50 Smart Side Hustles for College Students

So you’re in college! Great! How’s your bank account looking? Wallet? Couch cushions? No worries – you have student loan money!

Wait just a minute.

While it may be tempting to take out more student loans than you actually need to cover your tuition, you’ll thank yourself later if you keep it down to a manageable debt. Future You is going to have to pay for Present You, after all. The new artisanal burger place your friends are raving about isn’t going to be so delicious when you pay for it with 6 or 8% interest ten years from now.

So if ramen noodles and instant coffee for the next four years sounds a little too depressing, maybe you need to find yourself a college side hustle to pay for the little extras that make life more fun.

Probably none of these are going to make you a millionaire. If you’re really good, some of them might, but for the most part, these are gigs you can do in your spare time or on weekends to make a few extra bucks, and be realistic – when you’re a college student, a few extra bucks is a big deal.

Can’t find the right hustle here? Check out 50 More Smart Side Hustles for Students.

  1. Uber/Lyft Driver: You have a car and a way with conversation? Lots of people need a ride to the airport, or home after a wild night at the club – just as long as you weren’t in the club too.
  2. Postmate Driver: Postmate is a delivery service that gives everybody the chance to make a few extra bucks moving food, office supplies, packages, or whatever. If you’ve got a car, bike, or feet, make the most of your spare time between classes. The Rideshare Guy has a fascinating blog; be sure to read about his experiences before you embark on your own!  
  3. Junk Hauling: Not everybody wants to take the time to sell their junk; some just want it gone without having to deal with it themselves. If you’ve got a pickup truck and can find your way to the local dump, you can probably find someone who will pay you to take that job off their hands. Just put an ad on Craigslist.
  4. Advertise-Wrap Your Car: It sounds crazy, but it may be literally the easiest way to make a little side cash. Use your car to advertise. To get their name in people’s heads, companies are willing to pay you a little marketing change to drive around with their logo on your car, so who are you to refuse?
  5. Bike Messenger: It takes nerves of steel and strong calves, but in a lot of congested cities bicycle messenger is the only way to get documents or packages across town quickly. Build good word-of-mouth between businesses and have work whenever you need it.
  6. Mobile Oil Change Service: Sometimes it’s too much trouble even to drive to the quick-change oil place. A couple of automobile risers and a good wrench is all the investment you need to make some greasy side money.
  7. Newspaper Route: If you’re a morning person and have your own transportation, newspaper routes are absolutely still a thing, and no, they don’t hire kids on bicycles to do it. You can make a handy little income and still make your 9am class
  8. Teach Music Lessons: There is no end of schoolkids whose parents want them in some extracurriculars, or adults who missed out on their rock ‘n’ roll dreams when they were younger. If you can play an instrument and have patience with beginners, you can teach.
  9. Photography: If you’ve got an eye and some decent equipment, it’s not that hard to turn your hobby into some extra cash. Families are always looking for a deal on portraits; people always want photos of their special events. Just remember to take the lens-cap off and don’t insult the bride’s mother.
  10. Handy(wo)man: You’d be amazed at the simple household repairs people can’t (or don’t want to) do themselves – although, if you have some handy skills, you already know, because someone’s always asking you to fix something. Lots of folks will pay good money to avoid swinging a hammer.
  11. Pet Grooming: Fifi isn’t going to trim her own fur. If you’re good with animals and know your way around a set of clippers, pet grooming can be a lucrative niche. Make sure you come up with a good name. Preferably a pun on “paws.” People love that.
  12. Alterations/Sewing Repairs: Sad but true, most people don’t have any sewing skills anymore. Heck, nine out of ten people you pass on the street can’t even replace a button (we can’t verify those numbers). So if Grandma taught you your way around a sewing machine, pick up some extra money threading a needle.
  13. Personal Trainer: If you know your way around the gym and like helping other people fit into their wedding dress or impress everyone at the class reunion, some certification courses are all that stand between you and a side gig as a personal trainer. 
