How to Make Money in College
July 25, 2017
News flash: College is expensive. Even an in-state student at a public university will pay a pretty penny to earn an undergraduate degree. According to the College Board® Trends in College Pricing 2016 report, an on-campus student at a four-year public college can expect to spend $24,610 in-state and $39,890 out-of-state annually. The cost increases even higher to $49,320 at a private, non-profit four-year college.
How is a student supposed to come up with that kind of cash? Many turn to student loans. In 2016, the average student graduated with $37,000 in debt. According to statistics from the Federal Reserve’s December 2016 Quarterly Household Debt and Credit Report, the total student loan debt is $1.31 trillion.
The deal with loans is that they do need to be paid back, with interest. Repaying a significant amount in student loans can make it difficult for a graduate to move forward in life and reach financial goals. If you want to avoid being saddled with student loan debt, it’s important to find a way to pay for a portion of college costs while you’re still in school. The good news is that there are plenty of fun and creative ways to make money as a college student.
Check out our infographic on how to pay back student loans quick!
Fun Jobs for College Students
College is a time to explore your interests and to see if there’s a future in following your passion. If you need to earn a bit of extra cash in college, you might as well have fun doing it. Consider getting a job at a company you love or a job that lets you explore an interest:
- Barista. Working as a barista is an exciting job that’s perfect for college students, especially if you love coffee and getting to talk to many different people. You’ll get to develop your skills in latte art and help others get their coffee fix every day. The median barista salary is $9.68 per hour, plus tips.
- Retail Sales Associate. If you love clothing or can’t get enough of a particular brand, getting a job at a clothing store nearby can be a good way to line your pockets and tap into your fashion passion. The median wage for a retail salesperson is $10.90 per hour. Plus, many stores offer an employee discount, meaning you can get the clothes you love for a reduced price – just be sure not to spend more than you normally would, or else you won’t have as much left to put toward your tuition.
- Museum Front Desk Attendant. If there’s a museum near your school, you may be able to land a job manning the front desk during opening hours. Working at a museum can be a particularly enjoyable job if you’re interested in art, history or science and want to share your knowledge with others. The median hourly pay for front desk attendants is around $11.84.
- Server. If you love the vibe at restaurants but don’t have the budget to be dining out each week, getting a job as a server will let you experience the social scene, while earning cash rather than spending it. The median hourly wage of a server is $5.12. That might seem low, but keep in mind that many servers make most of their money from tips.
- Pet Sitter. Your fellow peers might not need someone to walk their dog or feed their cat (no pets allowed in the dorm, after all), but area residents might be in need of a pet sitter when they are away. A dog sitter earns an average of $12.69 per hour.
- Administrative Assistant. While many administrative jobs are full time, you may be able to find an office that’s in need of help on a part-time basis. An administrative assistant earns an average of $15.05 per hour.
- Fitness Instructor. If you have a passion for fitness and love working out, why not monetize that interest and find a job as a fitness class instructor? The hourly rate of an instructor can vary based on the gym and whether or not the position is full time. Most gyms and studios will require a certification in whatever fitness area you will be teaching.
- Bike Mechanic. Do you love cycling? Getting a job repairing other people’s bikes is a great way to make money in college. A bike mechanic earns an average of $12.34 per hour.
- Lifeguard. A lifeguard earns an average of $9.18 per hour and is responsible for keeping people safe in the pool or on the beach. You would need to pass a test and get certified to become one, but if you enjoy spending time at the pool or in the sun it can be a great way to soak up some rays while being on the clock.
Flexible and Easy Online Jobs for College Students
Although getting a part-time job can be fun, it can be difficult to fit one into a busy college student’s schedule. Luckily, there are many jobs for college students online. Online jobs tend to be the most flexible. You can work from the comfort of your dorm room and usually at any time of day:
- Virtual Assistant. A virtual assistant job is similar to an administrative assistant job. You’re likely to schedule meetings for your boss, answer emails and calls, and order supplies. The key difference is that you’ll do it all on your own schedule, from your home.
- Online Tutor. If you get good grades or excel in a subject area, you can earn a decent amount of money tutoring others online. One of the fun things about being an online tutor is that you might get to work with students from all around the world.
