45 Odd Jobs For Teens and Tweens
How old do you have to be to mow lawns or scoop poop? Certainly you don't need a driver's license to earn money performing such odd jobs. What you do need, however, is the willingness to be responsible, work hard and cultivate entrepreneurial skills.
Thanks to U.S. child labor laws, tweens and teens under the age of 16 are largely cut off from traditional jobs. With summer quickly approaching, however, America's youth have oodles of alternative opportunities. Yet many don't realize finding jobs and establishing a reputation takes just as much effort as performing the actual work.
To begin with, you'll need some experience to qualify for most of the following 45 odd jobs. You can build your skills and show responsibility by first working for family or volunteering your services to friends.
Once you've established your credentials, it's time to develop a paying client base. There are several ways to advertise at almost no cost:
- Print and distribute fliers on car windshields in your neighborhood and public bulletin boards at your school, church, local coffee house and other places visited by soon-to-be clients.
- Use Craigslist to find gigs and advertise your availability.
- Search OddJobNation.com.
- Post a notice on your Facebook page.
- Tweet your friends to let them know you're available.
- Talk to your parent's friends.
- Canvas your neighborhood by going door-to-door to offer your services.
Now that we've given you the basics of getting started, it's time to select an odd job that suits your skills, age and abilities. You can choose from any of the following opportunities or dream up your own ideas. Keep in mind the common factor in all these jobs is that you're helping people save time or applying skills they may not have. The worst thing you can do is end up costing them more time and effort.
We've also included some helpful tips at the end of the list for parents who'd like to help their kids get started and keep them safe.
1. Build Birdhouses
Home and garden and gift stores have sold handcrafted birdhouses for several years now, and maybe it's time kids got in on this cash cow. Try your hand at the standard four-walls-and-a-roof birdhouse or build new homes out of repurposed goods, like PVC pipe, old license plates, computers equipment, etc.
Owl boxes are easy to make, too, and popular among those who live in the suburbs, small towns or close to woodlands.
2. Waterproof Wooden Decks
Waterproofing decks is much easier than painting houses because it doesn't involve messing around with ladders, multiple paint brushes, pans, rollers, etc. All you need is the waterproofing finish, a large brush, paint thinner and hard work. With any luck, the homeowner will supply all these materials.
3. Deliver Weekly Newspapers
Daily newspaper routes usually require a car and extremely early hours. On the other hand, weekly or monthly papers allow for a looser delivery schedule. It's not as much money but you can likely complete smaller routes on a bicycle, so there's no need for an adult to drive you around.
4. Scoop Poop
People hate cleaning dog poop from their yards so very, very, very much that many will happily pay for you to do the dirty work. Begin by offering your services for a weekly cleaning and offer to provide your own pet supplies.
5. Make Videos for Demand Media Websites
Home filmmakers for Demand Media produce groups of short online videos for multiple websites, such a eHow.com and LIVESTRONG.COM. Your videos would reach more than 80 million viewers and you'll be paid after the work has been reviewed. Choose your topic, create as many as you want, and shoot from home.
6. Repair Bikes
Are you mechanically inclined? Handy kids can try setting up a bike repair business. Offer bike tune-ups in the spring and less-than-adept bikers will flock to your door.
7. Offer an Off-Beat Service on Fiverr.com
If you haven't seen Fiverr.com, you should visit the site just for the fun of it. People from all walks of life offer some totally out-there services, like taking a photo of themselves holding a sign with the buyer's designated message. The catch is you can't charge more than $5 per job.
8. Sell Snacks at Local Sporting Events
One of the most overlooked parts of youth sports for many parents is providing the weekly snack. Contact coaches and ask if there's a market for your culinary skills (like chopping carrots). Just be sure you know the type of food needed as many teams don't allow sugar-filled treats.
9. Sell Bottled Water During Marathons
A 24-pack of bottled water from Walmart runs roughly $5 to $6 per pack, or 20 to 25 cents each. Resell them for $1 each (or more) and you've got a tidy profit.
