Online Jobs for Students: The Complete Guide

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Thanks to all the online jobs for students we discuss it this article, it IS possible to enjoy all the best parts of student life, but with a considerably larger budget.
Imagine being able to visit the cash machine happily, rather than with a sense of fear!

Some Grim Reality

Life as a student can be financially tough, especially nowadays. A decade or two ago you could access grants and all sorts of other funding. Nowadays, studying is a lifetime investment that leaves many in serious debt.
The average debt for a student coming out of college in the US is $30,000. And it’s even worse in the UK.
UK students leave university with an average debt of £44,000 ($56,000).
Thankfully, while costs have risen, so have the number of work opportunities you can access and fit around your studies. And we don’t just mean dull online data entry jobs (although these are an option!). There are endless opportunities that can also boost your resumé ready for professional life.
If you like the idea of being the kind of student who can “have it all,” you just need to read on.

Online Jobs for Students: Getting Started

We’ll begin with a simple infographic that suggests just a few of the online jobs for students you can get started on right now. Then we’ll discuss each in detail and talk about how much money you can earn from doing each of them.
Student online jobs infographic

1. Microjobs

Online microjobs are never going to make you rich, but they will bring in a steady stream of extra beer money.

Microjobs can involve a huge range of different tasks. Some are quite fun, others are bitterly monotonous. One day you might be categorizing YouTube videos, the next writing short product descriptions, and the next recording your voice over and over again to help train Siri-like recognition systems. Many people look for online data entry jobs, and some microjobs are along those lines.

Work can come in fits and starts, but you don’t need to make any commitments – you just do what you have time to do.

The best way to tackle microjobs is to sign up to one or more platforms, and have them running in browser tabs while you’re working at the computer – that way you can grab the good tasks as soon as they appear.

It’s increasingly possible for you to do some micro jobs from a mobile device such as your iPhone. Even if the tasks sometimes only pay pennies, burning through them during idle moments is a better use of time than playing Candy Crush, which doesn’t provide you with any side income whatsoever!

Although this isn’t the most lucrative idea here, it’s one of the best online jobs for college students with no experience of anything else.

Clickworker microjobs for students

Where to find these jobs:

Check out ClickWorker, Appen and Amazon Mechanical Turk for starters. UPDATE: We’ve recently added an in-depth review of ClickWorker here, and one of Mechanical Turk here.

How to get started:

Sign up with one or more platforms (sometimes you may need to wait for your application to be accepted). Complete any necessary training or assessments, start claiming micro jobs and start earning.

How much can you earn?

Microjobs usually pay “micro money,” but it all adds up. Tasks that take less than a minute can pay around 10 cents, others considerably more. This is work that awards people willing to grind away at it, and once in a while you’ll find an easy task, get into the groove of it, and be able to watch your balance build quickly.

A few tips:

  1. Sign up to multiple microworking platforms so that when one runs dry of work you have other options.
  2. Get into the habit of keeping the microworking sites open when you’re doing other things on the computer, so you’re quickly alerted to new jobs that may disappear quickly.
  3. Take the time to do any new tests and assessments you’re offered, so that you’re eligible for better and more lucrative tasks.

2. Surveys

As you can read in this article, I was extremely skeptical about making money from online surveys until I started reviewing opportunities for this website.

In actual fact, completing online surveys can make for a reasonable side income. You can often opt to receive your payouts in Amazon vouchers, which are perfect for buying books and other student essentials.

Completing surveys is similar to microworking in many ways – it’s good to sign up with more than one service, and it’s wise to keep an active eye on new incoming surveys so you can grab them before anyone else can. There’s also the added benefit that completing surveys really doesn’t feel like work – it’s a pretty mindless thing you can do whilst semi-concentrating on something else. If you’re handy with your computer, you can usually blast through them a little quicker than expected too.

Ipsos survey UKWhere to find these jobs:

We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite survey sites here, you can also find a constantly-growing list of options that we review in full on the site.

Qmee and SwagBucks are also worth checking out for a slightly different survey experience with additional ways of making money.

How to get started:

Getting started is extremely quick and easy, and you can often start earning the same day. You’ll generally just need to sign up and complete a demographic profile. These means that these are potential online jobs for college students with no experience whatsoever.

How much can you earn?