- Blogger/Vlogger. Do you have a passion that you want to share with the world? Creating your own blog or starting a YouTube® channel is one way to share your knowledge and get paid for it. There are several ways bloggers/vloggers make money, from ads to sponsorships. When you’re first starting out, you might make most of your money from Amazon® As you build a following, you can reach out to brands about paid partnerships or sponsorships.
- Proofreader. If your professors constantly praise your grasp on grammar or your ability to hand in error-free assignments, a job as a proofreader might be a good fit for you. You can work with proofreading services that will send you projects, or you can advertise your own services as a freelance proofreader.
- Customer Service. A number of companies need work-at-home customer service associates to help out their customers. If you love helping others, have a reliable Internet connection in your dorm room or apartment, and want to earn some money working on your own schedule, this might be the job for you.
- Freelance Designer/Writer. Are you in college to learn graphic design or copywriting skills? Why not start earning money using your skills today? You can market your skills as a designer or writer on sites like UpWork® or Fiverr®, or create your own website showcasing your projects and advertising your services.
- User Testing. Web designers often need input and feedback prior to making a website public. You might not earn a lot of money as a user tester, but it’s a good way to earn a bit of extra cash in your spare time.
- Grader. A job as a grader is similar to tutoring, except you’re looking over student’s tests and papers instead of helping them prepare and learn. If you can follow directions and have a few years of college under your belt, a job as a grader can help you earn money.
- Transcriber. If you type a mile a minute, working as a transcriber can be an easy and flexible gig. You’ll listen to audio and type what you hear.
- Make and Sell Crafts. Do you knit, sew or make jewelry? You can turn your hobby into cash by making items to sell online through sites such as Etsy®. There’s no guarantee you’ll make money, but if people like what you produce, you might find you have a viable career in the crafting business.
College Jobs to Give Your Resume a Boost
One of the best types of jobs to have as a college student is a job that actually helps you achieve your career goals or one that improves your resume. While working in retail or food service can be fun, those jobs may not help you with your career path.
Some schools stress the importance of internships and co-ops to help students get on-the-job experience. If you need an internship to earn your degree, it helps to find one that actually pays you for your time. That might be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Even if you don’t need an internship or co-op for your degree, you can still reach out to companies to see if they’d be interested in working with you, so you can network and develop the skills you need to succeed in your chosen career. Here are just a few resume-boosting jobs that can help you make money in college:
- Social Media Marketer. If you are considering a career in marketing, a co-op job or internship as a social media marketer will help you get your foot in the door and earn some money to pay for school at the same time. Look within your college’s marketing department for open positions. You can even reach out to bloggers who may be looking to bring on a second person to help them manage their social channels.
- Standardized Patient. Calling all theater majors! Getting cast in a play or TV show is tough. Finding work as a standardized patient, which allows you to use your acting skills to help medical students become better doctors, is a bit easier. You’ll get to sharpen your acting chops while earning a decent wage, usually around $20 per hour. Look for work at medical schools in your area.
- Tech Support Representative. If you’re in school for computer science, one resume-boosting job involves offering tech support to your peers. You can either find a job with an area tech support company or work for yourself. Advertise your services by putting up flyers in the dorms or by posting on your school’s online bulletin board.
- Birthday Party Character. Here’s another job for the budding actor. Dressing up as a princess, superhero or other character for a birthday party helps you develop your skills as a performer while making sure the children at the party have a fun time.
- Photographer. If you’re in school for photography, look for a job that allows you to take pictures. You can find a position at a local photography studio, for example. Or, if your interest is photojournalism, reach out to your school’s paper or to the local newspaper to see if they accept submissions and what they’ll pay for your pictures.
- Engineering Co-Op or Internship. Are you in school for software, electrical or mechanical engineering? A co-op or internship might be a requirement for your program. If it is, make sure to land a paying position. You have a high earnings potential as an engineer and could start being paid for your skills while you’re in school.
- Launch Your Own Business. What’s the best way to show off what you’ve learned in business school? Start your own business and begin honing your entrepreneurial skills. The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to starting your own business. Look online and research what services people need, then create a business offering those services at a great price.
