The total student loan debt balance in America reached $1.31 trillion at the end of 2016, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
Student loan debt grew by $31 billion in the fourth quarter alone and it was already the second-biggest form of debt in the country behind housing debt.
If you’re in school and expect to be adding to that giant total, it’s a good idea to start trying to earn some extra cash to put toward those eventual payments. Luckily, a college student’s schedule sometimes allows for time to work a part-time job and earn some money to put aside for when those payments start coming due. (This guide can help you understand your student loan repayment options.)
We asked experts for suggestions on the ideal gigs for college students and rounded up some of the best, including some you might not have thought of:
1. Drone Pilot
Until recently, you needed a pilot’s license to fly a drone for commercial purposes in the U.S. But the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule, which took effect Aug. 29, 2016, requires prospective pilots only to pass a written exam.
The relaxed rules have fostered a growing business for real estate drone photography, said Charles Markman, co-founder and co-CEO of Galaxy Media, a south Florida company specializing in such photography. Markman said photographers had flexible schedules since their real estate agent clients don’t have to be present at the houses they photograph.
Shoots typically take 15 minutes of work and earn $150, Markman said. College students could also work in sales at drone photography businesses, offering drone services to real estate agents.
Drone photography businesses are in most major cities, and Markman recommended reaching out and seeing if they need help.
2. Customer Service
Many companies like Amazon, U-Haul, Hertz and others, contract remote workers to work the phones fielding customer service calls and making sales calls, said Angie Nelson, founder of TheWorkAtHomeWife.com. You’ll need to find someplace quiet to take calls, so this job might not be compatible with dorm life, but it could be a good opportunity for students who live on their own, she said. (Looking for remote work? These 15 states had the most work-at-home jobs.)
Apple hires At-Home Advisors who work remotely, said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist for remote work websites FlexJobs and Remote.co. These advisors have flexible hours and provide technical support for customers with Apple products.
3. Web Developer
“There will always be a demand for web developers,” said Vicki Salemi, a career expert for job search website Monster. “Whether you work for a company or have your own clients, it’s a wise move to make.”
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft can allow students to make money between classes and during off hours by offering rides. This could be a way to make designated driving pay on party nights.
And yes, someone always needs to bring the pizza from the restaurant to the house, but delivery services like Amazon Flex, Saucey and Postmates also need drivers, said Kat Tretina, side hustle expert for Student Loan Hero, a website that helps people pay off school debt. (Make sure you know what you’re supposed to be getting tipped.)
“All you need is a smartphone and a form of transportation like a car or a bike,” Tretina said. “Best of all, you can make deliveries on your own schedule when you have free time. You don’t need to commit to a specific quota each week.”
Lifeguarding is a good way to make a buck during those long summer breaks. Many states require certification to work as a lifeguard, but even in those that don’t you’ll need to know how to swim, of course, and will likely be required to obtain CPR and first aid certification. A fondness for the color red helps too.
Private gigs may be more lucrative than watching over the local municipal pool. AquaMobile, an on-demand swim instruction service, hires swim instructors and lifeguards to work for private clients. The company said in an email that instructors can earn more than $26 an hour.
TaskRabbit aims to bring order to the world of odd jobs. Some of the jobs posted on the online marketplace include basic home repairs, running errands, house cleaning, assembling furniture or moving heavy stuff. No experience or degree required.
7. Selling Insurance
Martin Smith, founder of Wealthcare Financial Group, a retirement planning and investment management firm in Maryland, started selling insurance while he was a full-time law student at the University of the District of Columbia and a part-time law clerk at a national law firm. He met with life insurance clients twice a week, including some weekends.
“Eventually, my part-time income exceeded the full-time salaries of some of the first-year law associates at the law firm where I worked,” Smith said.
Smith’s side hustle became his full-time career for the next 23 years. You’ll need a license to sell life insurance. Requirements vary by state, but passing an exam is often necessary.
8. Be a Friend
Jen Smith, a blogger at Saving with Spunk, had an unusual suggestion: RentAFriend.com. People use the site hire companions for social events, weddings or more.
“People aren’t just hanging out with friends here,” Smith said. “They use the site to practice language skills, to find companions for elderly family or for a motivational workout partner.”
The website emphasizes that it is not for dating. Rates start at $10 per hour.
9. Clean Up
“In my commercial real estate days, we used to pay college kids to clean up and maintain vacant buildings and warehouses so they didn’t have weeds in the parking lot or spiderwebs all over the office when we took prospective buyers or tenants, ” said Chris Post, now owner of Post Modern Marketing in California.
Post encouraged students to ask local agents if they would be willing to pay for similar help.
10. Dog Walker
The ideal gig for an animal lover. Sites like Rover and Wag make finding opportunities to get paid for spending time with man’s best friend easier, but asking around at the local dog park could work, too.
If you’ve really mastered one or more subjects, you can get paid for helping other students.
“There is a huge demand for tutors to help students get through standardized tests and their regular coursework,” Tretina, of Student Loan Hero, said. “And with new technology, tutors today can do video sessions rather than traveling to clients’ homes.”
Tutoring work can be found online at websites like Care.com. And Tretina said tutors can make more than $15 an hour.
“Babysitting is one of the easiest side hustles to pick up both in college and as a graduate,” said Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial, a personal finance book aimed at young adults. “Not only can you find opportunities through sites like SitterCity and Care.com, but ask professors and university staff if they know of anyone looking for a babysitter.”
13. Personal Care Aide
These jobs have increased 18% since 2015, according to Monster. You’ll need to be comfortable with cleaning bedpans and preparing food for elderly people. You may also need to know CPR. Jobs in the health care field are increasingly in demand as Baby Boomers age, Salemi said.
14. Rent Stuff Out
If this whole “working” thing sounds like a lot of trouble, students can also monetize their stuff. Old books or furniture? Sell ’em.
A spare bedroom can go for rent on a site like Airbnb (cleaning regularly will go a long way), and you can even put your car up for rent on Turo, said Tretina, of Student Loan Hero. Turo claims people who rent out their cars earn hundreds of extra dollars each month.
15. Don’t Forget Scholarships
This isn’t really a side job, but Lowry said college students seeking cash should take the time to apply for scholarships. They can be just as impactful on reducing your student debt.
“Every little bit can be used to cover the next semester’s costs and reduce the the amount of student loans,” Lowry said.
Any money helps, and more importantly, ignoring your student loan payments is a bad option with severe consequences. If you’re wondering how your student loans are affecting your credit, you can get a free snapshot of your credit report every 14 days on Credit.com.
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