Six ways for teens to make money during summer vacation

Looking for a way to make money during summer vacation? Check out these six ways jobs that teens can do before they head back to school.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Lifeguard Tam Duong stands watch at the Mirabella public swimming pool in Boston, Massachusetts. Being a lifeguard is one way for teenagers to earn money during summer vacation.

School's out for summer, now it's time to get a job! 

Yeah, I know. Whether you're in high school or college, spending the summer working doesn't seem like a very attractive proposition. Why work when you can sleep until noon every day, play video games until your eyes fall out, or cover yourself in baby oil and get burnt to a crisp in your back yard? One word, guys: money.

Wondering what kinds of jobs will hire you just for the summer? Never fear, here are my top 6 ways for students to make money over summer (and winter!) break:

1. Lifeguarding

Lifeguarding jobs are great for students because they pay well (My lowest hourly rate was $9/hour, and that was in 2006--my first summer on the job. My highest was $14/hour.), have flexible hours, and usually hire seasonally. Other perks include getting to spend time outside, swimming on your breaks, and having the ability to secretly check out your crush in their bathing suit through a pair of dark sunglasses.

Of course, lifeguarding is hard work, and it isn't good for someone who's just in it for the tan. I saved a lot of people over my 6-year lifeguarding career, so you have to be both mentally and physically prepared for that. It's not easy for a 16-year-old girl to pull a flailing 200-pound man out from the murky waters of a lake, but with enough training and practice, I am living proof that it can be done (as are the many people I rescued).

Throughout high school and college, I worked during the summer as a lifeguard at both a city beach and a country club pool, and in the winter I picked up some shifts at my local YWCA. Most lifeguards are high school or college kids, and because they eventually move away, go back to college or get other jobs, there's usually a pretty high rate of turnover at most pools and beaches. This means it's fairly easy to get a lifeguarding job, as long as you're certified and responsible.

Another reason to become a lifeguard? Swimming lessons. If you like kids and don't mind getting splashed a lot, swimming lessons are a great way to earn extra money. I taught swimming lessons for three summers at the country club pool, and got paid about $17/hour doing it. Some parents liked me so much I ended up teaching their kids privately, which paid even better.

The Red Cross offers lifeguarding classes for about $200, and while that might seem steep, it seriously pays for itself once you've got a job.

2. Nannying

When I wasn't busy sunning myself and diving to save rouge swimmers, I played nanny to various neighborhood children. I babysat casually in high school, but when I came home for winter break as a college freshman, I wanted something a little more stable and lucrative. I asked my mom for a list of the parents of young kids in our neighborhood, and sent a mass email to all of them offering myself up as a full-time babysitter, which I've included here as a template if you're interested in doing something similar:

Hi everyone!

For those of you who don't know me, I am Micheal and Rebecca's daughter Caroline. I'm nineteen years old and a freshman at the University of Vermont. I will be coming home for the holidays in two weeks, and would love to do some babysitting in the neighborhood. I know your children probably have winter breaks that are 2-3 weeks long, but most of you working adults do not that much time off. If any of you need someone to watch and/or entertain your kids while they're out of school, look no further! I love children, and I've been babysitting since I was twelve years old.

I am both lifeguard and CPR certified, and I not only know how to cook, I also like doing it! I will be available starting the 22nd of December until the 9th of January. I can work on weekdays or weekends, basically whenever you need me. I charge between $10 and $12 per hour, depending on the number of children--but this is flexible, so please call me even if this is higher than you usually pay.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, please e-mail me back, and please also feel free to pass my name and contact information on to people who aren't on this list but might need a babysitter.

Thanks a lot!


I got way more replies than I expected to, and I worked pretty much full time for the entire month I was home. Once summer vacation rolled around, I got back in touch with the families I'd worked for in the winter, and ended up nannying for them all summer as well.

For a high school or college student who is good with kids and genuinely enjoys their company, babysitting is a great option for a fun summer job that will pay well and teach you some serious life skills. Nothing makes you grow up faster than having to calm down a screaming toddler in the middle of a grocery store, or tell a six-year-old girl her pet hamster isn't actually sleeping. But if you do your job well and the kids really like you, a lot of parents will dish out random bonuses. I once left a 5 hour job with $100 in my pocket, because the mother of my young charge loved the DIY game board I came up with to keep him occupied on a TV-free rainy day.

While it's certainly hard work, I absolutely loved hanging out with those kids, and wouldn't take a second of it back. To be honest writing about it now is making me super sad and nostalgic, not only do I miss those little boogers, but they're, like, TEENAGERS now. Good lord.