College students make money online in all kinds of different ways, and the ones doing surveys aren’t going to be millionaires any time soon. That said, anyone with the time to sign up to two or three survey providers and answer all of the surveys offered them should easily clear an extra $30 (£25) or more each month. Taken in the form of Amazon vouchers, this is a good way to keep up with those essential reading list purchases.
Students willing to sign up with lots of providers and take this more seriously can earn considerably more.

A few tips:

  1. If you value your privacy, be careful what you sign up to, as surveys often require you to give away a lot of information about yourself. You’re generally well-protected with reputable companies.
  2. Try not to get upset if you are “screened out” of a survey shortly after starting. This happens frequently when you don’t meet the necessary customer profile for the survey. If you’re going to take surveys frequently, you’ll need to get used to it.
  3. If you decide to really go for it with online surveys, consider starting up a new email account for survey notifications so your main one doesn’t get bombarded! Make sure it’s set up on your smartphone if you don’t want to miss surveys when you’re out and about.

For an example of how an online survey company works, have a look at this review. 

3. User Testing

User testing is one of our favourite side-gigs here at, and is rather more lucrative than the two previous options.
It involves trying out new websites and apps, and providing feedback to the developers (usually verbally, using your computer’s microphone). You’ll find a detailed review of one of our favourite user testing opportunities here.
User testing doesn’t require any particular computer skill (although specialist skills and knowledge can give you more opportunities and therefore more income). If you can browse a website and talk about what you think about it, then you’re adequately qualified!
User testing is also rather engaging if you’re in any way interested in design, web development or marketing, as you get a glimpse at what big name firms are working on.
User testing

Where to find these jobs:

UserTesting is our current favourite platform for this kind of work – the work is steady and the payouts are super-reliable. TestingTime is another one worth looking at, as is UserCrowd (formerly UsabilityHub).

How to get started:

Sign up with your chosen platform(s). You’ll usually need to complete an example test, which will be assessed. Once this is passed, you’re “in the system” and able to accept new testing tasks as they become available.

How much can you earn?

Although there are no guarantees, in our experience we can usually pick up 3-5 tests per week by keeping the dashboard running at all times while we’re online. With UserTesting paying out $10 per test, this adds up to around $200 per month – not too shabby for a bit of extra student income.
As with the surveys, if you have the time and inclination to sign up to every possible provider you could build on this.

A few tips:

  1. New user tests tend to get snapped up quickly, so be ready to respond fast when one comes up or you’ll miss your chance.
  2. You will find more tests to do if you install testing apps on your phone and/or tablet, as well as your computer.
  3. You must carry out user tests in a quiet and undisturbed environment. You won’t get good feedback (or many tests to do) unless you’re providing quality work.

4. Freelance Writing

If you’re studying at university, presumably you can write reasonably well. If so, you’re poised for limitless online work opportunities, especially if you’re a native English speaker.

If you have any specialist interest, it’s well worth looking into starting a blog as a slow burner project as well.

Freelance writing is the first of the online jobs for students listed here that has limitless earning potential. There are plenty of graduates and others doing this as a full-time career, and many of them are earning six figures. But it’s also a crowded marketplace, where getting started can prove challenging.

You can get involved in any kind of writing work you can imagine – from helping with academic papers to writing blog posts. It really helps if you focus your search on writing topics that genuinely interest you. You will enjoy the work more, and this will show in your output.

Freelance writing also allows you to build up a portfolio of work that will help you in the job market once you’ve finished your studies.

As a novice freelance writer, you’ll need to get some experience under your belt before you can start grabbing for lucrative writing gigs. Although many people slag off content mills such as TextBroker (which turn out bulk content and don’t pay very much), students shouldn’t ignore them as they are a place to earn guaranteed money (even if it’s rather low money).

Once you have some “clips” to show off, it’s best to market yourself and apply for writing work on freelancing sites like Upwork. Take a look at the image below – it shows the profile of a UK student writing in his spare time whilst at university. He’s earned several thousand dollars doing so.

Upwork Student Profile

Where to find these jobs:

TextBroker is an example content mill, where you can get some basic writing experience and become used to working with editors.

Once you are ready to get established, it’s worth getting set up on the likes of Upwork and PeoplePerHour. These are extremely busy freelance job boards with thousands of new opportunities posted daily. You may also want to check out this list of alternative places to find freelance content writing gigs.

