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Best Summer Jobs for Teens by Industry

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Summer is here, and one way for teens to escape the boredom of not having anything to do is to get a summer job. A May 2022 report from the Drexel University Center for Labor Markets and Policy in Philadelphia predicts that 32.8% of teens ages 16 to 19 will be employed this summer — the highest rate since 2007. While high schools in some areas, like the South, may have been out for a month already, some Northeast schools are just wrapping up the year and welcoming the summer.

To help those still on the fence about putting in job applications, LendingTree looked for the best summer jobs for teens by industry. Keep reading for more insight into which industries teens can target during their job hunt efforts, and where they can make the highest wages.

Key findings

  • Teens looking for the best summer jobs should roll into their nearest bowling alley. 20.0% of bowling center workers are 16 to 19 years old — the highest across any industry analyzed. Bowling centers also see the highest rate of wage growth (9.8%) between the spring and summer.
  • The second-best industry for teens in the summer might surprise you: footwear manufacturing. While teens ages 16 to 19 account for only 3.4% of workers in the industry, wage-related metrics push footwear manufacturing higher. The industry saw the third-highest rate of wage growth (6.9%) between the spring and summer, only behind bowling centers and fiber, yarn and thread mills (yes, another surprise).
  • The third-best industry for teens looking for summer jobs is more common — landscaping services. A higher rate of this industry’s jobs — 5.1% — are held by teens ages 16 to 19. The summer brings more opportunities for garden maintenance, mowing, weed control and more, allowing teens to get outdoors (and make some money).
  • Comparatively, the worst industry for teens in the summer is sewing, needlework and piece goods stores. (Think fabric shops and sewing supply stores.) This industry has the lowest weekly wages on the list — $373 — and the third-worst employment growth (-3.7%) between the spring and summer.

5 best summer jobs by industry

Let’s take a closer look at the top five industries for teens to find summer jobs.

1. Bowling centers

Not only can bowling centers be great places to escape the summer heat, but they can also be good options for teens looking for a summer job. From the cash register and snack bar to the shoe station, there’s no shortage of bowling center jobs that are good for teens who need to gain their first bit of work experience.

A whopping 1 in 5 bowling center workers are teens ages 16 to 19. And not only do bowling alleys — regular pins, candlepins or duckpins — have the highest rate of teen employees across any industry analyzed in this study, but they also see the highest rate of wage growth (9.8%) between the spring and summer seasons.

Bowling centers need a lot more help in the summer than when kids are in school, so it makes sense that they lean on teens looking for temporary gigs.

“If a kid’s first job can involve an activity or a place they’re familiar with and enjoy already, it can make the job more interesting,” says Matt Schulz, LendingTree chief credit analyst.

Of note: Teens looking for jobs at bowling centers aren’t doing it for the money. Despite its appearance at the top of this list, weekly wages in this industry are $437 — 41st of 42 industries analyzed.

2. Footwear manufacturing

While footwear manufacturing may not seem like a natural fit for teens, the repetitive nature can be the perfect temporary job for a teen to be trained on a specific component of the process. When a teen worker returns to school in the fall or switches jobs, employers don’t want to train them on managing too many responsibilities.

While teens ages 16 to 19 make up just 3.4% of workers in this industry, the wages could more than make up for that. The footwear manufacturing industry sees the third-highest rate of wage growth (6.9%) between the spring and summer. And of the top five industries for teen workers, footwear manufacturing offers the highest average weekly wages at $998.

3. Landscaping services

Teens who have the entrepreneurial itch could upgrade their childhood summer lemonade stands to (formally) offer landscaping services.

According to Schulz, there’s no more traditional summer job for teens than mowing lawns. And 5.1% of jobs in the landscaping industry belong to teens ages 16 to 19 — 11th-highest among the sectors analyzed. (Don’t forget, these employers hiring teens are competing with neighborhood kids pushing lawn mowers and pulling weeds for extra money.)

“It’s not the easiest job, especially in the sweltering summer heat, but countless teens have done it and will continue to,” Schulz says.

The vibrant summer season leads to more natural needs for assistance with garden maintenance, mowing and weed control that isn’t as necessary in the fall and winter. As such, the industry sees substantial wage and employment growth between the spring and summer.

