Being 12 years old means that you probably want more independence in many aspects of your life. Want to prove you have the right to make your own decisions and can do it successfully? Finding a job and earning money of your own is the most significant proof. What’s more important, it comes with some sweet financial benefits!

Part-Time Jobs for Kids 12 & up

Is it legal to work for a 12-year-old?

The list of jobs allowed for teens under 14 years of age is rather short as too many jobs are prohibited. Some of the options permitted by the US law include, for instance, selling or distributing newspapers and magazines, babysitting or performing minor chores around a private home, as well as working in a business owned by your parents. You’re also allowed to work in agricultural jobs and perform in radio or TV productions.

Keep in mind that each state has its restrictions. So, you may want to consult your state laws. To do this, try typing the name of your state in the Google search box followed by the phrase “employment restrictions for minors” or something similar.

Where do I start?

Ask yourself: “What I want to do?” or “What job is right for me?” Close your eyes and try to imagine where you could work. Even if your dream seems too far to reach right now, when you just acknowledge your desires, it may motivate you to move in the right direction. Having in mind the type of work you want to do, it may be easier to find a job. For instance, if you’re going to work as a tutor, you may put up flyers at the library.

Now, it’s time for the second question: “What jobs are available?” If you explore jobs at places you like to spend a lot of time, you are likely to find an activity you will enjoy.

Another way to find a side job for a preteen is to start asking people close to you (family, neighbors, and teachers). Working for those you know well comes with a benefit – it’s typically safer. You’ll gain experience and references that will help you find other clients later. Try searching on web platforms like

Consider the following options.

Keeping your subdivision clean

Do homes in your neighborhood belong to subdivisions where homeowners are responsible for keeping their area clean? Provided you get some moral support from your parents, you may offer your help at a homeowners’ meeting. Charge each household $1 per week.

House sitter, pet sitter or dog walker

dog walker

You may be surprised by how many job offers are available in this field. Starting with your neighbors works best. Generally, people are more likely to trust their pets those they know.

What exactly does a pet sitter do? In most cases, his or her responsibilities include feeding an animal and walking it a couple of times a day.

Do you feel you’re reliable enough for this type of job? If you happen to forget you need to do the task, pets may starve to death. If you don’t want this type of responsibility, you may find that dog walking fits you better. The bad news is that this task implies that you will have to clean up after the dog at the street after it does its business.

Parent helper

Parent helper

Don’t feel confident enough for staying with a child all alone? Working as a parent helper may be a good option.

There’re quite a few work-at-home and stay-at-home parents who would like someone to spend some time with their kids while they are working or trying to do something else. While you’ll probably be paid less than for babysitting, there is less responsibility involved, too. In case of emergency, the adults will always be near you.

Recycle aluminum cans

To find a recycling center in your neighborhood, enter your zip code at Recycle Nation. You may ask your family and friends to save aluminum cans for you. Helping the environment comes as a bonus!

Storytime for kids

Almost all parents know how critical reading is for their child’s development. And yet, they often fail to find enough time for this or can’t make the kid listen. You can invite kids from the neighborhood to your weekly storytime.

Most likely, the majority of your “clients” will be three- to six-year-olds. Things that will help to catch their attention include large books with colorful pictures, puppets, finger plays. You may search online for book-related activities suitable for this age.

Newspaper delivery

Newspaper delivery

While some papers can be delivered after school, most typically require you to work very early in the morning. If delivering a daily paper doesn’t fit your schedule, consider a weekly one.

Send your application to the Circulation Department of your local newspapers to find out whether they have free routes. Note that these jobs are increasingly scarce because many people read their favorite newspapers online.

Yard worker

Yard worker

Apart from lawn mowing, there’s a variety of yard work that a preteen can handle. Some of the tasks you’re physically up to include planting flowers, spreading mulch, weeding a garden or trimming hedges. In the fall or winter, you may consider raking leaves or shoveling snow.

Dusting and decluttering


There’re several chores that people tend to put off all the time, like dusting shelves, cleaning baseboard, checking expiration dates on canned goods, etc. Eventually, there comes the moment when the house needs someone reliable and enthusiastic to tackle these tasks.

Flyers and price lists can make talking with people in the area easier, so you may ask an adult you trust to help you with those. Also, like in case of any other neighborhood services, it would be wise to work with the families you know well.

Sell holiday-themed items

Sell holiday-themed items

Do you have an inherent gift to guess what things people would like to buy? Good at talking with people (or simply want to improve this skill)? This way of earning cash fits you perfectly. The list of items to sell may include:

  • mistletoe for Christmas (can be picked in the mountains)
  • heart-shaped cookies, chocolate truffles, soap, etc. to be sold as Valentine’s gifts
  • egg dye kits and hardboiled eggs for Easter

Organize a pie delivery service on Thanksgiving morning (you will probably need to take the orders as early as a week earlier).

Running errands

Although such gigs won’t eventually turn into a “serious” job, they may bring you some quick cash provided you’re on good terms with your neighbors. Pay attention to the people who live in the vicinity. Can you think of those who may need someone to do tasks like shopping for groceries or things around the house?

While looking for errands on Taskrabbit or similar websites can give a lot of options, it’s not exactly safe for a preteen. Teaming up with an older sibling or friend can be a good option.

Lemonade stand

Lemonade stand

While this type of business may be the first thing that anyone thinks of when choosing a job for a preteen, there’s a couple of issues to consider. Safety is the most important one – not any neighborhood fits this requirement.

Also, children’s roadside lemonade stands aren’t legalized in all states, so you need to check whether this is not the case with yours.

Maintaining and cleaning pools

Maintaining and cleaning pools

Some of the responsibilities may include removing the dirt from the top of the water (with a skimmer) and the bottom of the pool (with a suction cleaner), as well as treating the pool with chemicals.

Window cleaning

Most adults find this task too time-consuming, while a preteen can clean windows as good as a grown-up (or almost as good). Charging around $1.50 per window, you may earn some quick cash, especially in houses with many windows.

More idea$

— run a garage sale for neighbors – go to people who live near you and ask if they want to sell something they no longer need. If yes, you may run a garage sale for them.

  • bottle and sell purified water (consider outdoor events like local soccer matches)
  • bake goods and sell them at bazaars, fairs, and other events or from home (online orders)

You may also want to try searching online. There’s a growing variety of computer-related and Internet-related projects that can be successfully carried out by a 12-year-old preteen with just a little instruction (transcriptionist, Pinterest virtual assistant and other social media assistant, video game tester, etc.). You may team up with a friend a couple of years older who can register on freelance platforms like Upwork and start getting orders.