Student Jobs in the U.S.: Where to Look and What Salary

The F1 student visa allows you to work 20 hours per week during your studies and 40 hours during vacations. Without permission from the immigration office you can work on campus at the university and do internships from the first year of study. If money is not enough - get a permit to work outside the university and officially get a part-time job.


On topic: Studying Abroad: How to Decide to Move and Tell Your Parents About It


On Campus


Undergraduate students often work in the university's libraries, dining halls, and labs. The average wage is $10-$15 an hour.


You can find out about job openings, leave an application and resume at the Career Center or the International Student Office. If there are no offers, the student will be put on a waiting list and will be contacted when they are available. To avoid waiting, you can look for a job on campus on your own. If the supervisor likes the student, he or she will be processed without a waiting list.


Graduate students and postgraduate students can get a job as an assistant in a department or with a professor. They handle papers, teach classes, or help with research. Assistants make an average of $20 an hour.


To become a departmental assistant, you must have a strong academic record, complete a test assignment, and show scholarly papers. Students make personal arrangements with professors. Usually professors hire those who are passionate and do research in the same academic field.  




There are two types of paid internships: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). They can be for a maximum of 12 months during each phase of study-undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate.


CPT is often a required internship at the university. Students are accepted after nine months of residency in the United States and may choose from a variety of options. The length of the internship and the wages depend on the program. But it is usually higher than on-campus work.


OPT is an internship that you can complete at an outside company during your program or after you complete your degree. For example, intern for three months at a time during your undergraduate summer break. Or take a break before entering graduate school and work for a company for a year.


To get an internship in a company, you need permission from the USCIS immigration office. For permission you need documents from the International Student Office and the Designated School Official at the university. The Migration Office can take up to three months to issue the permit.


Once permission is granted, the student looks for a company that will accept him/her for an internship on his/her own. The salary depends on the skills of the student, but will be higher than in other cases.


Outside of University


Only those students who have financial difficulties can get an official permit to work outside the university. This can be done from the second year of study with good grades.


To get a permit, you need to gather documentation of a change in your family's financial situation, loss of a sponsor, or poor economic situation in the country and submit it to USCIS. Also, prove that wages from on-campus work or internships do not cover all expenses.


This solution should be resorted to only in extreme cases and after consultation with the Designated School Official at the university. USCIS rarely grants such work permits because it may question whether the student has enough money to continue his or her studies and will send him or her home.


Some students find unofficial jobs in the city as janitors, waiters in cafes, and gas station attendants. Hourly pay will not be higher than on campus, but you can make an extra $200-300 a week in tips.


Illegal work is a risk. It is fraught with problems with the immigration service, expulsion from university and deportation. And you can also just not get paid.  




The easiest way to find a job is to ask about jobs on campus. At the undergraduate level you can work in various departments of the university, and afterwards you can get a job as an assistant in a department or with a professor.


CPT and OPT internships can earn more, but they are time-limited - no more than 12 months for each degree level.


Permission to work formally outside the university can only be obtained in case of financial hardship. It's difficult and there's a chance the immigration office will send you home.


Illegal work is for the brave and desperate. So it is better to work on campus and do internships.


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