Teens should take advantage of the fact that plenty of adults will outsource their garden needs so they can enjoy the summer more.

4. Fiber, yarn and thread mills

Similar to footwear manufacturing — we told you there’d be surprise industries — fiber, yarn and thread mills may seem like a somewhat random choice for a summer job.

That being said, teens stand a lot to gain monetarily. Besides footwear manufacturing among the top five, this industry gives teens the next-best chance to bring home a solid average weekly wage — $887. It’s easy to see why a solid 8.3% of jobs in the industry are taken up by teens, seventh among those analyzed.

Not sure what kind of jobs exist in this industry? The primary labor involves spinning yarn, and manufacturing threads of any fiber, as well as producing hemp yarn and further processing it into rope or bags. Someone will also need to texturize, throw, twist and wind purchased yarn or human-made fibers and filaments. The more you know!

5. Shoe stores

Last, but not least, shoe stores are a major employer of teens. These retailers with 19.7% of their employees being teens — just below bowling centers.

Many kids stock up on new shoes before heading back to school, so it’s understandable why shoe stores may hire some extra help during the summer season to stock their shelves, assist customers looking for the right fit and maintain cash registers.

“For decades, countless Americans have looked to retail for their first job, and that’s still often the case today,” Schulz says. “Despite the fact that we shop online now more than ever, there are always going to be retailers looking for temporary summer help.”

Schulz notes that whether you’re talking about sneakers, high-end dress shoes or anything in between, Americans love their shoes. Plus, he notes, potential employee discounts on shoes don’t hurt, either.

5 worst summer jobs by industry

When teens are hitting the pavement and looking for hiring signs, where should they skip? The worst industry for summer jobs for teens is sewing, needlework and piece goods stores (such as fabric shops and sewing supply stores). This industry has the lowest weekly wages on the list at $373 and experiences the third-worst employment growth (-3.7%) between the spring and summer.

These stores are a lot less common these days — and because they attract an older demographic, teens aren’t likely to have these jobs on their radar. Not to mention, sewing, needlework and piece goods stores have no reason to see an increase in hiring needs like a shoe store managing back-to-school shoppers does.

Let’s look at the other four worst industries for teens looking for summer jobs:

  • Florists. Working as a florist requires specialized skills that the average teen won’t likely have. It’s easy to see why teens are only 2.0% of florist and flower shop employees.
  • Elementary and secondary schools. Schools are out for the summer, so they have fewer hiring needs. That helps explain why elementary and secondary schools see a 4.5% drop in employment between the spring and summer.
  • Religious organizations. Religious organizations hire less in the summer than spring (employment growth drops by 2.5%) — and when they hire, they aren’t hiring teens. Only 1.4% of jobs at religious organizations — whether at a church, shrine, monastery, synagogue, mosque or temple — are held by teens.
  • Fuel dealers. Weekly wages are high among fuel dealers ($1,155), which indicates they may require more skilled labor than teens can provide. Only 1.3% of their employees are teens, whether selling alternative fuels, coal, firewood, heating oil or liquified petroleum gas.

