12 High-Paying Summer Jobs For College Students

Written by James Mielke
Published on June 17, 2023 · Updated on June 19, 2023

12 High-Paying Summer Jobs For College Students

Written by James Mielke
Published on June 17, 2023 · Updated on June 19, 2023

For many students, most of the year is dedicated to studying, test-taking, paper-writing, and attending class. Additionally, you've got to manage a busy social life and resume-boosting extracurricular activities. From late summer to late spring, college is often all-consuming and dictates most of your life. So, once the temperatures rise and the shorts go on, what's a student to do for cash once their spring semester ends?

Thankfully, ample summer employment opportunities can put some cash in your pocket while offering the freedom you need to make the most of your summer. Throughout this page, we spotlight 12 of the best summer jobs for college students. Whether you want to sling coffee as a barista or wrangle children as a nanny, there's a job for you and your strengths. And some of them may even help boost your resume come graduation. Keep reading to see which high-paying summer job is right for you.

How Do I Choose the Best Summer Job?

You've worked hard all academic year, and as a result, summer is often sacred. Still, your college summer break presents an excellent chance to explore the professional world, gain practical experience, and beef up your resume. It's also a time to make some money. However, because there are so many jobs available, choosing the best job for you can be tough.

From scheduling flexibility and personal factors to career relevance and learning opportunities, we review some key elements you should consider when choosing the best summer job.

You might want to consider summer job opportunities that align with your career goals or field of study. Tackling a job in a related industry can beef up your resume while providing hands-on learning experiences.
Summer can be a time to earn and save, but it's also an opportunity to spend time with your family and hang with friends. You might want to prioritize jobs that allow time for fun while letting you recharge for the fall semester.
When looking for potential jobs, you'll want to consider pay rates, benefits, and potential for overtime and bonuses.
Seek out positions that allow you to learn new skills, gain industry knowledge, and contribute to your personal and professional growth.
Engaging in work you enjoy can make for a memorable work experience while making your summer more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Consider the location of prospective jobs. A job close to home or school allows you to save time and money, ensuring space for a work-life balance.
Take the time to research the company culture of prospective employers. You'll want to seek out positive work environments that prioritize your well-being.
For the career-minded student, seek out jobs that offer the chance for future advancement. Some positions can evolve into long-term employment after graduation.

12 High-Paying Summer College Jobs

After reading the previous section, you've probably come away with some essential factors influencing whether a job is right for you. Continue reading as we lay out some of the top summer jobs for college students and see which roles match up with your unique needs.

1. Lifeguard

Average hourly wage: $13.64

A lifeguard ensures the safety of individuals at popular summer spots like swimming pools, beaches, and water parks. These workers monitor swimmers, respond to emergencies, enforce rules, and provide first aid when required. Because these places are typically only open in the summer, they provide a great opportunity for college students. Plus, you get to work on your tan.

2. Tutor

Average hourly wage: $21.55

Just because school is out for summer, many students are still learning or preparing for various standardized tests or even summer school. A tutor assists students in improving their academic skills through both one-on-one and group sessions. Tutors can work both in-person and online, and this can be a great addition to your resume or even a way to strengthen your knowledge and skills in certain topics. As the saying goes, the best way to learn is to teach!

3. Nanny

Average hourly wage: $16.45

Nannies provide childcare services and is a popular option for college students on summer break. After all, parents typically don’t get summer vacation and need help with childcare during the months their kids are out of school. Nannies supervise and engage with children of various ages, organize activities, prepare meals, and ensure they offer a safe environment. For future teachers, nannying offers valuable experiences in childcare. And if you’re looking to go into a medical professional, you can get a CPR certification or learn other skills to help prepare you for both jobs.

4. Barista

Average hourly wage: $11.64

The world runs on coffee. As a barista, you'll work in coffee shops, taking customer orders and preparing various beverages for caffeine lovers everywhere -- all while maintaining a clean environment that keeps with health and safety regulations. This flexible role can provide a fun atmosphere that's relatively low-stress for college students wanting to make the most of their summer. Plus, if you take the really early shifts, you can get done with work and still have the majority of your day left.

