It can be a daunting task to find a job that you can do alongside your academic responsibilities. You are often limited to part-time jobs with flexible hours. Given these limitations, the job search can feel incredibly challenging. It’s easy to settle for the first job you come across just to guarantee an income, but try to avoid doing so. You can’t get one of the best part-time jobs for graduate students by settling (unless you completely luck out!).
Besides listing some of the best jobs for graduate students in 2022, this guide also discusses the pros and cons of working while in grad school, how to achieve work-life balance, and more. Let’s get right to it!
The 20 Best Jobs for Graduate Students
Whatever your reason may be, there are times when you just need something that brings in some money while you’re in school. This list of good jobs to have while attending graduate school might help give you an idea of your options.
Many students look for on-campus work simply because it’s the most convenient way to bring in an income while studying. However, it can be difficult to actually get an on-campus job because so many other students compete for the same positions. Nevertheless, they are some of the best jobs for graduate students!
1. Resident Advisor or Resident Assistant (RA)
Average Salary: $14.94/hour
RAs (known as resident advisors or resident assistants) are undergraduate or graduate students living in on-campus housing such as dormitories. They monitor and help students who live in the same housing, ensuring that everyone stays safe and follows all the rules and regulations set in place by the university. RAs also help announce information about any policy changes and attend meetings with others in the same position to discuss issues.
2. Research Assistant
Average Salary: $19.88/hour
Many institutions require research assistantships as part of the academic requirements for certain programs. Research assistants work within their fields of interest, helping professors with project-related tasks (such as performing research, summarizing results and findings, and more). You may be able to find work as a research assistant even if it isn’t required for your program.
Programs that require assistantships usually provide tuition remission, wherein the institution waives part or all of your tuition. You may also receive a stipend to help with your living expenses.
3. Teaching Assistant
Average Salary: $14.35/hour
Like with research assistantships, teaching assistantships may also be required by a program/institution. Teaching Assistants, or TAs, help professors who teach classes to undergraduate students. Your responsibilities can include lesson or syllabus planning, handling office hours, lecturing, and even doing the grading for exams, assignments, and papers. In some cases, you may even be tasked to help with some larger projects.
Programs that require asssistantships usually provide tuition remission, wherein the institution waives part or all of your tuition. You may also receive a stipend to help with your living expenses.
Average Salary: $23.95/hour
Tutoring is an extremely popular way for students to make some part-time income. You can even charge a little extra when tutoring others on topics relating to your field of interest. The only caveat is it can be difficult to find clients, but once you get going it’s usually pretty steady work.
It’s worth mentioning that some students go the route of teaching English as a second language to students in other countries. In positions like these, you are often a freelancer setting your own hours, as long as your hours can accommodate your students’ timezones.
5. Library Assistant
Average Salary: $16.43/hour
Library assistants do exactly what you might imagine — they work at a library, often manning the main desk. They can help students find books and answers to their questions, organize the shelves and return books to their proper places, and handle some admin work. During slow hours where you’re manning the main desk and no one is coming in, you may even be able to do some schoolwork (as long as policy allows you to).
Doing freelance or online work is an excellent way to make an income while retaining most of your flexibility during grad school. If you have some skills that work well with freelancing, you may find significant success if you work enough at it. Many even launch full-blown careers this way!
6. Digital Marketing
Average Salary: $19.62/hour
Digital Marketing is a necessity for most businesses, especially in today’s internet age. You can start out as a digital marketing assistant to learn the ropes if you must, though you may earn less this way. Digital marketers handle lead generation and brand awareness for businesses through digital channels. Digital channels can mean social media, a business’s website, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (on platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads), email marketing, and more.
7. Social Media Management
Average Salary: $22.54/hour
Social media management is a branch of digital marketing that many choose to focus on. Social media management involves handling an individual or business’s social media accounts. Your responsibilities may include planning and executing social media posts, responding to comments/direct messages, reaching out to others through social media for your client, and more. Social media managers often have plenty of flexibility to perform this part-time work (depending on their client(s) of course).
8. Graphic Design
Average Salary: $21.84/hour
Graphic design is one of the best fields to freelance in, although it can be difficult to find success unless you have a decent portfolio. As you might imagine, graphic designers plan and create designs for anything that needs it, be it print, ads, web, and more. Although you can offer design services for all possible applications, many designers choose to focus only on certain areas. For example, some designers do work exclusively for the web, doing graphics for social media posts, email marketing, websites, and more.