Another option, if you particularly enjoy academic writing, is to approach and enquire with sites like Pro-Papers, who offer services assisting other students with their work.

How to get started:

First off, it’s well worth reading our freelance writing guide for beginners.

Once you’ve signed up to a freelance job board, you’ll need to complete a profile and portfolio. You can also undertake some tests to prove your skills and knowledge (this is well worth while).

After this, you set a rate, and start applying for positions. The first few will take some time to land, and you’ll often have to work for low rates while you build a solid feedback reputation. People with really good feedback end up with clients coming to them rather than the other way around! We have some great tips for the job boards here. 

How much can you earn?

The sky really is the limit. You’ll easily find real life examples of people earning $100,000 per year or more doing this. That said, that kind of money is unrealistic for a student.

However, with commitment and dedication, it should prove relatively easy to earn considerably more than a student could in a traditional part-time job, all whilst building up a portfolio of work and not needing to leave your college accommodation!

If you get the right clients and “work smart,” $50 per hour or more is far from impossible.

A few tips:

  1. There ARE scams lurking on these online freelancing platforms. Read this article to help avoid them.
  2. You will not find success with this kind of online freelancing unless you’re willing to properly “pay your dues.” Be ready to spend several days setting up profiles, completing tests and applying for your initial (low paid) jobs, all for no money at all. This is a long game and not a quick win.
  3. Pay no attention to people online who say it’s impossible to make decent money from content mills and job boards. Most of them have just been unwilling to put the necessary work in. Yes, there are better ways for experienced freelancers to earn money, but this is a perfectly legitimate way for college students to make money online.

5. Online Teaching

The Internet has become a fantastic online learning resource across the world, and you can take advantage of this by sharing your knowledge in the role of a teacher. You should be able to find opportunities that link to what you’re studying. Alternatively, there are plenty of places where you can teach English as a foreign language.

The earning potential is huge, with some people who do this full time clearing several thousand dollars / pounds per month. It’s a great thing to add to your CV too.

Obviously, this isn’t an online job you can do as casually as filling out surveys or carrying out microtasks. You’ll need super-reliable computer equipment, a great webcam and microphone, and a completely undisturbed environment in which to teach – but with this earning potential, you may soon be able to upgrade your accommodation anyway!

Online teaching

Where to find these jobs:

Take a look at VIPKID, Skooli and Vedantu.

How to get started:

You will need to apply to your chosen platform, checking on its exact requirements. Some of these jobs are only available to those with an existing Batchelor’s degree, in which case you’ll only be eligible if you’re studying for a Master’s or Doctorate.
You’ll need to interview, and if you’re working with young children you will need references, ID and criminal record checks.

How much can you earn?

This is good, steady work once you’re established, paying good, steady money. While conversational classes in English as a foreign language may pay around $10 (£8) per lesson, earnings of more like $30 plus per hour are perfectly achievable for specialist subjects.

A few tips:

  1. Online teaching is quite a serious undertaking – make sure you don’t commit too much to it and leave inadequate time for your studies.
  2. Research online before choosing which teaching platform to use. There are plenty of busy Reddit threads where teachers discuss earnings and experiences.
  3. Don’t undertake this work unless you have a consistently undisturbed environment to work in.

6. Course Creation

Continuing the theme of turning knowledge into cash, we come to course creation – an online job for students that can turn into a lucrative business for those willing to put in the work.

The success of the internet as a learning environment has resulted in an explosion of sites that facilitate the creation and marketing of online courses. If you have specialist knowledge to share – on any subject whatsoever – you can create courses and sell them online. People have become millionaires doing exactly this.

Course creation is only really suited to you if you have certain skills and attributes. Good courses need multimedia, so you’ll need to be comfortable in front of a webcam. Strong computer skills are a must too, as you’ll need them to put the course(s) together.

If you tick these boxes, and have knowledge to share with the world, all you need is the time to create the course materials (videos, slides and notes), and the time and inclination to market your courses online. Many people do this as a full-time career.

Course creation isn’t for everyone. It requires commitment and an entrepreneurial mindset. But if you get successful in this marketplace, your courses can continue to earn you passive income long after you’ve finished university.

Course creation

Where to find this work:

The three best-known course creation platforms are Udemy, Teachable and Learning Cart.

