5 Tips to Find Jobs for Teens in Grand Rapids – How Permits Work, Where to Look and Questions to Ask

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Jobs for Teens go Beyond Babysitting and Burgers

Just when you’ve helped them master their chore charts, your growing kids become independence-seeking teens.

Soon, they need the cash flow to see that new movie at Studio Park or go to Craig’s Cruisers with friends, and your maturing mini wants to find a job.

For my kids, babysitting and mowing lawns were great first jobs. Some of my friend’s kids tutor peers, pet sit, clean houses, or detail cars to make money.

Eventually my oldest wanted to venture into the corporate world, and she was able to find a company that encouraged and guided her along the way.

There are lots of options for teens to make a buck. This list by the state of Michigan is loaded with ideas for jobs for teens. 


Here are some more tips that you can take to the bank.

5 Ways to Find Jobs for Teens


It’s not as easy as “just getting a job.” But teens don’t know that. If you set them up with these tools for success, their foray into the working world can be pretty rewarding.

1 – Ask your Teen to make a Job Plan

Help your teen prepare for the responsibility of a job by thinking through the process first. Encourage your son or daughter to make a list of goals and answer the following questions together.

How much money would she like to earn? 

Is he saving for something specific? 

Does she have sports, band, or performances to schedule around?

Does he want to work with friends, or make some new ones? 

Is she willing to travel from Ada to Caledonia, or to Rockford from Grandville and what transportation is available?

What are his interests? Can his love of soccer lead to helping coach younger kids?


2 – Know Michigan’s Rules About Jobs for Teens

Growing up in a rural West Michigan town, my friends detasseled corn in the summer. It was set up through and handled by the school. Things are a little more complicated now.

If your teen is looking for non-farm employment, there are some rules to consider. For me and my kids, simplifying this was the hardest part of the process.

  • A state of Michigan work permit is required for teens. 
  • Teens as young as 14 may work in Michigan.
  • Adult supervision is required on the job site for workers under 18.
  • Hazardous work is prohibited, including delivery driving, operating heavy machinery, and using chemicals labeled as dangerous.
  • There are specific hours that teens are able to work.  
  • During the school year, a minor may work a weekly average of 8 hours per day, but no more than 10 hours in a single day. 
  • They may work no more than 6 days per week.
  • Employees under 18 may not work more than 5 hours without a 30-minute break.
  • For ages 14-15, a weekly maximum total of 48 hours spent at work and school combined, is allowed. 
  • Those 16-17 may work up to 24 hours per week when school is in session, 48 hours when it is not.
  • Teens under the age of 16 may not work from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM during the school year. 
  • Sunday through Thursday while school is in session,16-17 year-olds are not allowed to work between 10:30 PM and 6:00 AM. When on break from school or Fridays and Saturdays, a child 16-17 is only restricted from working between 11:30PM until 6:00 AM. 

3 – Learn how Work Permits Work When Finding Jobs for Teens

The Youth Employment Standards Act of 1978 established that anyone under the age of 18 must obtain a permit or written agreement between their employer and the governing school district before beginning employment. Permits can also be printed here.

Take your child to the school office or intermediate school district and request the appropriate work permit for their age. Be sure the student is present and has identification. My daughter used her state-issued ID.

We homeschool but still needed to go to the school we are zoned for to get a permit. The same applies to virtual and private school students.

I have heard of some kids struggling with the process. If the school’s issuing officer will not issue a permit, reach out to your superintendent.

Anytime a teen changes jobs, a new permit is required. If they are already working but turn 16, they will need to get a new age-appropriate permit.

The permit must be printed on both sides and filled out completely.

4 – Have Your Teen Consider Their Grades Before Taking a Job

Your teen should be sure to make time for homework too. The work permit can be revoked, based on academic performance, at any time. 

My kids have learned valuable time-management and planning skills from their first jobs. My daughter would write out school assignments and due dates, then decide when she would need to complete them, based on her work calendar.

My son puts in extra school hours every Monday, when he has no sports practices or events, so that he can focus on working as an assistant in a PE class on Thursdays.

If the school feels that the student’s attendance is suffering due to a job, that can also jeopardize their eligibility for a work permit.


5 – Jobs for Teens are Everywhere. Here’s Where to Look

Balancing education and a social life, many teens look for work that lines up with their passions.

Many young swimmers help create future pool heroes by becoming lifeguards or swim instructors.

Some kids grow up attending awesome summer camps every year. Later, they become the camp counselors.


Many teens are masters at having fun. What’s better than bouncing on a trampoline while supervising kids at a birthday party or handling clothing at your favorite go-to store in the mall?

My kids were all born in Florida. When a favorite restaurant from “home” came to Grand Rapids, my daughter was in Southern hospitality heaven. Later, this former figure skater added “Learn-to Skate coach” to her resume.

My athletic boy makes everything a competition. When he aged out of classes at our homeschool co-op, he became the energetic right hand to the gym teacher.


Sometimes, working with the bestie can be a distraction. Maybe going to the closest fast food place will ensure timeliness and attendance at work, but the boss needs shifts covered that your child is unavailable. Although my girl loved helping customers and working with awesome people, she often missed the flexibility of babysitting

Look for opportunities through family, friends, and neighbors. Search for postings at schools or community centers. Teens may even see “Now Hiring” signs posted in their everyday routine and favorite places to visit

Get Ready for Your Teen to Learn More Than Just Job Skills

Helping your teen walk through their first commitments as an employee provides many learning opportunities.

When I got sick, I couldn’t drive my 14 year old to work. He could have stayed home, but insisted on going to work by asking another staff member for a ride.

My daughter learned the power of networking when that coaching job at the ice rink opened up a connection with the ice skating director’s company. That girl just completed an interview at this company, where she hopes to get a grown-up job when she receives her degree in a couple months.

Getting a job is a big leap toward independence. With a little know-how, it can be rewarding in more ways than the wallet.


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