Finding a job at 16

Young woman working in cafe

Your guide to getting work that works for you

At 16 and as a school leaver, you're finally old enough to do a full-time job. Or maybe you'd like a weekend job to help support yourself while you're in further education.

Either way, there are lots of options around. There are a lot of casual jobs that need few qualifications and are perfect for earning some spending money. 

And if you're after a more permanent job, there are a number of career paths and further training courses that can kickstart your career. For more information on these, have a look at our Apprenticeships section.

How to find places that are hiring

One of the easiest ways to a get a first job is through contacts. Ask relatives or friends of relatives if they know of vacancies in their place of work. This works especially well in retail, where a recommendation from a relative may be enough to skip the interview process.

Another easy way is to go into every shop in town and ask if they are accepting CVs or if you can have an application form. Many shops recruit extra staff in November for Christmas, and this can be a good gateway into a more permanent position.

Failing that, check the websites of every shop or library or hotel you can think of, and take a look at their vacancies section. Bookmark them, and return every so often. Also look in local papers, and websites of local papers.

Jobsites have search and filters so you can look for things like part-time work in retail or catering. 

Job centres have a large number of vacancies and these turnover fairly quickly, so there are always jobs to apply for. There are also a number of jobs on Gumtree. They tend to go very quickly, but are good for bar or waitering work.

TSR member faloodeh, who is 17 and works in a restaurant, recommends plenty of places where you can look for work, saying: "My friends work at Schuh, corner shops, Dominos Pizza, Nandos, The White Company, McDonalds, Selfridges, Debenhams, independant restaurants, chain restaurants, Starbucks, Michael Kors, Wagamama, Yo Sushi etc.

"I know you can work in Asda, Lidl, Tesco, Costa, Waitrose, Chipotle aswell."

UCAS has career advice for young people here.

Young woman working in cafe

Summer jobs

Some 16-year-olds just want a summer job to help them earn some money before starting college or an apprenticehip.

You could work at a shop, a restaurant, a tourist attraction, a festival or summer school... the options are endless.

For advice on how to secure a summer job, go to our ultimate summer job guide.

Jobs that don't require many qualifications

You might want to try the following, as they all involve work you can do with few or no qualifications.

  • Delivering newspapers and leaflets
  • Working in a shop, including stacking shelves
  • Working in a café or restaurant as a waiter
  • Working in hotels
  • Data entry
  • Babysitting
  • Dogwalking

OwlOfFire suggests: "Try any holiday sites near you. I know people who do glass collecting who are 15. How about working in a dog kennel walking dogs or cleaning out cats at a cattery (if you don't mind animals that is).
Are there any farms near you, I know a lot of people get a job as a farm hand."

How many hours can you work at 16?

Once you're 16 and have left school you can work full-time, which is a maximum of eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

You can start full-time employment as soon as you leave school, which is the last Friday of June in the year you turn 16. 

Usually, you will not be able to work between 10pm and 6am.

Until you're 18, you must:

  • Stay in full-time education, for example at college
  • Start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Spend at least 20 hours working or volunteering while in part-time education or training

If you're going to stay in full-time education, retail and hospitality are good fields to choose, because employers can be more flexible on what hours you work so you can fit it around your studies.

Waiter at till in restaurant

What is minimum wage for 16-year-olds?

16- and 17-year-olds in work are entitled to a minimum wage of £4.35 per hour.

See Citizens Advice's website to check your rights at work if you're under 18.

dragonkeeper999 said: "When getting retail jobs, it's generally better to go into your local store and hand your CV in – they are not always advertised online. Make sure you ask to hand your CV (and covering letter if you write one) directly to the manager, otherwise the checkout assistant will just chuck it in the bin.

"Make sure you are well dressed and prepare for a few questions in case they give you a mini interview there and then."

And wtfCharlie said: "Best bet is little shops, like one-off, eg cafes. Big chains tend to prefer older/more experience. I got a job in a sandwich shop at 16, and then worked up, eventually got a job in a chain shop. Online may be where you're going wrong – the kind of little shops that'll hire younger are the kind of shops that won't advertise online, get out there and give out some CVs."

'I don't need the money. What's in it for me?'

Even if you can survive without the extra money, getting some work experience will come in useful later on when you're filling in CVs or UCAS form for university.

A regular part-time job shows that you can juggle commitments and are responsible enough to hold down a job. It shows persistence, team work, ability to speak to people you don't know. You'll also pick up key skills that aren't taught at school, and all these are looked at favourably by employers and admissions staff.

If you don't want a part-time job, you could check out our our volunteering Wiki and volunteering forum.

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