55 Student Jobs To Help Pay For College
Student jobs may seem like they are few and far between. After all, most people tell you they need experience before they are willing to hire, but how do you get the experience if no one is willing to hire? You can see how this might create a vicious cycle of frustration.
Fortunately, we live in an age where it is easier than ever before to take control of your future. The move to a skills-based economy means there is more pressure to perform well, but if you apply yourself, that can even the playing field with you and someone that has a college degree.
Considering the cost of college or postsecondary education is rising at astronomical rates, you need something more than a loan or scholarship to see you through. A 2015 study from CNBC found that more college students are working while studying than ever before.
In fact, the report states that “Students are working an average of 30 hours a week” and that “25 percent of working students are simultaneously employed full-time and enrolled in college full-time.”
If you feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to begin, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of 55 Student Jobs To Help Pay for College. Some of these may seem a tad farfetched, but hear us out. With a little creativity (and, of course, perspiration) you can make some or all of these work for you in some regard. Let’s get started!
1. Article Writer
The market for article writing can often feel like a sweatshop, but if you divorce your initial expectations from reality, you will find that as an hourly job, it can be quite lucrative.
I always use myself as an example here, because it led to my career. I started in college working for about a penny per word. Horrible pay on the surface, but when you temper that with the time it would take to do each article, it wasn’t so bad.
Initially, my gig was for 500-word jobs. I looked at this as one would filling an order at McDonald’s. You’re not writing Shakespeare or the perfect article for that amount. You’re just following a basic set of instructions.
I could do four 500-word articles — and yes, by my own standards, they were terrible — in a one-hour time period. Add that up and I was making $20 per hour in college as a writer with no print credentials.
Today I do much better than that because I’ve taken higher quality jobs at higher rates of pay. The “content mills” were where I got my start, and for a college kid, that’s pretty great money.
2. Retail Employee — Softlines, Hardlines, Big Box, etc.
Retail jobs fall into a variety of categories, and college students are pretty much the ideal candidates no matter what.
That’s because you guys are usually more knowledgeable about things like fashion, tech, and what’s trending across several of the most popular “verticals.”
You can translate that knowledge into a decent paying job as a sales associate in any number of stores — Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Belk’s, Burlington, Ross … the list goes on.
The good thing about this job is that it’s guaranteed hours and pay from a reputable company. The bad thing … people. Or maybe that’s just yours truly.
Chili’s, Cheddar’s, Cheesecake Factory, Applebee’s, Lonestar Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster — those are just the national chains. Now think of the “sit-down” restaurants that are specific to your area.
Automatically you have a truckload of places to apply to, and with each one, you can earn decent pay, especially nights and weekends.
And not that we would ever condone it, but tip money given in cash may or may not find its way onto your tax forms next April. Just sayin’.
4. Fast Food Restaurant Management
Managing a fast food restaurant is far from glamorous work, but it can certainly offer a nice payday while working your way through college, provided you’re taking part-time classes.
If you want to go full-time, you may want to limit your role to shift leader or assistant management. The great thing about most — they have built-in management training programs that all but guarantee you a job if you want to stay in it for the long haul.
And if you want to do what most people who work in fast food do — get the heck out — you’ve at least spent your time at Wendy’s/McDonald’s/etc. learning the ins and outs of running a business. This can be highly valuable further down the road.
5. Publish Books
Kindle, Kobo, and Nook have made it easier than ever before to publish your own books, whether written by you or someone else.
The U.S. Government Printing Office pumps out a lot of public domain material each year that you can put your own spin on and release as a unique title. There are also other properties (like Dracula, for example) that aren’t subject to copyright law.
Package fiction or nonfiction with the right material and get it up on Amazon and CreateSpace. Apply your marketing expertise, and you never know how much money you might be able to make as a result.
You could also offer to package writers’ books for print and eBook and take a small cut from the sales. It’s not going to be a guaranteed paycheck, but once stuff is “out there,” it’s pretty much passive earnings.
6. Teach Online Courses
Sites like Udemy allow you to quickly and easily produce courses for sale. If you have a special skill that few excel at, then why not launch a short program and put it out into the cyberworld to see what becomes of it?
