Professors love to talk about how being a student is a full-time job—and don’t get me wrong, it certainly is—but it definitely doesn’t pay like one. With college getting more and more expensive and thousands of dollars in student debt becoming the norm, a lot of college students look to part-time jobs to bring in some extra money.
Unfortunately, between classes, extracurriculars, homework, and everything else that comes with a college career, working consistent hours might be impossible for your schedule. Luckily, there are plenty of legitimate jobs on the internet that offer both flexibility and a decent income (and maybe even some marketable skills).
If you’re looking to boost your weekly wages, whether it’s to cover loan payments or to have a little money for a “fun” budget, here are the top legitimate online job for college students.
Tons of people have blogs, so in order to actually make money off of yours, you have to find a niche. Learning how to be frugal in order to pay off student loans, combining professional photography with culinary prowess, writing a blog about how to write better blogs—some of the most successful (and profitable) blogs on the internet only got to where they are now because they brought a fresh take to a creative idea.
Bloggers make money by selling ad space or creating sponsored posts or by using affiliate marketing links. A huge plus to blogging is that it allows you the freedom to write on what you’re passionate about. On the flip side, however, it takes a while for blogs to get off the ground, so it’s not a surefire way to make money fast, and income in general can be unpredictable.
2. Freelance writer
If you’ve got a good grasp on grammar and can turn pieces around quickly, there is a huge market online for freelance writers right now. Sites like iWriter, Upwork, and Fiverr are filled with job postings from people looking for anything from help writing the last chapter of their self-published book to consistent writers for their health and wellness startup’s blog.
Maybe you have a specific genre in mind that you’d love to write about, like pop culture or politics. If so, try searching for online outlets that specialize in the genre and reach out with a carefully crafted pitch. Some sites will allow you submit on spec (submit an already written article) for potential publishing.
Employers on these freelance sites really favor writers with experience, so starting out as a college student can be tough. Start with local news outlets, smaller blogs, or publishers (The New York Times isn’t going to publish your first story). You can also try publishing on a site like Medium. You won’t necessarily make any money from those posts, but it’s a quick way to build a public portfolio of clips.
Sell yourself to an editor in your cover letter and resume, you can make some serious cash from freelancing, charging anywhere from $30-$75 an hour for your services.
3. Social media manager
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook—all of those apps that used to be considered “time-wasters” are turning into bankable skills. If you get a thrill from crafting the perfect caption or creating a filter so seamless that it still looks #nofilter, then social media management could be the ideal online job for you.
Oftentimes, the small businesses you already frequent probably don’t have a strong online presence, but building one up could be great for their brand. Ask around your town or city, or check out freelance sites like Upwork and make some fun cash. Is there a store or restaurant you love? Ask if they’d like some extra help promoting their business
Just be aware that, like blogging, income can be hard to predict for social media management, but it does look great on a resume, especially if you one day hope to go into marketing or PR.
If you’re anything like me, then the only correct way to watch TV and movies is with the captions. Sorry if you disagree, but I am willing to die on this hill. Plus, somebody gets paid to write those captions, so in a way, it’s supporting the job market!
In order to become a transcriptionist, you’ll probably have to complete a short test transcription to show that you can both type quickly and correctly understand what’s being said. A few companies that are great for beginners include TranscribeMe, Quicktate, and Rev. Once you’ve secured a job, you can expect to make anywhere from $10–$25 an hour depending on the company and your skill level. All in all, it’s a pretty solid online job for college students and can be done from basically anywhere.
5. Resume writer
Are you a pro at making other people sound like pros? Everyone stresses about whether their resume is good enough, so there’s a lucrative market online for people who can help refine them. (There’s likely a lucrative market on your campus too—pretty much everyone around you will need to write a killer resume before long.)
To plug Upwork one more time, there are tons of postings everyday from people looking for help writing their resume. As long as you can prove that you have the know-how to polish it, you could make $50–$75 for each resume you punch up.
If you want to boost your own credentials here, check out an online course in resume writing. Adding this to your own resume can help drum up some business.
6. Online tutor
Online tutoring is a great side gig for college students, and some people even make enough money for it to become their full-time job. Obviously, as a college student, you only have so much time to devote to an extra job, but tutoring has great potential to lead to more opportunities.