5. Dog Walker

Average hourly wage: $15.64

Calling all animal lovers! As a dog walker or pet sitter, you can make money during your summer break while spending time with furry friends. Whether in a pre-vet program or just a dog lover, you'll walk dogs or watch pets while the owners are busy. You’ll be responsible for keeping them safe. This role provides an active and rewarding summer job. 

6. Delivery Driver

Average hourly wage: $16.68

Whether you're driving for Amazon or delivery apps like Door Dash, these jobs can offer a flexible and often lucrative summer employment opportunity. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are also solid options, allowing you to choose the most convenient hours.

7. Summer Camp Counselor

Average hourly wage: $11.38

Maybe you like working with kids and want to become a teacher or have a career involving children. Or perhaps you just have fond memories of your own summer camp experiences and love being outdoors. Either way, a summer camp counselor job is a great option. These workers supervise and engage with campers and facilitate a rewarding outdoor environment. Camp counselors not only help create lasting memories, they help campers develop skills in teamwork, leadership, and communication.

8. Restaurant Server

Average hourly wage: $12.50

Tackling a restaurant server role can offer a dynamic and relatively lucrative summer job. The best servers offer standout customer service while taking orders, serving food and beverages, and handling transactions. While working as a server, you'll learn to handle challenging customers while honing communication, multitasking skills, organization, and stress-management.

9. Administrative Temp Worker

Average hourly wage: $14.40

Temporary administrative roles can offer an ideal summer job where workers gain valuable experience in a professional setting. These office-based jobs include various clerical tasks, data entry, scheduling, and yes…even getting coffee. Finding a summer admin role in a job relevant to your major can have significant career benefits in the future by building strong references and adding experience to your resume.

10. Freelance Writer

Average hourly wage: $24.94

For English majors or students who just love writing, taking jobs as a freelance writer an offer maximum flexibility. Locking down a couple of freelance writing gigs is hard to beat as a summer job. You can work remotely while developing your writing skills, exploring diverse topics, and getting a taste of the writing life. The easiest way to do this is by joining sites like Upwork or Fiverr. Or, you can reach out to websites with fields you’re interested in and offer writing samples for guest posting.

11. Bartender

Average hourly wage: $12.67

For students of legal age, securing a bartender job can offer a fun and relatively lucrative (tips!) summer job. Bartenders mix and serve drinks, engage with customers, and add to the bar's atmosphere. During your bartending experience, you'll strengthen customer service and multitasking skills while working in a social environment. Plus, networking is often done in these types of environments, so you never know who you’ll meet or if you can make connections that will help you get a job after graduation.

12. Retail Sales

Average hourly wage: $14.00

Brick-and-mortar retail stores constantly need reliable workers. As a result, you'll inevitably have your choice from stores that align with your interests and tastes. Retail workers assist customers, handle transactions, and organize merchandise. You'll also hone your customer service and communication skills. Plus, there are often bonuses for top salespeople.

13. Summer Intern in Your Desired Field

Getting a summer internship in a field that you want to work in after graduation is one of the best opportunities for summer. For example, if you’re looking to work in marketing, look for marketing agencies that offer summer internships or need help carrying out events. Or if you want to become a first responder, there are often summer jobs like wildland firefighting crews or availability to work on ambulances. Or if you want to work in the medical field, looking for assistant jobs in medical offices or hospitals. Any experience in your related field will help you learn more about the career path you’re choosing and will add experience to your resume to improve your chances of landing a job in your field.


  • What makes for a good summer job?
    • The best summer job is the one that meets your schedule and aligns with your interests and goals. For some college students on summer break, having maximum flexibility is a priority. For others, securing a summer job that can enhance their resume is crucial. Take the time to think about what you want from a summer job and review our list of potential job options.
  • What is the highest-paying summer job?
    • Numerous factors can impact how much you can earn in a summer job. Jobs with tips—servers and bartenders—can sometimes be lucrative. That said, tutors and freelance writers offer the highest pay for the jobs we've listed. If you're looking for the most enjoyable experience, be sure to consider a job that aligns with your interests.
  • Should I get a summer job during college?
    • This depends on your academic schedule and financial needs. Some students tackle multiple classes over the summer in order to graduate more quickly. Other students complete internships and co-ops that might not pay especially well but offer hands-on professional experience and valuable networking opportunities. Consider your needs and goals and pick whichever pathway works best for you.