9. Voice-over Work
Average Salary: $31.88/hour
Voice-over work isn’t something many people are into, but it could be something you could make money from provided you have the skills and equipment necessary. You can usually find voice work on freelancing websites or through word-of-mouth, but it may be challenging to find your first client unless you’ve built a solid portfolio (or at least have some samples). Voice-over work usually involves recording lines for ads, video games, and more.
10. Content Writing
Average Salary: $22.59/hour
If you have a way with words, content writing might help you pay the bills while you’re in grad school. Content writing can involve writing blog posts and articles for clients under your own name or as a ghostwriter. You usually need to know a little bit about SEO (search engine optimization), though it’s relatively easy to pick up the basics. You can also look into other types of writing, such as creative or technical writing.
11. Art Commissions
Average Salary: Varies depending on your rates
Many who have art skills do paid artwork commissions part-time to bring in an income. If you choose to do art commissions, make sure you take at least half of the payment upfront to make sure you get paid!
12. Digital Assistants
Average Salary: $18.84/hour
Grad students can find work as digital assistants for busy individuals who need extra help. If you’re wondering what a digital assistant is, think personal assistant — but via the internet. Digital assistants can live halfway around the world as long as they’re capable of completing tasks for their clients. As a digital assistant, you may handle a client’s emails, schedule, correspondences, and other tasks that can be done online.
Average Salary: $26.08
If you’re bilingual, you may be able to find work as a freelance translator. You can do this type of work part-time, so it makes for an excellent choice for a grad school job.
14. “Gig Work”
Average Salary: Varies
In today’s gig economy, it’s relatively easy to start working “gigs” as long as you have the prerequisites such as a vehicle, a mobile phone, and a data connection. You can drive for ride-sharing companies if you wish, but it may be better to do grocery shopping or food delivery.
Other Good Part-Time Jobs for Grad Students
15. Grant Writer
Average Salary: $29.92/hour
As a grant writer, your main responsibilities will involve working with non-profit organizations to help them with finding and securing new funding. You’ll come up with research proposals that can help the organization request funding, so you’ll need to have excellent research and writing skills.
Average Salary: Varies
As a grad student or someone with experience in a certain field, you may be able to offer your services as a consultant. Many businesses are looking for people with expertise that can help them solve problems or gain insight. Consultancy can pay well, depending on your field. It also happens to be a great way to start building a network!
17. Night Auditor
Average Salary: $14.53
Night auditors work the overnight shift at establishments like hotels (or any other businesses open for 24 hours). Your responsibilities in this job may include assisting guests, doing paperwork, and assisting with the bookkeeping. You may need some math and accounting skills for this position. It will also benefit you to have some decent computer skills.
Average Salary: Varies
As a nanny or babysitter, you’ll be responsible for childcare. Depending on your arrangement with your clients, you may also handle some basic child education.
Average Salary: $15.98 + tips
Bartenders keep bars, pubs, and clubs running by keeping the liquor flowing. They take orders, take payments, serve beverages (and sometimes bar food), and interact with customers. Bartending can sometimes lead to good tips. Although bartending can be a decent part-time job for grad students, be aware that you’ll most likely be working nights — so make sure you don’t mind this arrangement!
Average Salary: $14.03 + tips
Baristas work at cafes. They take orders, payments, make and serve beverages (and sometimes food), and sometimes clean up.
Why Do Students Work During Grad School?
Working during grad school can be challenging, especially when you have to balance a busy academic life with the rest of your day-to-day responsibilities. However, sometimes you just can’t avoid the need for an income — even if it’s just from working part-time.
There are many reasons why graduate students might choose to work while completing their education. Let’s look at some of them:
- Covering educational costs – The truth is that the costs of education can be pretty high and even out of reach for some. For many, working while in grad school is a necessity simply because it helps pay for tuition and other opportunity costs involved in obtaining a graduate education. This article by The Atlantic details that nearly 76% of the polled graduate students in the report work a minimum of 30 hours per week, most likely to support themselves while they complete their studies.
- Lessening the amount of money borrowed – Working while you’re in school usually lessens the amount you need to borrow to cover costs. This article by CNBC cites a Georgetown University study that states only 14 percent of employed graduate students have student loans over $50,000. Note that If you’re able to secure on-campus work, the chances of you getting tuition remissions and stipends (to cover living expenses) are pretty high — this type of work can further lower the amount of money you might have to borrow.
