How to earn while you learn as a student

Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert)

Written by Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert) on November 11, 2018

Updated January 14, 2021

Student earn money

Being a student is hard work – lectures all day, parties all night – and more often than not a student loan is not enough to cover the costs of a student life. Bills, rent, tuition fees, food, course books, booze and kebabs – it all costs money. But fear not. There are lots of ways of earning easy cash without interfering with university work or your hectic social life. The stereotypical student is always broke… but it doesn’t have to be that way!<?p>

Part time work

There are lots of part time jobs available to students that can fit into your hectic schedule. Here are a few options to think about to get you started.

  • Job Shop is the best place to start looking for a part time job is at your university. Set up by the National Association of Student Employment Services, these are nationwide centres linked to all the main universities. They provide information on part time work in your area, advice on which employers are helpful and sympathetic to your student needs, and help with finding work that can fit around your course. Ask your university about the Job Shop it’s linked to.
  • Bar work has its obvious perks but is not ideal if you have lots of nine o’clock lectures. Bar jobs are ten a penny in most big University towns and require very little experience.
  • Call centres often have flexible hours and offer good rates of pay.
  • Restaurant work has many of the same benefits and drawbacks of bar work. One major plus point of waiting tables is the tips. They vary greatly but can often take your pay from minimum wage up to as much as £8 or £9 an hour. It’s also worth checking for work in your local catering companies.
  • Shop work is another good option. You can work on weekends so it won’t interfere with your lectures, and in lots of places you’re entitled to staff discount.
  • Signing up to agencies allows you to get work when you need to if you’re not too keen on the idea of a regular part time job. You can get work in offices, restaurants, at events, and more.

Work for your university

Working for your university is a great way of earning money, and your employer is guaranteed to be sympathetic if you have a deadline coming up!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Universities are always looking for willing students to give tours on open days to sing their praises. And they pay you for it!
  • Getting involved in Fresher’s Week and organising student events are also good earners. Get in touch with your union to find out what they’re offering.
  • Working for your student union is full of perks. It’s very sociable and you can often get free entry to student events. Flyering for your University, or for shops, clubs and bars for that matter, is the perfect job for the lazy student. It’s easy, pays well, and you can control your own hours.

Get paid to teach whilst studying at university

Read one student’s experience of becoming a part-time coach as an undergraduate.

Market research

There are online surveys aplenty that will pay you to do not very much at all. Sign up and fill in some questionnaires and you could receive money, vouchers, free gifts and more in return for a few quick clicks of the mouse. Sometimes there can be a one-off joining fee but you could earn between £5 and £50! Here are a couple to look at to get you started:

  • Create a profile on Pure Profile and they’ll give you cash or vouchers for high street shops in return for a few survey questionnaires
  • Free Surveys UK is completely free to sign up to and you get a £4 bonus when you join

Participating in tests


  • Medical testing, however tempting the money might be, is a bad plan. Instead, do some research into being paid to take part in psychology tests. Universities are always looking for participants for psychology surveys and experiments. Get in touch with the Psychology Department at your university to find out more. They’re easy money and completely safe!


Get sponsored!


  • There are loads of opportunities to be sponsored by companies. Instead of being paid cash, you can get CDs, cars and more! If these quick and easy measures don’t satisfy your need for beer/clothes/course books, then getting a part time job is a good way of keeping you a float and let you live your student life to the full.


Improve your CV

Your reasons for getting a part time job at university don’t need to be limited to earning money. There are lots of ways to tie in a part time job with your course, and allow your experience in one to benefit the other. It’s easy to earn a bit of extra money and improve your CV at the same time by taking advantage of local opportunities. For example, if you’re studying History of Art, why not get a job in your local art gallery? Not only will the job be an interesting one to you, but the experience you get from it will make you stand out to employers once you graduate.

Don’t over do it!

If you get a part-time job at university it’s important to make sure that it fits in around your course and university commitments, and not the other way around. Remember what you’re there for – to get a degree, so no amount of money worries should mean that you put your part-time job first. If you’re really struggling with your finances and feel you need to work more than you should be to stay afloat, talk to your Student Services and ask for help.

Try and keep your job strictly to the weekends, or a couple of days a week, and make sure you have plenty of time to prepare for lectures. If you’re worried that you can’t fit it all in, save the job for your holidays. There are plenty of places that will take you on a temporary basis, and often you can arrange with a company to come back in your next break.

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