What is the Legal Working Age in the State of Arizona?


How old do you have to be to work in Arizona? Generally speaking, children in Arizona can begin working at age 16 while school is in session. When school is out, children as young as 14 can work in certain positions.

Of course, like most legal matters there are some caveats. Arizona child labor laws offer some exceptions to the general working age depending on the type of work and the child’s relation to the prospective employer. On the flip side, there are a number of occupations that are excluded entirely, meaning minors cannot work in these industries or job positions until they turn 18.

To make matters even more complicated, Arizona child labor laws impose restrictions on the hours that a child may work. The hours often vary by the type of work, the relationship to the employer, and whether or not the child is in school. 

Occupational Restrictions for Minors 17 and Under

In Arizona, child labor laws fall under the jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) Labor Department. According to the Labor Department, there are 16 restricted occupations that minors are prohibited from participating in:

  • Anything involving exposure to ionizing radiation and radioactive substances
  • Demolition, wrecking, or shipbuilding operations, including demolishing/dismantling motor vehicles, bridges, buildings, and other structures
  • Driving a motor vehicle or serving as an outside helper (note that the Federal Child Labor Law prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds from driving on the job, but Arizona law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to drive if the total driving time doesn’t exceed two hours or 25% of the workday)
  • Logging (not limited to mills)
  • Manufacturing silica refractory products or clay construction products
  • Operating and cleaning power-driven saws
  • Operating or assisting with power-driven hoists and elevators (e.g. derricks, cranes, and forklifts)
  • Operating or cleaning power-driven bakery machinery
  • Operating power-driven metal working, shearing, punching, and forming machines
  • Operating power-driven paper products machines, including scrap paper balers, guillotine paper cutters or shears, arm-type staplers or wirestitchers, and presses
  • Operating power-driven woodworking machines
  • Quarry and mine operations
  • Roofing 
  • Slaughtering, processing meat, rendering meat, and meat packing, including the operation, cleaning, oiling, adjustment, repair, or setup of a power-driven meat processing machine
  • Storing or manufacturing explosives
  • Tunneling and excavation operations 

While these restrictions generally cover all of the occupations restricted by federal law, it goes without saying that federal child labor laws trump state labor laws. Therefore, any occupations restricted by federal law that aren’t specifically listed in Arizona law are still considered restricted for minors 17 and under.

Occupational Restrictions for Minors 15 and Under

In addition to the 16 occupations that are off-limits to all minors, Arizona law adds another 23 restricted occupations for minors who are 15 and under. The restricted occupations include: 

  • Anything involving the operation, setup, adjustment, oiling, cleaning, or repairing of power-driven food slicers, cutters, choppers, or grinders
  • Baking, cooking, broiling, and frying
  • Connecting and disconnecting implements to or from a tractor
  • Construction
  • Commercial laundry and dry cleaning
  • Driving an automobile, truck, or bus
  • Felling, skidding, bucking, or unloading timber with a butt diameter of 6+ inches
  • Handling explosives
  • Handling hazardous agricultural chemicals
  • Manufacturing
  • Meat preparation
  • Operating a tractor with 20+ takeoff horsepower
  • Operating farm machinery, including potato combines, trenchers, earthmoving equipment, power-driven non-walking rotary type tillers, power post hole diggers, auger conveyors, self-unloading wagons, forage blowers, crop dryers, feed grinders, mobile pea viners, potato harvesters, hay balers, forage harvesters, hay mowers, grain combines, cotton pickers, and corn pickers (not that “operating” means starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding, or any other activity regarding physical contact with farm machinery) 
  • Operations involving engine rooms, furnaces, or boilers
  • Operations involving repair or maintenance of equipment and machines, including inflating tires mounted on rims equipped with a movable retaining ring
  • Processing operations, including cracking nuts, dressing poultry, and filleting fish
  • Pruning or picking from a ladder over eight feet tall
  • Riding on a tractor as a helper
  • Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia
  • Warehousing, including moving items to and from buildings, conveyors, railroad cars, and trucks
  • Window washing, or anything that involves working from a scaffold, ladder, window sill, or similar structure/place more than five feet tall
  • Working in a manure pit, upright silo, grain storage area or fruit storage area designed to retain an oxygen deficient or toxic atmosphere, or operating a tractor for packing purposes in a horizontal silo
  • Working in a pen with a boar, bull, stud horse, cow with newborn calf, or sow with young pigs

Note that many of these are related to agricultural work — a field commonly associated with child labor, as children often being working on the family farm at a young age. If you have young children working on your family farm, it’s important to pay special attention to the duties assigned to them and ensure you don’t place them in a dangerous role that violates Arizona child labor laws.

Working Hours Restrictions for Minors

In addition to prohibited occupations, Arizona child labor laws impose certain restrictions on working hours for minors. Under ARS 23-233, the following restrictions apply:

  • When school is in session, children 15 and under cannot work more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, and a total of 18 hours per week
  • Children 15 and under may only work between 6:00 am to 9:30 pm when there’s school the next day. That limit is extended to 11:00 pm when there is no school the next day
  • Children 15 and under cannot engage in door-to-door solicitation or solicitation sales after 7:00 pm
  • When school is not in session (or the child isn’t enrolled in school), a child can work up to eight hours a day and a total of 40 hours per week. Working hours are limited to 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.

Note that some of these limits are more relaxed than federal child labor laws. For example, federal law restricts children 15 and under from working past 7:00 pm during the school year, past 9:00 pm over the summer, or before 7:00 am year-round. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Serve Alcohol in Arizona?

Historically, youths in Arizona had to be 19 or older to serve alcohol. In 2017, the Arizona governor signed a bill that lowered the age to 18. As such, an adult age 18 or older may serve alcohol in Arizona.

Learn More About Minor Employees in Arizona

Entering the working world is exciting, but also comes with responsibility and planning. If you’re a minor that is looking to enter the workforce or a parent that wants to get more information about work their child can or cannot do, we can help. We help Arizona minor employees educate themselves and prepare for success. Contact our employment law team today to setup a consultation.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

Contact Our Employment Law Team

Call (480) 464-1111 or fill out the form to schedule your consultation and discuss your best legal options.