Ah, college. A time of new experiences, learning who you are, and of course, crushing student debt. That last part, not so much, unfortunately. Keeping yourself out of the red when you're paying your own bills for the first time isn't easy.
And it gets more complicated as you try to balance the cost of student living and tuition with maintaining your grades and making time for family and friends. There are quick and easy ways to save money, but the only real way to keep the debt away is to start earning as soon as possible.
You might find that it's no easy task with the demands of your classes, but in the new gig economy, there are plenty of simple ways to start earning extra cash and even build a lucrative business with or without a high school diploma.
Most of the options in this article are work from home jobs only requiring a laptop and an internet connection. This article will give you the 17 best online jobs for college students that will help you make money while working remotely.
But before you imagine yourself as the next big baller on campus, answer these questions:
What Should College Students Look For in Online Jobs?
1. Can You Actually Work From Your Dorm?
Remote work has made it possible for an enterprising student to create an entire cottage industry out of their college dorm. Becoming a student entrepreneur means more flexibility in your hours, but it doesn't mean less work. You still need to be productive, consistent and use some good-ole brainpower.
Be honest with yourself about your capabilities to stay self-motivated. There's an online job opportunity for every situation, so ask yourself these questions before you start:
2. What's Your Budget?
Some of the online jobs listed here involve micro payouts that pay only a few cents for a few minutes of work. Unless you're experienced on these sites, chances are you won't make rent, at least at the start. There are also a lot of scams out there. So, think about how much you need to be making and let it dictate the prices you're setting for your business.
3. What's Your Schedule Like?
A flexible schedule is one of the biggest draws with online jobs, but if you want your business to grow bigger than a few extra pizzas a week, you need to think about how much time you can reasonably spend at working online. Virtual assistant or call center jobs net higher paychecks but require more regular hours, so when you go for these types of jobs make sure they don't eat into your study schedule.
4. What Are You Good at?
If you have artistic or digital talent, online jobs are great as a side-hustle. They're also a perfect way to get your foot in the door to a career that you can pursue after college. If you're already doing something that you're passionate about, not only will it feel less exhausting as your study schedule heats up, but you'll also get a head start. You will already know the world you're entering later. Which brings us to the last point.
5. How Experienced Are You?
Most of what's listed here doesn't need a lot of formal training and is easy to do with a busy or tight schedule. But take the time to learn the ins and outs of the work you're doing. Take a course, and build a professional-looking portfolio.
Most job sites offer free training or certification of certain skills as part of their services. Make use of the free ones, or check out skill-building websites to help you improve your skills, and add to your earnings. Now you've had a bit of a reality check, take a peek at these perfect options for dorm dwellers.
Let's get started.
What Are the Best Online Jobs for College Students?
1. Start a Blog or Niche Website.
If you've got a side hobby that you're passionate about, starting a blog is a great way to make some income. You can build a business from it, a community around it, and have your thoughts shared with the world.
It's simple to become a blogger, and most of the skills you need are the same ones that freelance writers, digital marketers, or social media managers have. Choose a topic and establish yourself as an expert then make money with affiliate programs, ads, online courses, and more.
You can create a .com website of your own for as little as a few dollars a month with a web hosting provider like Bluehost, and start building yourself as a go-to source for information.
Build up your site's traffic, rankings, and authority by offering to guest post on relevant blogs. As your website grows, you can earn big with affiliate marketing and sponsored posts, or even offer video courses and eBooks.
It sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but the more you specialize in your field, the faster you'll earn a reputation, and the easier it will be to earn real money, set your own schedule, and work at home.
I started my blog in 2019 at 30 years old - I wish I had the foresight to start one when I was back in college - as I ended up wasting too much time on partying and Call of Duty marathons.
However, you can see how I earn over $80,000/month from this blog I recently launched if you check out my Blog Income Reports.
This is mostly passive income that goes into my bank account each month.
If you're interested in diving deeper, you can also read my huge guide to learn how to start a blog this year.
To get started blogging, all you need is a WordPress website and web hosting. Bluehost is a company that makes it extremely easy to one-click install your WordPress site - and only costs $2.95/month.
Here's how to start your blogging journey and sign up for web hosting:
- Go to the Bluehost website and click Get Started
- Pick the pricing plan you want ($2.95/month is cheapest)
- Enter a new domain name or select one you already own
- Enter your account info, plan choice, and your billing information
- Uncheck the extra options for Sitelock Security and Codeguard Basic
- Click Submit and you're ready to go!
I recommend you get started with their Basic Plan for $2.95/month, which is 63% off their regular price and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
2. Freelance Writer.
In an age where content is king, everyone is looking for a great whitepaper, blog article, or marketing copy. If you've got a way with words and can pass a grammar test, there are plenty of business owners that need freelance editors and article writers.
