Jobs for Pre-teens

Parent Q&A

  • Jobs for 11 (or 12) year olds

    (1 reply)

    My 11-year-old son is interested in earning some money. My understanding is that under law he can do "odd jobs", babysitting, paper delivery at this age....Are there any papers in Berkeley that still employ young paper deliverers? How about delivering ads--is that a comparable job kids can do, and if so, for whom? If you have a kid who found some employment at this age, how did he or she go about it?

    The Berkeley Times hires young people for newspaper delivery.  My son was 13 when he started delivery for them and he kept his route for many years.  I don't know for sure that they hire younger than that.  The editor, Todd Kerr, is a great guy and is committed to the community.  Their email address is jobs [at]

    My daughter started babysitting at age 11 for a family who had posted a notice on BPN.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


12-year-old son looking for work

March 2008

My son who is 12 is available to do light work around the house like mowing the lawn, raking leaves or keep company to elderly people. He is dependable, polite, trustworthy and friendly. All he asks, is some money for his piggy bank and charges 10$/hour depending on the job.

dear mom of teen offering services --

your boy sounds like a sweetheart, and i really like that he is wanting to get some experience and earn some money. i think that is important, and a kid who is doing some kind of work here and there at 12 is someone who always will have the confidence to find something to do and get it done.

but $10/hour for a 12-year-old, for piggy bank change?? that does not seem like a reasonable rate, not at all. my adult son worked for over a year at a real, full-time job before he broke $10/hour.

my concern is that it does nobody a favor to send the message that your kid, as a young kid, deserves so much for small tasks. it means a LOT for him to learn the value of work, and that he can do different jobs, and that he can earn things he wants. but -- at a higher rate than is earned by many people with more experience, who have families to support? it's not my business, but i hope you and he re-think the monetary expectations.

[for what it's worth, i think the same thing about kids graduating law school who believe they deserve $200/hour.] another mom

Try asking neighbors first. Also, I think $10/hr is way too much to ask people to pay a 12 year old. That's more than minimum wage for adults! $5/hour is much more reasonable. anon

I read the two posts that said $10/hour is too much for a 12 year old. I would advise that he asks for it and sees what he gets. If people want to pay less, that's fine. But to not ask because of his age and the minimum wage would be unfortunate. There's no harm in his asking. In fact, it's a good lesson for a kid to ask for as much as he wants and then to live with whatever he actually gets. Better for his growth and development to find out on his own than to tell him no you can't do that. Anon

It seems almost like a social psychology experiment: test free-market theory vs. people's reactions to a 12 year old boy asking for $10 an hour. Does your son realize that the results might turn out not as he hopes? You both are assuming that if the employer-to-be feels that $10/hour is too much, then the two parties will negotiate, reaching an agreed-upon price. Maybe they will. But consider the other alternative--that some people may be insulted by a pre-teen asking for so much money for unskilled work, that they don't offer him any work at all. This result could spur your son to understand that a higher salary comes with greater skills, and maybe he should develop such skills first. Or it could help him realize that wishes don't always come true in real life and that gauging the marketplace can be an important first step. Anonymous

7th grader wants to earn extra money

June 2001

My son is interested in earning money for a few hours a week but is too young for most regular jobs. I had a paper route in 7th grade but that doesn't seem to be an option around here. Does anyone have a good story about how their kid earns some money on a regular basis? -Tom

For the dad and others looking for some work for their kids. Seven graders are capable of babysitting or being mother's helpers. It is advisable for them to take a babysitting certification course. Many Community centers have those (the one in Orinda runs throughout the year and is always well attended). Babysitting pays quite well $4-$6.00 an hour and many parents would give their right arm for a reliable baby sitter, who is not yet into the high school scene of dating and partying. Many boys babysit, families with boys especially appreciate a boy who likes to play soccer or other sports with their kids.

There are always posts on the normal newsletter (Advice, Recommendations) from people seeking babysitters for an occasional evening or on a regular basis. Making business cards on the computer and handing them out to parents of little kids in the local park is a great way to start getting clients.

A great way to get the foot in the door for younger teens is to ask for an internship instead of a paying job. Once people see how hard working, realiable and pleasant your kid is to have around (and they tend to be such when they are not at home) they might want to keep them longer and pay them money. My thirteen year old daughter who is interested in architecture got an internship with a local architect this summer. She loves the office and is learning a lot. I'd pay the architect for taking her, but I think he will reward her in turn with a gift at the end of her internship. Xenija

To the parent interested in ideas for summer jobs for a younger (7th/8th grade) child: My daughter (13) works at a horse stable on the outskirts of Tilden every Sunday afternoon. Her responsibilities include mucking out the stalls, turning out the horses, feeding and grooming. Without hesitation, this experience has been positively wonderful for her!!! She earns $20 every Sunday and has her own spending money but even more important she is doing something that she loves. The people at the stables are great too and I feel totally comfortable letting her independently work along side her 21 year old boss. If your child has a similar interest, I would suggest going to the job site and asking around if they are in need of any help. That's what we did and it landed her her dream job. Good luck.... Claire

