What Are the Benefits of Teenage Jobs?

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Although many parents worry that having a job in high school will have a negative impact on their teen, this is simply not true.

There are many benefits to teenage jobs and it goes way beyond money. Teen employment not only improves a teen’s current situation but can also have a positive impact on their adulthood as well.

The following are some of the benefits of high school students working part-time:

Having a job gives teens valuable work experience which builds their resume and makes them more employable in adulthood.

Holding down a job while attending school also teaches teens time management skills. Teens who juggle school and work will be better prepared for the many responsibilities of adulthood.

Working helps with self-esteem and confidence. Teens who work discover just how capable they are which makes them feel empowered and gives them a sense of accomplishment. This can help teens feel more independent and develop a sense of responsibility.

Having a job also teaches important life skills like dealing with problems when they arise and teaches them how to get along better with other people.

A job also provides a constructive use of free time. It gives teens something to do in the hours after school and keeps them busy so they don’t get into trouble.

Working encourages a healthy transition into adulthood. Holding down a job is an important step on the road to adulthood. It gives them the opportunity to practice independence and self reliance.

In addition, studies show that teens who work earn higher grades than teens who don’t work at all. This is most likely due to the fact that having a limited amount of time to do school work pushes them to get their school work done promptly instead of procrastinating.

Teens who work appreciate the value of money and understand what it takes to earn it. They quickly learn that money doesn’t grow on trees. In addition, purchasing things with their own money helps teens learn how to budget and plan out their finances.

Many high school students say that overall, they reap a lot of benefits from working, according to the book Working and Growing Up in America:

“Of the employed youth, 90 percent of the girls and and 80 percent of the boys agreed that their present jobs had helped them to learn to take responsibility for their work. Two-thirds of the girls and over half of the boys though they had gained money-management skills. Three-fourths of the youth, irrespective of gender, agreed that their jobs had taught them to be on time, and 88 percent of the girls and 78 percent of the boys though their jobs had helped them to learn how to get along with others. More than one of four thought their jobs had influenced their career choice.”

According to the book Career Programming: Linking Youth to the World of Work: New Directions for … edited by Kathryn Hynes, Barton J. Hirsch, working teens actually enjoy their jobs and feel they are learning important life skills:

“Research also demonstrates that many teenage jobs are enjoyable, promote positive development, and have career potential. Many teenage jobs are not dead-end jobs, but instead provide opportunities for skill development, advancement, and interaction and mentorship with adults. In addition to providing youth with important occupation-specific skills, these jobs can also foster the development of soft skills such as dependability, reliability, and punctuality. Good jobs can improve future employment prospects by helping youth develop a network of coworkers who can aid in navigating employment opportunities and serve as references. Consistent with this more positive view, most teenagers and parents hold favorable opinions toward teenage employment. Youth enjoy working, and parents believe that early workplace experiences can provide their children with a number of important skills. The benefits of teenage employment may be especially important to youth with lower socioeconomic status. Compared to their more advantaged counterparts, youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to report their high school job is teaching them useful skills and will lead to a career.”

A recent study of Canadian students found there are even more benefits to teenage jobs. Data from the Statistics Canada’s Youth in Transition Survey, which followed about 250,000 young people and interviewed them every two years from the age of 15 to adulthood, suggests that the more hours a high school student works per week, the more likely they will be employed by age 21. The optimal number of hours for a teen to work during the school week is 25 to 31 hours and anything over that starts to have a negative effect.

The study also found that teens who worked during the school year had higher incomes in future life compared to students who only worked during the summer. It also found that teens who worked at 15 had higher incomes at ages 17, 19 and 23. That number varied by the number of hours and their age. For example, it found that 15 year olds who worked 23 hours a week during the school year made approximately 25 percent more money at the age of 23.

The study also found that teenagers who worked during the school year or during summer were more likely to find better-fitting jobs in adulthood. It is believed this is because early work experience allows teens to discover what they wanted in a job and allows them the opportunities to work towards that type of job earlier in life.

Some studies, such as Staff & Mortimer’s 2007 study, found that students who worked steadily or even occasionally while in school who work were more likely to attend 4-year colleges and earned B.A. and B.S. Degrees more quickly.

Another study, conducted by Staff & Mortimer in 2004, also found that although teens occasionally experience stress due to their jobs, which can lead to diminished self-esteem, these negative consequences were short-lived and actually teach teens valuable life lessons like resiliancy.

Although there were previous studies conducted that found that the more hours a teen worked the more likely they were to engage in problem behavior, according to Professor Jeylan T. Mortimer in an article titled The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment, this has more to do with a specific teen’s behavioral pattern and personal attitude than their job:

“Much research on substance use, problem behavior, and other so-called negative consequences of employment indicates that these are largely attributable to self-selection rather than to work experience itself (for a review, see Staff et al., 2009). That is, youth who already exhibit problem behavior gravitate toward more intensive work. Employment as well as problem behavior, like early sexuality and the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, may be seen as “claims to adult status,” or indicators of “pseudomaturity.” Moreover, earnings from work may be used to purchase alcohol and drugs and to support activities, like cruising around in cars, with like-minded peers. It is noteworthy that, when differences in attitudes and behaviors are appropriately taken into account, the bad consequences of employment often disappear.”

Overall, it seems that working while in high school has many benefits and helps teens become more productive, confident and successful.

Career Programming: Linking Youth to the World of Work, edited by Kathryn Hynes, Barton J. Hirsch
Working and Growing Up in America By Jeylan T. Mortimer
NCBI: The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936460/
Ottawa Citizen: Many Benefits for Teens Who Work During School Year, Study Finds: http://ottawacitizen.com/life/parenting/the-working-life-there-are-benefits-later-in-life-for-teens-who-work
Statistics Canada: Youth in Transition Survey: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=4435

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