According to Debt.org, the average student loan debt was over $37,000 in 2017. Education costs are growing, and it goes without saying that managing your finances as a student can be difficult.
Learning how to save money as a college student is a great step toward reducing or avoiding student debt. Additionally, applying to college scholarships and grants is an effective way to cut down on tuition costs.
However, one of the best ways to keep yourself financially afloat and mitigate debt during college is to find a student job. Part-time work is an effective way to boost your monthly income, and the extra money can help pay down debt or even start a modest investment portfolio.
If you’re struggling to land a job on campus or in your college town, don’t fret. There are plenty of online job opportunities for college students that have a variety of benefits over traditional student jobs.
Benefits of Online Jobs for College Students
Working on campus or a retail job as a student helps subsidize your income and improve your resume. However, online jobs have a number of benefits that make them worthwhile alternatives to consider.
The average part-time college job is fairly rigid in terms of shift scheduling. It doesn’t matter if you bartend, work at a restaurant, or manage the front desk of your campus gym; shifts are typically set one to weeks in advance. If you want to change your shift, you’ll likely have to give it away to another employee and lose income.
One advantage of many online jobs is their flexibility. As an online freelancer, you generally have more control over the clients you choose to work with, the hours you work, and your deadlines. This flexibility reduces the chance that your work schedule conflicts with lecture times and your studies.
Exposure to New Industries
There’s nothing wrong with working a retail job as a college student. However, online jobs often expose you to new industries you wouldn’t normally experience in a traditional student job. If you factor in the value of expanding your online professional network, online student jobs can have enormous benefits in terms of career development.
Learning a new job inevitably teaches you something, regardless of whether the job is in-person or online. Freelance work and making an online income is often fast-paced and dynamic. Plus, because online jobs often expose students to new industries and responsibilities, it’s highly unlikely you’ll walk away from an online job without at least one new skill on your resume.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. For college students, that means working 10 to 20 hours per week boosts their monthly income by approximately $290 to $580 per month.
This income isn’t anything to scoff at. However, one advantage of many online jobs is they pay more than minimum wage. If you can only work a few hours per week due to your classes or other commitments, this difference in hourly wage is truly impactful for your finances.
Side gigs have tax implications, and freelancers are responsible for tracking and reporting their income when filing taxes. While this is extra work, various tax deductions for self-employed individuals and high hourly pay still means you earn more than minimum wage on average.
The Best Online Jobs for College Students
One of the most daunting parts of finding online work is knowing where to look. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores that post hiring signs in their windows or in the newspaper, getting started as an online freelancer or remote employee takes some searching.
The following online jobs for college students have a variety of reputable online marketplaces or companies that hire remote workers. If you want to boost your income as a student, the following job ideas are an excellent place to begin your job hunt.
1. Virtual Assistant
Working as a virtual assistant is an excellent way to make money from home for anyone with organization and time management skills. Companies typically hire virtual assistants because they’re more affordable than in-house assistants and don’t require office space. However, that doesn’t mean working as a virtual assistant isn’t lucrative.
According to Glassdoor, the average virtual assistant earns slightly more than $26,000 per year for full-time hours. Working as a virtual assistant is also a great online job for students because part-time work and flexible hours are common in this field.
For instance, websites like Fancy Hands regularly hire part-time virtual assistants. Fancy Hands pays $3 to $7 per task. Tasks typically include making phone calls on behalf of your employer, scheduling appointments, booking hotels or flights, and data entry. Fancy Hands also lets workers set their own hours, which is perfect for students.
Online marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr are also viable for finding work. However, competition is fierce on these platforms, and it takes time to attract clients and gain the reviews needed to increase your exposure.
Virtual Assistant Pros
- Minimal Skill Requirements. Being comfortable talking on the phone and knowing how to accurately research and find information online are really the only requirements for this job.
- Low Technical Requirements. Fancy Hands only requires an audio headset and reliable Internet connection.
- Network Expansion. Working as someone’s virtual assistant expands your network and can lead to future job opportunities.
