Working while you're a student can be a difficult balance.  However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Not only does a part-time job provide you with some extra cash, it gives you valuable early work experience paving your way to a better job years down the road.

The best jobs for high school and college students can be very different in nature and have very different objectives. Generally, high school students should obtain jobs that help them get some early experience while also gaining work references. College students generally should seek jobs that help pay their living and education costs, and ideally expose them to work in careers they might consider.

Working While in High School

Keeping up your grades is the most important thing you can do in high school, especially if you have the potential to win a scholarship. You also may be highly active in sports, music or some other activity that has the potential to earn you money for college. Even with all your activities, it is usually possible to work a few hours a week on top of that. Especially with a more flexible job such as babysitting.

The best jobs for high school students often are very basic and flexible. Popular options include babysitting, mowing lawns, bagging groceries, or working in fast food restaurants. Don't look past or avoid any job because you think it is beneath you. These simple and basic jobs help you earn money and develop a reputation as honest, hard-working, and able to handle cash and be good with customers.

Some other ideas for work include camp counselor, life guard, tutor, music teacher, pet sitter or dog walker, cashier, hostess, or dishwasher. All of these jobs offer seasonal flexibility so that more hours can be worked during the summer or weekends.

Working While in College

Although juggling coursework with a job in college seems challenging, it is also very common. According to a survey by Citigroup and Seventeen magazine, 4 out of 5 college students work part-time while pursuing their degree, averaging 19 hours a week.

By the time you begin college you have most likely already worked a job or two and have some references. But, even if you didn’t, you are in a good position to begin. Ideally, you will find a job that offers steady income, fits well with your class schedule, and gives you a chance to work in a potential career field.

Your college should have a career-services office that posts job opportunities for college students and will work very well with a work schedule. Bonus if you can nab a job that also allows you to complete homework while you're on duty!

If your college can help you to find a job, that’s great. But, if you can’t find one through your college, your next-best plan would be to find a job that won’t require a lot of travel and can give you flexible hours. Try to find a job that gives you experience in an area of interest. If you're majoring in education you can likely find work as a day-care worker, tutor or camp counselor. A science major may find the perfect summer job working at a state park or nature conservatory. Some other popular options include waiter, cashier, secretary or assistant, life guard, or nanny.

If you really need help paying your way, consider some companies that offer tuition reimbursement for college students. These include place like Starbucks, Home Depot, Gap, Intel, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Best Buy, and many others.

How Much is Too Much? 

Some students and their parents worry that their part-time work will affect their GPA. However, according to a study conducted by Boston University, students who worked up to 20 hours per week posted an average 3.13 GPA, while those who didn’t work at all had an average GPA of 3.04. A similar study published in the “Journal of Population Economics” also shows a higher GPA for students who work part time.

The combination of work responsibility and handling a busy schedule can make better students of those who work, although grades might drop when working more than 20 hours per week. 

Ever wondered what careers suit you best? Take this quick career quiz to find your best matches.