while in foster care

How old do I have to be to start working?

You must be at least 14 years old to get a job. You can work as many hours as you want if you are at least 16 years old. However, if you are 14 or 15 years old, your work hours are limited to:

  • 3 hours on a school day
  • 18 hours during a school week
  • 8 hours on a non-school day
  • 40 hours on a non-school week

Additionally, if you are 14 or 15 years old, you can only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when you can work as late as 9 p.m.).

If you are younger than 16, you must get an employment certificate from your school to be able to work.

Are there any programs for people who want to get good jobs but aren’t interested in going to college or haven’t finished high school?

Absolutely. Two such programs are YouthBuild and Job Corps. Through YouthBuild, youth between the ages of 16 and 24 learn job skills by building affordable housing for low-income and homeless people while at the same time working toward their high school diploma or GED. Participants in YouthBuild spend 6 to 24 months in the program full-time, going to school and getting hands-on training at construction sites. There are YouthBuild programs in the following Virginia cities and towns: Abingdon, Danville, Warsaw, Petersburg, Roanoke and Charlottesville. More information about YouthBuild is available at www.youthbuild.org.

Job Corps provides youth ages 16 to 24 with specific job training and assistance in completing their high school degree or GED. Most youth who participate in Job Corps take anywhere from eight months to two years to complete their training programs. These programs provide specialized training that prepares the youth to obtain and work at a specific job, such as one in the hospitality or auto mechanic field. While participating in Job Corps, youth are provided with dormitory style housing, food service, driver’s education, health and dental care, a bi-weekly living allowance and a clothing allowance. There are four Job Corps centers in and near Virginia in the following places: Marion, Coeburn, Monroe and Washington, DC. For more information about the Job Corps program, go to www.jobcorps.dol.gov or call (800) 733-JOBS.

Is there any assistance available for people who want to get training or find a job without going through an intensive job training program?

There are places called “Virginia Workforce Centers” in most localities throughout Virginia. Many of these are located in local offices of the Virginia Employment Commission.

These centers provide access to local, state and federal job listings; information about various training programs and careers; guidance on job preparation and resume writing; and other assistance for people looking for jobs. The centers are generally open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. For more information and to find a local center, visit