For a much more detailed list on creating online courses than we have time to give, check out this piece from the Penny Hoarder.
7. Warehouse Worker
Like to use your body more than your mind while working? Getting a job unloading trucks at a warehouse can be a perfect choice for those of you looking at student jobs to help pay for college.
Virtually every place that deals in hardline or softline merchandise will have the need for a warehouse worker, and many pay better than minimum wage, so why not give it a shot? Unsure of where to start? Look for retail chains’ distribution centers in your area and start submitting applications.
8. Harness Your Social Media Following
If you’re good at social media and know what will and won’t go viral — and especially if you’ve built up an influential following for yourself — then why not take a crack at charging per post?
Many companies will pay good money for a post promoting their product if you’ve got the evidence that you’re a social media champion.
Want to know more? Check out this piece from Fast Company on how you can make $500,000 per year through Twitter alone. (And at that pay, who needs college? Oh wait, this is 4Tests? Forget we said that.)
9. Social Media Manager
Lots of mature business leaders are absolutely inept when it comes to building a viable social media presence. That’s because they earned their fortunes before the Internet.
Look for some of these longtime established businesses and promote yourself to them as a “social media manager.”
Typically you will share posts — both curated and original — that speak to the message of the brand in some small (or large) way. The goal is to engage and grow their following on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, etc.
10. Sell Phones, Data Plans
Many phone and data companies pay at least in part based on commission. That means you can be the controller of your own destiny when it comes to how much money you make.
One look at an AT&T store on Saturday should tell you how lucrative this can be. People will actually wait for an hour or longer just to see a sales associate. In fact, every time I’ve gone in during the week, I’ve never gotten right in to see someone.
Give it a shot. You could end up earning full-time pay for part-time work, if you’re good.
Mowing the yard may not seem like the coolest of student jobs since your direct competition is 8-year-old Billy who lives up the block. However, it is still a great choice because Billy usually stinks at his job, and it’s a mostly cash business. (Sorry, federal and state bureaucrats.)
The downside is that you need to invest in equipment to be good at your job, it can be laborious, and it’s a seasonal thing.
12. Resident Assistant
Work Study Programs are readily available to students on college campuses, and one of the most popular options among these are resident assistant jobs.
Basically, you’re paid to watch over a specific group of students and report any missteps. You also do some basic maintenance around the living facility and stay in one weekend a month to watch movies in between your walk-throughs.
Okay, so maybe the experience will vary depending on the college where you’re working, but that’s how it went for me.
13. Dorm Receptionist/Security Monitor
Another Work Study job that yours truly had the pleasure of doing.
You sit at the front desk, read a book, do homework, and note names from members of your preferred sex that you find attractive for future Facebook stalking.
Yeah, that was just me. You can really do anything you want provided you’re at the desk during the scheduled hours.
14. Department Fellowships
In my case, I worked in the English department and offered tutoring to fellow students along with a few other chosen fellows (English majors).
These responsibilities may also vary from one school to the next. You simply apply to your department and, if chosen, show up and collect a paycheck.
15. Campus Tour Guide
This may not be a thing at your school — see available Work Study programs — but if it is, it can be a great way to earn a few extra bucks and get to know people while sharpening your own “people skills” for use later in life.
16. Research Study Participant
Universities are always conducting research in a variety of fields. To get a participant committed, they often offer a little stipend that you can take advantage of while being at the cusp of something potentially mind-blowing.
See different department heads on campus and ask them if there are any studies you can apply for as well as what the perks are for each one.
17. Cafeteria Worker
Work Study again, this time allowing you as a student to go where few students have gone before and lived to tell the tale.
Kidding. The Halloween holiday has us in the spirit!
In all seriousness, cafeteria food can be anything from terrible to passable on a college campus, and it doesn’t really matter to you. Your only job is to serve out the slop and clean up afterward.
18. Giving Blood, Plasma, or Other 😉
Donating blood, plasma, or, if you’re a guy, well, you get the point — all these things can provide a little extra dough to help you pay for college.
While you’re not going to med school on what you’ll earn, the pay can serve as spending money and allow you to avoid the temptation of borrowing more than you really need.
