For those of you who are searching for a way to fund your undergraduate or graduate studies, the federal work-study student aid is worth looking into. This program is designed to support students in need with employment opportunities relevant to their fields.
Keep reading to find the highest-paying work-study jobs, the best work-study jobs you can look into, and the relevant skills you’ll need to get hired. We also include the top universities that hire for a work-study program and the steps you can take to land a high-paying job.
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How Much Does a Work-Study Job Pay?
The salary of every work-study job matches the current federal minimum wage that is $7.25 per hour. So, whether it’s a part-time job at the cafeteria or a work-study position at the engineering lab, all eligible students will earn the federal minimum wage at their respective educational institutions.
However, know that the salary rate can be higher than the minimum wage and might vary depending on your job title and hours. The pay of your federal work-study program also varies according to your time of application, the university’s fund availability, and your financial needs.
Your pay rate also varies depending on the location of your employment. Work-study students can gain full-time or part-time employment at a campus job or at an off-campus public or non-profit job. So, if you are working at a non-profit organization, your hourly rate will likely be lower than that of student employees working as research assistants at a well-funded university department.
This federal work-study award is not available at every university, so be sure to check with your school’s financial aid office to find out whether your university participates in this program.
How to Get a High-Paying Work-Study Job
Read below to find a step-by-step guide on how to get a high-paying work-study job. Be sure to customize these steps to meet your terms and conditions for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and work-study employment grant. These steps apply to undergraduate or graduate students, or even professional students enrolled part-time who are looking to cover their educational expenses.
Step 1: Research This Financial Aid Program
The first step to getting a high-paying work-study job is to find out all your student employment and federal government financial aid opportunities. Your college costs paired with your financial needs alone won’t help you land a high-paying work-study job. So, begin by looking into the list of universities that participate in this financial aid award program.
Once you have created a list of your top university choices, you can move on to researching departments relevant to your field of study. Look into the school’s job opportunities, work-study funds, and department fund availability.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Campus-Based Programs Data Book is a great research tool that will help you find the universities that receive the most federal funds. You can then shortlist and apply to the universities that provide you with the best work-study grants.
Step 2: Look Into the University’s Eligible Campus and Off-Campus Job Opportunities
Getting a federal work-study grant does not guarantee a student job placement. The onus of finding part-time or full-time employment completely falls under the student. So, to find the best part-time jobs with the highest salaries you must look into all the job opportunities available under the university’s work-study program.
Get in touch with your financial aid advisor to find the highest-paying job for yourself. Don’t just constrict yourself to department-specific jobs, but instead look into cafeteria, residential assistant, or campus ambassador jobs that provide a lot of work hours and a higher pay rate.
You should also research off-campus work-study jobs with high salaries, but be sure to look into additional cost factors, including transportation costs.
Step 3: Organize Your Schedule for 20 Hours of Work per Week
Under the federal work-study program agreement, students are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week. So, if you are a part-time student or a full-time student who can allocate 20 hours of their week to a job, then be sure to do so. This means applying for student jobs that offer a lot of hours. Some popular on-campus jobs with a lot of hours include library jobs and cafeteria jobs.
What Work-Study Jobs Pay the Most? The Highest-Paying Work-Study Jobs You Should Consider
There are tons of high-paying work-study jobs you should consider while applying for off-campus or on-campus positions. Below is a list of the top work-study jobs that pay the most and a list of companies with open positions during the time of writing this article. Be sure to choose the ones that best suit your financial aid preferences and academic goals.
- Average salary: $50,724
- Job growth: 12%*
- Companies hiring: Troy University, University of North Dakota, Georgia Southwestern State University
If you possess excellent teaching skills and have a high GPA in your chosen subject, a university tutor position is a great work-study job for you. You can apply through your university’s job portal or contact your department’s professors to find tutoring jobs. The school’s learning centers also offer foundational tutoring jobs in English and Mathematics.
*The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes university tutors as post-secondary teachers.
