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Thursday 29th February 2024

Six ways to earn income as a student

Richa Ved outlines six income-generating opportunities for students, including tutoring, participating in research and freelancing


If you’re a full-time student, your day is most likely consumed with your academics and extracurriculars. But despite an already-packed schedule, it shouldn’t be all-that-hard to earn an extra buck.

So, whether you’re looking to pay off your student loan quicker or save for something special, it’s important to establish reliable income streams while maintaining a good work-life-school balance.

While the usual choices of bartending, waitressing, working at stores, or baby/petsitting are always an option, here are some underrated side hustles or passive income ideas – especially for students.

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Tutoring

  • Earning Potential: From £15 to £30 / hour 
  • Flexibility: Medium

If you have a particular subject, skill or language that’s your strong suit, tutoring should be a go-to for you. 

Leverage your pre-existing skills and turn them into a reliable side hustle – coding if you’re a tech geek, mathematics if you love numbers, or karate if you’re a black belt. You can choose to tutor others in your degree, tutor batches of younger children, or even become a sports coach in your local sports hub!

A current student or graduate can expect to earn between £15 to £30 an hour, but depending on your subject qualifications your hourly pay will automatically increase.

While the job does require you to be consistent, you get to pre-decide your working hours according to your schedule. With virtual tutoring being the popular choice nowadays, you can sign up for sites like MyTutor, FirstTutors, Elevate Education, or Ringle (which offers English tutoring for international students). 

Participate in research

  • Earning Potential: £5 to £50 for one to two hours
  • Flexibility: High

Most universities have an in-house research facility to conduct research via experiments or surveys on various subjects. The good news is that they are always looking for keen students to participate in such research projects. 

During my time at university, I participated in several behavioural research projects, student-run projects, in-person logic and game-based tests, and online surveys. The best way to find out about these is via university-managed portals, student unions or societies, and psychology or such departments.

Most have a minimum participation fee of £5 to £10, which can go up to £50 depending on the type of research, hours and effort required. Plus, you’re flexible in choosing which projects you want to participate in.

Sign up for campus-based roles

  • Earning Potential: £10 to £20 / hour
  • Flexibility: Medium to High 

Campus-based roles such as freshers’ week representatives, open day event volunteers or university ambassadors are well-paid and flexible options.

Jobs can range from distributing flyers and goodies to freshers to managing student union stalls, or conducting walking campus tours for prospective students.

You can also earn from blogging for your department about topics such as your experience of the degree or life on campus.

Other long-term roles include Library, Teaching or Research Assistants, or Dorm RAs. However, keep your eyes peeled as positions fill up quickly!

Sign up to be a campus brand representative

  • Earning Potential: Starts around £5 to £10 – and then performance-based
  • Flexibility: High

Brands are often looking to hire students to use their networks and promote themselves on various campuses.

Popular ones include recruiting agencies such as RateMyPlacement or Sanctuary Graduates, or brands looking to target student subscriptions such as Amazon Prime or Adobe.

While there’s usually a flat fee, most of your income is performance-based from around £1 to £5 per link clicks or sign-ups.

Sell old items

  • Earning Potential: Variable 
  • Flexibility: High 

An obvious, but underused and underrated way to earn a one-time lumpsum is selling your old items. You can sell old textbooks, lecture notes, clothing, electronics, or household items. 

The best time for this is at the start of the academic year during the freshers’ week, but student unions do hold year-round pop-ups. You can also advertise on student Facebook pages (of university societies or incoming freshers’ pages) or Whatsapp groups.

Freelancing 

  • Earning Potential: Variable
  • Flexibility: High

One of the best ways to generate passive income is freelancing. You can sell your creativity online on sites like Shutterstock and Pexels for photos, or Etsy for artwork.

If you’re able to put in more effort, you can find high-demand freelancing roles like writing, coding, graphic designing, or transcribing from sites like Freelancer.com and Upwork. Plus, there’s always a way to find on-campus freelancing jobs with student unions or societies looking for photographers, blog writers, video editors and more!

Remember, such income should be obtained with minimal effort and sufficient flexibility to ensure this complements your academics, not entirely replaces it.

Photo Credits: Pexels

Richa Ved

Richa is a young Indian graduate from Warwick Business School, aspiring to find her niche in the media industry. She has a passion for writing and a keen interest in financial affairs. If you don’t find her working, she’s probably having a pizza (her favourite!) and a pint of beer somewhere.

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