What Are the Best Jobs for College Students?

Getting a job when you’re in college is easy for students who know what type of work they can do. This list of the highest paying jobs for college students is a great place to start! I paid my tuition, books and rent by working at the first job in this list; it was the highest paying work I’ve ever had. I also took out a loan, as many college students do, but I didn’t want to graduate with huge amounts of debt. So I did the research and found pay rates for 10 different types of jobs. I chose to work somewhere close to my home, in a job that fit my personality and energy level. Bonus: it paid cash every night in addition to my weekly paycheck.

One of the most interesting career tips is to be curious and learn how to enjoy different personality types and perspectives. Don’t just tolerate or “put up with” your coworkers. As a college student you may have already experienced how varied and weird people are, but working with eccentric people is different than going to school with them. Or sitting in their classroom (college professors can be weird, can’t they?). In this list of jobs for college students, you’ll also find a few career tips.

What part time job is best? It depends on your abilities and personality, as well as the opportunities in your area. But no matter what type of job you get, know that your coworkers may treat you differently because you are a college student. Some coworkers – or even supervisors – may be intimidated by your goals. Others might be impressed, even admiring. Some coworkers may think you don’t deserve a high paying job as a college student because you should “put your time in” before earning top dollar. Others couldn’t care less how much money you make now or after you graduate from college.

Your coworkers don’t think or act the way you do – nor should they. If this is your first job, you may be in for a few surprises at work! Especially if you’re an introvert; people with introverted personality traits work best when they’re alone. They aren’t always comfortable in large meetings and don’t usually like to chit chat. Extroverts, on the other hand, love being the center of attention and could make small talk for hours! When you’re looking for a high paying job, take your personality into account.

If you already know you’d rather work alone, read Best Jobs for Introverts and Quiet People.

10 Best Jobs for College Students Who Want to Earn Money

When I researched this list of jobs for college students, I discovered that Starbucks was listed as one of the highest paying jobs for college students. According to that article, Starbucks pays $6 to $13 per hour. If this is a high wage for you, you’re in luck! You probably have several Starbucks in your area – especially if you live near the college campus. But, the closer you live to college and other college students, the more competitive it’ll be to find a high paying job.

1. Bartender or waitress at a nightclub or posh restaurant

10 best highest paying jobs for college students
What Are the Best Jobs for College Students?

I worked at a sports bar when I was in university, and made $450 in tips in one night (plus my hourly wage, which was $5 or $6 an hour at that time). Waitressing or bartending can be one of the highest paying jobs for college students. It’s a good job – especially for night owls and extroverts. Take your resume to the club or restaurant, and ask to talk to the hiring manager. You might also talk to the bartender and waitstaff, and ask for tips on getting hired.

Do you feel lonely or excluded at work? “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you,” said Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends and Influence People. “Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one.” If you don’t feel comfortable at work but you have to keep the job, start getting interested in your coworkers. What do you know about their lives, hobbies, interests, weekend activities, or family? Spend time getting to know them. This isn’t just a good quality for college students at work, it’s a valuable life trait.

2. Dog walker

My dog walker charges $25 for a two hour walk, and she takes six or seven dogs on every walk. This can become a good source of income and a great way to stay healthy and fit. Walking dogs is also a good job for college students who need flexible hours and lots of activity. Call the dog walker businesses in your area, or go to the nearest dog park and talk to the owners.

What jobs are flexible for college students? Ones that allow you to set your own schedule and do the work when you are most focused and productive. A flexible job doesn’t mean you work when you feel like it! A truly flexible job for a bright, motivated college student is one that requires thought and focus, but allows you to work when you are able. Dog walking, editing, content creation and even housecleaning can be some of the best jobs for college students.

3. Tutor for college and secondary school students

If you’re good at understanding and explaining subjects like physics, chemistry or math, you can earn money teaching your peers formulas and equations. This is a great job for college students because it reinforces your own learning, which means you can study less later. Is tutoring one of the highest paying jobs for college students? It depends who hires you and what subjects you tutor. You’ll make more money as a tutor if you work for yourself (versus a tutoring company), but you might want to start by working with a company. How much money you earn as a new tutor depends on your specialty and proficiency.

4. Editor for college students’ essays, theses, reports, etc.

Writing is difficult for many college students, especially if English isn’t their second language. Editing your fellow college students’ essays and reports could be one of the highest paying jobs for college students. if you work for the right company. How much you charge per hour depends on the market and your clients. How do you get hired? The same tips above, for starting a business tutoring college students.

If you’re a young college student without training or past work experience, read Good First Jobs for Teens.

5. Nanny

I’m including this on my list of the highest paying jobs for college students because my niece made $25 an hour babysitting, and had to turn down jobs. Part time nannies in wealthy areas of big cities make more than this. You might even be able to live with the family as part of your earnings, which will eliminate your rent and household bills. That’s one of the best ways to make college cheaper! How do you get hired? You need previous experience as a nanny or childcare worker, and excellent references.