How to get started:

A good way to become familiar with these platforms is to sign up and take one or two courses yourself. This will familiarize you with how everything works, and the kind of work that goes into courses that sell well.
A great starting point is the unofficial Udemy course creation course, which is five-star rated and will show you exactly how to make your first course.

How much can you earn?

This is a student job opportunity that can earn you serious cash if you’re lucky and committed. Courses sell for anything from $10 to thousands, with the course creator taking the lion’s share.

As an example, the creator of the unofficial Udemy course creation course mentioned above typically charges £10 ($12)for his courses – but he has over a quarter of a million students. That’s some serious money.

A few tips:

  1. Make sure you take a couple of well-rated courses yourself to see what a good course looks like.
  2. Keep in mind that marketing is key to success. If you want to make the big bucks, you’ll need to think about websites, Facebook ads, and various other things.
  3. Think about the subject areas you’re truly passionate about – creating a course on these should be a pleasure rather than a chore.

So, that completes our run-down of six online jobs for students. Which one are you going to get started with first? Before you decide, consider the following:
  1. There’s nothing to say you only have to choose one opportunity. You can always dip into several ideas and make your money from a combination of different jobs.
  2. The list above only scratches the surface of the genuine opportunities that lurk just a click away – there are some more ideas below.

 Tips for online working

A bit of planning and organisation goes a long way with any new freelance endeavour. Here are some important tips to set you off in the right direction:
Online work tips
  1. Get professional: Even if you’re only planning to do some surveys or microtasks, you’re still going to need to set up online accounts, save files and keep track of passwords. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary email accounts ready and that you have plans in place to organise your work. Going about this in a half-hearted way will never make you much money.
  2. Work out how you will collect payments: Some online work will require you to have a PayPal account for payment; Other jobs may involve bank transfers. Work out how you’re going to take payments and manage the financial side of your online work.
  3. Don’t pay for opportunities: It is sometimes worth making investments in your online business – such as taking courses or paying for extra bids on freelance work platforms, but you should run a mile from anything that requires you to pay to work, such as survey sites that promise to offer lucrative opportunities but only if you pay for a subscription. With very few exceptions these are scams.

Computer Concerns

If you’re going to work online, you need a computer that’s up to the task – not a virus-riddled old machine that takes ages to boot up.
If you’re doing professional work for professional clients, you need to think about things like backups and information security too. You’ll find a detailed guide to computing for home workers here.

Tax for Working Students

Unfortunately, if you’re earning money, the government will invariably want a share of it – and this is no different if you’re a student.
You may find that you don’t earn enough to pay any tax. In the UK, for example, you can earn £11,500 per year completely free of tax. However, you should make sure you’re aware of your tax situation before you start earning money.
This is especially important if you get successful with your online work and the money starts piling in. The tax man won’t ignore you just because you’re studying.

Other online jobs for students

We stated above that the six opportunities we’ve detailed are just a selection of the online opportunities open to students.

In order to prove this point, here are a handful of other options that may appeal to you if none of the above do. We have dedicated guides to most of the ideas, so just follow the links if one sounds like a good fit for you.

  1. Set up an eBay businessThis is a particularly attractive proposition if you have a passion for something like vintage clothing or collectibles.
  2. Sell crafts on EtsyIf you’re of a creative persuasion, why not set up an Etsy site to sell your wares?
  3. Work as a freelance designer: If you have strong design skills, you can use exactly the same techniques we discuss for freelance writers above.
  4. Become a live chat operative: Online casinos and bingo sites often recruit for people to run their online chatrooms on a part-time basis.
  5. Start a student blogIf you’ve got plenty to tell the student world and enjoy writing, a successful blog can make money from ads and sponsorship.
  6. Consider social media consultancyIf you know all there is to know about Instragram, Twitter and Pinterest, companies will pay good money for that. You’ll find some leads on the freelance boards we’ve already discussed.
  7. Sell photosIf you’re a budding photographer, sites like ShutterStock allow you to place your images up for sale.

Alternatively, if you’d rather work for a company than for yourself, have a browse through FlexJobs.

So, that’s it for this guide. Thank you for reading to the end! If you’d like to share your online working experiences as a student, or ask any questions, please feel free to use the comments section below.

If you’d like to find some other good resources on freelance work, this new article will help.

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About Author

Founder of - Ben is a long-established freelancer with a passion for helping other people take control of their destiny and break away from "working for the man." Prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.

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