The Appeal of Employment in High School

Claire Hein, Staff Writer

What comes to mind when hearing the words “teen employment?” Perhaps you think of young kids bussing tables, bagging groceries, or babysitting for years saving up for a car. For some students in high school, those examples are exactly what they do outside of school. For many employed students, working hours follow the Minor Employment Laws, meaning working hours up to 20 per week. Some teenagers are working more hours than that, due to businesses ignoring the law or the students’ dedication to work more to support their family. states that “Six hours per day and up to 28 hours per week may be worked with a special variance agreed to by parent, employer, student and school.” Six hours per day is not advised, but with special schedules like school breaks, it is pretty reasonable.

There are multiple reasons why students want to work, and the most obvious reason is income. At a certain age, kids begin to go out more with friends, and discover things they want to have for themselves, such as food and clothes. Having a job means getting their own money and being able to do whatever they please with it. With teenagers making their own money, it can be freeing in the sense that they are not as dependent on their parents and their money. Working during high school is also great for any students who need to put themselves through college, and are determined enough to save their money instead of spending it. According to, “In 2018, 50 percent of all youth, ages 16–24, were employed, either full- or part-time.” 

 Another reason why students want jobs is because according to senior Harper Frye, “There is an influence to do it if your friends are employed, and it makes you feel more independent.” There are many positives that come with being employed as a student. This includes learning more about the real world, and being put into situations where the employee has to adapt or fix an issue. Being employed can also teach students the value and importance of money and spending. According to Walden University, “Without a job, teenagers must rely on other people’s money. Having a job gives students their own money and can help them understand the true value of a dollar.” When making an earning, some people become more conscious of the money they spend because of the time and effort put into earning it in their free time, sacrificing things like social time. Additionally, working as a student teaches life lessons, no matter where you work. Skills like time management, organization, and responsibility are all things that being in a work environment can teach someone. According to junior Magnus Bergstrom, “Having a job also teaches discipline and how to schedule my day.” By following a schedule and communication with an advisor or boss at work, students have to stay organized and prioritize what is going on in their life. 

Although working has many benefits to students, something challenging about maintaining a job in high school is balancing the work to school ratio and handling stress. Having a job, even part-time, can be a lot of pressure and students already have to stay on top of their studies, college, family, and other hobbies like sports. Student athlete and sophomore Katie Bendt shares her personal experience with playing soccer and having work experience: “It’s so hard between balancing the sport, school and job. So I know a lot of people get jobs for the summer, not the school year.” This seems to work out for many students who want extra pocket cash, but have commitments during the school year they have to give full attention to like sports. Additionally, librarian Kelly Crickmore states that “a negative of a student having a job is the possibility of using work as a distraction, and taking time away from school and studying.” For some students school is very overwhelming and hard and having a job can be an escape to ease their minds, but it can also be used as an excuse to not participate in school. For example, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research says, “At least some students during high school are trading off long-term educational opportunities for short-term earnings.” Some students get caught up in working and making money, but that is where the minor employment laws can limit a student’s work hours. They state that students going to school cannot work more than 20 hours per week, unless dealing with unique situations. Some companies ignore this law, and call in students to cover shifts, or work more hours, but it is illegal and companies can get into big trouble for taking a student away from their first job, being in school.

There are many pros and cons of working during high school, but overall, those who can maintain a part-time job and still manage to fit in school, activities, and extracurriculars are developing great skills to help them when going into the real world. It truly depends on the individual student whether or not maintaining a job is right for them.