It's not uncommon for popular streamers to have tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of viewers at a time, and the audience can donate money to you through the app.
#24 - Become A Video Game Coach
If you were wondering how to make money as a teenager, then becoming a Video Game Coach likely wasn't the first idea that popped into your head. But, if you're the best in your friend group at a game like Apex Legends, Fortnite, or Super Smash Bros., then you might be able to coach others at $15-$30 per hour. Sounds too good to be true? Absolutely. But, people are making millions of dollars on Twitch and through e-Sports, so it makes sense that they might need some help.
#25 - Ghostwriting
Let's preface this by saying that 95% of high school students won't be cut out for Ghostwriting, but for the 5% that are, it can be a career-building opportunity. Ghostwriting is when you help an author with their writing, but get paid instead of receiving any credit for it. People might use ghostwriters for blog articles, eBooks, or regular books. You'll typically get paid by the word, and build yourself a portfolio.
#26 - Start A Blog
While blogging is usually thought of as a means of self-expression, it can also be a great way to make money. If you can optimize your articles for SEO (yes, we're oversimplifying it), then Google can send you organic traffic. Once you have traffic, you can monetize through sponsored articles, affiliate marketing, and advertising. There's a great guide on starting a blog available here.
#27 - Manage Social Media Accounts
If you know the ins and outs of social media, then you might be able to put those skills to use by managing the account of an entrepreneur, artist, or small business. While most businesses may be unwilling to take a chance on a teenager, you can likely find some entrepreneurs or small businesses with no social media presence and draft a proposal. This will also help set you up for a career in marketing later on, which is a great added bonus.
#28 - Sell/License Your Photography
If you have a camera, and can take good photos or videos, then you might be able to sell/license your photography. There are websites like Envato Elements and Adobe Stock that businesses and creatives visit to find stock imagery. And, every time they pay to license a photo, the creator (you) receives a cut of the proceeds. While this might not be possible with your smartphone camera, it can be a great way to make money for years to come, since you only have to upload each photo once.
What To Do With Your Money
It's easy to get stuck trying to figure out how to make money as a teenager, but you should also put some thought into deciding what you want to do with it. The three options we would recommend are as follows:
Build An Emergency Fund
As you begin to read up on personal finance, you'll notice that the advice is usually to build up an emergency fund before anything else. It's step 1 on Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps, a popular personal finance strategy, but it's commonly mentioned elsewhere. An emergency fund is essentially a sum of money that you keep available for emergencies. It isn't for spending, lending, or even investing. Your emergency fund is your contingency plan. It allows you to be (at least somewhat) independent.
If something happens like your car breaks down, or you lose your job, or you need to fly back home for a funeral, your emergency fund is what keeps you afloat. It's your margin of safety. Without it, you might find yourself in a tough position, and your parents won't always willing or able to bail you out. Best practices indicate that you should save at least $1000 in a separate bank account and that this number should grow over time as your monthly expenses grow.
Save For Your Education
Post-secondary education can be very expensive, depending on where you live. In the United States, the average university graduate (who took out loans) finished with ~$30,000 in student loan debt. In Canada this number is slightly lower, resting at $28,000. If you're not careful, these loans can syphon money out of your bank account every month for the next 5-10+ years.
And university isn't the only option. There are college programs, certificates, diplomas, trades, self-directed study, and so much more. But, the point is that you should be saving some money for your education, whatever that might look like for you.
Save For Something You Want
Emergency funds and education funds aren't very exciting, so it's no surprise if you want to save for something a bit more interesting. This could be a car, a laptop, a trip, or whatever you value. There's no shame in spending money on something that would make your life better, as long as you decide that it's what you really want.
Hopefully, you found some value in this article on how to make money as a teenager. Your teenage years are going to be one of the most memorable periods of your life, so make the most out of them.
This list gave you plenty of formal and informal ways to make money, with some options that are better for the short term (e.g. mowing lawns) and some that can flourish into full-on careers later on (e.g. starting a Youtube channel). Finding a real job will help teach you balance, structure, and social skills. Working on your own, say starting a blog or Youtube channel, can help teach you how to take initiative, and manage yourself. Both are good options, and you can experiment with as many as you want.
Overall, you might want to spend some time thinking about what you want your life to look like in ten years. That way, you can begin to identify options on this list that can evolve to get you there.
Best of luck!
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