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23 of the Best Online Jobs for Students – and How to Get Them

For most of college, I had jobs that required me to be in a physical location. My post office job required me to be in the mailroom, while my English department assistant job required me to be in the department office.

Starting my sophomore year, however, I got my first taste of online jobs when I started writing for this website. While it would take a few more years for that to turn into my main job, I was forever hooked on the flexibility that online work offers.

In an effort to help you enjoy some of the same benefits, I’ve put together a list of the best online jobs for college students. You don’t need a degree to get any of these jobs, and you already have the skills to do many of them (or can learn the skills in a few afternoons).

So if you’re ready to trade working in an office for working from the comfort of your laptop, then keep reading.

Freelance Writer

I’ll start with the first freelance gig I ever got: writing. If you know how to write, there are all kinds of opportunities for you to earn money online. You could write articles like this one, but you could also write scripts for videos or even material for web pages.

Here’s a real-world example: Thomas Frank (who got his start by building this very blog as a college student) was hired to write the script for this video on the How to Adult channel:

What it pays:

  • You can easily charge $50 for a 1,500-word article when you’re starting out.
  • More experienced writers can charge $150 (or more) for a 1,500-word article.

How to get the job:

  • Start your own blog and write articles for it. You’ll get tons of writing experience, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to publish what you write. You can use our comprehensive website building guide to get started – once you’ve built a site, it’s easy to add a blog in seconds.
  • Then, use those articles to put together a portfolio. If you need inspiration, check out our showcase of more than 50 portfolio examples.
  • Finally, start pitching your work to websites – use contact forms to reach out, or build relationships with editors and bloggers on Twitter. For more on this step, listen to our podcast interview with Aja Frost, who build a thriving freelance writing business while she was still in college.
  • For step-by-step help starting your freelance writing career, check out this course my friends Kristin and Alex created. It covers everything from building your portfolio to finding your first clients.

Freelance Editor

In addition to writing work, I’ve also done a fair amount of freelance editing. This category is quite broad, including everything from editing short articles to full-length books. Beyond that, you could choose to specialize in a particular topic (like my friend James Ranson does with business books).

What it pays:

  • As an inexperienced editor, I was able to charge between $350 and $500 for editing a short book.
  • But you can charge a lot more once you have experience, or if you work out a retainer deal where a client pays you to edit a set number of articles per month.

How to get the job:

  • When you’re in college, the easiest way to get started is editing work for your friends.
  • Getting into other positions where you can edit is also helpful (such as the campus newspaper or literary magazine).
  • Brand yourself as an editor. Again, build a portfolio – and let people know you’re an editor in your social media profiles, too.
  • Also, meet as many professional editors as you can. Editing is a niche world, but if you can get into it, you’ll find editor friends sending you work they don’t have time for.

Freelance Graphic Designer

A few examples of our graphic designer's work.
A few examples of our graphic designer’s work.

Graphic design is another time-honored field for freelancing. You can do something as simple as a logo or as complex as an entire brochure. You can even do fun illustrations for blog posts, such as Ashley does for us here at College Info Geek.

What it pays:

  • According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for a freelance graphic designer is $30.
  • However, you can often make more than that if you bill by the project instead of by the hour.
  • For instance, if you charge $150 for a logo that only takes you 2 hours to make, then your effective hourly rate is now $75.

How to get the job:

Freelance Web Developer

Web development is a field that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. If you have the skills to build a website, you can start charging someone for it today.

You don’t even need advanced skills — being able to build a basic WordPress site is enough for many projects. And if you do have more advanced web development abilities, then you can earn a very healthy side income.

What it pays:

  • According to Glassdoor, the average hourly pay for a freelance web developer is around $36.
  • But your hourly rate could be much higher in practice.
  • For instance, if you charge $1,000 to build a basic website that takes you 5 hours to build, then your effective hourly rate is $200.
  • When our head developer Martin Boehme was still in college, he was paid $5,000 to build a custom website. That’s more than a full semester’s worth of earnings at a typical part-time job.

How to get the job:

  • You don’t need to be a computer science major, but you do need web development skills.
  • To learn web development, check out this full course on Skillshare., You could also pair what you learn in that course (or any other) with the hands-on exercises at CodeCademy.
  • After you have some basic skills, build some free websites for friends to use in your portfolio.
  • From there, you can use your portfolio to get paying gigs.

Online Surveys

If you want a way to make a few extra bucks in your spare time, then online surveys are a great method. They require no skills except the ability to use the internet.