6. School bus driver

What Are the Best Jobs for College Students?
Painting – One of the Best Jobs for College Students?

I found a list of highest paying jobs for college students that pay up to $40 an hour, but they all require some sort of training (eg, makeup artist, dance teacher, flight attendant). According to one article, school bus drivers earn $12.40 to $16.70 nationally. Pay is often higher in urban areas, such as New York City, where the hourly median wage is $29.50. How much training do you need to be a bus driver – and is it a good way for college students to make money fast? It depends on your past experience and training. Driving school buses isn’t an easy job to get, and college students won’t earn as much as experienced, professional career bus drivers.

Do your coworkers hate you because you’re a college student? No matter what type of job you have, learn how to build rapport with your colleagues and clients. Building rapport means being willing to understand and experience another person’s point of view – as if you were that person. It’s especially important for college students to learn how to build good rapport with people who don’t trust or like higher education. Rapport helps you become “in sync” with the people around you, which will create trust and affinity. Learning how to connect with your coworkers will give you skills you’ll use long after you graduate from college. 

7. Freelance content creator or writer

Freelance writing is a flexible job that can pay well, but it’s not exactly a high paying job for a college student. I don’t think I would’ve earned enough as a freelance writer to pay my tuition or books when I was a student. Now, though, I earn between $600 and $1,000 per article when I write for national magazines. I’m more focused on blogging for my own websites than writing for magazines, but I accept commissions. I only charge .50 cents per word right now; when I was freelancing full time I earned $1 a word. If you’re a good and fast writer, freelance writing or content creation can make money fast (depending on the media outlet you’re working for).

If you’re wondering how much money freelancers and journalists make, read Freelance Writing Pay Rates for Newspapers and Magazines.

8. Commissioned salesperson

If you work on commission, you don’t earn an hourly wage or base salary. If you are paid by the company, it’s likely minimum wage (which isn’t a good way for college students or anyone to make money fast). but, you do have the potential to earn more on sales than some employees make in a whole day or week. The most successful salespeople work at car dealerships, electronics stores, and investment banks. Rumor has it they regularly earn up $100,000 or more per year in commission. This isn’t a summer job, though. Salespeople who work on commission aren’t usually college students. Commissioned sales is a difficult job that requires years of experience and skills, which is why I wasn’t sure if I should include it in my list of the highest paying jobs for college students.

Are you stuck in a job that isn’t preparing you for your college career? Every four months, reevaluate your college and career goals to ensure you’re on the right track. This isn’t just about finding the best job as a college student; if you’re bored, depressed or anxious at work or school, then your career or academic goals may be wrong for you. Don’t just visualize and write down your goals; discuss them with your college teachers, coworkers, supervisors, and parents. Learn how this high paying job can contribute to your future career.

9. Dancer

About five years ago, the Canadian government banned foreign dancers. So, nightclubs in Toronto recruited college and university students – and Tim Lambrinos of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada says almost half the dancers at some clubs are college students. The hourly wage varies from city to city, but dancing is comparatively a high paying job for college students. The tips are also a fast way to make money…but dancing is definitely a calling for people who are comfortable in their bodies.

Keep your personal life and details about being a college student separate from your job – no matter what type of job you have. Talk about your hobbies, general family situation, career and life goals, and overall health. But even if your colleagues seem like they could become close friends, avoid getting too personal at work. If you’re in crisis at home, leave your emotions at home – or at least in your car! People skills at work is about keeping healthy boundaries.

10. Cleaning person – with add-ons

I tried cleaning houses when I was in university, but got fired after the first day. I’m not a detail person, and I don’t notice streaky windows and dusty shelves. Depending where you live, cleaning houses and offices can be great way for college students to make money fast! If you work for yourself you can set your own rates, and include extra services (dog walking, grocery shopping, errand running).

Do you feel tired and unmotivated at work? If you’re a student on a break between semesters, you may not need a job. You may need rest. Do you have unreasonable expectations of your supervisor, employees, or colleagues? Are you unhappy and negative? Consider taking a week off to catch up on your sleep and find a healthy mindset. College is stressful, the semesters are a whirlwind, money is a problem, and your job is draining what little energy you have. Try not to spend your college breaks working. Take a rest; your body, brain and soul will thank you when school starts again! Your health is more important than finding a high paying job or making money fast.

