Legal Age to Work in California

Minimum Age to Work in CA

California (CA) Quick Reference Table

AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Must have a permit to work, and employers must have a Permit to Employ.
16-17Must have a permit to work, and employers must have a Permit to Employ.
18-20May not work in any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Work in California?

Though 12 and 13 year olds can mow lawns, deliver newspapers and babysit, California labor laws allow job seekers between the ages of 14 and 17 to obtain legal employment The state also places conditions on the age and education level minors must have to pursue certain types of work.

California Child Labor Laws

California Work Permit Regulations
In general, , any individual under the age of 18 must obtain a work permit before starting work, though work authorization is unnecessary for emancipated minors. If they choose to pursue work that will require them to miss school, they may also need the approval of the labor commissioner. Students often get a work permit application from their school, provided their grades and attendance is up to par. Once school is out, however, minors must figure out how to get a work permit in the summer before they can join the workforce.

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

Yes. California state law mandates that all minors have a work permit before gaining employment.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

Minors can find work permit applications on the Department of Industrial Relations or California Department of Education websites.

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?
    • Print a “Statement of Intent to Employ a Minor and Request for a Work Permit” application from the webpage, or get a hard copy from a local board of education office.
    • Underage hopefuls and their legal guardian must complete the form before giving it to a potential employer
      • This employer must possess a valid “Permit to Employ and Work” certificate, allowing them to legally hire minors.
    • The employer must complete the form before submitting it to the Labor Commissioner for approval.

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Hours Restrictions

How many hours can a 14 or 15 year old work?
Workers between ages 14 and 15 may work three hours on school days and a combined 18 hours per week during the school year. These teens can work between 7:00am and 7:00pm, though they can only work outside of school hours. Minors under 16 can work up to eight hours per day for a total of 40 hours a week.

How many hours can a 16 or 17 year old work?
Older teenagers enjoy fewer restrictions on their work schedules. They are able to perform job tasks for four hours on school days and eight hours on weekendsvfor up to 48 hours per week. Minors aged 16 and 17 can work between 5:00am and 10:00pm, or as late as 12:30am on ono-school nights.

Jobs Available to California Minors

What kind of jobs can minors work?
In order to avoid placing teenagers in hazardous work environments, federal law limits the types of employment accessible to minors. These jobs may involve operating dangerous machinery, delivery or transportation tasks, or food handling positions for minors under 16.

Acceptable tasks typically include:

  • Cashiering
  • Basic food preparation
  • Stocking shelves
  • Cleaning tasks
  • Retail

source: California child labor laws
source: California labor law pamphlet


  • jade fisser says:

    I’m only 14 years old and im trying to find a job if i can at the moment. Do my school grades have anything to do with getting my work permit?

    • Aryanna says:

      I’m 13 years old and I don’t know how to get a work permit. Also, am I old enough to work anywhere?

      • samantha haraway says:

        14 is the age where more jobs may become available to you but im sure you can find something if you really look.

      • Charles says:

        no, you have to be 14 to work

    • samantha haraway says:

      Yes! There is a required grade standard to meet in order to obtain a work permit.

  • isaiah jeremy says:

    How do you get a permit to work? I’m 16 and don’t understand how to get one.

    • Mallory Morales says:

      you can usually get one through your school. Check with your counselor or whoever you’d talk to about personal stuff

  • Ariana Del Toro says:

    I don’t understand, how do you get a work permit?

    • Hannah Small says:

      Usually your school will have one available on their website. If not speak to your principle or another staff member.

  • kayla says:

    is there a specific weight and height that i have to have if i want to work at 14 in california?

  • unknown says:

    im 14 trying to get a work permit and i have good grades, is it likely that people actually hire minors?

  • Kash Kior says:

    I wanted to work as a nail tech but I’m 14 can I do that ?

  • Kash Kior says:

    I’m 14 and want to be a nail tech can I legally do that?

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