Virtual Assistant Cons
- Potential Scheduling Conflicts. If you work for a company in your time zone, you might have to work regular office hours, which may conflict with your schedule.
- Repetitive Work. Scheduling appointments or making phone calls is the bulk of virtual assistant work.
- Overseas Competition. The virtual assistant market is global, and many companies seek international assistants to keep costs down. Working with websites like Fancy Hands helps in terms of finding work, but this is a competitive market nevertheless.
Being a virtual assistant is a great online student job for anyone with organization skills who is also comfortable talking on the phone. As long as you can complete tasks without interfering with your studies, you can make good part-time money as a virtual assistant.
2. English Tutoring
If you’re a native English speaker, tapping into the global demand to learn English is a viable way to make money online as a student.
A variety of companies provide English as a second language (ESL) education for students around the world. By working as an online English teacher for one of these companies, you can enjoy a flexible schedule and make money from the comfort of your home.
The majority of ESL companies cater to students in Asia. That means North American tutors must work weekends or wake up early to teach students as they come home from school. While this may not be ideal for your sleep schedule, it won’t interfere with your classes.
Working as an online English teacher is also more lucrative than working a minimum wage job. In fact, companies like EF Education First and VIPKid pay more than double the average minimum wage. According to Indeed, VIPKid tutors earn approximately $22 per hour and EF Education tutors earn $18 per hour.
EF Education First and VIPKid require their tutors to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, so these companies are only available to master’s students. Some ESL companies like Cambly don’t have a degree requirement, and Cambly pays $10.20 per hour.
Being a native English speaker and being comfortable working with kids are the two main requirements for this line of work. Additionally, Chinese companies require tutors to have Teaching English as a Foriegn Language (TEFL) certification. TEFL training is either provided as part of hiring or you must enroll in a course independently through a company like Premier TEFL.
However, if you can find a job as an online English tutor, there are a number of benefits, including:
- Exceptional Pay. Master’s students can earn more than double the average minimum wage with the right ESL tutoring job. Undergraduate students can also boost their monthly income with more lenient companies like Cambly.
- Won’t Conflict With Class Schedule. As an example, VIPKid peak times are Monday to Friday from 6pm to 9pm and 9am to 9pm on weekends in Beijing time, which is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That means you can wake up early to tutor before heading to class.
- Great For Aspiring Teachers. Working as an online tutor is the perfect college job for anyone studying education or with teaching aspirations.
- Schedule Isn’t for Everyone. If you aren’t an early riser or you have college sports in the morning, this job is not for you.
- Degree Requirements. Working as an online English tutor is much easier for master’s students than undergraduate students due to the degree hiring requirements.
- Long Onboarding Process. Many ESL tutoring companies require two interviews and a background check before you can begin work. A TEFL course might also take several days to complete. Depending on the number of applicants and how fast you become certified, it might take several weeks before you begin working.
- Time to Earn. Many ESL tutoring companies assign a rating to their tutors based on parent feedback. As a new tutor, you will have to build your rating over time to attract more students and earn more money.
This online job is perfect for college students studying education or any student with a bachelor’s degree. As long as you don’t mind early mornings and enjoy working with kids, teaching English online is a great way to boost your monthly student income.
3. Freelance Writer
Working as a freelance writer isn’t an immediate route to income. However, if you’re a talented writer and are willing to put in the work to pitch clients, it can be a lucrative online job.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average freelance writer earns $30 per hour. Pay is certainly not the issue here. Rather, learning how to find your first few clients and actually become a freelancer is the challenge.
There are many freelance websites to start your job hunt. Just know that you might have to accept low-paying jobs in the beginning to build your portfolio. After you have several published articles, you can specialize in a niche and gradually increase your freelance writing rates.
For students, freelance writing might seem intimidating when you factor in how many essays and assignments you have to complete for school. However, freelancing makes you a better writer, and if you can balance it with your schedule, the pay is certainly worth it.
