Pros and Cons of Having a Job as a High Schooler


Photo courtesy of Lily Tierney ‘19

Carmela Palmieri, a local Xavier senior, works at the AZ State Fair as her part time job doing things such as making and serving food

Today, the talk about high school students having a job is controversial. People believe that for high schoolers, education should be their number one priority.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, sets requirements for minors, individuals under 18, that are covered by the statute. The FLSA sets wages, safety requirements, and hours worked. Rules differ according to the age of each minor and the job that is being involved. The minimum age for employment is 14 years old, and there is a general limit to the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16 years old.

There is no age limit for youths to do certain things to make money such as babysitting, dog walking, delivering newspapers, performing in productions, and working for their parents’ businesses, as long as it is not hazardous. Agriculture has different age requirements.

Many benefits come to students who have a job in high school. Students who work learn about responsibility and how each and every person is held accountable. Part-time jobs offer experience and loads of training. Balancing your work and establishing good time-management skills from an early age are important skills that will prepare students for the rest of their lives. Senior Brisa Footit stated, “Having a job as a high school student is very rewarding because I am able to build the foundational tools I need for my future and I can use my past experience and apply it to future job opportunities. My experience of having a job as a high school student is a learning experience because I learn something new everyday.” Students also have the opportunity to gain communication skills. Effectively communicating with others towards a common goal is important to achieving success in any professional environment. Senior Talle Donley stated, “I liked having a job as a high schooler. I have grown in my social skills and I learned a lot about working with my peers and the people around me.” Senior Carmela Palmieri declared, “Working at the fair is great because it has given me a sense of responsibility outside of school. I think it has made me more mature and self dependent.”

Not only does having a job as a high schooler engender indepence, it also fosters satisfaction. Receiving a paycheck provokes happiness and a sense of success. Learning the value of a dollar is important to understand from an early age. Teens need to recognize and be grateful for all the sacrifices their parents have made for them in regards to hard work and money. It is essential for young teens to understand how to be smart when it comes to spending money, and that you have to earn money, it is not just granted to you.

Since college costs are so high today, having a job in high school can help with the tuition. When it comes to college, admission representatives look for students who have a sense of independence and responsibility. Hard workers demonstrate those character traits, plus traits such as maturity and initiative.

Having a job in high school also means building a resume from early on. Although most high school jobs are part-time and pay minimum wage, it is still considered a real job with pay. Therefore, students are able to put their high school jobs in their resume. These small jobs will help in the long run when it comes to applying to a real job because employers will see that a student held a position for a period of time, and they gained experience working with other employees in a professional environment. Senior Kerin Olson exclaimed, “For many, I think having a job revolves around money, either for some extra spending money for themselves or to help pay the bills. Another reason to get a job as a high schooler is to gain some real world experience in the workplace, since it can look good on a resume, even if it’s just working at a restaurant, which is plenty hard; you get paid as well so money is again an incentive.”

A few important challenges come to  high schoolers while trying to maintain a job. From increasing stress to distractions from academics, there are some negative aspects when it comes to high school employment. High school is stressful on its own in terms of academics and standards. Many students feel pressured to excel academically, and adding on a job would increase the stress. College is right around the corner for seniors in high school, which is also the typical year that students look for jobs.

Another conflict with getting a job as a high schooler are the conflicts between work and school. Students have homework, projects to complete and tests to study for, but the days that students work mean homework could get pushed back. There are times when students have to be decisive and choose between work or school.

Working as a high school student also means less involvement in school. Activities such as clubs and sports will be going on outside of school, and students will be less likely to participate, due to their work hours. Getting a job so early on cuts your high school experiences short. Students will not always be able to attend dances and go to the games because a part-time job takes a lot of commitment.

A big conflict with having a job as a high schooler is that jobs bring distraction from a students academics. Olson stated, “I haven’t had a job. Why? Simply because my parents didn’t want me to. They wanted me focused as much as possible on school. Their thinking was I’d have to get a job eventually, so why not just focus on school while I can without the stress of a job on top of it?” Some part-time jobs will have students working later and longer hours, which means that the student will not be at home, studying for tests or doing their homework. If high schoolers are working long hours it can also limit their opportunities to create and grow their friendships, explore their interests and spend time with those around them.

Ultimately, high school students need to decide if they can balance a part-time job and education at the same time. One of the hardest parts of students having a job and remaining successful in school is having good time-management skills. Having a discussion with your parents is important in the decision making because having a job during high school can bring consequences for a students success in high school and their life beyond. Palmieri stated, “It gets difficult balancing work and school because weekends are the busiest days of the fair but weekends are also the only “free time” I have to do homework. I usually have to go help work in my food stand rather than doing homework promptly. But I have managed to get everything from work to school work done on time and I have learned to adapt to balancing the both.”

With college costs increasing, teens start to build up their want and need for money. Teens also want extra amenities which brings in more money. For some cases, students getting a job is necessary. Some high schoolers need to save money for college or need to help out with their own family income. But, at the end of the day, in my opinion, education is a high schoolers full time job.

Parents should be actively helping their students find a job. Parents can help draw out their child’s interests and goals and can help them understand all the responsibility that comes with having a job as a high schooler. The importance of balance in high school is the major point that students need to understand. It is important that high schoolers develop a healthy balance in life from an early age, and maintain it for the rest of their lives.

However, senior Tessa Tierney states, “I think that high schoolers should have a job at some point during their four years. It will help prepare you for your future and teach you how to manage your time.”