Sadly, some of us went to college before Uber and Lyft were a thing. Now that they are — and provided your state doesn’t have any cockameme laws to protect the cab drivers — you can put your ride to good use chauffeuring folks around who may be too drunk to do so themselves.
You can also take advantage of the not-comfortable-driving-in-cities crowd as well as the too-cheap-to-own-a-car populous.
Good at making crafts or some specific novelty item? Look for farmer’s markets — morning and evening — and set up shop!
Airbnb is yet another revenue generator that you and your buddies might be able to take advantage of if you’re renting an off-campus house.
Heck, for that matter, you could rent out your dorm room provided there are no restrictions on doing so. (There probably are. If so, just don’t get caught.)
This is best described as “Uber for homes.” Check out the terms and conditions before signing up.
22. Dog Walker/Pet Care
Many people in this world love their pets more than they do people, and believe me, I get it. Pets think that no matter what you do you’re the greatest person, who ever lived, and no amount of bad press will convince them otherwise.
These folks are not happy with working their 9-to-5 jobs and leaving Fido home with no human companionship. Find these people, and offer to take their dogs/cats/lemurs for walks during the day while they’re at work.
Like yardwork, it’s a mostly cash business. Do with that detail what you will.
23. Transport Dead Bodies (Yep, Actually Did This One)
This type of job might not be readily available, and you have got to be a special sort to take on the responsibility.
When I was in college, I knew an undertaker who would need help from time to time picking up dead bodies and transporting them to their abode for preparation.
I thought, “What the heck, let’s give it a go,” when this gentleman put out a notice he was looking for some college kids to be “on call” should he need some after-hours support.
He paid quite well for no more physical labor than was involved, and all the bodies I hauled were mostly elderly patients from hospice care, so there weren’t any deeply disturbing horror movie-type injuries to worry about.
How to get a job like this: firstly, if you actually want it to the point of actively seeking it out, you’re weird. If you’re just desperate, it helps to know someone in the “industry.” If you don’t, just stop by a mortician’s and see if he “has anything” for you.
24. Video/Audio Editing Services
Today’s generation is more technologically advanced than ever before. This has its advantages when it comes to working with programs like Audacity, Garage Band, etc.
Video and audio content are the next blogging. In fact, many businesses have already gone to doing their own “thing” through iTunes or Amazon. There are still many more who are gunshy about trying, or who are too busy to be good at professionally editing and packaging a YouTube video or podcast.
Offer your services “on spec” — they only pay if they’re satisfied with the work — if you want to drum up potentially lucrative ongoing business.
Great thing about this, is you don’t have to have any special degrees. You only have to show you can do the work and have the proper software to help you present a final product that pleases the customer.
25. Bookstore Chain Employee
As I sit here writing this at Books-A-Million, I’m tempted to nix this one. Everybody here hates their jobs, and the store manager just got into a fight with a guy, who was trying to steal one of the outside clearance books.
Still, working at a chain bookstore can be a sweet job if you love being around books and magazines (and Emo T-Shirts). You also get discounts.
The clientele at a Starbucks or Joe Muggs is considerably better than what you’ll find at McDonald’s, and coffee has an elegant culture that goes along with it. Not a bad way to earn a buck being around the stuff and having “first taste” on new flavors.
A lot of what we’ve mentioned/are going to mention individually in this article is being advertised through the Fiverr marketplace.
Yes, the site has a number of “hacks,” who are terrible or unreliable. But that’s good for you because if you’re good at what you’re offering, you can get a steady stream of freelance business.
28. Virtual Assistant
Many business people will use virtual assistants for the things that can be done online — or at least set up online — that maybe don’t have a direct effect on their business but are nevertheless important to un-cluttering the workday.
Think paying bills, placing orders for important equipment, billing, etc.
29. Administrative Assistant
For more complex office spaces where there must be a human touch, the administrative assistant job (or secretarial job) is a great option for those in search of student jobs.
While some positions may take a bit more experience — executive assistants, for example — many of these positions have a low barrier to entry.
Not unlike the virtual assistant job, except in this case you may be doing all that, plus picking up laundry and groceries and letting the cable installation guy in your boss’s home.