Depending on your skill level, reputation, and the sites you're using, writing jobs can earn you serious money with just a few hours of writing a week. Many writing platforms don't require more than a grammar test and writing samples to sign up, and it's a great way to build a writing portfolio to grow a career, even after college.
One great platform to get freelance writing gigs is FlexJobs.
They are a freelance job community where you can get all kinds of remote jobs in areas like freelance writing, graphic design, coding, and more. Joining their platform requires a small monthly fee, but they use this to vet every single employer on their platform so that every job is high-quality and flexible.
I recommend you check out FlexJobs to see what kinds of online jobs you can land.
3. Search Engine Evaluator.
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. But even the big ones, like Google, Yahoo and Bing still require a human touch. You can sign up at search engine evaluation sites like Appen, and if you are fluent in English and able to work at least ten hours a week, you could be earning $12 to $15 an hour.
With this part-time job, you get to use your technical savvy and communication skills to make money.
4. Teaching ESL.
If you speak a second language, it's easy to find a website that can help you earn money by part-time online tutoring. One of the most in-demand foreign languages in the world is English. ESL companies supply tutors to fill this demand.
Some ESL companies don't even require their tutors to have teaching licenses, have formal training nor speak English as their primary language to be able to teach. You can earn $12-$25 an hour teaching for a company or teaching freelance.
All you need is Skype or other video options and a quiet space to be able to teach English. You can even teach on the go, thanks to your smartphone. Sites like Tutor.com, Fiverr, and Upwork are a good place to start.
Like freelance writing and teaching English as a second language, being a transcriptionist starts with low pay that gets higher as you build a reputation within job sites. Transcribing requires no previous experience, and you can start anywhere, anytime.
Some sites even offer free online classes so you can learn the skills you need, and move ahead quicker. For example, Transcribe allows transcriptionists to join their team after taking their assessment and start paying right away via PayPal.
You can earn around $15-25 a job as a general transcription expert. You can specialize in highly technical fields, like law and medicine, and earn even more. It's a great way to pay off those med school tuition fees.
You could also join a site like Lionbridge which specializes in marketing translation and digital marketing or a site like VIPKid to teach English online.
To get started and work from home, you just need some solid typing skills and an internet connection.
6. Amazon MTurk.
MTurk is Amazon's crowdsourcing program. Once you've applied, and been accepted, you'll have the opportunity to take on small data mining, data entry, and transcription jobs. MTurk calls these HITS.
It's true that many are low, low paying jobs (like cents at a time). But there are a few tips and tricks to get the best jobs. Check back often, since high paying HITS go fast.
Always check the acceptance ratings of each requester. Some jobs go anywhere from $15 to as much as $50.
It's not a consistent income, but it's definitely worth it if you're looking for a way to make some extra cash.
7. Online Surveys.
Like MTurk, online survey sites may seem too good to be true. You're not going to earn a full-time salary with survey sites like Survey Junkie, Toluna or Swagbucks, but it's a way more productive way to spend your time than watching cat videos on YouTube.
Some of the tasks are so easy that you can play educational videos/recordings (for studying) or music in the background as you complete them. Some jobs even involve playing online games. Rewards can be anything from Starbucks gift cards to PayPal payouts.
Some sites give freebies and hold contests for community members, giving you the chance to earn even more. For example, when you sign up and complete surveys with Swagbucks, you can redeem your points for a $500 Amazon gift card.
Another option for micro-tasks is to join a site like Clickworker to make money with micro-jobs.
8. eBay Store.
When you're living in a dorm room, there's not a whole lot of space. To make more room, you might need to clear out some of your stuff. You can get rid of your stuff and make money by selling them online.
Running a successful online business is easier than you might think. Simply open a store account, and start selling your things online for quick bucks.
9. Etsy Store.
If you're crafty, or artistic, you might choose to open an Etsy store. It's a great way for beginner artists to get started, as well as build an online brand, before or after graduation.
If you're worried about the cost of supplies, you can opt for thrift store flipping, by updating cheap second-hand clothes.
If you're handy with a sewing machine, it's a fun way to make extra money while you build up your artistic skill. Finally, it can be a way to alleviate some of that study stress. And if you don't want to build your own site and sell products, you can sign up for a site like UserTesting to visit websites and complete simple tasks to provide feedback and improve customer experience.
10. Voice Over Work.
Have you ever been told you've got a great voice for radio? If you love reading out loud, and you have a knack for impressions, you might be perfect for voiceover work. It's a lot easier to get started than you think.
Demand for narration for instructional videos and podcast work is high. If you've got a high-quality mic and some audio editing equipment (you can find cheap or free software online) it's easy to build a reputation and take jobs that can net you $25 per gig.
