As soon as someone starts approaching the world of work, they start thinking differently about making money. This may be because the closer you get to it, the more you want to move out, or maybe it’s just because you want a little extra income to have fun and go out with your friends.
However, it’s often difficult to just pick an activity and “roll with it,” especially for grad students who are already doing many activities, such as studying, playing sports, and even having fun with their friends.
That’s why, in this article, I’m going to tell you about my personal experience in choosing the best side hustle for me as a grad student and show you what came out of years of research and testing many different jobs.
Why Does A Grad Student Need A Side Hustle?
Grad students always have a lot on their plate. Some are focused on doing well in school, others are pursuing their athletic goals, and still, others may even be working toward their dream job or career.
Regardless of each grad student’s individual focus, sooner or later the thought of earning a little extra money creeps in.
This money is invaluable to students because it allows them to not worry about money when they go out with their friends, to set aside a small amount of money for future investments, and much more.
On the other hand, some graduate students are often afraid of over-committing themselves during their studies, which could throw them off track for a little money.
But who says it has to be a small amount? Or that it has to throw them off track?
What Qualities Do Graduate Students Look For In A Side Hustle?
I’m a graduate school student myself and at first, I was afraid to start a side hustle because I thought it could become very boring after a short time and the pay wouldn’t be too good.
But, over the past five years, I’ve tried dozens of side hustles for grad students and I realized that my initial assumptions were completely wrong and based on generic stereotypes.
However, I also came to the realization that not every side hustle is perfect for everyone and that the ideal job for a grad student should have these three basic characteristics: remote, time-effective, and fun!
That’s the first condition I made before looking for a side hustle. My graduate school doesn’t offer classes at the same time every day. So some days of the week, I may have to spend mornings. On other days, evenings, and sometimes even the whole day at the college.
Even though some people have regular class times, making it less of a problem for them, I found that working remotely would have made me more productive and could have earned me more money.
The second criterion that I think must be met when looking for a new side hustle is that it should have flexible hours, and it would allow me to start earning income right away.
There are a lot of side hustles for grad students that pay even more money than the ones I currently use, but they have the disadvantage of taking more time to get started.
However, since this is just based on personal preference, I’ll also include in my list a few very profitable side hustles that take more time to set up.
Finally, the most important requirement for side hustles for grad students is that they must be fun!
Most of the side hustles for graduate students I’ll explain later can be adapted to a specific niche or industry. So my main recommendation is that before you decide on a side hustle, you should identify your favorite niche.
It doesn’t have to be the one you like the most or know the most about. It can simply be the one you’d like to learn more about, making the research process faster and more efficient.
Which Are The Best Side Hustles For Grad Students?
While keeping in mind the three main requirements I just talked about, let me tell you which are the 7 best side hustles for grad students in my opinion.
1. Pet Care And Dog Walking
Pet care and dog walking are two side businesses that I particularly enjoyed because, after a long day attending school, I had the opportunity to take a relaxing walk in the park while earning money.
This activity is perfect for any graduate student who’s a dog lover. But if you’re a cat person, don’t worry, there is something for you too!
Pet care or pet sitting is all about taking care of another person’s pets and spending time with them when they would have otherwise been left alone. So, this side job could consist of you staying home with a pet or taking them to your house for a few days when their family has to go out of town.
I once took in a sweet rabbit for a whole week at my house when his family was on vacation during the Christmas season.
For me, it was a win-win situation: at the time, I charged $20 per day and had the opportunity to spend time with a cute rabbit – what more could you ask for?
To get started, we recommend Rover.
2. Baby Sitting
Another great alternative side hustle is baby sitting. This activity is perfect for whoever loves spending time with children or wants to have a more relaxed side hustle.
Additionally, nowadays, it is very easy to find new clients. Thanks to social networks, such as Facebook which allow parents to post a job request in seconds.
Baby sitters can make anywhere between $15 per hour to over $20 per hour depending on the location and number of children that they will have to babysit. Therefore, if you babysit a child from lunch to dinner, you can expect to make even more than $100.
One major benefit of this grad student side hustle is the fact that you can bring your books and class notes to the house where you have to babysit. And if you have a chance, you could even have some time to study and get a head start for your next exam session.
Finally, one last thing that I loved about babysitting, was the possibility of requesting higher rates due to having a driver’s license. I offered to pick up kids from school, take them to sports practice and so on, making the job more dynamic and allowing me to earn higher rates.