Student Research Assistant
- Average salary: $46,270
- Job growth: 9%*
- Companies hiring: Ohio State University, Georgia Tech Research Institute, University of North Texas at Dallas
For those of you who have great research skills and are wanting to pursue a major in the STEM field, a student research assistant work-study might be a good fit. This work-study job typically applies to senior undergraduate or graduate students looking to afford their college costs and gain professional experience. To land a research job of your liking be sure to get in touch with your academic counselor and department research professors.
*BLS categorizes student research assistants as teachers assistants.
- Average salary: $13.83 per hour
- Job growth: 17%*
- Companies hiring: Troy University, University of North Carolina, Maryland Institute College of Arts
Finding student employment as a residential advisor or a resident assistant will help you cover your housing costs at the university. Residential advisors at universities are in charge of organizing dormitory activities, aiding dorm residents, and acting as a connection between the school’s residential administrators and college students.
This is a great work-study opportunity for those looking to get free housing and food. Your pay range will vary depending on your work-study agreement or university rules. According to BLS, the highest paid states for residential advisors include California, New York, and Massachusetts. However, be aware that some universities do not provide their student residential advisors with a salary and compensate them only through housing and meal plans.
*BLS categorizes residential advisors under social and human service assistants
- Average salary: $37,609
- Job growth: 17%*
- Companies hiring: University of Kentucky, University of North Dakota, University of La Verne California
A work-study job that pays well is a student server position. University cafeterias, coffee shops, and catering departments often have job openings every semester. These jobs also offer stable hours and salary hikes every semester. So, if you are looking to find student employment that offers flexible hours and on-campus employment, then this job is worth applying for.
*BLS categorizes student servers under food and beverage serving and related workers.
Computer Lab Assistant
- Average salary: $36,317
- Job growth: 9%*
- Companies hiring: University of Wyoming, Rutgers University, Alcorn State University
If you are a computer science or tech major, working at the university’s IT labs is a great resume booster for you. A computer lab assistant at a university is responsible for providing IT assistance to students and staff. You will help college students with login, computer, hardware, and software issues.
*BLS categories computer lab assistants under computer support specialist occupations.
- Average salary: $34,348
- Job growth: 39%
- Companies hiring: Nashville SC Academy, The University of Texas at Austin, Brigham Young University
If you love exercising and working at a gym, then you should apply for a fitness trainer position at your university’s gym. This is a great work-study position where you will train the university staff and students to exercise and build a fitness regiment.
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Community Service Worker
- Average salary: $34,303
- Job growth: 12%*
- Companies hiring: Saint Leo University, University of Central Oklahoma, Los Angeles County of Human Resources
Work-study awards also allow you to apply for off-campus jobs at public agencies or non-profit institutions. So, if you are a sociology major or a student looking to do non-profit work, this job is for you. However, prior to applying for these jobs be sure to contact your financial advisor and make sure you have the necessary qualifications.
Your duties as a student community service worker will vary depending on your place of employment. Your job tasks will include providing non-profit services to communities, assisting NGOs in fund-raising events, or collecting social data for a government agency.
*BLS categorizes community service workers under social worker occupations.
- Average salary: $30,659
- Job growth: 0%
- Companies hiring: Harvard University, Indiana University, Sam Houston State University
If you love books and libraries, then look into campus opportunities for library assistants. As a library assistant your job duties will cover organizing books, assisting students with their requests, and checking books in and out. University libraries offer flexible hours that include late-night shifts. So, if you prefer completing your schoolwork at night while doing a job, then this job is for you.
- Average salary: $28,900
- Job growth: 9%
- Companies hiring: Ohio State University, Illinois State University, San Diego State University
If you are an undergraduate or a graduate student looking for an academic work-study job, then a teaching assistant position is a great option for you. However, know that in order to get a teaching assistant position you will need to have a great GPA in that specific course. You will also need to get in touch with your course professor to find if any assistant positions are available.
Your job duties as a teaching assistant include various tasks such as leading discussions during class, holding office hours, and assisting students with any queries. Depending on your university and work-study agreement, teaching assistant positions can often cover your entire tuition cost.