And while you won’t get rich taking surveys, they can provide a more productive way to spend random moments between classes.

What it pays:

  • Most surveys pay between $1 and $3 each.
  • Surveys usually take a few minutes to complete, and you’re often limited to a certain number per day
  • So in effect, you’re looking at some extra spending money, not replacing your income.
  • Also, know that many survey sites have a minimum payout amount. For instance, Survey Junkie requires you to have $10 in your account before you can cash it out.

How to get the job:

  • First, sign up for a survey site such as Survey Junkie.
  • Next, answer a few questions about yourself.
  • You’ll then be eligible to start taking surveys.

Audio Transcription

Computers continue to get better at recognizing and interpreting human speech, but they still aren’t perfect.

Because of this, there’s still a demand for people who can listen to audio and turn that audio into written words. This is the skill of audio transcription, and it can be a flexible way to earn extra money from your computer.

What it pays:

  • One of the largest audio transcription companies, Rev, starts freelancers at $0.36 per minute of audio transcribed.
  • Assuming you can transcribe 10 hours of audio per week, that works out to $216 a week ($864 per month).
  • Transcriptionists with more experience can earn double that.

How to get the job:

  • All you need are great listening skills and the ability to type.
  • The easiest way to get started is to apply at a site like Rev.
  • You’ll then take a transcription assessment.
  • If you pass the assessment, you’ll be eligible to start doing work.

Video Captioning

An example of closed captioning in a video
Every day, hundreds of videos are uploaded to the internet that need captions.

While audio transcriptionists turn recorded phone calls or interviews into text, video captioners turn the audio from a video into a written form.

They also sync the audio with the video and convey any sounds from the video using text. This requires a bit more skill than audio transcription, so the pay tends to be a bit higher.

What it pays:

  • Captioners for Rev start at $0.45 per minute of video captioned.
  • If you can transcribe 10 hours of video per week, that works out to $270 per week ($1,080 per month).
  • More experienced captioners can earn up to $0.75 per video minute.

How to get the job:

  • Typing and listening/watching skills are all you need.
  • You can sign up at a site like Rev.
  • You’ll then take a captioning assessment.
  • If you pass that, you can start receiving work.

Voiceover Work

While computers are getting better at imitating the human voice, it’s still fairly easy to tell a synthesized voice from a real one.

Therefore, there’s a demand for people who can provide quality narration for instructional videos and other media. If you have audio recording equipment and a good speaking voice, you can do this job.

What it pays:

  • A friend of mine who does this part-time makes around $25 per voiceover she records.
  • Considering that the whole process of recording the audio and uploading it takes (at the most) an hour, this is a well-paying side gig

How to get the job:

  • You’ll need headphones, a basic microphone, and audio recording software (you can just use whatever program comes with your computer).
  • Once you have the equipment, I recommend posting your voiceover services on a freelance marketplace like Fiverr.

Video Editing

Video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro
Do you really think this goober is editing his own videos? Absolutely not – someone else (our editor Tony) is getting paid good money to do it.

Video has emerged as one of the internet’s largest (and most profitable) forms of content. People can’t get enough, which means there’s a high demand for skilled video editors.

Plus, you can learn the necessary skills on your own (no degree required).

What it pays:

  • According to data from Upwork, beginner video editors can charge between $20 and $45 per hour.
  • Once you have more experience, you can easily charge $50 or even $75 per hour.

How to get the job:

  • First, you need to learn the basics of video editing with a course like this one.
  • You’ll also need access to quality video editing software such as Adobe Premiere. Students can get access to Premiere for as little as $19.99 per month.
  • Next, you’ll need to put together a video editing portfolio. You can do this with free work for friends and family, or your own short film projects.
  • Finally, you can start pitching your services to clients.

Photography

While video may be the hottest form of media at the moment, photography isn’t going away. There’s still a high demand for skilled photographers, both for taking photos of subjects and editing those photos into a finished product.

And with the quality of today’s phone cameras, you may have all the equipment you need to get started.

What it pays:

  • A typical photographer can charge around $25 per hour, according to PayScale.
  • However, what you can charge depends on how skilled you are, as well as how much editing/post-production you can do.

How to get the job:

  • First, learn how to take great photos with a course like this one.
  • Next, start taking photos. If you can afford it, getting a professional camera will help a lot. You can learn more about how to choose one here.
  • You can then put together a portfolio of your photos on your website.
  • To go freelance, start with small gigs for friends and family. Then, expand from there as your portfolio grows.

