Jobs for Graduate Students

The truth hurts: if you are in graduate school, you are likely accruing debt by simply existing – while reading this or eating a grilled cheese sandwich over lunch. The image of the poor graduate student is no joke. It is reality. You got into graduate school and you have decided to put in the work for that graduate degree. But now, you realize that you need money. You also need some experience. And money. You need money. Time to get a(nother?) job!

If you can find (or make) time to put in some extra work hours, you can ease your money woes a bit. So, here are some ideas. Some jobs pay better than others, and you may find a better option based on personality and circumstances. Perhaps you would find it easier to work in an academic setting. If you would like to take a break from the intellectual rigor, there are some of those options, too.

1. Graduate assistantships

Check with your graduate school office for available graduate assistantships. Schools offer several types of assistantships, so you can choose which best aligns with your personality and career goals. Different types include teaching, research, and lab assistantships. Typically, assistantships have credit hour requirements and, if granted, limitations on how much you can take on with your assignment. Many colleges offer quarter-, half-, and full-time positions, with tuition waiver and stipends adjusted accordingly.

2.Become an on-campus tutor

Look for opportunities through the academic resource, business, and writing centers on campus. University student help centers hire graduate students to tutor undergraduates. Some colleges may only allow undergraduates to work with students in the required English Composition classes, while the graduate students assist more advanced classes. For example, creative writing graduate students could work in the writing center, editing student papers and giving feedback on writing style. Tutoring is a particularly valuable experience if you plan to go into academia; it can act as another way to show your involvement and hone your skills.

3. Tutoring and teaching graduate exams

Everyone takes graduate exams to get into graduate school. If you scored well, you could teach the exams for a decent wage. You could begin tutoring students one-on-one on your own by posting flyers and getting the word out. If you are dynamic, another option is to apply to teach classes with a test preparation company, such as Kaplan, Sylvan, Manhattan Prep, or Princeton Review. Companies have varying score requirements, so check around to see what is the best option for you. For example, Kaplan will take 90th percentile scores. Others, such as Manhattan Prep, accept only applicants who scored in the 99th percentile. Expect the companies that require higher scores to offer higher salaries as well. The ability to teach multiple tests will make you even more of an asset. If you have an interest or background in teaching, this could be a good opportunity for you to practice your skill.

4. Freelance and use your skills

If you decided to go to graduate school after a few years working in the “real world,” you likely have a skill that can earn you income. You also may have a connection to get you started. For example, writing skills can be used for freelance pieces or grants. Are you a coding expert? Are you great at creating websites or managing social media? There are options abound for you to apply your skills.

5. Become a brand ambassador

Many brands look for ambassadors to represent them on college campuses or at community events. You could also become a street promoter at special events if you have a friendly personality. Marketing experience can help get you the job.

6. Positions on campus

There are numerous opportunities to work in the many different departments at your university. In addition to working within your department of study, you could find a job with the alumni office, career center, or housing. The campus transportation service hires bus drivers; a lot of bus drivers are also students, so your work schedule will accommodate your school schedule.

7. Night-time gigs

Working at night can be difficult to balance with the demands of graduate school, but you can make some good money. For example, working at a nice hotel overnight at the front desk could be a great part-time job. Security guard is another option. Sometimes you can get an easy desk job and perhaps even study during your shift.

8. Use your talents

If you have any niche hobbies or talents, you could use them to make some extra cash. Ballroom dance instructors’ rates can vary, but you can often make $50 an hour per private lesson, minus the floor rent. That means you could have a $40 per hour job on your hands, plus you get to do something you love. If you are athletic, you could become a personal trainer or group fitness instructor. Not a bad way to make some cash, get some exercise in, and give you better life balance.

9. Look around town

Local opportunities, whether a small retail business or a restaurant, are also options for employment.

This list is a great place to start if you are a graduate student looking for a job. You can also check out this undergraduate list for some more ideas! When all else fails, look to the career center to help you find a job. Graduate students can often look on the “Careers” section on the main university site for the best opportunities. Pick a route and get looking!


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