What Are the Best Summer Jobs?

Jun 14, 2013

School’s out for summer! On summer break from high school or college? Or maybe you’re just not interested in a typical 8-5 position. We’ve put together some summer job options that’ll help you earn some extra cash while still keeping your schedule free for lots of BBQ, beach and late night fun.

lifeguard summer job

Classic Summer Jobs

The jobs we’ve listed below are classic summer jobs, perfect for putting some money in your pocket without taking up all of your free time.

Camp Counselor

If you’re good with children, being a camp counselor can be a great summer job. Where else do you get paid to play dodge ball, go canoeing and jump down muddy slip-n-slides? The pay usually isn’t great (a median wage of $306/wk for day camp counselors), but the friendships, memories and impact you can make on the kids’ lives make it a very rewarding job.


After a long school year sitting at desks, students are ready to get out in sun and swim. Lifeguards are onsite at most public pools, lakes and parks to make sure swimmers stay safe. Being a lifeguard usually requires at least an American Red Cross CPR for the Professional Rescuer (CPRO) certificate and First Aid certifications. In most cases, you only have to be on the lifeguard stand for about 20 minutes out of every hour of your shift. This helps ensure you're alert and prepared when you're "on duty." Off 40 minutes of every hour with time to soak up the sun? If you’re a strong swimmer, then a summer stint as a lifeguard isn’t a bad option!

Restaurant Server

Waiting tables during summertime is a great way to fine tune a lot of transferrable skills. Customer service, patience, memorization and the ability to balance multiple orders will serve you well, regardless of your future career plans. If you work at the right restaurant and establish rapport with the customers, your tips can make this one of the more lucrative jobs on the list. One thing to keep in mind; you will have to work nights and weekends to make decent money.

Retail Positions

Other than the paycheck, the biggest benefit to working in retail during the summer is the discount. (Tip: work at a store where you like to shop and you’ll get some of favorite items for a discount!) The summer is actually one of the slower parts of the year for retail, at least until September. But keep in mind, that like food services, you will probably be asked to work nights and weekends.

Movie Theaters

There’s a reason theaters talk about summer blockbusters – all of the year’s biggest movies come out this season. If you’re a movie buff, it may be worth the low pay to get free popcorn and movie tickets. Whether you’re selling tickets or refreshments, running the projector, or sweeping the floors, the job itself can be pretty dull. Quickly making some friends on staff will help the time go by much faster.

Work for Yourself

If you’re interested in the entrepreneurial route, why wait to get started? Start small during the summer to minimize overhead and begin to learn those important life lessons. Here are a few simple ways you can work for yourself this summer:

Dog Sitter/Dog Walker

People love their pets. If you’re an animal lover, being a dog sitter or dog walker may be the role to pursue. Begin by asking neighbors and friends if they’re interested in your services. This type of business will teach you all about organization and logistics.

Baby Sitter/Nanny

If you prefer children to animals, becoming a babysitter or a nanny is a great option. As a babysitter, you will need to make sure that you stay busy and score enough jobs each week to make the money you need for fall. A nanny, unlike a babysitter, typically works with one family all summer.


If you consider yourself an academic, tutoring may be perfect for you. You can set your own schedule and establish your hourly wage. Parents can hire you to come over to their house and help the kids with the school subjects that are causing concern.

Lawn Care

You can help make sure your friends’ and neighbors’ yards are properly maintained by offering lawn care and landscaping services in your area. Plus you get to spend time outside in the sunshine! Of course, you want to make sure that you have the skills and tools you need to perform lawn work properly.

Gain Some Experience


Need professional experience? Looking to get a jump-start on your career? If you have a career goal in mind but need some experience, an internship is the best thing you can do. Internships are unique because they provide you with an out-of-classroom experience in a field you study. By getting started while you’re a student or recent graduate, you are learning skills that many won’t have the opportunity to learn until they land their first “real job.”

Keep in mind that not all internships are paid. Some offer only college credit, while others pay an hourly wage or stipend too. Still others are strictly for the experience. Do your research and make sure you intern with an organization that will help you obtain skills that you’ll need in the future. Work hard and make a good impression. Who knows, it may even turn into a full-time, year-round position!