Ten (non-dodgy) ways to make money as a student
Funding your life at university might seem daunting, but there are hundreds of opportunities out there to earn some money while studying. Whether you want a quick cash fix or to gain career-specific experience, check out our pick of the top ten jobs that will make you money and develop invaluable skills for your future employment.
1. Tour guide
Many places offer opportunities to work as a tour guide – at the university, giving tours to prospective students, in a museum or conducting walking tours of the city. You may be able to create your own work schedule, though you could be expected to meet a certain number of hours per week.
Tour guide positions will be advertised online but it’s worth checking the city centre for any sight-seeing tour meeting points where they might be advertising. Most guides tend to earn between £8–10* per hour with the benefit of possible tips. Having this job on your CV demonstrates aspects of leadership, such as emotional intelligence and crowd management, and communication skills.
2. Brand ambassador
If you’re looking for a more casual job in which you can socialise during working hours, consider becoming a brand ambassador on campus. Businesses such as Tinder, RBS and Innocent Drinks typically look for students to promote their brand or products. Your working hours will depend on your employer; you may do a full day of work once a month or ten hours of work spread out over a week. Pay tends to range between £8–10* per hour.
Your responsibilities could include sharing social media content, distributing merchandise and getting people talking about your employer – all activities you can add to your graduate CV to show off your commercial and people skills. This job is sometimes called a ‘promoter’, especially if you’re employed by a club or bar, which might involve working night shifts. Many of these positions will be advertised online but keep an eye out for brand ambassadors on campus – they may be able to offer advice on how to join their ranks.
Working in a pub, bar, cafe or restaurant is a student classic for a reason: there’s a strong demand for staff. Look out for notices in windows, but don’t be afraid to walk in with your CV even if there isn’t one. Many places may be willing to take on casual workers or to keep your CV in case of a staffing emergency.
Expect a fairly flexible schedule but with block shifts of six to eight hours that could end late depending on your establishment’s closing time. Most jobs will pay just above the minimum wage, but you will often get tips too. Working in this sector is a good way to build up your people skills and confidence to interact with others, along with further attributes.
4. Student caller
Many universities hire student callers who contact alumni to raise funds, increase awareness of university initiatives or carry out surveys on behalf of the university. These positions will be advertised on the university’s website and tend to pay between £8–10* per hour. You may get to choose your working hours, making it a good job to balance with your studies. In addition, logging your calls and keeping records will give you an insight into the administrative work that is part and parcel of most office jobs.
5. Retail assistant
Many shops are willing to hire students on a part-time basis. Vacancies will be advertised online or in store (look out for notices in shop windows) and tend to pay just above the minimum wage. Employment in retail means your schedule may be flexible but be prepared for block shifts of up to six or eight hours at a time, especially if you choose to work on weekends. Having a job in retail will add numerous skills to your graduate CV, such as commercial awareness and customer management.
You can teach your first language or your degree subject in person or online (this includes tutoring websites, where you teach virtually). Jobs can be found through universities, agencies, classified ads or online. If you choose to join an agency or tutor through a school, you will most likely be asked to complete a background check, which could cost between £25–59*, based on classified ads. However, the pay for a tutor tends to be between £12–20* per hour, depending on the age and academic level you teach. You will have control over your schedule and you will be able to add adaptability and communication skills to your CV.
Babysitting is suited to students looking for occasional work. You will find opportunities advertised online, through your careers service or on notices in coffee shops or post offices. Your family and friends could also help you find a babysitting job through their network. Most jobs tend to pay between £8–10* per hour, with the additional benefit of potential study time if you’re babysitting children who are in bed early. Graduate recruiters look for employees who can take on responsibility and working as a babysitter is a good example of this.
8. Dog walker
If you love man’s best friend, dog walking is worth considering. The hours are short and can be worked around your university schedule, and the pay tends to be between £8–10* per hour. Look for dog-walking jobs through dedicated websites or pet shelters and kennels. Not only do you get to add how responsible you are to your CV, you get to play with a dog to prove it!
9. Usher/flyer distributor
Many theatre and music venues will advertise for ushers on a seasonal basis, so you’re not committed to the job for too long. Venues might also advertise for people to hand out flyers, particularly in big cities known for performing arts, such as Edinburgh or London. The pay tends to be between £7.50–9* per hour and you may get to watch productions or concerts for free. The best way to find these jobs is online or by visiting the venues in person. For those looking to pursue dramatic arts careers, this demonstrates your interest and commitment.
10. Delivery rider/driver
If you have a bike you could become a delivery rider. Your schedule will be flexible, though expect to work night shifts and in all kinds of weather. The pay might be hourly or according to the number of deliveries you make, but tends to average out around £7.50–12* per hour, with the possibility for tips and discounts in certain restaurants. You can find most delivery jobs advertised online, though if you order pizza one night, don’t hesitate to ask your delivery rider questions about their job! Being a delivery rider also shows employers you can be trusted to work independently.
Other ways to earn cash at uni
The options above aren’t your only choices. You could look into working for your students’ union where jobs are often reserved for students and pay between £7.50–8* per hour. There are also opportunities to participate in other students’ studies or experiments, though make sure you know what the experiment entails before you sign up. The pay for this will vary: short surveys may pay between £5–10* while an in-depth study may pay between £20–50*. You could even find a job that makes the most of your existing skills – if you have a lifeguarding qualification, look into working for your local swimming pool or if you’re a great dancer you could teach a dance class.
If in doubt or if you’re struggling to find work, don’t forget that your university careers service is there to help and is a good starting point to look for jobs or get advice. And, when applying to jobs, to make sure they conform to the minimum wage.
* Estimated salary information in this article has been sourced from PayScale research, as well as university careers services, including the University of Edinburgh, the University of Sheffield and the University of Manchester.