5 Age-Appropriate Jobs for 12-Year-Olds

While they're not quite ready for a regular part-time job, many 12-year-olds are at the point where they want more independence in some aspects of their lives. This is a great age to begin instilling a sense of responsibility in a child, and to educate them about money and how much things cost. 

Legally, 12-year-olds can't work the traditional after-school jobs—such as supermarket cashier—that their slightly older peers are eligible for. But there are many side jobs and ways to earn money that most 12-year-olds can handle.  

Availability of some of these jobs will vary by season, and there's no set pay scale. Other factors that will affect pay, as with most traditional jobs, include location, as well as the difficulty and time it takes to complete each job. You will also need to assess your child's maturity level for particular jobs. While some are casual and fun (helping to rake leaves, for example), others involve the safety and welfare of others. That means you may need to help your child develop the skills and responsibility level required to look after other people's children or pets.


Girl feeding baby brother at table
Getty Images/Adie Bush

Babysitting is a popular job for 12-year-olds. The Red Cross is one of the several organizations that offers babysitter classes to prepare 11- to 15-year-olds, training them in CPR and first aid. 

Before your child takes a babysitting job, make sure he or she is mature enough to deal with small children. Some previous experience, such as with younger children, is ideal training.

As the parent, you should make sure you're comfortable with any babysitting jobs your child takes. You should meet the families your child will be babysitting for, and find out what the environment in their home is like.  More

Yard Work

Smiling girl working in garden
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In addition to lawn mowing, children can help out with other yard work that homeowners need. Various tasks could include raking leaves, spreading mulch, or planting flowers. In winter months, shoveling snow is a great way to earn some quick cash. 

Again, be sure you know any neighbors your child is working for, and whether they are physically up to the tasks. If your child is going to be handling machinery like a lawnmower, make sure they know how to operate it safely. More

Dog Walker

Girl walking dog
Getty Images/Paul Plews

Dogs need to get out for exercise all year long, and often homeowners are at work from nine-to-five. Make sure that your child feels comfortable with pets and doesn't have any allergies before they take them for a walk the first time. Ideally, they have some experience with animals before taking a job walking dogs. And be sure you know and are comfortable with the route your child will take on his walks. Of course, kids also need to understand that walking a dog also implies cleaning up after the dog does its business! More

House and Pet Sitter

Caucasian boy opening mailbox
Getty Images/Kevin Dodge

Responsibilities typically include stopping by a neighbor's house to feed an animal a few times per day while the owners are away. In addition, they can also offer to bring in the newspaper or mail and water any houseplants. This is not a casual job: pets and plants will not survive if your child gets distracted and forgets to stop by.

You'll want to make sure you know any houses where your child will be performing tasks, and be familiar with the homeowners. More


Schoolgirls doing homework on stairs outside
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If your child is strong in a given subject at school, he or she may be able to help younger children who are struggling. A teacher should be able to assess whether your child is mature enough to handle teaching younger kids, and offer connections to kids in need. While some kids are natural teachers, others need some coaching in how to listen actively and provide learners with the stepping stones they need to succeed.

Match the Child to the Job

You know your own child. That means you have a pretty good idea of whether a job is right for him or her. Some 12-year-olds are more than ready to change a diaper, show up even when it's raining, and put away equipment properly. Others may need more time to mature. The important thing is to help your child choose a job they can do well and enjoy doing.