Freelance Writing Pros
- Minimal Requirements. Age is not a barrier to entry, nor is a lack of professional experience. If you have the talent and are willing to put in the work, you can build a successful freelance writing career from nothing.
- Exceptional Pay. Freelance writing has the potential to be one of the highest paying online jobs for college students.
- Meaningful Work. Having your name published and building a writing portfolio is rewarding. If you focus on topics you’re personally interested in and passionate about, the work can also be fun.
- Great for Journalism and Communications Students. There’s no better way to gain real-world publishing experience than to start writing as soon as you can.
Freelance Writing Cons
- Uncertain Pay. All freelancing is uncertain. Working for another company provides some structure for you to follow for receiving assignments and getting paid, but as a freelance writer, you are completely responsible for the clients you gain. You’re also responsible for setting your rates, billing, and collecting payments from your clients.
- Low Starting Pay. Earning $30 per hour is incredible, but not every freelance writer makes that much, especially not right out of the gate. Many beginner freelance writers accept cheap jobs simply to build their portfolio.
Students with an interest in digital media, journalism, or publishing should consider this online job opportunity. Getting started as a freelance writer is challenging. However, high hourly pay and real-world publishing experience make the struggle worth it.
4. Website Tester
When companies need to test the usability of a website or game, they often turn to freelancers for feedback. Although this isn’t a full-time job opportunity, working as a website tester is a viable side gig for students looking to boost their monthly income with some extra spending money.
Testers record themselves as they navigate a website or game, verbalizing their thoughts or criticisms along the way. They might also have to complete a specific task the client requests, such as signing up for a new account or using a certain website feature.
There are several usability testing websites that frequently hire testers. Popular platforms include:
- UserTesting. Earn $10 for each 20-minute test you complete.
- UserFeel. Earn $10 for each 10- to 20-minute test.
- TryMyUI. Earn $10 for each 20-minute test you complete.
Testing websites pay via PayPal or free gift cards, and there aren’t many requirements to get started. Testers must be 18 years or older, have a microphone, and have the ability to record their screen. They must also pass a test interview to ensure they’re capable of providing meaningful commentary while browsing a website.
Usability test opportunities vary based on demand and the number of testers, so this isn’t a viable job for consistent monthly income. However, in terms of hourly pay and flexibility, students are the perfect candidates for this type of work.
Usability Testing Pros
- Flexibility. If you just need a little extra grocery or entertainment money each month, the short testing intervals make this job perfect for down times between class and studying.
- Quality Assurance Experience. Testing websites might sound trivial, but this is a direct form of quality assurance experience worth adding to your resume.
- High Hourly Pay. Most usability testing websites average $30 per hour because their tests are short.
Usability Testing Cons
- Limited Opportunity. Usability testing companies don’t provide hourly work guarantees or a monthly test quota. Therefore, monthly earnings are volatile. Despite a high hourly wage, usability testing is not a viable online student job for anyone looking to make hundreds of dollars per month.
- Equipment Expenses. Like most online tutoring companies, a microphone is a fairly standard job requirement. You will have to spend money on a decent microphone before making money with this online job.
Website testing is a handy online student job to have in your back pocket. It won’t pay your tuition or monthly rent, but it’s a flexible way to earn some extra money each month.
Like usability testing, starting your own blog is not a guaranteed or fast route to earning income. However, blogging is a potentially lucrative and highly educational online job, provided you stick with it.
I started my blog in college, and it turned out to be the greatest educational and financial decision I made as a young adult. Blogging teaches a variety of skills, such as how to be a better writer, search engine optimization strategy, and social media marketing. Plus, blogging is also an excellent way to network within a particular niche or the digital publishing industry.
There are a variety of ways to make money blogging. As you develop a following and website traffic, you can monetize your blog with advertisements, affiliate links, or brand sponsorships to begin earning monthly income. Throughout my second half of college, my blog paid for my monthly grocery expenses.
Blogging is also flexible. There are no set hours; you can work on it whenever you choose. You’ll get out of it what you put into it, but it’s easy to fit blogging in around your other responsibilities.
