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Best side hustles for college students


For college students looking to earn extra money — perhaps to offset rising costs during their undergraduate years — side hustles can provide an added source of income. 

Side hustles have become a particularly lucrative pursuit for Generation Z, 59% of whom had a side gig in 2022. Gen Zers made an average of $9,537 annually from their side hustles, according to a May 2022 Zapier survey

College students, specifically, are turning to side hustles due to their general flexibility, M’Chelle Ryan, director of Upwork Academy, tells CNBC Make It. Upwork Academy is a program dedicated to connecting students with side hustle and career resources.

Freelancing allows you a lot more freedom and control over hours, schedule and skill sets,” Ryan says. “And students now are looking for and asking for higher-paying opportunities rather than what we used to see in the traditional gig economy.”

Given challenging employment trends over the past few years, side hustles also allow students to take charge of their own income streams, Ryan says.

Securing side hustles in today’s work environment

A growing number of Americans ages 16 to 22 are working or actively looking for work, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in August 2022. The number of job opportunities is also increasing, says Toni Frana, FlexJobs’ lead career expert. 

“We have seen an increase in the number of remote job postings, both part-time and full-time, each year since the pandemic started,” Frana says. “There are opportunities in a part-time realm for people who are looking to find an additional revenue stream while they’re going to college to help with their income and savings until they graduate.”

As students initiate the process of finding a side hustle, they should first consider how much time they are willing and able to commit, Frana says. Establishing time constraints and personal schedules will help students better navigate freelance job platforms. 

“It’s helpful if a student first gets clear on what direction they’d like to go, and then figures out if they want to work five hours a week, 10, 20 hours a week. Do that self-audit to know how much time you actually have, so that you can avoid over-scheduling yourself with whatever job you want to do,” Frana says.

Similarly, it’s important to consider your strengths and interests when searching for the best side hustle fit, Frana says. Those who have a knack for writing, for example, might be better suited to editorial-based side hustles, while those who specialize in design might look for positions with an artistic bent.

Ryan and Frana both shared their thoughts on the best side hustles for current college students. The top options, they say, allow for remote work and maximum schedule flexibility. Here are their top six: 

1. Content writer

How much it pays: Around $37/hour 

Content writers generate written content for brands, including articles showcasing services and products. This side hustle option could be a fit for college students pursuing degrees in communications, English or journalism.

2. SAT/ACT preparation tutor 

How much it pays: Around $22/hour 

For those with strong standardized testing scores, SAT and/or ACT preparation tutoring may be a lucrative option. Standardized testing tutoring is also a remote side hustle that allows for greater schedule flexibility, Frana says.

3. Brand ambassador or social media manager

How much it pays: Around $19/hour

Brand ambassadors partner with companies to promote their content via social media. For those who enjoy social media and content creation, brand ambassadorships and social media management might be a good fit, Frana says.

4. Virtual assistant 

How much it pays: Around $34/hour

​​For those with a knack for organization, virtual assistant side gigs might be an option. Virtual assistant positions typically require students to respond to emails, schedule meetings, arrange travel plans and keep track of schedules.

Virtual assistant salaries vary, but the position is remote and may allow college students to work while enrolled in classes. 

5. Graphic designer 

How much it pays: Around $32/hour

Graphic design side hustle opportunities allow those with creative and artistic skills to visualize and create graphics, illustrations, logos and layouts. These gigs can often be short-term opportunities, granting students plenty of flexibility.

6. Food delivery 

How much it pays: Around $19/hour, though salary varies based on location

College campuses are often high in demand for food delivery services, and students can take advantage by working for companies such as DoorDash, Postmates or Uber Eats.

Food delivery, whether conducted by bike, scooter, or car, allows students to make money whenever they have time in their busy schedules.

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This story originally appeared on CNBC

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