- Supporting family – The same report by The Atlantic mentioned above details that many graduate students have a family to support. Family-related expenses don’t stop simply because you’ve started your graduate studies, after all.
- Gaining experience for the resume – Many who work part-time jobs for grad students do so because it helps them gain relevant experience in their field. If you are able to find work in your field while you study, you’ll be in a better spot when you graduate. After all, having a well-rounded resume can help you land your dream job.
- Staying connected with non-academic life – Graduate students will likely agree that their academic responsibilities can quickly overwhelm every other aspect of their lives. Working can bring much-needed structure to your day while providing a way for you to do something else outside of your graduate school education.
Of course, just because working provides many benefits doesn’t mean you should just grab the first job you can get. As you consider what type of job to take, always ensure that it can give you the flexibility you need. The last thing you want is to not be able to complete your academic responsibilities!
Related: How To Prep Your Resume For Success (When You’ve No Work Experience)
Should You Work Part-Time or Full-Time?
Only you can truly decide whether you can work full-time while in grad school or if part-time employment is your best bet.
However, there are some things you can consider to help you make your choice. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your schedule allow you to work a full-time job? Can you work about forty hours a week and still manage to complete your academic responsibilities to your desired standard? If you’re even on the fence on this matter, it might be better for you to choose part-time work instead.
- Can you find a full-time job with the flexibility you need to still complete your studies? Many working learners choose part-time jobs for graduate students because of the flexibility they can get from employment of this type.
- How much income do you need? If you have too many expenses for your stipend or loan to cover, a full-time job might be in the cards.
- What type of benefits does the job offer? Sometimes, you get the opportunity for a full-time position with benefits that are simply too good to decline.
Pros and Cons of Working While in Grad School
Even the best part-time job for a graduate student like you will have its pros and cons. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of working while studying:
- Working during graduate school provides you with a much-needed income.
- Even a part-time job can take away valuable free time that you need to rest in between periods of intense study, research, or schoolwork.
- Work can help give you a more well-rounded resume.
- Sometimes you can start a job that promises flexibility only to take it away once you’re locked in — ensure this will not be the case for you!
- Your job can act as a rest or break from your day-to-day school responsibilities.
- Work can add more stress.
- Work grants structure, routine, and even continuity to your daily life.
- Besides getting relevant work experience, you can also develop soft skills (such as communication, leadership, and collaboration) that can help you later on in your career.
How to Balance Work and School
Although working during grad school is pretty normal, the fact is you run the risk of completely upending your work-life balance (or, in this case, your work-school-life balance).
The good news is this doesn’t have to happen since there are things you can do to help maintain the balance in your life.
Of course, one of the best things you can do is to find a low-pressure job that gives you plenty of flexibility — but that’s not always possible.
So, here are a few things you can try:
- Establish boundaries – When you’re a graduate student trying to complete your studies and work at the same time, the chances of you getting overwhelmed increase significantly. It’s not unlikely that you might find yourself balancing your work, life, and school precariously — to the point where the smallest thing can topple that balance if you aren’t careful. Establish boundaries and make sure that you learn to say no when you know something is simply too much for you to handle given what you already have on your plate.
- Know it’s okay to ask for help – This piece of advice isn’t just for graduate students, it applies to pretty much anyone feeling overwhelmed and even burnt out. If you feel as though you can’t handle everything on your own and you could use a little help, there’s no shame in asking for it. Even if it’s just to take a thing or two off your plate so you can get a small break.
- Set your hours and schedule (and follow it) – It’s easy to get carried away and just study or work nonstop until you drop. Unfortunately, doing things that way can lead you down a short road to burnout as it simply isn’t sustainable. Carve out specific hours of your day meant for work and study and strictly follow those hours. Any time that isn’t that block of study/work time then becomes your rest and recovery time. Of course, you could set and schedule all you want, but if you don’t follow it then it won’t help you at all — so make sure you follow your schedule, too!
- Work on time management – Time management is one of the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to managing everything you need to do. Stay distraction-free and practice things like the Pomodoro technique to help you manage your time better. If you struggle with time management, you can read some books and use some tools such as Asana, Todoist, and Trello. Tools like these help you to get on and stay on track with your tasks and responsibilities.
- Use productivity tools – There are so many productivity tools you can use to make your life easier. There are time trackers like Toggl Track and Clockify that can help you see where your time is going and how you can optimize it. Project and task management apps like the ones mentioned above can help you stay focused on the tasks at hand. Although many of these tools require you to pay, most have free forever plans that you can use without forking out a single penny.