  14. Busking: Have you got musical talents? Get a license from your city and open up your instrument case, because there’s a surprising amount of money that can be made by keeping commuters from losing their marbles with entertainment.
  15. Consultant: Are you an expert in something? Something people would pay to know about? You might not think so, but think harder – specialized expertise is hard to come by, and the thing you know everything about could be worth real money to someone else.
  16. Translation Services: If you’re bilingual, or multilingual, there are plenty of times when people and companies might need a one-time translation service. Until online translators give people something that doesn’t sound like a computer pretending to talk, you can take those jobs. 
  17. DJ: Yes, everybody and their cousin is a DJ these days, but good ones are still hard to come by. If you can get a party rocking and keep a seamless groove, your weekends could be booked up.
  18. Bread Baking: It’s easy to forget in the era of gluten-free everything, but for many people, nothing beats fresh-baked bread. And hardly anyone knows how to do it. Take your yeasty magic and bake up a few loaves for pennies on the dollar, and build up a local clientele who want a nice artisanal boule on Saturday morning.
  19. Start an Etsy Shop: If you’ve already knitted everybody in the family a whole winter outfit and can’t stop, turn your hobby into an Etsy shop. There is literally a space for every craft, from conventional ones like sewing to… um… unconventional ones, like taxidermy.
  20. Golf/Tennis Pro: If you blew everyone away on the court or on the green, you could find yourself making a tidy sum on afternoons and weekends helping your more athletically – but not financially – challenged clients up their game.
  21. Cut/Braid Hair: It required a license to open a shop in most areas, but even without one, your shears and nimble fingers can probably earn you a little extra helping your fellow students look their best.
  22. Kindle Publishing/E-books: In the era of e-readers, there are more opportunities than ever to publish short stories, novels, and everything in between. Genre fiction works best (fantasy, horror, mystery), but there’s a reading public always willing to risk 99 cents for a good story.
  23. Freelance Writing: The Internet runs on content, and so far we don’t have robots who can write fun, clickable listacles and linkbait – although they’re working on it. Jump on freelancing before they do. Services like Upwork can connect you with companies who need part-time and per-project freelance writers.
  24. Ghostwriting: Maybe you don’t have stories of your own, but you have mad writing skills. Where do you think CEOs and celebrities find the time to write their autobiographies, really? Ghostwriting jobs are plentiful, if you just take a look around.
  25. Affiliate Marketing: Do you have a blog? You’re a child of the Internet age – of course you have a blog. Do more people than your mom and roommate read it? Then try slapping up some links to your favorite products and getting a cut for everyone who clicks. It may not be wheelbarrows of money, but you’re doing it anyway – might as well get paid.
  26. Editing/Proofreading Services: You have straight A+’s in English and everybody in class is always asking you to correct their papers for them anyway. Why not charge for it? There are services online that can connect you with people who need editing and proofreading all over the world, once you’ve exhausted your classmates.
  27. Podcasting: Sure, for radio you need an arresting voice and a book of obnoxious jokes, but to podcast, all you need is passion and a microphone – people who share that passion will find you.
  28. Cover Letter/Resume Service: It’s the biggest complaint of employers – people can’t write a decent resume or cover letter anymore. With a historically high rate of job turnover and lots of people needing jobs, there’s a lot of money to be made helping other people improve their odds.
  29. Substitute Teach: In most school districts, all you need to substitute is a high school diploma and a clean criminal background check. It’s not going to make you a fortune, but if the teacher leaves you a movie to show the kids, it’s paid study time!
  30. Babysit: From middle school on, all your neighbors called you when they were sick of their kids and needed a night out. Now that you’re in college, you’re even more trustworthy. Hang up your shingle as a babysitter and make some easy cash over the weekend. What were you going to do, study?
  31. Coaching Sports: Were you a solid high school athlete, and not afraid of over-enthusiastic hockey dads? You could get a job coaching in regional kids’ leagues – soccer, baseball, basketball, whatever. You might have to do some traveling, but if you can make their kids winners, they’ll pay.