Teaching English

English is an in-demand language across the world, and you can make money teaching it.

You don’t even need to be a professional teacher or speak another language. Many platforms just require you to be able to speak fluent English in order to get the job.

What it pays:

  • Without formal teaching qualifications, you can expect to earn anywhere from $12 to $25 per hour.

How to get the job:

  • To get started quickly, I recommend looking at a site such as VIPKID (in which you teach English to Chinese children).
  • I also recommend looking into iTalki, a website that connects students with language teachers.

Teaching a Foreign Language

In a similar vein to teaching English, perhaps you’re bilingual (or even trilingual).

In this case, you can look into teaching a foreign language to English-speakers. If you can speak an in-demand foreign language (such as Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic), that’s all the better.

What it pays:

  • Expect to make anywhere from $10 to $35 per hour depending on the language and your level of experience.

How to get the job:

  • First, be sure you’re truly fluent in the language you’re teaching.
  • Next, sign up to teach on a website like iTalki.
  • Alternatively, you can look around in your community for people who want to learn the language you speak.

Translation

If you can write a foreign language fluently and understand the basics of professional translation, then you can make good money as a freelance translator.

Translators take all kinds of documents (ranging from scripts to instruction manuals) and translate them into another language. And with the rise of translation marketplaces, it’s easier to get translation work than ever.

What it pays:

  • According to ZipRecruiter, the average freelance translator makes ~$29 per hour.
  • However, your pay will vary based on your experience and the complexity of the projects you work on.

How to get the job:

  • First, you need to be fluent in at least two languages.
  • Beyond that, you need to understand how translation works; it’s a skill in and of itself. Ideally, you would take a course in it at your university.
  • Next, post your services on freelance websites and check out this guide to becoming a freelance translator.

Social Media Marketing

Businesses need to maintain a presence on social media in order to engage with their fans and spread awareness of their brand.

However, most business owners know nothing about how to use social media. Enter social media marketers, who use their knowledge of social media and marketing best practices to get the results their clients one.

What it pays:

  • Looking at profiles on Upwork, it appears that $20 to $25 per hour is a standard rate for freelance social media marketing/management.
  • Some freelancers, however, were charging as high as $70 per hour.

How to get the job:

  • At minimum, you need to know how to use all the major social media platforms (including all the “business” or “pro” features).
  • You also need to know the fundamentals of marketing. I recommend reading this book and taking this course to get started.
  • After you have the basics down, you can post your services on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr.

Data Entry

Computers are better than ever at processing data, but they still struggle with turning handwritten documents into digital ones. For this reason, you can still earn decent money doing data entry.

In essence, data entry just means taking data from one source/format and transcribing it into another (usually a spreadsheet or database management system.) Provided you’re detail-oriented and efficient, it’s a job that almost anyone can do.

What it pays:

  • According to PayScale, the average hourly pay for data entry is $12.92.
  • However, I know from talking to friends that it’s possible to make twice that much, particularly if you’re skilled in using Excel.

How to get the job:

  • You don’t need many skills to do this job; fluent English, typing skills, and an understanding of spreadsheets are all you need.
  • Your best bet for finding a data entry gig is to post your services on a platform such as Fiverr or Upwork.
  • To boost your hireability, take this course on how to use Excel.

Retail Arbitrage

Retail arbitrage is the process of going to a store, buying items that are priced lower than online, and reselling those items online for a profit.

It’s not a purely “online” job since it requires you to visit physical stores and ship items. But if you like bargain hunting, it’s a way to turn your interest into extra income.

What it pays:

  • Since this is a more “entrepreneurial” pursuit, it’s hard to find data on average earnings.
  • But if you do this regularly enough (and are good at it), it’s easy to make a few hundred extra dollars a month (or more).

How to get the job:

  • First, download an app such as Amazon Seller (Android | iOS).
  • Then, use that app to scan products and figure out if you can buy them for less than on Amazon.
  • Finally, buy the products and then sell them on Amazon for a profit.

Start a Niche Site

Continuing in the realm of entrepreneurial pursuits, another way to make money from the comfort of your dorm room is to start a niche site. This just means a site focused on a particular topic (or “niche”).

If you can attract enough readers, you can make money from the site using either ads or affiliate marketing (where a company pays you in exchange for recommending a product).

What it pays:

  • Earnings vary massively, but it’s reasonable to make a few extra hundred a month from a site that you’ve put a decent amount of work into.
  • It’s possible that your site could turn into a full-time job (that’s what happened when Thomas created this site).

