Host: At what age should my children get a job?
Janet Bodnar: Well, children can get a job as soon as they are about 14 years old or so. They can get your traditional kind of retail jobs or working at amusement parks, working at the local movie theatre, that sort of thing. They will be limited legally to the amount of hours that they can work but they can get a job at that age.
I think what happens realistically for most kids is they do get their first job around the age of 16 or 17 which I think is probably a good thing, good to start with a summer job first to see how they can manage their time because if they want to work during the school year, you don't want their school work to suffer and this is really important. Interesting study show that kids can work to up to about 10-12 hours during the school year without their grades suffering but they once they start working more than that the grades tend to suffer or they are pulled away a little bit from their parents, you have a little bit less influence. It is hard to know of which comes first. Is it the job that starts to take over the kids' lives or perhaps the kids were not really all that engaged in school to begin with and so then they become more engaged with jobs. It is not really clear what comes first, but the point is you do want to limit the amount of hours that the kids are going to work during the school year to around 10-12.
So, that is why I think it is best to at least start with a summer job so you can see how the kids can balance their time and I think it is also important that when the kids do get a job you as a parent still take an interest in it. So, you don't just let them go off to work and do their own thing. You want to be sure that they are in a job that is safe, number one and that you know what their hours are and when they are going to be there and when they are going to be doing their homework and you also have some say over what they do with their money, with their earnings. If you want them to save some of their money for college or to save some of their money for senior year expenses like the Class Ring or the prom or the year book, it is within your right as a parent to require them to do that. It gives them some fixed expenses just like you have, fixed expenses that you have to pay before you can spend money on the fun stuff.