- Income-Generating Asset. Most online student jobs don’t let you walk away with any equity. By contrast, blogging creates ownership of a potential income-generating asset.
- Highly Educational. Starting a blog is an effective way to learn about digital publishing and become a better writer.
- Future Value. If your blog grows, you can benefit from semi-passive income each month or even sell the website down the line.
- Great for Business Students. Running a blog is similar to running a business. As a blog owner, you’re responsible for creating a business plan and allocating your time and resources to spur growth. Growing a successful blog is a great way to prove you understand the fundamentals of marketing and running an online publication.
- Highly Competitive. Digital publishing is immensely competitive, and there is no guarantee of income or growth.
- Significant Work. Starting a profitable blog will take months or even years of work for the average blogger. If you have a busy school schedule, this could be a difficult online job to manage.
- Upfront Investment. It’s possible to blog for free. However, money-making blogs typically use their own domain name, hosting plan, and website theme. These are all upfront costs, so blogging is not ideal for anyone struggling financially.
If you need to make money quickly or have a hectic schedule, don’t start a blog. However, if you want to acquire a host of new skills in digital publishing and to grow your own online business, starting a blog is a great online job for college students to tackle. Plus, getting started is quick and easy. Bluehost lets you set up a domain and hosting in just minutes.
6. Graphic Design
If you study graphic design or already have photoshop or editing skills, working as a freelance graphic designer is a natural fit.
Graphic design is a broad category. As a freelance graphic designer, there are several common types of jobs you will find, including:
- Logo design
- Website design
- Brochure, pamphlet, or business card work
- Company branding — this could include everything from packaging and labeling design to complete website overhauls
Essentially, anytime a business needs artistic or graphic related work but lacks an in-house specialist, they hire a freelance graphic designer.
According to ZipReruiter, graphic designers earn $23 per hour on average. The greatest challenge for students getting into this online job will be building their portfolio and finding clients.
As with virtual assistant work, marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr are one way to search for potential clients. Similarly, 99designs is a freelance marketplace that solely caters to businesses looking for freelance graphic design help.
Finally, you can also turn to your own network to find work or build a portfolio. If you know a small-business owner in need of a new website or logo, offer to help them for an affordable rate. This will allow you to build your portfolio and gain experience while helping someone you know.
Graphic Design Pros
- Portfolio Building. A portfolio is absolutely essential for anyone getting into graphic design. Therefore, starting this online job during college is a great way to get a head start on your career.
- Great for Graphic Design or Media Arts Students. Finding freelance design work during your time in college is the best way to gain industry experience and further your education.
- Network Expansion. If you please a client, there’s a chance they will rehire you for future graphic design work or recommend you to other business owners.
Graphic Design Cons
- Competition. As with virtual assistant work, companies are increasingly outsourcing graphic design offshore for the sake of affordability. This competition can make it harder to find well-paying jobs.
- Communication Issues. Graphic design work is highly subjective. To avoid going back and forth with picky clients, it’s important to outline exactly what services you provide and how many revisions you offer. Learning how to communicate with clients and avoid nonbillable work is important for this job.
- Low Starting Pay. As with freelance writing, you may have to take on lower-paying jobs at the start to build your portfolio.
- Software Needs. Many graphic designers use programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, which require online membership. There are student discounts, but this is a cost to consider.
Despite the competition, freelance graphic design is an excellent online student job for anyone studying graphic design or with career aspirations in the field. Building your portfolio while you’re in school will make finding work after you graduate much easier than starting from scratch.
7. Data Entry
It isn’t possible to automate every task. Therefore, businesses often turn to data entry clerks to keep their databases up to date or to verify existing database information is correct.
Every data entry job is different. Some might require a data entry clerk to update information using audio recordings, whereas others might simply involve adding new customer information to an existing database.
Data entry requires a high level of attention to detail. Being able to quickly and accurately type information is also important to ensure your work is error-free and you maintain a decent hourly rate.
