Finding High Paying Summer Jobs For College Students

Finding High Paying Summer Jobs For College Students
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Six Job Ideas for You

A few weeks ago, I was eating dinner with my neighbors, who range in age from 33-83 years old. I asked them all, out of curiosity, what was their first job?

Three answered babysitting, one answered corn detasseling, one worked at a candy store and one hoed root vegetables for a farmer.

As I researched for this article, I wondered whether I would find the same popular options for summer jobs for students.

I was surprised to find out that a variety of jobs are available to students, and that some of them pay quite well. For instance, the first listed is not only one that allows a student to make $2400 in two months, but also would be a great opportunity to learn about a future career path.

Internship with the Federal Government

The state I live in, Illinois, offers high school juniors, seniors and graduates the opportunity to apply for a 10-week internship program in Springfield or Chicago. It pays over $1300 a month and you can apply online. You can find other paid government internship opportunities on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website (see References for a direct link).

Food Server

In years past, these were called waiter or waitress positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for servers in 2014 was $8.92 per hour. My summer jobs through college were serving at different restaurants. It can be strenuous and challenging work, but on a weekend you could easily make $100 on a night shift, or more, depending on where you work. If you worked two shifts in a day, you could potentially earn $200 in a single day.

Postal Work

If you want to make more than minimum wage, you could apply for a temporary position with the United States Postal Service. The positions open in June and can run through December. According to, starting salaries for casual (temporary) jobs with the Postal Service range from $11.00 to $15.03 an hour.


According to SnagaJob, lifeguards average $9.25 per hour. For these jobs, you need special training and certification from your local Red Cross, but you get to be in the sun and near the water. If you have an aquatics center in your area, it could be worth looking into.

Camp Counselor

Many of my former students have become camp counselors at my former school’s summer camp. These counselors work with groups of kids throughout the summer and take fun field trips to parks, pools, and bowling alleys almost every day. There are day camps where students can be counselors as well as overnight camps that employ counselors throughout the summer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median wage of camp counselors as $10.69 per hour.

Detasseling Corn

I had to research this job opportunity, since one of my neighbors did this as his first job! It actually can pay more than minimum wage if you’re a fast worker, and accurate. Detasselers clean up the tassels on corn stalks that the machines miss. According to the online handbook at, detasselers that work for this company receive $7.25-$10.00 based on performance.

Other Options

There are many other summer jobs for students, but most pay minimum wage. A popular option is working retail. Many students work for Target, Wal-Mart or stores in a local mall. Another popular job for students is working at fast food restaurants, once again, most often making minimum wage in the beginning. No matter how much you earn, a summer job is a great way to earn money for the school year, and learn responsibility and dedication at the same time.