7 Ways to Make a Good Impression on the Job Interview

When you’re being interviewed for a job:

  1. Stay on point – don’t talk about other subjects
  2. Talk about why you want to work for the company and what you can bring to it (don’t say you’re a college student who only wants to work there because you want to make money fast)
  3. Be genuine and authentic. Obviously you need money to pay for college books and tuition, but don’t let your desperation overshadow your true personality
  4. Think about what you want the hiring manager to remember about you
  5. Think about what the employer wants to hear
  6. Try to look at your previous work experience you have through their perspective
  7. Explain why your past job experience is important to the company and helpful to the other employees

2 final tips for college students who want to make money fast

Try to avoid a long commute to work. The closer you stay to home or campus, the happier you’ll be! You’ll have more time to study, exercise, and prepare healthy meals for your body and mind. Try not to get a job that is more than an hour from your home – because time is money.

Don’t start a business if you need money now. Becoming an online entrepreneur may appear to be a high paying job for college students, but it usually takes a long time to grow a successful business. Owning a business can be lucrative – but only if you’re willing to put all your time, energy and resources into it. Starting a business takes a ton of time, energy and effort! There are lots of payoffs to being an entrepreneur, but it consumes your whole life.

For instance, blogging for my own websites has been my only source of income for over a decade. I kept blogging while going to the University of British Columbia (UBC in Vancouver) for my Master of Social Work. It was really hard for me to do both well, and I even regretted going back to school! I graduated with an MSW but I almost dropped out of school. That’s the hazard of starting your own business while you’re a college student: it doesn’t help you make money fast and it can divert your focus from graduating.

What do you think? Your comments – big and little – are welcome below. And if you have any suggestions or tips for college students who need to make money fast, please share. We could use all the help we can get :-)


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13 thoughts on “What Are the Best Jobs for College Students?”

  1. Thank you for your advice! I got my first job when I was still in school, I was a courier at the post office, helped to deliver letters.
    And when I started university, I didn’t have time to work. But now there is time and opportunity, and I think about what kind of work I can get.

  2. Great tips on how to get a job for college students, Laurie. Having a positive attitude and going for it has always worked for me. I have always created my own opportunities. I have never waited for anyone to present them. It has paid off ten fold.

    Be bold and have courage!

  3. It was easy for me to get a job in college because I set my goals in small steps. With true desire for achievment and persistence, you will get a good job as a college student. Earning even just an extra $100 or $500 a week goes a long way to buying books and coffee for all night study sessions :-)
    As college students we so many external influences, that we forget to stay focused. And that’s the main reason why it takes much longer for students to achieve goals and succeed, whether it’s getting a part time job or passing math. Therefore, BE PERSISTENT and fight for your goals.

  4. Here’s a good tip for college students looking for work, from Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It.

    The people with whom you work reflect your own attitude. If you are suspicious, unfriendly and condescending, you will find these unlovely traits echoed all about you. But if you are on your best behavior, you will bring out the best in the persons with whom you are going to spend most of your working hours.

  5. Rats! Thanks for pointing this out, Paula….that article was on my old website, which is gone. Horrible, because that was a very popular article. I thought I’d transferred all the best articles from that website to this one, but I obviously missed that one.

    Sorry…thank you for pointing this out, though. I hope you find a high paying job that gets you through your college degree without a penny of debt!

  6. Hi Laurie,

    in the paragraph above about dog walkers,
    there’s a line that mentions,
    “At the end of that article, I link to a book about making six figures as a house or pet sitter. That’s an excellent high paying job for a college student, because it doesn’t require much extra work.”

    I looked and didn’t see that article. Could you let me know which one you meant?

  7. Hi Jane,

    Are you a college student looking for a part time writing job? Blogging can be high paying, but it takes a long time to build up readership and traffic. It’s definitely a small business – and small businesses take a lot of time!

    If writing isn’t your thing, I’d recommend one of the other part time jobs on this list. College students need to focus on their studies, not starting a new business…unless the business requires almost no time or effort.

    Just my two cents :-)

    In peace and passion,

  8. The best high paying jobs for college students are ones that don’t trade time for money. Working a per hour job (eg, at McDonald’s) is not as lucrative or profitable as starting a blog.

    Blogging can be a great source of passive income, but it’s not easy.

  9. This is an excellent list for college students. I never took the opportunity to be a waitress or bartender when I was younger, but I wish I had. It would have been better pay than working an hourly wage. If you’re great at what you do, you can make amazing tips, especially at the higher end restaurants.

  10. I don’t think most freelance writers make $1 per word…but I know the pay rate can go higher than $2 per word! But, like with any high paying job, it takes time and experience to get there. College students may not have the time or energy to work their way up the freelance writing ladder.

  11. There’s some great job search suggestions here–and they all take some initiative and willingness to work! If someone wants a college degree bad enough, they’ll find a way to get it. A student loan is a good way to pay for college if one of these high paying jobs doesn’t work out.

  12. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I am a freelance writer and I DEFINITELY DONT make that much money! WOW!!!!!! I need to start upcharging or get one of these high paying jobs for college students. Thank you for this list!!!