What's the Minimum Legal Working Age in Missouri?

Working can be a learning tool for youth

Boy farmer feeding cows in dairy farm field
Boy farmer feeding cows in dairy farm field. Getty Images/Stanton j Stephens

If you live in Missouri and can't wait to start your first job, you need to find out what the minimum legal working age in your state is. Do you qualify to get a job? If you do, expect your foray into the workforce to teach you life skills, such as teamwork, reliability, conflict resolution, problem-solving and punctuality.

You'll also set goals about what to use your new income for--be it for books, video games, music, a car or college expenses.

Soon, you can join the masses and sing along to Elvis Costello's "Welcome to the Working Week" to a new crop of workers.

How Old Must You Be to Work in Missouri?

Both federal child labor laws and Missouri law agree that the minimum age to work is 14 (but there are exceptions). But child labor laws in each state may also indicate the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. When there is a contradiction between federal and state laws, the more restrictive law will apply.

Children younger than 14 may work in some capacities, such as casual work. This could include doing yard work or household chores for a neighbor. Children are also allowed to work in the entertainment industry in careers such as acting, singing, dancing or playing an instrument. Child labor laws generally do not restrict children from working on a family farm or in a family business under the direct supervision of their parents.

So, for tweens and kids hoping to score extra cash, the situation isn't dire.

Before youth begin their jobs, it is important to review the rules and restrictions surrounding child labor laws, especially if they want to work in more official capacities as they age.

Certificates Needed

Missouri state law requires child employment certificates for youth under age 16.

Employment certificates are provided by the school. Also, youth younger than 18 will be provided with an age certificate by request, but it is not required under Missouri state law.

When Can Teens Work?

Although teens ages 14-15 can work in a variety of jobs, including in janitorial, food service, offices or vehicle cleaning occupations, the hours they work are limited. Youth this age are prohibited from working more than three hours per school day, eight hours on non-school days or 40 hours during a non-school week. During summers, however, they may not work more than six days in a row.

Moreover, these teens must work hours that fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when working hours extend to 9 p.m.) Missouri child labor laws do not apply to teens ages 16-17.

Teens may not work in hazardous occupations that might cause serious bodily harm, death or adverse health effects such as those involving power tools or radioactive substances.

For more information on the minimum age to work in Missouri and how to obtain employment certificates, visit the Missouri State Labor Website.