10. Draw Anime Caricatures
If you fill school notebooks with anime art, consider offering your service as a caricaturist at local fairs and festivals or in places that see a lot of tourist foot traffic. Many "busker" artists offer caricatures, but offering anime version would make for a nice twist on an old standard.
11. Create Wordpress Blogs
In July 2006, the Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated the U.S. "blog population has grown to about 12 million American adults."
Just imagine how many blogs there are today -- and how many more people want to create blogs but don't have the "technical" know-how. Since you're from the generation that cut its teeth on computers, creating a blog using Wordpress should be a snap.
12. Provide Musical Accompaniment
Some churches, choirs, schools and soloists require musical accompaniment yet may not have any volunteers. A talented pianist or organist can make pretty good money helping others sing along to the music.
13. Assist in Genealogy Research
Learning about our ancestral routes has been hugely popular for at least a dozen years now, but plowing through old newspapers and tons of Google pages can be a nightmare for some. Not only can you earn a spot of cash doing some data mining, you'll likely learn a lot in the process.
14. Photoshop Family Photos
If you're adept with Photoshop, people may pay you to remove red eye, meld multiple photos into one decent family portrait, or simple color correct a shot. In other words, offer to help those who still prefer to shoot photos with the now-abandoned film Kodachrome.
15. Translate (for bilingual teens)
There are so many opportunities for translation services it shouldn't be hard to come up with a paying job or two. You can help Spanish speakers fill out paperwork, understand the education system and tons more. Check with your school district and Hispanic services offices at any nearby college or university. Craiglist posts translation jobs under "Writing Gigs."
16. Clean Gutters
It's a nasty job but somebody has to do it. This is a job strictly for those with good balance who don't have a fear of heights.
17. Mow Lawns
Since lots of kids turn to lawnmowers as a means of summer income, you might develop your own clientele by offering one free mowing per month for several months to the lucky winner of a drawing.
18. Prep Gardens and Yards for Spring
There's lots to do in the spring: Remove old leaves, rototill, drag hoses out of storage, seed lawns, and much more. Craigslist includes such work under the "Home and Garden Services" section of "Gigs."
19. Wash Windows
The approaching warm weather also means spring cleaning. Few, however, relish cleaning windows of winter grime. Check around your neighborhood for those willing to turn this ugly job over to someone with youthful enthusiasm. Look under "Household Services" on Craigslist for work in your area.
20. Redeem Cans and Bottles
Some states with "Bottle Bills" charge customers a deposit of 5 or 10 cents for bottles and cans, money you can get back by picking up strays left behind. Other states might pay by the pound for aluminum. You can earn cash while cleaning up litter.
21. Distribute Advertising Fliers on Parked Cars
You know those irritating fliers on car windshields? They don't distribute themselves. Keep an eye out for such fliers and approach the advertised business with an offer of your services.
22. Run Errands
Harried parents, the home-bound and others with little time might appreciate help with small errands, like picking up dry cleaning or dropping off library books. Check with nearby senior citizen centers and post fliers at coffee houses, libraries and other places adults frequent.
23. Deliver Lunches
Office-bound workers get sick of pizza and Chinese food but often don't have time to run out for lunch. Make the circuit of businesses and offices in your area and ask if they might like a little variety in their lunch menu. Keep in mind you'll need to limit your route to restaurants you can reach by bike or on foot.
24. Paint House Numbers on Curbs
With just a few paint and stencil supplies you can walk the neighborhood and offer to paint house numbers on residential curbs for $5 -- or less.
25. Clean Garages
Here's another dirty job, but do bang-up work for your first client and word will spread.
26. Paint Faces
Are you artistically inclined? Invest in a pack of water-color crayons or paints and set up your own two-chair business at farmers' markets, fairs and festivals. Check with the organizers beforehand rather than show up and expect to be welcomed.
27. Walk Dogs
Running home mid-day or after work to walk the dogs is not the way some people want to spend their time. It's a great way to get some exercise while earning cash, particularly if you're a pet lover.
28. Pet Sit
Kids have been handling this job for ages, so it should be a fairly easy one to tackle. To do a proper job, however, your clients should be within easy biking or walking distance from your home so you won't be tempted to skip a day.