3. Doggy (or Kitty!) Daycare

So maybe you don't have the patience to spend 8 hours a day herding around small children, but who doesn't love adorable fuzzy animals? Whether your soft spot is for dogs, cats, hamsters or geckos, you can use the same mass email tactic I use to get babysitting jobs, and offer up yourself as a dog walker, pet groomer, or full-time pet sitter!

Lots of families go on vacation in the summer and need someone trustworthy to take care of their pets while they're away. Usually this kind of gig runs around $10-$50/day, depending on how many animals are in your care, and involves either staying at the house, or stopping by a few times a day to take the pet on walks, feed them, and maybe do a little snuggling while you're at it. This is a pretty easy job, so make sure you don't ruin your chances of getting another one by throwing a party or making a mess.

Another way to make money without having to wait for pet owners to go on vacation is to start up a dog walking business. You can charge by walk (usually $10-$20 to start off with) or by hour, and if you've got the upper body strength for it, you can walk multiple dogs at a time and make good money. This is a great way to spend time outside in the summer, get some good exercise and hang out with excited pups--a win-win-win as far as I'm concerned.

Last but not least, if you have a knack for getting your pet's fur soft, shiny and free of mats, start up a pet grooming business! See what professional groomers in your area are charging, and price your services a little below that. Summertime for dogs and outdoor cats means more mud to roll in, more poo to step in, and more fur that needs to be trimmed to keep them cool and comfortable. If you can offer a cheap and effective way to keep the pets in your area clean and cuddle-friendly, you can make a killing.

4. Landscaping

One of my least favorite chores as a kid was mowing our gigantic double lot. It took over an hour, and left me sweaty and smelling like a gas can for days, no matter how many times I showered. Luckily, when I was about 15, a neighbor boy rang the doorbell and offered himself as a once-a-week lawn mower, and my dad accepted, no doubt happy to be rid of my incessant complaints.

Neighbor boy had a pretty sweet business going on our block. Every Sunday, he'd mow our lawn and the lawns of at least five other families in the surrounding area. My dad gave him $25 a pop, so assuming he charged the same to everyone, he was making about $150 every Sunday. This is pretty good gig for a high school kid, but it wouldn't be hard to transform into a full time job. Mowing lawns is just the tip of the iceberg--you can trim hedges, rake leaves, pull weeds, plant trees, pour mulch and more. In the winter, you can shovel snow, salt driveways, and us

To start your own summer landscaping business, just make a list of stuff you can do and go knock on doors around your neighborhood. Chances are you'll find a lot of people when need the services you're offering, and if you do a good job the first time, they'll think of you the next time they want something done.

5. Home Improvement

Much like landscaping, taking on your neighbors home improvement projects is a great way for students to earn money, spend time outdoors and gain some useful life skills.

When we were in high school, my dad enlisted my friend Peter's help in repainting our front porch, putting up a new back fence, installing and uninstalling our storm windows, and even re-shingling the roof. My dad liked hanging out with him, so he'd ask for his help on stuff even if he had no prior experience with it. He was paid handsomely, and he learned a lot about home improvement in the process. What's not to love?

6. Wait Tables

I truly believe that everyone should work a service industry job at some point in their life, and what better time to start than as a high school or college student? Serving jobs are good for students because they're fast-paced, teach invaluable social skills, and are often hiring.

I worked as a waitress during my junior year of college and while it was stressful, it was also very fun. I made a lot of friends, and learned how to tactfully deal with rude people with a big smile on my face, a skill I will cherish for the rest of my life. While the base pay isn't great (minimum wage if you're lucky, often even less), I cleaned up in tips, and--especially if I worked a Friday or Saturday night--I often went home with $100-$200 cash in my pocket.

If you're friendly, quick on your feet, have decent balance (I struggled with this, TBH), want free or discounted food and don't mind working weekends, consider applying at all the restaurants in your neighborhood!

It's worth noting that in 2015, if you don't live in a neighborhood like mine where everyone knows each other, you can use sites like TaskRabbit and to connect you with people looking for babysitters, handymen (and women), and pet groomers. And if you'd rather do your work from the comfort of your own home, that's a possibility too! I wrote an article last week about 9 legitimate ways you can make money from home, and except for the first item (renting out your home with Airbnb, something I don't think your parents would be too excited about), they're all great options for part-time summer gigs that don't require you to leave your bed.

This article first appeared on Brad's Deals.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Six ways for teens to make money during summer vacation
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today