Sometimes military teens encounter the same problems as military spouses: a lack of job stability and an interrupted work season due to a PCS move. But unlike professions that require a new license with every move, these teen-friendly jobs combine portability and skill-building experiences no matter where you live.
Babysitting: Military parents know that sense of sweaty panic when they discover their World’s Best Babysitter is moving! Where there are young children, there will always be a demand for qualified babysitters. Kids 12 and older can take the Red Cross Babysitter Course, a must for anyone who wants to watch younger kids. The Red Cross offers both an in-class and an online version of this course. Teens 16+ can also take an Advanced Training Course, also through the Red Cross.
Being a certified sitter means you have valuable, basic first aid and child care training and you are eligible to babysit on base (check your installation’s child supervision guidelines). Help your child establish reasonable rates and expectations before they start (a 13 year old with little experience won’t earn what a 17 year old with a driver’s license earns). Also, establish up front your child’s available hours, days, and locations, as well as supplemental tasks (like washing up dishes and basic play area tidying). For your younger teens, be available for transportation to or from the job, and meet the parents also.
Good Starter Job for Pre-Teens: Pet Sitting, Mother’s Helper
Life Skills: Responsibility, Accountability
Lawn Care: My son is amazed by how many people don’t enjoy –or have the time to do— lawn care. This is a great seasonal job for a kid who loves to be outside and working hard. No formal certification is needed; however, your teen must be trained on safe operation of lawn equipment. Supervision is also a must! Don’t send your child off to mow where no one is home to help in an emergency.
Good Starter Job for Pre-Teens: general yard maintenance, like weeding, raking, watering
Life Skills: Attention to Detail, Customer Service skills
Food Service: It doesn’t matter if it’s working the drive-thru at a fast food joint or bussing tables at a café, working in the food service industry offers an invaluable experience for any teen. Restaurant jobs require workers to think on their feet, to work quickly and carefully, and to interact positively with customers (even when the customers might be unhappy). I often say that, despite my fancy degrees, what prepared me best for life was my high school job as a waitress in an ice cream restaurant! A food service job for your teen doesn’t follow any type of season, and can be acquired year round. Check out your child’s high school work-study policy, too.
Life Skill: Multi-tasking, Interpersonal skills
Lifeguarding: Like babysitting, lifeguarding is a job for the uber-responsible. Courses are required and annual refresher training to maintain certification is a must. Try to certify before you move to be competitive for a future hiring season. Teens 15+ can research Lifeguarding Training Courses offered by a local Red Cross. References from previous employers can also be important for teens to be considered. It can’t be overstated how important this job is, and it’s important to impress upon your teen that lifeguarding isn’t about working on your tan or looking good in your red suit. The neighborhood mommies are watching you watch their kids, and July’s awesome lifeguard gets employed as November’s amazing babysitter.
Life Skill: Responsibility, responsibility, responsibility.
Tutoring: For your academic-minded teen, the opportunity to tutor a younger child is a great way to build communication skills and develop accountability. Teens can be a truly positive influence for younger kids who need help with homework, want to build better study habits, and struggle to develop organization skills. A fresh approach by someone other than a parent or teacher may be exactly what the child needs, but it’s important to remember the teen tutor isn’t there to teach. Before your teen tutors another child, a meeting with the parent is a must. Help your child manage the negotiations of a safe and appropriate workspace and parent supervision. Older teens should check with their high school to see if they offer a program for aspiring teachers, like the Future Educators Association, to provide additional support.
Life Skills: Interpersonal skills, organizational skills, dependability
Commissary: Were you waiting for this one? This is THE job that is unique to the military community! Where else in America do customers queue up in a long line and have friendly people carefully bag up their groceries, push the cart out to the parking lot, and place their purchases in their car? This can be a very competitive job, as some baggers have been at installations for decades and they are true professionals. Research what it takes to get your teen on the list. Have a conversation of what to do –and what not to do- as a bagger. Teens should be fast, careful, and pleasant. After all, Commissary shoppers love a good bagger and if you are awesome, it will show in your tips (your only wage). And if you are awesome, we will find your checkout lane. Our loaf of bread and un-squished bag of grapes guarantee it.
Life Skills: Attention to detail, customer service
Before your teen embarks on any job search, be sure to research your state’s child labor laws and your installation’s policies for child supervision. Also, have your teen talk to a guidance counselor about work-study programs at their high school.
Image credit: © Darko64 | Dreamstime.com