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Age Requirements for Employment

The Child labor law, enacted by the Federal Government, restricts when children can work and what jobs they can do. Teens hired for nonagricultural employment (which is just about everything other than farm work) must be at least fourteen. Other restrictions also apply:

Ages 14 and 15:
During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. During the summer when there is no school, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are also limits on how late you can work, too - not after 7 p.m. during the school year and not after 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. In both cases a teen may not begin work before 7 a.m.

Ages 16 and 17:
There's no limit on hours, but, if you're under 18 you can't work in a job that the Labor Department considers hazardous. Detailed information on the occupations determined to be hazardous by the Secretary is available from the local Wage and Hour Division offices of the Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration.

In some states, you may need to obtain working papers (officially Certificates of Age) in order to legally be able to work if you're under 16 or 18, depending on the state. Click here to look up the requirements for your state.  The best place to obtain working papers is your school guidance office. If your school does not have the forms, they will probably direct you to your local Department of Labor office. 

Ages 18 and over:
Teens 18 and over are no longer subject to the federal youth employment and child labor law provisions.