Data entry clerks earn $13.32 per hour, according to PayScale. It’s possible to find part-time data entry work on marketplaces like Flexjobs, Amazon Mechanical Turk, or by searching job boards like Indeed or Monster.
Data Entry Pros
- Job Availability. There is a constant need for data entry work, and you don’t always need prior experience or references to find a job.
- Exposure to New Industries. Industries that commonly hire data entry clerks include health care, finance, insurance, real estate, and manufacturing. Working as a data entry clerk is an excellent way to learn more about new industries while completing your degree.
Data Entry Cons
- Repetitive. Data entry work can be monotonous. For some people, this is a deal breaker.
- Flexibility Concerns. Although it’s possible to work as a freelance data entry clerk, many companies hire on a part-time basis and have certain hourly work expectations. Students with a busy schedule must consider this.
- Skill Development. Data entry requires attention to detail and accuracy. However, in terms of resume building and skill development, data entry is not as beneficial as an online job like freelance writing or blogging.
Students with a lighter schedule and a high level of attention to detail can try data entry to boost their monthly income. There is a constant need for data entry work across multiple industries, and hourly pay is generally higher than minimum wage. As long as you don’t mind repetitive tasks, this can be an excellent online job.
8. Remote Customer Service Representative
As with virtual assistants, companies sometimes outsource their customer service department to call centers or remote workers. This helps businesses reduce costs, and it also enables many businesses to provide after-hour customer support to clients around the world.
Working as a remote customer service agent isn’t a purely online student job since you work on the phone. However, customer service reps also work online while on call to assist customers with their questions or problems. From fixing account issues to helping a customer use a specific website feature, customer support representatives are the first point of contact when a customer needs assistance. They may also answer requests through a company’s online chat or help forum.
According to Glassdoor, the average remote customer service representative earns almost $28,000 per year full-time. However, the hourly pay varies greatly between companies, ranging from $9 to $19 per hour.
One way to find a remote customer service job is to search on job boards like Flexjobs. Alternatively, companies like Sykes or Concentrix regularly hire remote customer support representatives across the United States.
It’s possible to find part-time work, although you’re not generally able to set your own schedule. This job is best for students with a lighter or more flexible school schedule to accommodate a part-time job with set hours.
Customer Service Pros
- Job Availability. While many companies outsource their customer service department to international call centers, there are plenty of available work-from-home opportunities in the United States.
- Steady Work. Companies like Sykes typically offer contracts for three to six months of work. Large companies need to maintain their customer service department, so this is a fairly steady part-time opportunity.
- Exposure to New Industries. As with data entry, customer service work provides direct exposure to new industries and a chance to improve your resume.
Customer Service Cons
- Less Flexibility. If you’re looking for a job you can squeeze into gaps in your schedule as they arise, this may not be it.
- Repetitive Work. Customers often have similar problems or questions, making each shift fairly repetitive.
- Equipment Expenses. Customer service jobs typically require a headset. Some customer service jobs require a desktop computer rather than a laptop, a specific monitor size, or even dual monitors.
Working as a remote customer support representative provides steady hours and pays above minimum wage. This online job is perfect for students with less demanding schedules or anyone attending college part-time.
College is a tough time financially for many students. It isn’t surprising that, according to a 2015 study from The Ohio State University, 70% of college students feel some stress about an aspect of their finances.
Working during college is an effective way to mitigate the amount of student debt you take on or even avoid it altogether. However, it isn’t always easy to find a campus job or work in your city.
Thankfully, there are a variety of online jobs for students that pay well and don’t conflict with educational pursuits. Depending on your skillset and timetable, different jobs might be a better fit than others.
Freelancing or working as an online ESL tutor are perfect for students with a busy schedule due to their flexibility. In contrast, data entry, customer service, and virtual assistant work provide steady pay with a slightly more rigid schedule. Starting a blog is an option for students looking to further their education and potentially leave school with an income-generating asset.
As long as you work hard at both your studies and your part-time work or side hustle, you can graduate in a strong financial position and with a resume that lets you hit the ground running after graduation.
Is there a specific online student job you recommend? What do you like about it?