- Take breaks – Many people skip breaks but the truth is they are vital to productivity. They don’t even have to be long breaks! This article by the BBC talks about microbreaks and how powerful they can be when it comes to helping people stay productive while avoiding burnout.
- Make sure to get good sleep – Some people feel as though sleep is a waste of time, since you can’t get anything done during it. Unfortunately, sleep is an absolute necessity to keep you healthy physically and mentally. So if you’re trying to work and study at the same time, ensure you are getting good quality sleep — even if you don’t always sleep as long as you’d like to.
- Think about food – When you’re juggling so many different things all at once, you may start forgetting about some of the basics, like food. Doing meal prep or planning ahead can lessen the stress from day to day.
How to Find Jobs for Grad Students
Before you start looking for work, it might be a good idea to first update your resume. Regardless of which job you want, an updated resume can improve your chances of getting hired. It’s also a good idea to apply to multiple jobs since it’s impossible to know for sure whether you’ll get hired.
That said, there are a few things you can do to find jobs for grad students:
- Ask your school for what’s available – If your program doesn’t already require an assistantship, you may want to ask whether there are any on-campus jobs available. Just know that if you look for a position like this, you may struggle to actually secure it as many students often vie for the same job. Keep on-campus jobs an option, but also look for jobs outside the campus.
- Local hiring – You can always look for a job locally — see if there are any businesses nearby looking for employees.
- Word-of-mouth – Sometimes you can hear about open positions from friends and family. Ask for recommendations that can point you in the right direction!
- Social media – Depending on the type of work you want to do, you may be able to find something on social media. Don’t discount places like Facebook and Twitter as many people use them to find jobs or freelance work! Just make sure to protect yourself with contracts and upfront payment policies if you choose to go this route.
More and more people are turning to freelancing now that the world has begun adapting to remote work. If you have some freelance-worthy skills, you can look for freelance work on social media or on:
- Freelancing platforms – There are many platforms out there that let you find work and protect your interests at the same time. For example, platforms like UpWork ensure that you get paid by keeping the payment in escrow until the project is done. The only thing we can say about freelancing platforms is it can take a while to get started and you may struggle to find work at decent rates since people on platforms like these tend to price low to compete. Be careful not to get taken advantage of!
- LinkedIn networking – LinkedIn is also a great place to find freelance work, as long as you keep an updated resume/portfolio.
- Cold-emailing – If you offer certain freelance services like content writing, graphic design, and web design/development, cold emailing might help you find some clients.
Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with ways you can protect yourself when freelancing!
Gig Economy Work
Some of the best jobs for graduated students and grad students alike is “gig work.” If you have a vehicle, you may be able to do some driving for ride-sharing companies, shopping for grocery delivery companies, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do most grad students work?
You’ll probably find that most college and graduate students do work as they study. There are many reasons why, but one of the biggest is probably because the income is truly helpful in lightening the financial burden of obtaining a higher education. However, in the case of graduate students, not everyone can work. Here’s what we mean:
Some graduate programs (particularly the full-time ones) expressly forbid you from finding even part-time work while you are studying. This rule is usually because the program in and of itself is highly demanding so you would not have the bandwidth to work without compromising your academic performance. In cases like these, the program/school usually provides tuition remission (where part or all of your tuition fee is waived) in return for an assistantship of some sort. Some programs will even provide you with a living stipend.
If you’re studying grad school part-time, in the evenings, or online, you’ll probably be able to have the flexibility to work at the same time. Just remember that you should look for flexible jobs for graduate students!
How can I work while in grad school?
As long as you aren’t doing grad school full-time, you can probably find some way to make an income that’s flexible enough to accommodate your academic schedule. You can find work as you normally would, within your field or otherwise. Again, the only thing we can really recommend is for you to try to find a flexible job that allows you to work around your academic schedule.
How many hours should you work in grad school?
It’s difficult to determine an objective answer to this question since everyone’s situation is different. Only you can truly decide how many hours you should be working each week — just make sure you leave yourself enough time for rest!
Should I work full-time in grad school?
Only if you believe you can realistically handle the work on top of your academic responsibilities!
Although finding a job during grad school can be a daunting task, there are plenty of options available. Remember, you might not always get your ideal job, so apply to several to improve your chances of getting hired.
We hope that this list of the best jobs for graduate students has helped give you an idea of what you can do for an income while you study!