31. Newspaper Stringer
Terrible pay, but with newspapers cutting back on staff, there are more opportunities for those at the entry level than there were in my day.
You might be asked to cover a special event, a ribbon cutting, or a high school football game. It’s good for getting your feet wet in traditional journalism.
32. Graphic Designer
Businesses need shirts, brochures, print newsletters, and other work completed all the time. If you’re a talented graphic designer, why not take your portfolio around to area businesses and say, “This is me. This is what I’ve done. I’d be happy to do a project on spec — you don’t pay if you don’t like the results”?
Business owners respect that, and they will respond to it, especially if they like your work and feel you are easy to work with (i.e. you’re good at accepting feedback).
33. Web Design
Twenty years into the Internet, and many smart business people still don’t have the first clue when it coms to what makes an effective web page. Web design is a huge part of it, and since you are of the Internet generation — the first people to grow up in a world where there was always an Internet — you probably have a better handle on this aspect of web culture than most. Show people what you can do, and see what they have to say.
34. Search Engine Optimization
There is a lot more to search engine optimization (SEO) than me using “student jobs” 500 times in a 5,000-word article where that is the keyword.
Frequency of usage matters far less than quality of content.
SEO not only encompasses that balance, but it also means you’re following good etiquette when it comes to tagging articles and images, offering up captions, and being consistent in the way that you format content.
35. Translation Services
Are you comfortable with learning languages? Do you consider yourself fluent at more than one? There are still many businesses trying to reach bilingual markets yet they do not have the time or the resources to learn the language or pay for a full-timer, who can go into foreign language communities and communicate.
As a student with a firm grasp on Spanish or some other highly common second language, you are in a good position to beat others on price and carve out a reputation for your services in the business community.
36. Research Assistant
Know of any area authors or business owners, who need high-quality research done but are unable to find time to do it themselves? If you have a bent for it and you would rather be in a quiet library going through microfiche than watching sports all day on a Saturday, then you could be the ideal candidate!
37. Audio/Video Production
Editing audio and video is one thing unto itself. While you will need to know how to edit to create, of course, the actual production goes beyond how the footage is spliced up. When you are an audio/video content PRODUCER, you are creating content that people want to watch or listen to.
Think about how you can put your talents to use in a business setting. Ask yourself, for example, what would a person with a plumbing problem want to see when they fire up YouTube to search for a video? Can you produce a video or podcast that would solve their problem? Demonstrate that to businesses who specialize in these fields.
38. Building Websites
Building a great website is partly about design, but it’s so much more. It’s content creation. It’s ways to engage. It’s an effort to streamline across social media and other platforms, all for the benefit of an audience. Can you do that? Show a business owner that you can.
39. Audio Book Production
Amazon’s ACX platform allows you to sell your services reading copy for audiobooks. Since Kindle has millions of books available — with authors adding more all the time — why not go to the ACX marketplace and offer a nice introductory price to the authors in search of a “voice” for their Audible narration?
If you can read, then you can do this job and use it to help pay for college.
40. Selling Artwork
This would be limited, of course, to those of you capable of producing quality artwork. Think about getting it out there and selling through sites like DeviantArt, Flickr, and other image marketplaces.
41. Selling Photographs
Same as with artwork. Do you take good photographs? Snap some images and throw them up on Flickr or ShutterStock or some other online destination. There are billions of websites, and most have a need for imagery.
Translation: no shortage of places to sell your stuff. Before you do, however, make sure that a) you’re as good as you think you are; and b) people can “find” your photos through proper SEO.
42. Library Part-Timer
This could be a Work Study job through your college or it could be something available through your city library’s board of trustees. I can’t offer you better advice than to simply go into a library and ask if they’re looking for help.
43. Networking and Volunteering
Wait a sec, you may be thinking. Volunteering!? Doesn’t that mean working for no pay? Well, yes, it does. But it can still be a lucrative way of getting your foot in the door somewhere, and to do it in a manner that aligns better with your interests.
When people run a business or non-profit, they have to be mindful of budgets. If you can go into these places and say, “Look, I would love to work here, but I’m really just needing some experience,” they will respect that.
