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10 highest paying part-time jobs for international students in the USA

Talya Honebeek
Last Updated: 11 August 2021 • 6 min read

Between course fees, rent and other living costs, we all know how expensive it is to study at university. 

Studying as an international student in the USA is no different.

So while big decisions like which university to choose and what classes to take should be top priorities when planning to study abroad, so should a plan of how to finance your trip.

Working part-time can not only help solve this problem, but it’s also a great way of meeting new people and developing key skills that will enhance your CV.

But before you start applying, there are some restrictions on part-time jobs for international students in the USA to be aware of.

Part-time jobs for college students: What can you earn?

First things first, how much money can you expect to make?

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, but each state sets its own wage laws. So while the minimum wage is as high as $15 per hour in some states, it can be as low as $7.25 in others.

This means where you choose to study will have a big impact on how much you are able to earn.

But generally — depending on your level of relevant working experience — you can expect to earn between $7.25 to $10 per hour at least, with more highly skilled jobs paying upwards of $10. 

A perk of on-campus jobs is that they tend to pay in line and often higher than the minimum wage.

What limitations are there for international students?

While you can study and work in the USA at the same time, there are some visa limitations to keep in mind. Breaking the rules can put your student status at risk, and can even lead to deportation.

Any international student studying an academic or English Language programme at a US college or university is issued with an F1 visa. 

You can find out more about F1 visas here, but the important thing to know when it comes to finding work is that students with F1 visas can generally only work on-campus at their university for a maximum of 20 hours a week during term time. 

During holiday periods, this goes up to 40 hours a week.

There are some exceptions to the on-campus rule, including if you are suffering “severe economic hardship”. You should speak to your designated school official (DSO) who can explain your employment options to you.

With that in mind, here are 10 of the highest paying on-campus jobs for international students working in the USA.

10 Highest paying part-time jobs for international students in the USA

1. Campus ambassador

2. Barista

3. Teaching assistant

4. Library assistant

5. Receptionist

6. Research study assistant

7. Department assistant

8. Food runner or catering assistant

9. Sales assistant

10. Tutor or peer mentor

1. Campus ambassador

Campus ambassadors are in charge of promoting the university and showing prospective students why they should apply. This is a great job for someone who likes interacting with new people and working in a team.

You may also be asked to give guided tours of the university campus on open days, sharing your own knowledge and other interesting facts about the university.

Average wage: $10.94 per hour

2. Barista

If your university has an on-campus cafe, this can be a great place to work. Not only will you benefit from discounted (or even free!) coffee, but it is also a great place to meet new people.

You can expect your days to be fast-paced, and involve making hot and cold drinks, serving customers and working as a cashier.

Average wage: $11.59 per hour

3. Teaching assistant

An on-campus teaching assistant is expected to supervise classroom activities and work closely with any students who are struggling.

If you already have some experience in the field, you may be able to work as a higher-level teaching assistant, leading classes on your own and marking students’ work.

Average wage: $11.85 per hour

4. Library assistant

Working as a library assistant is a varied job, perfect for those hoping to study and work in the USA simultaneously. You will be responsible for shelving books, helping customers find books and other materials and making recommendations of useful books.

You will also be expected to provide administrative support to the librarians, and help to organise any events at the library during term time.

Average wage: $13.24 per hour

5. Receptionist

The duties of a university receptionist might include general office support and administration, customer service and communicating with students and staff via phone and emails.

It is a good idea to check with your careers service where to look on-campus for part-time reception work, as larger departments, student unions and other key buildings may all have openings for receptionists.

Average wage: $13.31 per hour

6. Research study assistant

A research study assistant is one of the most well paid part-time jobs for international students on-campus. What the job entails will depend on which department you work for, but expect to work on various projects, carry out research, maintain lab equipment and collate results.

You will need to demonstrate excellent organisational skills to find work as a research study assistant. On top of this, great interpersonal skills and a genuine enthusiasm for the research is also beneficial.

Average wage: $15.48

7. Department assistant

A department assistant is one of the best on-campus jobs in the USA for international students, and you will gain lots of transferable skills for your CV.

You will be responsible for providing administrative and secretarial support for a department, handling departmental matters as well providing support to specific teams or projects. 

To successfully apply for a department assistant job you will need to be computer literate, and you should also be able to demonstrate good teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.

Average wage: $16.44

8. Food runner or catering assistant

Alternatively, if your university has cafes, restaurants or other dining facilities on-site that offer food to eat-in, you may be able to find work as a front of house assistant or runner. 

A job in hospitality is one of the most flexible positions you can have in terms of the hours you work, which makes it ideal for international students studying and working in the USA. 

Average wage: $16.81 per hour

9. Sales assistant

If your university has a mini supermarket or corner shop on-campus, this is another great way to make some money alongside your studies.

In addition, many universities also have shops selling branded clothing and merchandise, another good source of part-time work as an international student.

Average wage: $20.00 per hour

10. Tutor or peer mentor

If you don’t fancy becoming a teaching assistant, but would like to do something along the same lines, tutoring or peer mentoring is a great job for international students working in the USA.

The role involves helping fellow students with their course content, reading or assignments as needed. This job is particularly well-matched to international students, who can often provide mentees with a different perspective or way of learning.

Average wage: $21.31 per hour

Finding well paid part-time jobs in the USA as an international student

Finding a part-time job as an international student in the USA can be easier said than done, but luckily, most universities offer a wide range of on-campus opportunities, including internships and part-time work.

Find jobs on your university’s website, or contact the student union or careers service for help. It’s also worth joining any existing student groups on Facebook, as opportunities are often posted there too.

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