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Top jobs for teens for summer 2021

Who’s hiring this summer? Everybody, it turns out. The hiring prospects for teens are looking much brighter now compared with a year ago.

“There’s reason for hope this summer,” said Luke Pardue, an economist at Gusto, a cloud-based payroll, benefits, and HR management company. “We’re seeing a huge jump in teen employment.”

Teen employment was up 10.2% in April 2021, similar to April 2019 numbers, according to Gusto data. That’s because many of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic — restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, summer camps, and theme parks — are often staffed by teens. And as vaccinations go up and COVID-19 restrictions ease, they’re hiring again.

“Small businesses in the food and beverage, sports and recreation, and accommodations industries are hiring at the fastest rates,” Pardue said.

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (Emma Kim via Getty Images)

There also may be even more opportunities for teens this year to fill positions left vacant by older employees who are reluctant or unable to return to work, he added.

“As older workers are slow to return to the workforce, teens might be able to receive hiring bonuses or fill positions not typically open to those with less work experience,” Pardue said.

Here are some of the top jobs that teens might consider this summer and how to land them.

Grocery store employee

The pandemic sent grocery sales soaring both in person and online.

Although sales have gone down since the early months of the pandemic, 75% of people say they will still cook more at home even after the pandemic is over. That makes grocery stores a sweet spot to look for a job.

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (Viktoriia Hnatiuk via Getty Images)

Teens don’t need specific skills to work at a grocery store, but a willingness to work a flexible schedule and to fill in where needed is a plus.

Food delivery

The pandemic has doubled food delivery business for top companies like DoorDash, GrubHub, or UberEats.

These companies require delivery drivers (or bike riders) to be at least 18 or 19, but it’s a good job opportunity for recent high school grads or returning college students, especially for someone who wants a more flexible schedule.

Restaurant worker

Both fast food and full-service restaurants are having trouble finding employees right now. To satisfy the need, some are offering cash hiring bonuses or, as in the case of Chipotle and McDonald’s, raising their pay (at least temporarily).

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (Alexander Shelegov via Getty Images)

Past restaurant experience is helpful, especially for work at a sit-down restaurant, but most businesses are more than happy to train new employees.


There is a lot of pent-up demand for date nights among parents these days. Teens with past childcare experience, CPR certification, and who are vaccinated will have a leg up on the competition.

Word of mouth can often be enough to drum up business, but childcare work can also be found by reaching out to local parent or community groups or on sites like

Retail store employee

Retail sales are expected to go up this year, and like restaurants, some stores are having a hard time finding workers.

Some of the top skills that hiring managers in retail look for are self-motivation, positivity, respect, ability to handle stress, and working well with other people, according to a survey. Candidates who can demonstrate those skills will rise to the top of the applicant pile.

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images)

Amusement park attendant

Summer is peak amusement park time and there are several roles available for teens, whether that’s helping load people onto rides or guiding them around the park.

A demonstrated enthusiasm for amusement parks, working outdoors, and being responsible will go a long way toward landing the gig.

Tips for landing any job

Although the job market will likely be less competitive this summer for teens, it never hurts to position yourself in the best way possible. Here’s how.

  1. Make a resume: Even high school students can have a resume. (Here are some tips on how to create one). Creating a resume allows teens to highlight not just past job experience, but all the experiences that point to them being an engaged, responsible, hard-working person. Resumes should include things like academic accomplishments, hobbies, volunteer experiences, tech skills, and personality traits, like being a good listener.

  2. Line up references: Companies will feel much more comfortable hiring a candidate who can provide a list of people who can vouch for them being a responsible employee or person.

  3. Practice for an interview: Even for jobs that might not have much of a formal interview, it’s a good idea to practice for one just in case. Teens can ask a friend or family member to ask them questions that a potential employer is likely to ask.

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