The third side hustle for grad students that I tried my hand at was tutoring. This job is perfect if you are passionate about something you study at school. A great thing about tutoring opportunities is that the more complex the subject is, the higher the rate that you can ask.
The easiest way to start is if you have a second language that you are fluent in. This is the best and less boring way of doing tutoring, as learning a new language can be done in a creative and original way, making the lessons interesting and having fun together while learning.
This is one of the side hustles I practiced the most while attending graduate school because I was able to do it remotely by connecting with the client over a Zoom call.
Finally, another upside of this activity is the fact that the more you progress with your studies, the more you are able to give advanced courses. And therefore, the more you will earn money.
During my last period of tutoring, I was able to charge over $50 per hour to teach mathematical finance to the students in the finance graduate program.
4. Flipping Undervalued Items
If you do it with your friends and fellow students, flipping undervalued items is hands-down one of the most fun side hustles that you could do during grad school. We used to get together during the weekends to go to any flea market, garage sale, and second-hand shop we could find.
The main downside is that it could be time-consuming as every place you go to could have just a few options worth buying. But if you have in-depth knowledge about a certain niche, you could significantly speed up this process.
Initially, when I started doing this side hustle, I thought that it would be very hard to sell certain items. But you wouldn’t believe the speed at which people buy even the strangest items! If you go through the Vital Dollar archives you will see we have written in more detail about furniture flipping, phone flipping, and the best things to flip for profit.
The process is simple:
Buy an item after checking on the internet the latest selling prices. Clean and repaint it if needed. Then simply make a couple of social media posts and list the product on eBay.
If you manage to find enough great deals, you could even average a couple of hundred bucks each weekend with this graduate student side hustle.
We at Vital Dollar highly recommend our friends Rob and Melissa below
5. Start a Blog
Starting a blog is a side hustle that has the potential to earn the most money. But it is also the one that requires the most extra time and dedication to get started.
Even though thanks to the help of WordPress and other web hosting services, it is becoming easier and cheaper to start a blog, it still requires time, basic SEO knowledge, and web design skills to achieve a great result.
However, I personally know graduate students that in less than one year managed to set up a blog page and reach a substantial income while having fun and talking about the things they love.
The great part of starting a blog is the fact that you are creating a place on the Internet where you can express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences about a certain topic, potentially helping thousands of people.
Additionally, blogs are extremely easy to scale up once they pick up wind, making the potential profits almost unlimited. The key is starting as soon as you can, developing high-quality content, and being consistent.
Freelancing is another great way to offer services and earn a little extra money on the side. The beauty of this side hustle is that has the most flexible schedule among the other grad student side hustles on the list. You can decide at what time you work, how much you work, and exactly what freelance work you take on.
Of course, based on these decisions your income will greatly vary. But once you get established on a platform such as Upwork or Fiverr, then you are almost guaranteed a constant income stream.
This is the side hustle I am currently focusing the most on, as it is the one that allows me to work on what I am interested in the most while seemingly having an unlimited amount of projects I could bid on. The most popular job offers range from virtual assistant to freelance writing to graphic design positions.
Additionally, depending on your skills, certifications and past work experience, you can achieve extremely high hourly rates, making this alternative not only very flexible but also extremely profitable.
7. Social Media Manager
Finally, I couldn’t help but mention the famous social media manager job in the list of best side hustles for grad students. It certainly is a popular job position because business owners need to promote their products and or services online to benefit from the newest technologies in the market.
I think it’s clear to everyone that the youngest generations are undeniable experts on social media, as creating and sharing social media posts has become almost second nature to them.
Additionally, this job position is extremely sought after due to the rapid development of online businesses, which sooner or later will need social media accounts and someone to manage them.
Because of this, social media managers are very well paid, reaching over $35 per hour on the most common freelancing platforms.
Sooner or later, making money becomes a significant part of everyone’s life, but especially important for graduate students. On the other hand, it is also true that grad school requires a lot of time and effort from its students, leaving little room for other activities.
However, as we have seen in the article, there are many interesting time-efficient side hustles and part time jobs that could be used both to earn some extra money and blow off some steam at the same time.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article on side hustles for grad students and that you can take inspiration from it to start building towards your dream career while still having fun and making something on the side.