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12 Great Summer Jobs for High School Students

By David Quilty

tutor girlWorking during the summer when school is out of session is a great opportunity for teenagers to make money and assert their independence. Having a summer job can help you earn spending money, pay for college, and gain practical experience for a future career, all while providing opportunities not available during the school year.

Deciding what you want to do is the hard part. Do you want to work outside? Work with others? Work with animals? Once you figure that out, you will find that there are summer jobs that fit the bill for almost any interests you may have.

As a high schooler, you may feel as though you lack the necessary experience to land a prime gig. However, there are plenty of jobs you are qualified for that pay rather well. Both part-time and full-time jobs are available for people of all abilities.

Summer Jobs & Opportunities for High School Students

1. Babysitter

Friends of mine with two young children pay their babysitter $15 per hour – that’s not a bad pay-rate for a part-time summer job. Ask any parent, and you will find that good babysitters are hard to come by. Do a great job taking care of the kids, and you could find yourself gainfully employed, earning great income and setting your own hours all summer long.

Get your CPR certification to further boost your credentials. While networking in your neighborhood will probably provide you with plenty of leads, you can also check out sites like Sittercity to find more.

2. Camp Counselor

If you enjoy being outdoors, going camping and hiking, and playing sports, then working as a camp counselor is the perfect job for you – that is, if you don’t mind watching over groups of kids away from their parents for weeks at a time!

There are summer camps all over the country designated for almost any activity you could imagine, so you can likely find a perfect match for your interests. A background check is probably in order before being hired on, and having CPR certification will help you land the job as well.

Camp counselor salaries vary greatly, especially for employees only working during summer months. However, year-round counselors earn an annual average salary around $23,000, so you could be making some serious money in the few short months of summer.

3. Pool Cleaner

Whether working for yourself or for a pool-cleaning company, being paid to spend your days outdoors and poolside is tough to beat. It’s hard work, but everyone needs their pools cleaned during the summer, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding customers or an employer.

Getting solid references is key to making this a successful summer job, as that’s how you will fill up your roster with enough clients to keep you busy until school starts. Attention to detail and taking pride in a job well done are vital to your success.

Pay ranges from minimum wage and up, depending on your location and who your customers are. Land yourself a contract to clean the pools in a ritzy condo building all summer and you could be raking in the dough!

pool cleaner

4. Career-Oriented Internships

While it may be difficult to know exactly what career you want to pursue when you graduate from high school or college, summer jobs can offer the perfect opportunity to test a job you think you may like. If you do a great job and are still interested in the line of work once summer is over, you will have some much-needed experience. This can lead to more work next summer, and perhaps a part-time job while you attend school.

The pay may not be great (internships are often unpaid) but the experience can be priceless. There are several ways to find an internship you would like. You could ask you guidance counselor at school for assistance, call up businesses you find interesting and ask whether they are hiring interns, and check out websites such as Internships.com, which focus solely on interning.

5. Tutor

Summer is usually spent on vacation, but many students use summer break to continue or enhance their education. If you are strong in any particular subjects, you could put up notices on bulletin boards around town to offer your services as a tutor.

Tutors just starting out can charge around $15 per hour, while those holding advanced degrees and years of experience can charge up to $50 per hour. Along with making good money, you will gain great experience to add to your college applications, and you can set your own hours, leaving you plenty of time to hang out with friends.

6. Movie Theater Employee

Summer is blockbuster season at the movies, and theaters will be on the lookout for more help – why not get in on the action? Theater employees can perform all sorts of jobs, from taking tickets, to serving popcorn, to ushering patrons, but the biggest perk is that most theaters let their employees see the movies for free or at a reduced cost.

You can expect minimum wage for the hours you do work, but if you are a movie buff it could be a perfect summer job. Be on-time, presentable, and good at dealing with the public, and you could come back each summer to work at the movies.

movie theater employee

7. Golf Course Caddy

The hourly pay may not be great, but the tips and perks can make hitting the links to work a worthwhile way to spend your summer. Caddies are not normally used at local and inexpensive courses, but at exclusive clubs, caddies often receive a tip equal to 50% of the caddy fee. Depending on the course, that can amount to a healthy sum of money for a few hours work. Add in the sunshine and the free exercise, and caddying can be an enjoyable gig.

Requirements for getting a caddy position include understanding the game of golf and the course where you work, and the ability to stand or walk for extended periods of time.

