Can a 16 Year old Work without a Permit

Can a 16 Year Old Work Without a Permit?

You have been reading up on getting a job and keep seeing “work permit” come up. Perhaps you are wondering, “What exactly IS a work permit?”

This is an excellent question and something you will want to learn about if you are under the age of 18, as your state may require you to obtain one prior to working. Whether you will need one may seem complicated, but fortunately, you can find out whether a work permit is required for 16 year-olds in your state by clicking here.

This blog post will cover the following:

  • What is a work permit?
  • Does a 16 year old need a work permit?
  • How do I get a work permit?

What is a Work Permit?

Work permits, also known as employment certificates and proof-of-age certificates (among other names) are documents that once completed and filed, give permission for a person under age 18 to work.

The work permit will protect an employer from being prosecuted for hiring someone who is under-age, as having acquired the certificate shows a “good faith effort” to be in compliance with the age requirements for that state.

While the federal government does not require work permits in order for a minor to be employed, a good number of states require a work permit for employees of certain ages to be on file. School guidance counselors and state labor departments are typically where a young person would go to start the process of getting a work permit.

Where it gets complicated is that the ages where a work permit is required vary from state to state. How do you know if you need a work permit? Click here and then choose the state where you live and plan to work. This will take you to information on the requirements of your state.

Does a 16 Year-Old Need a Work Permit?

The answer to the question of whether a 16 year-old needs a work permit is that it depends. Despite the fact that work permits are not required by the federal government, a good number of states require that minors obtain a work permit prior to working.

In some states, it is only 14 and 15-year olds that must obtain a work permit. In other states, all minors under the age of 18 are required to have a work permit prior to starting a job.

The good news is that, as noted above, it is easy enough to find out whether or not a work permit is required for 16 year-olds in the state where you plan to work. Click here and choose the state where you plan to seek employment. You will be able to learn not only whether you need a work permit to become employed in your state, but you will also learn what you need to do in order to obtain one.

For example, in the state of Ohio, you can start working at age 14, however a work permit (also called an age and schooling certificate) is required until you turn 18.

How do I get a Work Permit?

How you get a work permit will vary by state. Fortunately, by clicking here and choosing the state where you plan to work, you can access the information necessary to know how to go about obtaining a work permit for the state you plan to work in.

For example, in Ohio you will have to have a pre-application form completed by your potential employer. A physical exam is also required so that the minor can obtain a “Physician’s Certificate for Minor Work Permit”. Once the minor has these documents, they can bring them to their school where the proper official can issue a work permit.

In California, the process is similar, however there is not requirement for a minor to complete a physical prior to obtaining their work permit.

In many states, a minor will have to find someone willing to employ them in order to get a work permit. The potential employer will often have to complete a portion of the application to show that the type of work they’re intending for the minor to perform and the hours they plan for them to work are in compliance with Child Labor Laws.


Fortunately, while some states will require 16 year-olds to obtain a work permit prior to beginning employment, in most states it is not difficult to obtain the permit. Instructions to complete the process and required forms are often easily accessed online.

By doing your research and knowing whether a work permit is required, you will save yourself time and possible frustration.

So, what do you think about whether a 16 year-old can work without a permit?  Do you agree with what was said above?  Comment below to let us know!

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