Best Summer Jobs For College Students

Ah, summertime. For a few months each year, you’re free from demanding professors, countless essays that you wish you hadn’t procrastinated on, midterms, finals, presentations, and who-knows-how-many-all-nighters you pulled. Behind the façade of endless freedom and sunshine however, are student loans, living expenses, and credit card bills that need to be paid off. Avoiding the popular stereotype of the “broke college student” and actually having some extra spending money is cool, too. The economy may still be in recovery mode, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 19.5 million youths between the ages of 16 and 24 were employed in the summer of 2012 in the United States.

A summer job is ultimately the best way for teenagers and college students to make money, build their savings, and get experience for their future career. If you’re one of the millions of college students looking for work this summer, never fear: there are jobs out there. You just have to know what you want to do and where to look. Here is a list of the best summer jobs for college students.


Best Summer Jobs For College StudentsBefore considering any of the summer jobs below, college students should always find a way to build-up their resume and further job opportunities after graduation. Career-oriented internships in investment banking, accounting, marketing or public relations, engineering, consulting, journalism, or computer science should always trump the immediate need to make money. Babysitting or tutoring may put a few thousand dollars in your pocket right now, but a good internship opportunity, paid or unpaid, could put millions in your bank account over the course of your life. Go for the best of both worlds and get a paid internship, most of which will pay you significantly more than minimum wage.

While it may be difficult to determine what career to pursue right now, summer internships can also offer the perfect chance for you to test out different industries and jobs you may be interested in. Internships are all about job experience, professional networking, and setting yourself up to get a great, high paying job when you earn your degree. If you exceed your employer’s expectations, you may even get an outstanding job offer after graduating college.

Where To Find Internships

Internships are generally easier to find than paying jobs, but the competition is fierce. You and millions of other college students are graduating within the next couple of years and today’s job market is a classic example of “survival of the fittest.” Whoever has the most contacts, the most experience, and the best education or skills has the best chance at getting hired. This is the mentality which drives the mad dash for internships amongst college students.

All of the major job boards, including Monster, Career Builder, Indeed, Simply Hired, and, can simplify your search, or you can go directly to the company’s website you would like to work for and check their “Careers” section for available internship openings. Have a polished cover letter and resume ready prior to applying.


Although school’s out for the summer, many parents are looking to hire tutors for their K-12 level kids. Some do it to give their child a head start before the new school year, while others use the summer months to get their kid on the same level as his or her peers. Some are homeschoolers who want to teach their kids a new skill or activity, while most parents simply want their high school student to do well on their SATs, ACT or AP tests. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that tutors are in demand during the summer and as a college student, you’re in a prime position to offer affordable academic help.

Where To Find A Tutoring Job

There are online tutoring jobs out there, or you could distribute flyers or network through old middle and high school teachers to build up a steady stream of tutoring clients. Either apply for a job at an established tutoring company or strike it out on your own as an independent contractor or sole proprietor. Tutoring is one of the easiest and best ways to make money from home. The average tutor can start out charging about $15 per hour, while specializations in particularly difficult subjects like Calculus or Physics can allow you to charge significantly more. Additionally, advanced degrees or years of experience in the field can help you tutor or train undergraduate students, who you can charge up to $50 per hour.

Job Responsibilities

Tutors generally meet their students at a public place, such as a library or coffee shop. After a few sessions, if you feel comfortable enough, you can start meeting at the student’s home for a quiet, comfortable work environment. Tutoring sessions last between 30 minutes to two hours, with an average of one hour per session. Unless you’re tutoring K-8 students, you’ll have a much easier time sticking to subjects you excel at, rather than trying to be the “jack of all trades, master of none” tutor that struggles alongside the student when tackling A.P. Calculus. A great tutor is patient, has strong communication skills, understands the subject matter well enough to convey it in a simplified manner, and creativity is also a plus.

Freelance Writer

Freelance WriterIf you have or want to learn strong written communication and research skills and are passionate about writing, maybe you should consider becoming a freelance writer. Freelance writers and editors work in a number of different formats, from commercial websites to print magazines to blogs and ad copy. As a freelancer, also known as a blogger, you will learn the essentials of keyword research, search engine optimization, social media marketing, monetization, brand management, and professional networking. All of these qualities can be useful for college students majoring in marketing, communications, business, entrepreneurship, etc.

Where and How Much

There are several online job boards with postings specifically seeking freelance writers. Some websites compile writer-related posts from Craigslist job ads. In other cases, freelancers can work directly with media companies and high traffic blogs seeking contributors or guest posting. For example, Demand Media, the owner of eHow and LiveStrong, pays about $20 to $30 for concise, how-to articles and guides. On the flip side, Good Magazine pays about $250 a piece, Variety shells out $350 a piece, and Huffington Post pays absolutely nothing. These high paying writing positions are usually reserved for experienced, well-known writers, but if you think you have what it takes to absolutely dazzle an editor with a unique piece of work, contact the publication and see what you can achieve. For everyone else, the average rate for freelance writing is somewhere between 2 to 5 cents per word.

