Everything you need to know about how to get a work permit for minors in US

Are you under 18 and intend to start working? If yes, this article will explain everything you need to know about how to get a work permit for minors in the US.

The United States government regulates minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor through the Fair Labor Standard Acts (FLSA). In addition, it is the responsibility of the FLSA to set out the category of jobs suitable for minors – those under 18 – and the duration of hours which these minors can work. However, Federal law has not made it compulsory for minors to obtain a work permit at 14 even though many states have made that a requirement.

By implication, minors who are looking for jobs or employers who are looking for a hiring need to check with the specific laws of the state or region playing host to them.

Child Labor and the Fair Labor Standards Act

It is the job of the FLSA to regulate the type of jobs that minors can be involved in. Basically, they consider the age of these minors and the nature of the work they are about to engage in.


In general, the provisions of the FLSA are:

  • minors who are at least 16 years old can do any type of work unless it is considered hazardous, and
  • those who are 14 or 15 years old are allowed to do some jobs with limited hours.


According to the Secretary of Labor, jobs that are considered hazardous involve:

  • mining
  • slaughtering and meat packing
  • explosives work or excavating activities
  • operating certain power-driven machines and tools
  • wrecking and demolition activities
  • manufacturing tile and brick, and
  • roofing activities.

Furthermore, there are special rules that apply to minors working in the agricultural sector. For example, minors are not allowed to work on farms not belonging to their parents during school days. If they have to work during the said days, express permission is required of the parents.


Does the FLSA Apply to All Child Labor?

There are some exceptions as not all minors are covered by the FLSA. Exceptions exist for:

  • newspaper carriers
  • child performers or actors
  • children under the age of 16 doing nonhazardous work for their parents, and
  • children younger than 16 involved in apprenticeships and training programs.


What is a Work Permit?

Most states in America have it that children under the age of 18 must obtain a work permit in order to be legally employed. The primary aim of this work permit for minors is to ensure that the individual is not under-aged and is also physically fit to work.

Due to variations in state laws, work permits generally consist of either an employment certificate, age declaration, or both.

With an employment certificate, it is certified that a minor meets the criteria for employment set by the state, which might include a medical clearance from a doctor. On the other hand, an age certificate would normally be required as proof of the minor’s age.

What is the Minimum Age for Work?

For most nonagricultural work, the FLSA states that the minimum age requirement for work is 14. Little wonder this article is focused on how to get a work permit at 14. There are exceptions for jobs such as babysitting, domestic chores, newspaper deliveries, and a few other jobs.

The hourly duration depends on the age of the minor. In addition, the hours vary based on school days as well as between June 1 and Labor Day.

Additionally, different states have different labor laws for minors with regard to their age and the number of hours allowed to work. Hence, you will need to check with your State Department of Labor for more information on this.

How to Get a Work Permit at 14

If you are a minor and need working papers, your school guidance office should be your first stop. You can also visit the state department of Labor to get the working papers.

If you want to know whether you can obtain certification from your school, the Department of Labor, or both, you can check the list of State Labor Laws.

What are the Required Documents?

The requirements vary from one state to another. Generally, here’s what you will need to get a work permit at 14:

  • Obtain working papers/certificate applications from your school or state Department of Labor.
  • Obtain a medical certificate of fitness from your doctor. You may need to have had a physical examination within the last year.
  • Bring the completed application with proof of age (copy of birth certificate, school identification, school record, driver’s license, or another document that has your age on it) to either your school or state Department of Labor.
  • You will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to submit the papers and sign the application. Also, they may need to be present when you are obtaining the papers.
  • You will need to give information such as your full name, birth date, grade completed, parents’/guardians’ name, etc. However, note that this requirement varies according to state.
  • Most certificates expire after a given duration of time, mostly about a year.
  • You are free to request a duplicate copy from the issuance office if you happen to misplace your working papers.


As a teenager that is looking for opportunities in the working world, one of the best places you should start is by taking a look at relevant government rules on the YouthRules! website.

One thing is for sure, different employers have their ages and our requirements as long as these laws do not contradict state or federal laws. For instance, you may not be able to work at a fast food joint (with a minimum age requirement of 16) even if you look mature as a 15-year-old.

Finally, the internet has paved the way for more teenagers to be hunting for jobs online. However, it is advisable that you take a visit to the company you want to work for and talk with the manager about prospects and job openings.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you work legally at 14 in the US?

Generally, the FLSA sets 14 years as the minimum employment age. In addition, federal laws place a limit on the number of hours minors under the age of 16 can work.

Who is eligible for a work permit in the US?

In order to be eligible for a work permit in the United States, you will need either an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa allowing you to stay and live in the US. Having a permanent resident is not a requirement for getting a work permit.

Does a 14-year-old need a work permit in Texas?

Children under the age of 14 are required to have a work permit before getting employment in Texas.

How can a 14-year-old work in New York?

Minors aged 14-17 definitely require working papers prior to employment in New York State.

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