As a business consultant who has helped dozens of tweens start their first small business, I highly recommend 12 as the perfect age to begin earning an income. The preteen years are a time for building responsibility, money management skills, and an entrepreneurial spirit.
While a 12 year old can’t yet work a formal part-time job, there are still plenty of ways for them to make money with just a little creativity and effort. I‘ve compiled this list of my top ten favorite gigs for 12 year olds based on earnings potential, flexibility, and invaluable lessons learned.
1. Dog Walker
Helping neighbors by walking their dogs is a classic starter job for tweens. As a dog lover myself, I think this is one of the most fun and rewarding options.
Estimated Earnings: $10-20 per 30 minute walk
Skills Needed: Animal handling, customer service, scheduling/time management
Pros: Get exercise, play with pets, work independently
Cons: Need strength/confidence to handle dogs safely; limited to neighborhood
Tips for Success: Market your services around the neighborhood with flyers and word of mouth. Offer doggy pampering extras like brushing and waste cleanup for higher rates.
Walking dogs teaches responsibility, organization, and small business marketing 101. With just a few regular dog walking gigs, your child can easily net $100 or more per month.
2. Lawn Mowing
Landscaping is hard work, but 12 is a great age to start building muscles while earning cash mowing neighborhood lawns. Invest in a used mower and watch the summer job opportunities open up.
Estimated Earnings: $20-50 per lawn
Skills Needed: Yard care, equipment safety, customer service
Pros: Build strength and discipline through active work
Cons: Physically demanding, seasonal income
Tips for Success: Strike while the grass is high in early summer. Offer package deals on mulching, edging, and spring/fall cleanup too.
Learning to start a mower, trim a straight edge, and make yards look pristine takes care and diligence. Your tween will gain confidence handling grown-up tools and making properties beautiful.
3. Pet Sitting
For animal lovers who would rather cuddle pets inside than walk them, pet sitting can be the perfect fit.
Estimated Earnings: $10-30 per day
Skills Needed: Animal care, home responsibility, scheduling
Pros: Play with and care for pets, earn daily
Cons: Feeding/cleaning up after animals; home security concerns
Tips for Success: Offer pet sleepover services when neighbors travel. Provide regular check-ins on cats and exotic pets too.
Pet sitting is a crash-course in running a home based business caring for (and cleaning up after!) furry clients. For teens who bond easily with animals, it’s a dream job.
4. Lemonade Stand
This iconic neighborhood business lets budding entrepreneurs test their customer service and marketing abilities close to home.
Estimated Earnings: $20-50 in a day
Skills Needed: Planning, money management, sales
Pros: Low start-up costs, socialize with community
Cons: Limited hours; weather and foot traffic risks
Tips for Success: Experiment with signs, cups, price points. Add baked goods and snacks to boost profits.
Even in our digital world, there’s magic in watching your child run their own curbside operation. They’ll practice math skills, product presentation, and most importantly, turning creativity into cash.
5. Yard Sale Assistant
For a flexible short-term gig, tweens can offer to help neighbors run their next garage or yard sale for an hour or two.
Estimated Earnings: $10-20 per hour
Skills Needed: Organization, sales, heavy lifting
Pros: Earn quick cash, no long-term gig
Cons: Temporary work, early weekend hours
Tips for Success: Provide excellent customer service by greeting shoppers, monitoring inventory and prices. Offer to haul unsold items to donation centers afterward.
Learning the inner workings of yard sale setup, merchandising, and clean up is terrific training for future retail roles. You’ll love seeing their pride at contributing.
6. House Cleaner
With attention to detail and some supplies, cleaning neighbors‘ homes can pay nicely.
Estimated Earnings: $10-20 per hour
Skills Needed: Housekeeping, time management, cleaning
Pros: Gain domestic skills, earn with each job
Cons: Hard physical labor, limited clientele
Tips for Success: Start by assisting parents then offer to tackle other cleaning tasks like window washing or scrubbing outdoor furniture.
This is solid experience in operating a home service business as your preteen learns how to transform messy into sparkling clean. With a few steady clients, they can quickly grow their wages.
7. Website or Blog Assistant
If your tween loves technology and social media, they can earn by helping less web-savvy adults manage their sites.
Estimated Earnings: $10-25 per hour based on skills
Skills Needed: Writing, content creation, WordPress
Pros: Gain digital/marketing experience
Cons: Requires specialized skills, active learning
Tips for Success: Study web design on free learning platforms. Offer to help update sites or improve SEO performance.
This resume booster allows them to flex their technical muscles for real business clients. Valuable digital marketing skills can open doors down the road.
Whether they excel at math, science, music or languages, tutoring uses your child’s natural strengths to earn money.
Estimated Earnings: $10-20 per hour
Skills Needed: Teaching ability, knowledge of school subjects, patience
Pros: Share knowledge, help others succeed
Cons: Scheduling sessions, limited subjects
Tips for Success: If your tween has a specialty, print up flyers and offer group classes or private tutoring. Teaching friends just a grade below is a great way to start.
Nothing builds confidence like guiding fellow students through academic material you’ve already mastered. It’s impressive professional experience at any age.
9. Errand Runner
For tweens who love bikes and being on the go, running errands for neighbors can be the ideal flexible gig.
Estimated Earnings: $5-15 per errand
Skills Needed: Time management, responsibility, fitness
Pros: Great for active kids, make your own hours
Cons: Limited earnings per errand; you may spend more on transportation if driving
Tips for Success: Offer additional services like grocery shopping and dry cleaning drop-off/pickup. Be ready to provide receipts showing expenses.
This is a super way for energetic kids to get exercise while also helping others and making money. You can feel good knowing they‘re safely pedaling around your community.
10. Crafts Sales
Tap into your child’s creative side by having them design homemade crafts and goods to sell on Etsy, at local fairs, or to friends.
Estimated Earnings: $5-20 per item
Skills Needed: Creativity, ability to make quality handmade goods
Pros: Money from doing something they love
Cons: Time investment designing and producing items
Tips for Success: Encourage them to brainstorm personalized creations they’re passionate about, then help them set up an Etsy shop to get sales online.
Nurturing a tween’s entrepreneurial spirit and creative confidence is invaluable. Offer support as they turn their artistic vision into profitable products.
The preteen and tween years represent the perfect window for your 12 year old to start flexing their money-making muscles. Small businesses like the ones above let them safely begin building the skills that entrepreneurs rely on every day.
More importantly, taking the initiative to earn an income cultivates responsibility and self-reliance. Starting as young as 12 develops financial capability that will serve them the rest of their lives. And chipping in their own earnings often makes kids value money and possessions differently too.
As a parent and business consultant, I highly recommend encouraging your tween to begin their professional journey with a first job this year. The experience of running their own small business or providing services teaches so much more than just earning cash. Support their dreams of making money doing what they love most, even if it’s starting small with just neighborhood clients.
With a little creativity and hustle as an entrepreneur-in-training, your 12 year old can gain confidence and business savvy well before entering the grown-up working world.