Summer Jobs - Too young to work? My 14-year-old daughter was adamant about getting a paying job this summer and resisted signing up for activities that might interfere with a work schedule. She filled out numerous job applications and talked to clerks and store owners about help wanted opportunities. We found out that you have to be at least 16 to scoop ice cream, sell tickets in a theater, stock shelves in a card shop, or water plants at a nursery. With the prospect of a long unstructured summer occupied only by a long list of mom's boring chores, my daughter chose to volunteer at the library. She's got regular hours, interaction with other teens, and a sense of community involvement. It's also job experience and a future reference. Your son might want to check out the the volunteer angle. To bring in enough money to support her summer lifestyle, she designed and distributed a flyer around the neighborhood to water plants and care for pets during vacations - and rec! eived 3 calls within a day of the flyer. Good luck to your son! Cathy

My son worked at a nursery during the summer - for pay - when he was only 14. He was recommended to the nursery by someone who knew him and who also worked there. Just as in the adult world of work, contacts can get you a job. He had to fill out a form for working minors that was available at a school district office (can't remember the name of the form); it had to do with specifying the number of hours that he could work, who his employer was, etc. This turned out to be a great summer job in a number of ways. He made several thousand dollars - which was a lot for a 14-year-old! And he never wanted to do physical labor again - the following years he worked as an intern at a software company in the city, first just for lunch money, and later for pay. This job he got though contacts from high school, by reading the e-mail that the principal sent out about summer internships. My older daughter hung out at the pool all the time, since she loved swimming. She ended up teaching classes for free as a young teen and helping out around the pool. Then she took life-guarding classes through the junior college, and ended up working as a life guard and swimming teacher for a number of summers and on into college. My youngest daughter loved a particular store that is in Berkeley near my office. I shop there all the time too. I spoke to the owner on her behalf, and my daughter wrote a letter listing the kinds of things she thought she could do to help out. Then she delivered the letter in person. So she worked at the shop for free, just for the experience, when she was 13. The owner gave her a generous gift certificate at the end of the summer.

So, extrapolating from these experiences, it seems to me that work IS available for young teenagers, especially when they move toward what they are already interested in. And it helps to have parents or other adult friends who will vouch for you to an employer. Bonnie

Regarding the parent who wrote He had to fill out a form for working minors that was available at a school district office

The form is called Intent to Work. It is available at the Administrative Portable on the courtyard at the Berkeley High Campus. Once it is filled out by the parent, the young person and the employer, the youth is able to get a Work Permit. A copy of the Work Permit is to stay with the employer. (It usually takes a day or so for the Work Permit to be available for pick-up.) This process is required each semester (fall, spring & summer). A student may be denied a Work Permit if he/she does not have grades of a C or better.

Flora Russ, Berkeley High School

12-year-old wants a summer job

Dec 1999

My 12-year-old son feels that he is too old to attend day camps, yet I feel it's unhealthy for him to stay at home all day by himself with nothing scheduled (and with most of his friends either away on vacation or enrolled in camps). He is a responsible and dependable child, and I think it would be ideal if he could be involved for 2 or 3 hours each day in some kind of gainful employment or activity this summer (either paid or unpaid). Does anyone know if there are nonprofit groups or progams that specializes in 'tween (pre-teen) employment placements? We live in North Oakland, and obviously proximity is an issue as he would need to be able to get himself to/from wherever he was working. I would appreciate any advice or leads anyone can provide.

This may not be convenient for you, but perhaps there is something like it closer: The El Cerrito child care program uses young teens as assistants, first as volunteers then paid as they get older.

Lawrence Hall of Science has students take a class to learn about animal care, then has those students work as volunteers in the biology lab or at kids' parties, though the minimum may be 13.

How about paying him something yourself if he puts in volunteer hours since you won't have to be paying child care?

Another option is having him sign up for some sort of class, camp etc.

This is a great time for your child to get leadership training and pre-job experience through volunteer work or a counselor-in-training (CIT) program. Many summer camps also have CIT programs for pre-teens or early teens, although 12 yrs. may be a bit young for some programs. Try the YMCA, the city's Recreation Department programs, or UC's summer recreation programs targeted to this age group. The city libraries use student volunteers in the summer, and the library is a good resource for other volunteer opportunities. While children this age are generally eager for real work experience, volunteer experience may help them get a paid job in future years. Irene

Park Day summer Arts Camp has soem kind of CIT program. I'm not sure of the age limit or other restrictions. It is in North Oakland and would be a great program for a kid who likes art and working with younger kids. I'd call Park Day for who to contact for more info.

Strawberry Canyon has summer jobs and pre-employment programs for teens. Starting when they complete 8th grade they can enroll in the Leadership Camp and positions move up from there. The web site has all the information - click on Strawberry Canyon. Jennifer

In response to the person who wanted information about 12 year old summer jobs, try the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department's summer programs. Many of the camps have CIT (Counselor in Training) programs for 12-14 year olds. I know that Touch the Earth (in Roberts Park) and the Lake Merritt Boating Center both have programs in the works.

Many summer day camps offer a C.I.T. (counselor in training) program for teens and pre-teens which would give your son the summer camp experience with the extra responsibility he is seeking.

One type of summer job for a 12-year-old might be working as a mothers' helper - doing odd jobs for people you know well in your neighborhood. There are always clothes to be folded, windows to be washed around my house, cars to be washed, yardwork, and other unskilled, non-dangerous jobs around my house that I assign to my 12-year-old, and that someone with only younger kids, or senior citizens could probably use help with.