Most online media publishing companies will ask that you submit a resume and sample articles prior to hiring you. Instead of using essays from your classes, write up articles on subjects you’d like to write about at a professional level. Don’t forget to mention any writing classes you might’ve taken in college so far. Every qualification counts and could help you land a writing gig for the summer.

Bartender/Cocktail Server

If you’re not up to serving tables this summer because you want to make more money and not deal with needy or uptight customers, why not serve up drinks? The minimum age requirements to be a bartender vary from state to state, but usually require you to be at least 18 to 21 years old. The atmosphere is fun and the un-reported cash tips can be a great source of income.

How To Get Started

There are quite a few bartending courses online, but these tend to be pricier and just as effective as reading books, such as “The Craft of the Cocktail”. It also helps to observe working bartenders and practice mixing your own drinks at home beforehand to give you practical experience you’ll use on the job. There are also a few drink recipe apps available to Apple and Android phones that are worth downloading.

Being A Bartender

This is, first and foremost, a job that requires a certain degree of experience and professionalism. The minute you forget that, you can end up in a lot of trouble with your employer or even the law. That being said, the job teaches you how to work under pressure, keep your cool in a chaotic environment, and improve your memory skills. Bartending also allows you to socialize and network with customers, it pays better than many other summer jobs suited for college students, and it’s a good way to keep busy during summer nights.

Cocktail Server

Event planning companies need cocktail servers for private functions – especially during the summer – and college students are ideal for this line of work. Like bartending, you’ll be serving drinks and making decent money, but rather than work at a single location, you may have to travel to different events.


BabysitterIf you’re responsible and good with kids, then become a nanny or babysitter this summer. Starting pay is around $15 per hour and you can charge more with multiple kids (about $2 extra per child) or if you have a CPR certification to boost your resume. Every parent knows that good babysitters are hard to come by and if you can provide a safe, happy environment for their kids, you will make great money all summer long. The best part is that you won’t need to look far to find this summer job – network with family, friends and neighbors in your neighborhood and you’ll be sure to find a household that needs a babysitter.

Must Love Kids

Since daycare hours are more volatile during summer, working parents or parents with small children at home almost always need some help, whether it be cleaning, packing lunches, entertaining the kids, or watching them while the parents are away. It’s important to know First Aid and have a sizable amount of patience to be around kids for several hours at a time.

You should also have reliable transportation because parents may ask you to run errands for them or take the kids to the park/arcade/piano lessons. If this is the case, be sure to get reimbursed for your mileage and gas, and try to negotiate a higher rate per hour.

Similarly, all the same apply to pet-sitters or dogwalkers. Overall, babysitting and pet-sitting may be one of the best ways to make money fast.

Travel Jobs

If you want to get the most out of your college years and travel before you’re tied down to a full-time career, then you should look into travel-related jobs for your summer vacation.

Cruise Lines

Working for a cruise line is a popular avenue for college students that have been bitten by the travel bug. The work may not be glamorous (cooking, cleaning, serving, maintenance work, room service, or entertainment), but the pay is decent and you get to live on-board a cruise ship all summer and travel for free.

Teaching English Abroad

If you’ve always wanted to experience life in another culture and help others, consider teaching English in a foreign country for the summer. These programs are generally receptive to hiring college students since undergrads tend to be more adventuresome, tech-savvy, and academically-oriented than their older peers. Most programs require some form of certification prior to entering the classroom, but many will pay for this training. Some teach abroad programs will even pay for your room and board in addition to your teaching salary.

Other Common Summer Jobs

Food Server

  • Median Pay: $19,000 or $9.50 an hour.
  • Work Experience: None
  • Training: Short-Term On-The-Job Training.
  • Number of Jobs: 2.3 Million
  • Employment Change Through 2020: 10% Growth


  • Median Pay: $19,500 or $9.75 an hour.
  • Work Experience: None
  • Training: American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification
  • Number of Jobs: 125,000
  • Employment Change Through 2020: 20% Growth

Home Health Assistant or Aide

  • Median Pay: $21,000 or $10.50 an hour.
  • Work Experience: None
  • Training: Short-Term On-The-Job Training.
  • Number of Jobs: 2 Million
  • Employment Change Through 2020: 70% Growth

Retail Sales Clerk

  • Median Pay: $21,500 or $10.75 an hour.
  • Work Experience: None
  • Training: Short or Moderate-Term On-The-Job Training.
  • Number of Jobs: 4.5 Million
  • Employment Change Through 2020: 17% Growth

Pharmacy Technician

  • Median Pay: $30,000 or $15 an hour.
  • Work Experience: None
  • Training: Moderate-Term On-The-Job Training.
  • Number of Jobs: 350,000
  • Employment Change Through 2020: 32% Growth

The summer of 2012 saw an increase of 2.1 million employed youth in the US, and this summer is looking even better for college students. It’d be great to relax, travel, or hang out at the beach all summer, but why not strive for a work/play balance by getting a part-time job? Your wallet and resume will thank you, if not now, maybe later. If you are looking to build a passive income stream, check out these residual income ideas.