The Best Online Jobs for College Students

by Spencer Mitchell on December 15, 2012

As someone that made quite a bit of spare cash in my college days at the University of Nebraska, I can tell you that making money on the internet is MUCH better than slaving away at the campus dining hall or bussing tables at a restaurant. And now that more companies of all shapes and sizes are doing business online there are more online jobs for college students than ever before.

However that doesn’t mean you can simply connect to your dorms wifi and expect money to come out of your printer. Like any job, online jobs for college students require three things: a marketable skill, hard work and dedication.

But didn’t I just say work from home college student jobs were better than offline work? Yes, they definitely are better…but not because they’re necessarily easier.

Here are a few of the advantages of home jobs for college students:

  • The Pay: Obviously, this varies depending on what type of work you’ll be doing. However, the ceiling for how much you can make online is significantly higher than most offline jobs, where you get paid a fairly low hourly wage. As I’ll discuss later, if you spend time learning a skill that’s in demand, you can charge rates that may rival your post-graduation salary. However, if you opt for easier jobs like surveys and data entry, then your pay won’t be anything to brag about.
  • Flexibility: Is there anything worse than turning down an invitation with your buddies because you have to work the next day? Or stressing out because you have to work even though you have a huge exam or paper the next day? With home jobs you really don’t need to worry about this as you can generally choose your own hours. This is huge if you’re one of those students with a million and one obligations.
  • Fun: College is all about having these great experiences…not washing dishes in some nasty kitchen. Not to say working offline is a waste of time, it’s just that many students find online work more enjoyable and rewarding than cleaning and other low-skill labor drudgery. Of course, if you’re holding down a a “cool” job like a campus tour guide or a resident assistant , than online work may not be any more fun than what you’re already doing.

The Best Internet Jobs for College Students

Because I already have a ton of information here about paid surveys as a job for students, I’m not going to discuss them in depth here.

Obviously, this list is a bit subjective as the “best” job for you depends on your preferences, pay expectations etc.

The main criteria I used to determine the best jobs were:

  • Resume boosters
  • Fair pay
  • High demand
  • Flexible hours
  • Interesting and mentally stimulating

Freelance Writing

While the pay for written content has fallen in recent years, demand has skyrocketed. And even though writers may not make as much as they used to, the pay is still pretty darn good. According to BLS.gov, the median hourly wage for writers and authors is $26.64 per hour. Of course, NY Times best selling authors tend to drive up the average pay, but it does give you an idea of how much you can make if you position yourself as an expert writer.

In addition to the stellar hourly wage, writing is something that most students can start pretty much on Day 1 of their search for online work. And because you’re usually paid per word or per article, you can pretty much set your own hours.

However, keep in mind that the freelance writing world is fiercely competitive and you’ll have to deliver quality content on a regular basis in order to do well. If you feel that your writing could use a brushing up then you may want to consider taking an elective writing courseĀ  to iron out your grammatical and syntax kinks.

And as you may expect, this is one of many online jobs for college students without investment.

Data Entry

Sure, a data entry clerk isn’t the coolest job you can get. But it is a job that requires absolutely no investment or special skills. Even though the pay tends to be hourly, you can usually work whenever you have free time.

There are a few different types of data entry jobs out there. The first is kind of what you’d expect: you enter information from a piece of paper or a scanned document into a spreadsheet of some kind.

Data Entry ImageBut thanks to the explosion of podcasting and online videos, there is a heightened demand for transcription.

However, I’ve done some transcription in the past, and I can say that you can definitely get the hang of it and learn the ropes within a few days of practice. So don’t let that deter you. Remember: higher skill=higher pay.

Web Marketer and/or Designer

There’s an absolutely exploding demand for Americans that can create beautiful, functional websites. Even if you’re majoring in philosophy you may want to consider moonlighting in something web related.

Because the demand is so incredibly high, pay tends to be well above the other jobs listed here.

Examples of web-focused jobs that businesses are looking for include WordPress design and programming, PHP (a programming language), advertising management and social media management.

Obviously you cant just start applying for jobs tomorrow without some familiarity about how online marketing works. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a 4-year degree to master. You can usually use free online tools and courses to get a handle on most of the skills listed above.

Virtual Assistant (VA)

If you’re the type of person that always seems to find that golden nugget piece of information for your term paper, then you may want to consider working as a VA.

A VA is essentially a personal assistant that does their work online. Some VAs work for busy stay at home moms or executives while others help small businesses get work done.

Because you’re American and speak English as a first language you’ll have a huge advantage over most VAs, which tend to be located in India. While you don’t need a special skill to do well as a VA, reliability is of prime importance.

Video and Audio EditingPicture of Video Editing Software

Are you a YouTube junky that wants to be part of the next viral hit? Even if you don’t have the money for a camera you can still get involved in multimedia editing and production. You will need at the very least some experience editing video (you can use free tools online to do this) if you expect to get hired. You can check out Monster, Indeed and other internet job boards for open video editing jobs.

While this job does require more skill and experience than most other online jobs for college students listed here, many students find that this gig is the most fun.

Fiverr

Fiverr is a really cool website where you offer to do something for 5 dollars. And if you take the time to poke around the site you’ll see that people are willing to do just about anything for five bucks!

While $5 won’t pay for this semester’s textbooks, it can add up quickly if you find something that people want and you can deliver fairly quickly.

For example, one guy on there shares people’s sites on his social media profiles, like Facebook and Pinterest.com. This is something that many site owners want AND is a task that he can finish pretty quickly.

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