Plus, if you tutor in the subject you’re majoring or minoring in, it’s sort of like extra study time! But you don’t have to confine yourself to only academics. Maybe you’re really great at playing the guitar or speaking French—there are a wide variety of people that want tutoring for skills, as well. Depending on the subject you teach, you could be looking at anywhere from $12–$50 an hour. Try checking places like Chegg Tutors, Tutor.com, and Yup for openings.
7. Data entry
Data entry. Don’t those words get you excited? While data entry is definitely not the most glamorous online job for college students, it’s pretty low-stress and doesn’t require any special skill sets. Online companies like Clickworker and the Smart Crowd are fairly reliable options to look into.
As far as the actual work goes, online data entry consists of entering numbers provided by clients or employers into spreadsheet...and that’s pretty much the bulk of it. If you don’t mind something less creative and more predictable, it can be a steady source of income, averaging around $14–$17 an hour.
If you’re a supreme multitasker, you can knock out the entire series of Stranger Things while you get your work done.
8. Tap into the online marketplace
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to make a few bucks off of your unwanted items. Actually, you don’t even have to sell your own stuff—there’s a surprisingly large amount of people who make extra money on the side by frequenting thrift stores, finding valuable items, and selling them online for double or triple the price.
The key to successfully flipping items is to go in knowing exactly what fetches a high price—like Le Creuset cookware and designer clothing—and visit thrift stores at least a few times a week so you don’t miss out on any new items rotating in.
Once you’ve found something valuable, try Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Poshmark to find interested buyers. After you’ve developed a reputation as a trusted seller, you’re basically a small business owner! (Sort of.)
9. Online surveys
Almost every summer when I was in college, I tried to get into taking surveys to make money. Unfortunately, I was not nearly dedicated enough for it to work out, but that pretty much just means I wasn’t good at checking my email regularly—a skill I have carried with me to this day! That being said, if you are good at regularly checking your email and devoting a few hours to working everyday or every other day, online surveys sites like Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars can be worth your time.
When you’re starting out, you’ll have to deal with medium-length surveys that offer mostly subpar payouts, but once you’ve worked your way up a bit you’ll start to reel in some bigger fish. And as time goes by, the small, $1 surveys here and there start to add up.
10. Search engine / personal ad evaluator
Search engines haven’t reached total sentience yet, so they still need us humans for a few things. Search engine / personal ad evaluators help big companies like Google determine whether a site or ad is relevant and/or helpful. Based on the rating of the evaluator, the site or ad may drop lower in the search results or get bumped up a few spots. Google has a pretty in-depth guide that evaluators have to read, where it covers criteria that weighs heavily in their ranking algorithms.
In addition the search engine evaluator online jobs typically paying $13–$15 an hour and offering flexible schedules, it can also be a marketable skill moving forward. These days, companies are crazy about search engine marketing (SEM), so knowing the ins and outs of how a site’s ad is performing is a valuable skill to throw on your resume after college.
The key to finding an online job?
Staying motivated. It’s easy to get discouraged after your first dozen freelance applications don’t get a response, or you spent hours taking surveys and only made $10. But when it comes to online jobs, the more experience you have, the better chance you have at making more money. Building up that beginning portfolio is a tedious grind, but it’s well-worth it in the end—just remember to take care of yourself along the way.
8 great sites for college students to find online jobs
Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance work. You can also download the app, which is very easy to use. Fiverr is great for those with skills in marketing, graphic and web design, and video and animation.
Like Fiverr, Upwork is a marketplace for freelancers. Find writing, design, accounting, customer service, and admin support jobs on this site.
Writers who use iWork can work as little or as much as they want and can earn as much as 15 cents a work for writing content ordered from companies who use the platform.
No, you can’t virtually walk a dog, but you can use sites like Rover to find dog-walking gigs online. Make money and exercise: win-win.
Transcriptionists who use TranscribeMe will need to complete an online training and take a few evaluations in order to start making money, but once you get the hang of it—the task comes easy.
Rev reports that the average monthly income of transcriptionists on its platform is $245. Not bad for working from the couch.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is an easy way to find surveys to take and earn a little money for just giving your opinion. (Not bad, eh?)
Chegg tutors teach on high school– and college-level subjects. Anything from STEM subjects to foreign languages, standardized test prep, and even theatre.