How to get the job:

  • To start, you’ll need to learn how to create a blog.
  • For more info on how to make money from a blog, I recommend this guide from Smart Passive Income.

PPC Marketing

You know those ads that show up every time you’re scrolling Instagram or searching Google? Someone has to create and manage those ads, which is a field broadly known as PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing.

While it sounds complex and intimidating, basic PPC work just requires you to use some simple software and spreadsheets. You don’t need a computer science background or even coding knowledge.

What it pays:

  • According to PayScale, the average hourly pay for a PPC marketer is $25.
  • However, you can earn 2x that even with limited experience (due to the high demand for this work and the lack of qualified people to do it).

How to get the job:

  • To learn PPC, I recommend signing up for this free course from my friend Seth Hymes.
  • Once you know the basics, start getting experience ASAP (local businesses are a great place to start).
  • With a bit of experience, you can start applying to work on higher-paid projects.

Start a YouTube Channel

The demand for video content is insatiable, and YouTube meets a big portion of that demand. If you can create an entertaining, interesting YouTube channel, then you can cash in on some of this massive demand for video.

You’re probably not going to make it as big as someone like Pewdiepie or Casey Neistat, but you can totally make a full-time income as a YouTuber (particularly if you can find sponsorships).

What it pays:

  • Anywhere from a few extra dollars a month to a full-time income.
  • It all depends on the quality of your videos, how much time you have, how well you understand the business side of YouTube, and a fair amount of luck.

How to get the job:

Music Production

Do you know how to make sick beats? If so, there’s a chance to earn some money. While most musical artists are struggling to make it, music producers are making a solid living (to say the least) from selling beats online.

What it pays:

  • Browsing the most popular tracks on BeatStars (a popular marketplace for hip hop beats), most beats are selling for around $19.99.
  • However, there’s no limit to the number of beats you can sell, making this an exciting opportunity to build passive income.

How to get the job:

  • First, you’ll need to learn how to produce beats using software such as Logic.
  • Then, you can start posting your beats on a platform such as Soundcloud in order to gain a following.
  • At the same time, you can put the beats up for sale on a platform such as BeatStars.
  • Don’t forget to make a website to showcase your beats.

Selling Art

Gone are the old days when you could only buy art from a gallery. These days, you can purchase art all over the internet, no matter your budget or tastes. If you’re an artist, this is an opportunity.

What it pays:

  • If you’re selling art part-time, you can expect to make a few hundred extra dollars per month.
  • But it really depends on what you’re selling and how much time/effort it takes to produce.
  • Something like a print of your work on a t-shirt, for example, will take less effort to sell than an original piece.

How to get the job:

  • I’m going to assume you already have art skills and focus on the sales/marketing part of the equation.
  • Having an Instagram for your art is a must, as well as a website.
  • From there, you can decide if you want to sell your work on your own site or on a third-party platform such as Etsy.

Virtual Assistant (VA)

Lots of busy people need help, but they don’t have the money to hire a personal assistant IRL. This is where virtual assistants come in. They do things like answering email, booking appointments, and basically every other digital task that a busy person doesn’t have time for.

What it pays:

How to get the job:

  • Strong organization and communication skills are the most important thing to have.
  • From there, you can offer your services on a platform such as Upwork or Fiverr.
  • Alternatively, you can look into a VA agency such as Zirtual (just make sure your class schedule doesn’t conflict with the required hours).
  • For step-by-step guidance, check out this course from our friend (and former College Info Geek VA) Kayla Sloan.

Sell Your Notes

Taking great notes is a skill. If you have that skill, you can turn it into money when you sell your notes. Don’t worry — this is all completely legal, and it’s easy to get started.

What it pays:

  • On platforms such as StudySoup, you can earn up to $500 per class.
  • In practice, you’ll probably earn less than that, but this is still a solid way to make money if you’re already taking great notes.

How to get the job:

  • First, sign up for an account at StudySoup.
  • From there, search for eligible courses and sign up to be a note-taker for them.
  • Upload your notes on a weekly basis.
  • Leading up to exams, upload a study guide based on your notes.
  • You’ll get paid 3–5 days after each exam.

Start Earning Money While You’re Still in College

I hope this guide has shown you just how many online jobs for college students are out there. I’m sure there’s at least one job on this list that you could start doing today, so what are you waiting for?

Get out there and start earning!

Image Credits: person typing at laptop with camera