  32. Test Proctor: Hand out the pencils. Mark the time. Keep an eye on the cheaters. Testing is big business, from elementary school to the GREs, and until we have automated systems to shock everyone who sneaks a peek at the next screen, they need proctors.
  33. Tutor: Parents want their kids to succeed in school, and if the kids aren’t making the grade, they’re looking for tutors. If you’re a whiz in math or writing and have some talent for passing it on, the hourly rate can be impressive.
  34. Kids’ Parties: Frankly, you’re probably not going to want to tell anyone about it – at least until you can tell crazy stories in a few years – but somebody has to put on those costumes. If you can tie balloon animals, bear a passing resemblance to the Little Mermaid, or have your own Iron Man costume (it was for Comic-Con, okay?), you could be making some surprising bank.
  35. Housesit: First, make sure there are no incriminating party pictures on Facebook. Done? Now go on Craigslist and look for people who need a house sitter while they’re spending a month working in Japan. Right? You can do that.
  36. Petsitting: Just like housesitting, there are always people who need someone to give their dog a walk, feed the cat, and sing lullabies to the goldfish while they’re out of town. Keep lining up those jobs, and in exchange for an hour of your day, you’ve got some solid side cash. 
  37. Dog Walking: If you love dogs, you should know that there are other busy people who don’t have the time to take their dogs out for a walk. Don’t judge them – take their money to do it for them!
  38. Rent-a-friend: No lie – sometimes people just want company! For lonely people who just don’t want to go to a movie or jog in the morning alone, there are online services to pair them up with a friend. You’re nice. Be someone’s rent-a-friend.
  39. Lifeguard: Keeping people safe is no easy task, and being constantly at attention and watching the water can be surprisingly challenging. But if you love sun and water, what better way to get paid for hanging out by the pool than life guarding?
  40. Security Guard: Maybe you’re a night owl, and you ain’t afraid of no ghosts. Perfect: you have what it takes to be a security guard. It’s an undemanding, safe (despite what action movies might tell you) way to pay your way though school and wear a snazzy uniform.
  41. Overnight Attendant: Facilities like nursing homes, group homes, and active-living communities need someone on hand to answer phone calls, make emergency calls, and other tasks. Don’t sleep on the job, though. 
  42. Gardening Service: Pull up weeds, trim the hedges, prune the rose bushes – even with just some basic tools you can make some side money on the weekend doing the jobs homeowners dread.
  43. Painting Service: Most homeowners would rather burn the house down than paint it themselves. But most painters are pretty expensive. Undercut them all and get yourself some work painting. You smell worse fumes in chemistry class anyway.
  44. Snow Removal: According to Hollywood, the #1 cause of heart attacks is shoveling snow. If you live in a snowy area, you can make money and save lives by using your strong young back like Mother Nature intended.
  45. Pool Cleaner: Nobody – NOBODY – enjoys cleaning their pool. You don’t have to enjoy it either – you just have to take their money, scoop out the bugs and leaves, and hope that’s just a Baby Ruth bar floating in the corner.
  46. Window Cleaning: Do windows. Yeah, we said it. There’s a reason it’s an expression – most people don’t like doing windows. So put your name out there. Get ’em sparkling.
  47. Lawn Work: If you’ve got a lawn mower and a weedeater – or a pair of scissors and a lot of time on your hands – you could make some side hustle money mowing grass. Sure, there are big landscaping companies that do it, but a lot of times your neighbors would rather kick you $20 than have to set up a contract with a more expensive company. A few lawns on a Saturday morning will get you through the weekend easy.
  48. Mover: Living in a college town, there’s always a lot of turnover – people moving in and out of apartments, houses, condos, dorms. Someone who can get a fridge down a flight of stairs or maneuver a couch through a tight corner can have a job every weekend.
  49. Clean Houses/Offices: You could sign up with an agency, but a local ad is all you need to start picking up some extra dollars tidying up for overwhelmed parents or elderly people in their homes. Or you could be the magical elf who appears in offices overnight and makes them clean by morning.
  50. Mobile Detailing/Car Wash: Your car is so immaculate, so crisp, so clean, that all your friends want you to do theirs. They won’t be the only ones. Bring the clean to your customers for added value.

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