If you're talented enough, you can earn even more. If you're looking for a way to practice (and hone) your skill, try free options like Librivox, which don't pay, but do offer reviews on your voiceover work.
11. Stock Photographer.
Like written content, there's a huge market for stock photos for sites like Shutterstock and Pexels. If you're handy with a camera, or even a decent videographer, you can create a great business model with just you, and your smartphone.
These days, professional-grade cameras are inexpensive and easily available, and free beginner photography courses are available online. This makes it a lot easier to get into the stock photography business.
If you have an artistic eye and you're enjoying the work, you can take your business offline. Set yourself up as a freelance photographer for events, parties, and even social media influencers.
In either case, an online portfolio will really help you stand out from the crowd.
12. Social Media Marketing.
Social media is integral to any business marketing plan in the 21st century. But the digital market is constantly changing, and most business owners aren't exactly social media mavens or even digital natives.
If you're comfortable with social media platforms, and you have some digital design or marketing experience, you can earn as much as $30 an hour running social media marketing campaigns for local companies and organizations (like your school).
Social media marketing is a bankable skill that you can take with you as you enter a variety of industries. If you have any interest in working in the digital world, this is a great way to start out. Most of these jobs can be done by a freelancer remotely - and for much cheaper than hiring an in-house, full-time social media management team.
Social media management platforms like Hootsuite even offer free classes for beginners to get you started. Graphic design skills are also a plus when applying for freelance side gigs. Graphic designers that leverage their skills can easily learn how to make money with social media.
13. Virtual Assistant.
If you're someone who always has color-coded notes, labels your fridge items, and has a perfectly-organized closet, you've already got most of the skills needed to be a virtual assistant. Even Facebook Groups like the Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board provide the latest VA jobs.
The gigs vary in terms of salary, hours, and the work you're actually doing. You can work as a VA doing everything - from data entry, answering phone calls to building spreadsheets.
Like other forms of marketing, many major companies are moving away from hiring in-house, and are instead focusing on freelancing sites to outsource and offload administrative work. Set yourself up at a popular Virtual Assistant job site, and you could be earning $10-20 an hour.
14. Data Entry.
Much like a VA, data entry jobs are plentiful in the online workplace. Data entry payout is a little less than a VA's or social media marketer's, but the work is pretty simple and requires little to no real experience.
You may need to take a typing speed test to prove you're qualified typist, but other than that, you can get started immediately. The work is a bit monotonous, but it pays well at anywhere from $15-25 an hour.
15. Remote Call Center Worker.
This job requires a bit more in the way of setup fees. You will need a working headset, and a VoIP service, to block out other calls while you're working. Most remote call center workers are required to work at least 20 hours a week, but you're allowed to set your own hours and work as little as four hours a shift.
You can make $15-30 an hour working for major companies like the Shopping Channel, and your favorite delivery services. Companies even offer free training so you can update your customer service skills as you earn, making it a great resume builder.
16. Rideshare Driver.
This one's a little less online than our other offers, but working as a rideshare driver for Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare programs can easily net you more than $1,000 a month.
You do need a driver's license and car for this one, so you might want to spring for campus parking. Otherwise, it's just a matter of signing up and downloading the app. If you know the area well, and you're comfortable letting strangers into your car, this is a great way to make money fast when you need to.
17. Selling Your College Notes.
If you're a good student, you know that selling term papers would be wrong. But selling lecture notes is completely legal. Being able to write good notes is a skill - it can take time and effort to learn.
Make it easier for your fellow students to know about your business by selling your previous terms notes on campus bulletins and online markets. You can upload study notes on a weekly basis, and get paid via a website on a term-by-term basis.
Alternatively, you can go freelance, and sell your notes by setting your own prices. Be aware if you want to advertise your note-taking services on campus, you may want to speak to a student union. It's not illegal, but there are definitely ways you can get in trouble sharing your notes, so avoid accusations of plagiarism by talking to advisors first.
In a similar vein, you can get paid to work as an online tutor or work proofreading and editing papers.
Best College Jobs - Summary.
College life is expensive, but it doesn't have to mean living on ramen noodles. Thanks to e-commerce and new digital opportunities, there are plenty of options for enterprising college students to earn money right from their dorms.
Whether you're looking to earn extra spending money, or you want to make an early start on eliminating those student loans, you can begin your empire from the comfort of even the most cramped dorm room.
*** Guest Author: Above anything else, Elise loves playing with words. She spends her working hours guiding writers to run a successful freelance business, while occasionally blogging over at HireWriters. When no one is looking, she bakes a mean Tarte Tatin and stuffs her face with soup-filled dumplings.