Full rankings

Best summer jobs for teens by industry

RankIndustryChange in employmentPercentage of roles in industry occupied by teens 16 to 19Change in weekly wagesWeekly wagesScore
1Bowling centers6.4%20.0%9.8%$437100.00
2Footwear manufacturing1.4%3.4%6.9%$99893.62
3Landscaping services2.3%5.1%4.3%$84791.49
4Fiber, yarn and thread mills0.4%8.3%9.1%$88790.43
5Shoe stores4.3%19.7%2.9%$53090.43
6Recyclable material merchant wholesalers1.3%4.3%2.9%$1,16288.30
7Libraries and archives2.2%3.4%4.4%$90186.17
8Retail bakeries3.1%8.8%3.2%$52282.98
9Logging2.9%1.2%5.7%$1,00280.85
10Convenience stores2.7%6.4%4.9%$49378.72
11Other direct selling establishments3.9%4.3%-4.6%$1,09276.60
12Drinking places, alcoholic beverages12.4%2.4%4.7%$46774.47
13Electronic shopping and mail-order houses3.0%4.3%-16.6%$1,72974.47
14Barber shops3.1%2.3%3.5%$64373.40
15Hardware stores-1.1%10.1%3.8%$65270.21
16Veterinary services1.6%3.4%1.7%$91968.09
17Drycleaning and laundry services2.7%1.7%6.0%$51563.83
18Independent artists, writers and performers10.1%1.1%-8.7%$1,93661.70
19Department stores3.9%9.4%-3.7%$51560.64
20Pharmacies and drugstores-1.6%4.5%2.7%$89760.64
21Household appliance stores0.5%1.6%2.7%$1,02759.57
22Offices of dentists0.7%1.5%1.8%$1,11256.38
23Musical instrument and supplies stores4.6%2.6%-2.0%$63055.32
24Wired telecommunications carriers-0.7%0.6%3.2%$1,85453.19
25Beer, wine and liquor stores2.1%2.6%1.7%$54052.13
26Car washes0.0%13.3%1.5%$55452.13
27Used merchandise stores1.8%6.6%0.4%$49547.87
28Offices of optometrists0.4%0.7%3.5%$92046.81
29Electronics stores0.7%2.2%-5.6%$1,08743.62
30Farm supplies merchant wholesalers-3.8%2.4%0.4%$1,28941.49
31Postal service2.4%0.8%1.6%$71540.43
32Office supplies and stationery stores-0.5%5.0%-4.4%$78340.43
33Vocational rehabilitation services1.2%2.3%1.3%$64840.43
34Beauty salons0.8%1.6%2.2%$61240.43
35Home health care services-0.4%1.6%1.9%$70535.11
36Child day care services-0.8%5.1%0.6%$52934.04
37Offices of chiropractors0.5%1.4%1.5%$74231.91
38Fuel dealers-1.8%1.3%-1.2%$1,15527.66
39Religious organizations-2.5%1.4%2.1%$67324.47
40Elementary and secondary schools-4.5%0.9%1.6%$95122.34
41Florists-2.5%2.0%0.2%$4772.13
42Sewing, needlework and piece goods stores-3.7%1.9%0.8%$3730.00

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data. Change in employment and weekly wages look at spring 2021 compared to summer 2021. Weekly wages are from summer 2021. Job percentages among teens are from 2021.

4 ways to get a job as a teen

Getting a first job as a teen can feel intimidating, so Schulz shared some tips that can make it easier for them to land a gig.

1. Try to incorporate places or things they like

“My first job was at a fast-food place because I knew I could get discounts on the food there,” Schulz says. “My son’s first job was as a soccer referee because he loves the game. Many, many places are looking for help this summer, and it can be a little daunting to know where to start. Favorite stores, restaurants and even maybe that summer camp they loved when they were little can be a great option. Then that first job might even end up being fun.”

2. Encourage their entrepreneurial side

If your kid wants to start a lawn-mowing or a dog-walking business this summer, Schulz suggests parents cheer them on. If they have ideas for a small online business, guide them on how to begin.

“Your first job doesn’t have to be at a store or a fast food place,” Schulz says. “There’s plenty of room for creativity.”

3. Look for opportunities with the government or other organizations

Many local governments may have teen job or internship programs that can provide great opportunities for kids. Don’t sleep on internships: A summer job can be more about gaining experience than earning money.

4. Help them practice for a job interview

It’s not easy to handle a job interview well, especially if you’ve never done anything like it. Schulz recommends that parents take a little time before the interview to tell their kid what to expect, regardless of the job or who it’s with.

“You could even role-play a bit, asking them some questions they might be asked,” Schulz says. “These are valuable teachable moments for parents and kids, and they shouldn’t be wasted.”

Helping your teen start their credit journey? Consider these best credit cards for teens.

Methodology

To rank the best industries for teens to get summer jobs, LendingTree researchers compared spring and summer employment across 42 sectors in which teens ages 16 to 19 are employed.

For consistent periods, we deemed the second quarter of 2021 (April, May and June) as spring and the third quarter of 2021 (July, August and September) as summer.

Specifically, we ranked the industries across the following metrics:

  • The change in employment (as a percentage) from spring 2021 to summer 2021
  • The change in weekly wages (as a percentage) from spring 2021 to summer 2021
  • Average weekly wages in summer 2021
  • The percentage of roles in each industry occupied by teens ages 16 to 19 in 2021

All data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Researchers found each industry’s average rank across the four metrics and used the average ranking to create the final rankings.

 

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