Best Summer Jobs for College Students in 2017

Summer jobs are a chance to get creative. As a college student, the job you get for the summer could do everything from point you in a new potential career direction to give you a new group of friends. So don’t limit yourself by defaulting to what everyone else is doing.

You may be one of those lucky people, for example, who can work at a university or college over the summer, help out with a family business or be accepted for a federal government internship through the Pathways Program. There may be career-relevant internships and summer hiring available through your educational institution or through family and friends.

But if none of those things apply, you’ll still want a summer job that will pay decently and ideally give you skills you can carry into your life and career. To help and inspire you, here are our suggestions for summer jobs for college students in 2017. Note that we are skipping over the kinds of retail jobs, fast food restaurant work and hotel/resort opportunities that are typically on many people’s summer job prospect list.

1. Lifeguard

Being a lifeguard requires diligence, responsibility and teamwork.
Being a lifeguard requires diligence, responsibility and teamwork. (Photo by katacarix / Shutterstock.com)

Work as a lifeguard isn’t just a great summer job because it looks cool and you get to hang around a beach or a pool all day. It’s also a job that requires maturity, the ability to work effectively as part of a team and the people skills to get along well with the public.

The average wage lifeguards are paid is $9.18 per hour, according to Payscale.com. The upside of this job is that you’ll get experience that will be valued in a wide array of fields. The downside is you won’t make a lot of money.

2. Camp director

It’s not all hammocks and relaxation when you’re a camp director. (Photo by S_Photo / Shutterstock.com)

Working at a summer camp — and particularly being a camp director — can provide great experience in leadership, working with teens and teaching. It’s a good choice for students who want to go into education, pediatrics or outdoor tourism.

Payscale.com reports that the median wage for this work is $14.77 per hour and that you’ll need to be at least 21 years old and have spent a certain number of hours, generally about 1,000, in the care and supervision of at least four children. You’ll also need first aid and CPR certification, a driver’s license and be willing to go through background checks.

3. Camp counselor

Being a camp counselor means being great with kids.
Being a camp counselor means getting along well with kids. (Photo by Olesia Bilkei / Shutterstock.com)

For those who don’t have the experience to be a camp director, being a camp counselor may be an option.

The pay is a median wage of $9.09 per hour, but most camps are happy to have college students without specialized experience for this kind of role. Of course, this job will still require you to be good at working with kids and again is ideally suited for someone whose career direction aligns with the job.

4. Dog walker

Walking dogs is a great way to stay in shape over the summer, as well as earn a little money.
Walking dogs is a great way to earn a little money. (Photo by Fotokostic / Shutterstock.com)

If you like dogs — and have enough experience and training to be able to safely walk several dogs at once — then being a dog walker could be a great summer job for you. In addition to getting to spend time with dogs, you’ll get outside a lot and Payscale.com reports a median salary of $13.27 per hour (although it varies between $9.80 and $20.51, depending on where you live and how much experience you have).

This might be a great choice for anyone looking for work in nonprofit animal rescue facilities, planning a career in veterinary services or just seeking experience working with both animals and people. Be aware, however, that the dog owners can often be harder to deal with than their dogs — so this isn’t a job for those who don’t like working with the public.

5. House painter

Busy House Painter Painting the Trim And Shutters of A Home.
House painting requires attention to detail. (Photo by Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com)

For those who live in areas where there’s plenty of summer sunshine and who don’t mind spending the week perched on a ladder, painting houses could be just the job.

Payscale.com’s salary rate for this work is promising — it lists $15.96 listed as the median wage (with a variation from $10.40 to $25.35) — and there won’t be a lot of qualifications. You’ll just need to be in decent shape, willing to work really hard to meet deadlines and be able to follow direction well.

6. Landscaping, lawn and garden care

Mowing lawns can be a simple, straightforward way to make some money this summer.
Mowing lawns can be a simple way to make some money. (Photo by StockWithMe / Shutterstock.com)

This is one of those summer jobs that could take the form of working for a landscaping business — or just pulling together jobs yourself by offering to mow lawns or do yard work in your neighborhood.

The disadvantage of doing this kind of work as a temporary business is that you’ll need to make an upfront investment in lawn care and gardening equipment (and probably at least have the use of a truck). If you have family members who can help with that, the option of setting up something yourself becomes more realistic.

If you work for someone else as a landscaper — the median wage is $12.05 hourly, according to Payscale.com — you’ll be doing everything from mowing lawns and pulling weeds to digging and planting as directed.

7. Flagger

Road construction flagger holding a stop sign and directing traffic.
A road construction flagger directs traffic. (Photo by Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock.com)

If you’ve ever taken a long summer road trip, you’ll know that road construction is a typical part of the season’s landscape. All of those road crews have flaggers who signal motorists when they need to stop and when they can proceed and direct the movement of large construction vehicles.

If you don’t mind working in a sometimes noisy environment — and being outside all the time — then this is a reasonably paid summer gig. Payscale.com reports these jobs have a median wage of $12.11 per hour, and there isn’t a lot in the way of formal qualifications needed for this work.

By the way, in addition to providing the salary information for various jobs, Payscale.com provides other data including necessary qualifications and working conditions. It’s a great place not only to research summer jobs, but also to do some career planning. Good luck!

What was your best summer job in college — or the one you would most like to have had? Share your ideas with us below or on our Facebook page.

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