8. Mobile Automobile Detailer

Everyone needs their car washed, so why not make it convenient by going to the customers’ homes or places of work? Their cars are just sitting there all day, so offering your mobile detailing service at their location makes total sense. It saves them time that they otherwise would have to spend on the weekend, and you own your own side business, for which you set your own hours and rates.

Duties include driving to locations, working with chemicals and cleaners, and, most importantly, understanding that a customer is trusting you to take care of their prized vehicle. That’s not a responsibility to take lightly, and professionalism is key if you want to succeed as a mobile detailer.

9. Lifeguard

Lifeguards do an incredibly difficult job day in and day out. But lifeguards also enjoy their jobs, as they get to work outside, often alongside friends, in a fun environment.

While requirements can vary, the Red Cross has standards for lifeguarding that most municipalities follow. These standards include first aid requirement, CPR certification, bloodborne pathogens training, and basic water rescue.

If you are a good swimmer and have a knack for attention to detail, lifeguarding can provide a solid summer income.

lifeguard

10. Newspaper Delivery Person

Paper delivery can be a tough endeavor, and if you are tasked with a driving route, you will be required to have both a clean driving record and auto insurance. However, you are usually done with work by 6am, leaving you the rest of the day to enjoy your summer vacation.

I worked as paperboy in high school, and while I didn’t make a fortune, I received decent tips and enjoyed finishing work before sunrise.

11. Handyperson

Summer is normally the time of year when homeowners complete home improvement projects, so offering your services here can make you some decent money. Whether it’s lawn mowing, painting fences, or laying new walkways, chances are you can find some neighbors or friends of your parents to hire you for summer work.

By charging $10 to $15 per hour, you can make more than minimum wage while setting your own hours for the summer. If you’re handy around the house and willing to work hard, this could be a perfect way to make money during the summer.

12. Dogwalker/Pet-sitter

Summer is vacation season, so many people hit the road to their favorite destination during those months. But what about their pets? That’s where you come in, taking care of the animals that have to stay home while the family goes on vacation.

Pet-sitting is a very important job, and you would be entrusted to watch over the animals as if they were your own. Experience with dogs, cats, and other domestic animals is vital, along with any references you can garner from family and friends.

dog walker

5 Tips to Land a Summer Job

Waiting until a week before school lets out to find yourself a summer job isn’t the best idea to secure a good position. Beat everyone else to the punch by looking for summer employment months before summer arrives. That way, you will be sure you can start making money as soon as possible.

Starting your job search early isn’t the only thing you can do to increase your chances, so here are a few more tips:

1. Ask Around
Friends, neighbors, and other parents are going to be your most valuable means of finding gainful employment during the summer. They know you, you know them, and they may have an inside track to a position you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.

Also, consider asking your favorite teachers and your school guidance counselor for help, and check the bulletin board at your local community center for job listings.

2. Prepare References
Compile a list of names and phone numbers of people who can vouch for you, either personally or professionally. You may be asked to provide a few references to a potential employer. References are usually provided in the form of a letter of recommendation, and you should get them from previous employers, teachers, or anywhere you may have volunteered in the past.

3. Dress Appropriately for Interviews
You want to be taken seriously, so dress appropriately for the job for which you are applying. Be on time (a few minutes early to be safe), and bring with you any information you think an employer may want to see, such as your reference letters and a resume.

4. Find Specialized Job Search Sites
Check out websites such as Snagajob and GrooveJob, which specialize in jobs for teens and high school students. You can search for jobs by location, interest, age range, and employer, and the sites offer advice on writing cover letters and resumes, interview tips, and how to dress for success.

5. Market Yourself
If you wish to be self-employed for the summer, you have to understand how to let people know who you are, why they should hire you, and when you are available for work. This requires marketing yourself to your family, friends, neighbors, and community.

Make business cards you can hand out, along with flyers you can go door-to-door with or pin to bulletin boards in local coffee shops and community centers. Use a word processing software template to make your own marketing materials.

get the summer job you want

Final Word

Working during summer break has long been a rite of passage for high school students. While many students hold part-time jobs during the school year, not everyone can do so. When summer rolls around, focus in on your interests and life goals and try to find a job that matches closely with those activities. That way, you still have time for summer fun while also earning income. Don’t let those few months go by without taking full advantage of your time off from school.

What summer job would you recommend for high school students?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

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David Quilty
David Quilty is a freelance writer living outside Santa Fe, NM. After burning out working in the entertainment field in Los Angeles for many years, David decided to strike out on his own and follow his passions for writing, web design, politics, and green living on a dirt road in rural New Mexico.

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