29. Plant Sit
Plants are easier than pets because they don't require daily visits, but it's also easier to kill a plant than a dog. Make sure you follow the owner's instructions carefully and don't skip an appointment with your new green friends.
30. Groom Dogs
Dog washing and brushing can be a time-consuming pain, but it's a steady job for those who enjoy man's best friend.
Begin by enrolling in a babysitter training course with your local American Red Cross chapter, then test your wings with family and friends. Once you're ready for a serious gig, ask early clients to spread the word. Good and dependable babysitters are worth their weight in gold, so work hard to build up parental trust.
32. Help Seniors and the Disabled Shop For Groceries
For some, pushing a grocery cart or pulling items off hard-to-reach grocery shelves is close to impossible impossible. Your service can be invaluable for those who can't accomplish these small chores on their own.
33. Clean Stables, Pet Cages or Fish Tanks
Love animals and not afraid of getting dirty? Dig in.
34. Gather and Resell Golf Balls
Perfectly good golf balls disappear into wooded areas, water hazards and off-course locations. Some pro clubs pay for each bucket of balls you bring in.
35. Assist with Youth Sports
Many towns, schools, organizations and clubs have recreational sports teams that hire kids to help coach and referee, handle sporting goods, sell tickets, run snack stands and assist with rosters and bookkeeping.
36. Wash Cars
Running a one- or two-day car wash is easier if you have a partner. Set up at an accessible location with buckets, sponges, water and a big sign.
37. Tutor Younger Children
Are you good at math, reading or another and have loads of patience? To attract clients, post signs at local elementary schools. (Check with the administration office before using the school's bulletin board.)
38. Help Harried Parents
A mother's or father's assistant is a steady job, but it requires you be responsible, patient and naturally caring. This job could be an outgrowth of babysitting. Other ways to find gigs would include asking teachers in younger grades, posting a note at church or simply asking your neighbors and parent's friends.
39. Polish Silver
There's not a lot of genuine silverware left to be cleaned these days, but those who own silver get mighty tired of constant upkeep. For this job I've needed rags, my cleaning products and a willingness to turn my hands black.
40. Photograph or Make Videos of Children's Parties
Parents who are busy organizing children's parties and keeping everything in order would appreciate a hand documenting the event. Plus, taking good photos and videos is a snap with modern equipment. Borrow the photography equipment you need or invest in your own.
41. Play Birthday Party Clown
Professional birthday clowns are very expensive and sometimes can frighten young children. A clown closer to their age, however, might be less threatening. Develop your own clown costume and makeup then check out YouTube for tips on how the pros do it. You might try a test run or two by volunteering at a hospital children's ward or at a family birthday.
42. Maintain Swimming Pools
Skimming pools and monitoring the chemical balance requires patience, but very little in the way of skills. It's also a good way to enjoy fine summer weather. Just don't forget to wear sun block.
43. Sell Lemonade
Sometimes the oldest ideas are the best, particularly if you're just starting out. Set up your lemonade stand in high-traffic areas, like near local garage sales.
44. Weed Gardens
Do you like working with plants and don't mind getting your hands dirty? Weeding a neighbor's garden provides steady work and might result in some fresh veggies for your family. Remember, payment needn't always be in cash.
45. Troubleshoot Computer Problems
Lots of older folks don't have a clue when it comes to computers and software and would gladly pay for someone who understands the ins and outs. Of course, you have to actually possess computer skills for this job.
SAFETY AND BUSINESS-MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Accompany your child when they canvas unknown neighborhoods.
- Help them pre-screen potential clients, especially if the job requires long hours or one-on-one visits.
- Make sure you always know where they're working. Have them check in occasionally when working with unknown clients.
- Work with your child to establish fair prices for the work they're doing. You may want to draw up a rate sheet or help them develop written estimates.
- Be sure your child is able to fully commit to work they've promised to do.
- Recommend they perform jobs they like, so they're less likely to give up in the middle.
- Odd jobs shouldn't interfere with school work and other priorities.
- Be prepared to offer advice, but don't force your opinions on kids who are doing well on their own.
For students 16 and over, check out our blog post "11 Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students."
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