You may or may not be able to monetize that contact, but you will be building a solid networking connection to serve you well down the road. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve gotten in the present that were set up through free work that I did in the past. It really does work.
44. Work at an Office Supply Store
Staples, anyone? Office supply stores are not unlike the retail outlets/big box stores I mentioned earlier in this piece, but they are more pleasant environments with a quieter clientele, and they generally don’t have the customer congestion of a Walmart. Think of it as “retail lite.”
45. Professional Wrestler
Seriously. I am not kidding. When I was growing up, wrestling schools were hard to come by, and they would cost you a fortune. Now the good ones still will to some degree, but there are more options now than ever before when it comes to wrestling schools and indie bookings.
If this interests you, start by searching for wrestling schools around your area. You will have to pay a tuition to get involved. Once you’re in, there will be varying requirements, but if staying in shape is your thing and you always loved watching WWE as a kid, there is nothing to stop you from going to college while working house shows every few weeks.
You probably won’t make a lot of money at first — or maybe ever — but you’ll make something, you’ll build experience, and you’ll have one heck of a story to tell people at parties. You could even harness your friendships and acquaintances into higher profile bookings by getting them to show up whenever you have a match.
46. MMA Fighter
Same thing with wrestling applies here with the caveat that in this case, people really are trying to break your bones and punch you in the face.
Still, if you’re competitive, you’re going to be working out anyway, and you don’t mind mixing it up, get involved at a gym, work hard, and see if there are any local organizations looking for fighters to fill in undercard bouts.
If you’re willing and you can keep from getting yourself killed, then this could be a little extra money in your pocket while going to school.
See Nos. 45 and 46, but substitute “wrestling school” and “MMA gym” for “boxing gym.”
48. Bike or Auto Shop Mechanic
If getting your teeth kicked in doesn’t appeal to you and you’ve always been good with your hands, then check into bike and auto shops in your area. Tell them what you can do, fill out an application, and wait to hear back.
49. Fitness Club Front Desk Associate
Pretty easy job. Fill out work orders on broken down equipment, collect dirty towels, stare at your favorite hotties, and call an ambulance whenever some 60-year-old former athlete throws his back out trying to lift too much weight. Just another day at the office.
You’ll do some tutoring as a department fellow, but if you branch off and offer tutoring services to fellow college students or high school/junior high students, then you can earn even more. Check with a guidance counselor about getting the word out to parents at the secondary level. Use the web and the good old bulletin board on campus at the postsecondary level.
Seasonal job. Still, lots of fun if you know how to swim (and CPR).
Babysitting jobs are mostly cash-based, and they can be pretty lucrative once you do a good job for one family. Only downside is that most people want you to babysit on the same nights when all the good parties are. As a result you may have to miss out on some things, but in retrospect from my own experiences, those “things” are probably best missed-out on.
53. Smoothie Maker
This job is not unlike working at a fast food restaurant, but it is closer aligned with being a barista in the sense that yes, it can get rather busy, but the clientele makes it generally easier to handle than, say, a McDonald’s or Taco Bell.
Look for Tropical Smoothie Cafe jobs at the chain level or just put some applications in at similar locations special to your town or city.
54. Bartender (for 21 and Older Types)
Yes, you have to be of age for this one, so sorry about that, (most) undergraduates. If you are of age, it’s a two-fer. Great social life, plus a lucrative business that benefits from being largely cash-driven.
When it comes to bartending, though, we would advise that you pick a good location. Any place that keeps a double-barreled shotgun under the counter probably isn’t conducive to midterms.
55. Food Truck Worker
As a food truck worker, you can be around some delicious food and (perhaps) enjoy perks like discounts on food or sneaking the occasional hot dog. Best of all, food trucks tend to be situated in some neat locations, so you can get a nice social outlet while making bucks and filling your stomach. What’s wrong with that?
I know some of these suggestions may not be the most practical, but I hope they have taught you that if you’re willing to think outside the box, there are numerous student jobs that can help you pay for college and, more importantly, provide life experience to enhance your life after you graduate.
Now it’s your turn. What are some student jobs that we didn’t include here but probably should have? Sound off in the comments section, and we will see about adding them in or creating a follow up post. Best of luck!