- Average salary: $27,598
- Job growth: 10%*
- Companies hiring: Auburn University, University of Kentucky, University of Utah
If you possess great marketing, fundraising, and interpersonal skills, then a campus ambassador position might be apt for you. The duties of a campus ambassador vary depending on your hiring department. For instance, if you work for the fundraising call center department of the university, your job duties will involve calling alumni and potential donors to collect donations for the university.
If instead you are hired as a campus ambassador by the university’s tour department, you will act as a campus guide to prospective students. This job requires you to have an in-depth understanding of the school’s culture, academic curriculum, and other admissions-related information.
*BLS categorizes campus ambassadors under advertising, promotions, and marketing manager occupations.
Best Work-Study Jobs: Top Universities That Hire for Work-Study Jobs
Read below to find a list of the top universities that hire for work-study jobs. These universities have the best work-study programs, so choose the school that best adheres to your financial and academic preferences.
- The University of Michigan: The federal work-study program at The University of Michigan offers an average of $12.14 per hour.
- The University of Pennsylvania: The University of Pennsylvania allows students to seek both on-campus and off-campus work-study jobs via its Workday@Penn job search board. You can gain off-campus community service employment in the tutoring, healthcare, social support services, or educational sector and work up to 20 hours per week.
- The University of Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma offers a maximum work-study award of $5,500 every academic year. You can apply for community service learning and on-campus assistant positions under your work-study program.
- Harvard University: Harvard University offers both on-campus and off-campus jobs under its work-study program. You can work multiple jobs as long as you register and split the work-study grant between all the jobs.
- The University of Houston: The University of Houston also allows for both on-campus and off-campus jobs under its work-study programs. You can work in community service, health care, photography, public relations, or educational sectors.
Where to Find a Work-Study Job
Below are the top three options for you to find a work-study job. Be sure to research all these options to find the best work-study job with the highest pay rate.
University Job Portals
Your university’s job portal should be the first place you look, as it will have up-to-date information on work-study job positions available on your campus. You can also get in touch with your financial advisor or the student employment office directly to find further on-campus job opportunities.
Popular Job Search Boards
Another great option to find work-study jobs is to search on popular job search boards including Indeed.com, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor. Look up your job title along with your university to find any job openings. However, be sure to contact your financial and academic advisor and double-check whether the position falls under your work-study agreement.
Department Heads and Professors
For those looking to get a tutoring, research assistantship, or teaching assistantship work-study job, a great option is to get in touch directly with the professors. You will need to showcase an excellent understanding of the subject in order to impress your professor.
Skills Required to Land Your First Work-Study Job
The skills required to land your first work-study job vary depending on the position you are applying for. Read below to find the common skills relevant to some of the popular work-study job positions.
Several work-study jobs available at universities require you to communicate or assist the staff and student population. So, whether it is a cafeteria server position, a teaching assistant position, or a campus ambassador position, you will need excellent communication skills to land these jobs.
Popular work-study jobs prevalent across many universities are related to education. Jobs such as university tutors, community tutors, and teaching assistants require you to master interpersonal and class management skills.
You need to master administrative duties for work-study jobs that require you to provide assistance. These skills are relevant across all departments including fitness, educational, IT, and residential. You need to showcase time management, communication, and written and verbal communication skills to land administrative jobs.
Is a Work-Study Job For Me?
A work-study job is for anyone needing financial assistance to pay for their college education and living expenses. It provides you with the opportunity to work at several resume-building positions, including teaching assistant, community service, or IT support assistant positions. A work-study job is also worth it for students looking for flexible on-campus jobs that allow them to work 20 hours per week without interfering with their academic schedule or career goals.
Work-Study Jobs That Pay Well FAQ
The work-study jobs that pay the most are university tutor, student research assistant, residential advisor, student server, and computer lab assistant positions. But know that the average salary rates for these jobs will vary depending on your university and its available funds.
Students who are enrolled part-time in a school’s undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies program are eligible for a federal work-study program. Be sure to check if your university participates in this program.
The hourly wage under a federal work-study program varies depending on your employer and university. But, you are guaranteed to earn an hourly wage of $7.25, which is the federal minimum wage.
You can work a maximum of 20 hours per week under your federal work-study program.
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