- Teaching or Research Assistant. If you love academia and plan on becoming a professor, getting a job as a research or teaching assistant can help you determine if a career in that field is right for you. Plus, you’ll get to earn some money to cover the cost of your tuition.
- Events Management. If you jump on the chance to plan a good party and are in school for Public Relations or event management, finding a job with an events company will help you learn the ins and outs of the business and can help you get your foot in the door.
High Paying Part-Time Jobs for College Students
Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you’re stuck earning minimum wage, or close to it. There are several jobs open to students that pay $15 per hour or more. Plus, you don’t need to be an expert to earn those higher rates:
- Babysitting. If you enjoy spending time with kids, babysitting is a good way to make money in college. The average hourly rate for sitters varies based on location, but you can expect to earn around $13 per hour. People with college experience or degrees typically earn more than those without. If you’re certified in first aid or have taken a special course, you may be able to charge more per hour.
- Night Auditor. If you’re a night owl with a head for math and accounting, a gig as a night auditor might be for you. You can earn up to $29 per hour in the role. It involves performing bookkeeping tasks and guest services at a hotel during the overnight shift.
- Fundraiser. Non-profit organizations often need people to go out and raise money for them. Whether you’re a grant-writer, a telemarketer or are willing to go door-to-door, if you have the right personality, you can earn a good wage raising funds for organizations.
- Online Researcher. If you know your way around Google® and can conduct research online efficiently, a job as an online researcher can be particularly lucrative. There are vast differences in pay based on the company, but you can expect to earn anywhere from $15 to around $40 per hour.
- Circulation Clerk. Whether you’re considering a career as a librarian or always have your nose in a good book, a job as a circulation clerk can pay off. You can earn up to $19 per hour in the role.
- Guest Services Coordinator. A guest services coordinator is the in-person version of an online customer service job. You get to work with customers and guests face to face, giving them advice and helping them solve problems. Some jobs pay up to $21 per hour.
- Bookkeeper. Here’s another high-paying job for people who are good with numbers. A bookkeeper helps a company keep its accounts and finances in order and usually uses software such as QuickBooks®. The median hourly wage for bookkeepers is $16.33.
Work-Study or On-Campus Jobs
One source of financial aid that’s often overlooked is work-study. Work-study lets you earn money to pay for school by working a part-time job on campus. How much you can earn at a work-study job depends on the amount of your award. For example, if you have an aid package that includes work-study up to $500, you can earn a maximum of $500 at your on-campus job.
As a work-study undergraduate student, you have two options for getting paid. You can have your school issue you a paycheck, or you can have the school use the money you earn to cover the costs of your tuition and other school-related fees directly.
The exact type of work-study jobs available will vary from school to school. Some schools have a set hourly wage for every work-study student, no matter the type of job he or she is doing.
Even if work-study isn’t part of your financial aid package, you might still be able to land a job on-campus. It’s a good idea to ask around various departments at your school to see if non-work-study positions are available and apply early. A few of the best places to work in college include:
- The Athletic Department. You may be able to assist a particular team or earn money selling programs during games.
- The Theater or Performing Arts Department. Theater departments are often in need of students to help the crew backstage during productions. Some schools might have box office positions available to work-study and non-work-study students.
- Information Technology. You don’t need to be a computer whiz to land a job with your school’s IT department. Many departments need students who can watch over the computer labs or provide help with service issues.
- Dining Services. If your school has a cafeteria or food court, it most likely needs employees to work the cash registers, wipe down tables or serve food.
- Recreation. Your school’s recreation department might have a number of openings. For example, as a lifeguard at the pool or referee for intramural sports games.
- Tutoring. Many schools have special tutoring programs to help their students and athletes succeed academically Depending on certain requirements specific to your school, you might be able to find a job as a tutor.
- The Library. The library may have openings for both work-study and non-work-study jobs.
- Your Academic Department. Whether you’re an English major or a physics major, it doesn’t hurt to ask if your department has any openings for student employees.
Once you’ve found a fun and engaging job as a college student, what should you do with the money you’ve earned? Visit WalletWorks for tips on budgeting, paying down debt, and other money management skills.