Should High School Students Work Part-Time?

By Sammy Nishihama

October 25, 2023

Balancing school and extracurriculars is already a big challenge that comes with being a high school student, and some students even add a part-time job into the mix. According to Dianna Miller, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Youth First, “students who balance 10-15 hours of work per week during the school year earn higher grades than students who do not work.” Students can also learn many skills while working that they otherwise might not be exposed to. Employment can help high schoolers gain real world experience, putting them ahead of their peers when high school graduation comes. 

As students become more independent, having extra spending money can become a bigger priority. Minimum wage laws require that businesses employing minors pay them at least minimum wage, putting high school students at no disadvantage with their adult counterparts, in terms of pay. The ability to manage money properly is a skill that can be difficult to learn, so earning money as a teen is incredibly important for the development of that skill at an earlier age. 

Having a job can teach students many other important life skills such as time management, responsibility, and a strong work ethic. As explained by Jeylan T. Mortimer, sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, “Youth themselves think that employment helps them to develop a wide range of beneficial attributes, such as the capacity to take responsibility, develop time-management skills, overcome shyness with adults, and handle money.” Different skills that can be taught while having a part-time job are essential to learn early, and students that work during high school get more access to learning those skills. 

A student taking photos of plant life in her front yard.

Not only can a job during the school year be helpful for teens, summer employment can be even more beneficial because it provides the same benefits with less stress from school work. Although summer employment rates among teens are constantly changing, the rates since 2011 have only risen. A study from Pew Research Center found that “By 2010 and 2011, the teen summer employment rate had bottomed out at 29.6%,” marking the lowest rate of teen summer employment since 1959. Since then, ”teen summer employment recovered, slowly, in subsequent years, with the employment rate inching up to 35.8% by the summer of 2019.” The pandemic slightly dented the rise, but in general, the rate has been on an upward trend. 

Teen employment during the school year or in summer can be incredibly beneficial to these students, providing many opportunities and resources for them. Teens that can hold a job throughout high school also get an “opportunity to establish contacts with adult employers that can serve as a future reference,” says Diana Miller with Youth First. The ability to manage money and time well, communicate effectively, and have a strong work ethic is something that can only be taught through real world experiences, making a part time job a great opportunity for students. 

Works Cited

DeSilver, Drew. “Teen summer employment rises after slump early in COVID pandemic.” Pew Research Center, 21 June 2022, Accessed 23 October 2023.

Miller, Dianna. “* Teen Employment Has Many Benefits – Youth First.” Youth First, 5 July 2017, Accessed 23 October 2023.

Mortimer, Jeylan T. “The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment.” NCBI, 1 January 2011, Accessed 23 October 2023.