Pros and Cons of Holding a Job While in High School

High school students often work as barista.

There are different schools of thought on whether teenagers should have part-time jobs. Even though nearly 30% of high school students hold a job for at least a portion of the school year(1), working at such a young age involves important risks.

This article lists the arguments of both sides to help you make a well-informed decision.

Pros of working in high school

  • You earn money. Being a student usually means having little or no money.  So when it comes to making money as a student, every little bit helps.
  • You gain job experience. Having a first job will be a boost to your resume even if it’s not in your field of study. It shows employers that you are dedicated and accustomed to the professional world.
  • You learn time management. Weighing priorities is an essential life skill that working students learn to master; Otherwise, they will not complete all the tasks on time.
  • You learn the value of money. As a high school student, you are young and often struggle with budgeting. When you earn your first salary, you will become more cautious about how you spend your hard-earned money.
  • You contribute to society. Helping other people will help you garner a sense of accomplishment that studying can’t bring you.
  • You develop interpersonal skills. Many part-time jobs involve collaboration with different types of people, and interpersonal skills are vital to make this happen. So it is a great opportunity to develop some basic skills like receptiveness to feedback or relationship management.

Cons of working in high school

  • You cut your childhood short. Once we start working, we will usually work for the rest of our lives. Most people often remember high school as the last time they were free from the burden of work. This is what childhood is all about.
  • You might become more stressed. High school can be a very stressful time in itself. Taking on a part-time job while pursuing a degree just rubs salt into the wound.
  • It reduces your free time. There are only 24 hours in a day. Working part-time as a student means that you will have less time to get involved in extracurricular activities.
  • It might have a negative impact on your grades. As mentioned on our page The Effects of Part-Time Jobs on Grades, working over 15 hours a week significantly hurts academic performance.
  • Entry-level jobs are tough. As a high school student, you do not have a lot of skills. So chances are you will end up doing the tasks that no one else wants to do. This could give you a negative impression of employment.

Should I work while in high school?

Getting a job isn’t a decision you should take lightly.

As we have seen, working while in high school has a lot of benefits, but it also involves important risks. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before taking your decision:

  • What is my current stress level?
  • Do I have too much free time?
  • What are the benefits of holding this job?
  • Am I struggling at school?
  • Do I want to dedicate many hours a week working a part-time job?

If you are still undecided, it could be a good idea to start with a summer job. Summer jobs do not interfere with school, and it can be a good test to see if you have what it takes to work during the school year.


  1. J. Davis, School Enrollment and Work Status, U.S. Census Bureau

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