The Complete Guide to Making Money while Studying Abroad


Updated on Apr 16 • 5 minute read

When you begin planning your move abroad as an incoming international student, there are a lot of things to keep in order and to prepare for before you even leave home. You’ll need to finalize your courses at the university, find housing, pack as much as you can fit in a suitcase or two, and begin to look over your budget.

There are numerous benefits to living abroad, but you will probably notice that you’re going to require a little financial help. Of course, it’s perfectly normal for plenty of expats to both work and study, and fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities available in most cities. Whether you’re looking for part-time jobs, student jobs, or you’d like to freelance, it’s only natural to feel a little overwhelmed when you’re thinking about all of the alternatives.

This guide will take you through the steps of finding work during your international stay, as well as expanding your network, which can prove to be very beneficial when starting your career. So, kick back and be ready to take some notes!

But first… legalities

It’s always important to remember that all countries are different, so you need to be specific when looking for information regarding work permits, visas or other regulations. Some countries have tougher restrictions, while others are very relaxed, as long as you are a student with the proper paperwork.

However, in most countries, young internationals with a student visa are typically allowed to work for 20 hours each week on a part-time basis, and they can increase their hours to full-time when there’s a university break. This means that you should have no problem earning income, and even making strides to eventually build a career abroad if you so desire.

Top Cities for student jobs

Of course, work may not be as abundant in some cities versus others, which is why, if working while you study is a necessity, you may want to look into availability before you make a final decision. Capitals and larger cities will typically present more opportunities if you’re hoping to work at a company or on campus. Yet, some cities may surprise you with budding possibilities. You can also always take a look at the top 100 cities to find a job to get a little perspective.

If you want even more advanced information, it’s never a bad idea to join a Facebook group for international students or expats moving to your specific city. Sometimes, companies may even post open jobs on these forums, which means if the timing works out, you can even apply before you arrive and already have arrangements made.

Work opportunities for international students

Once you’ve decided on your new home-away-from-home and maybe even grabbed a few roommates from a Facebook group, it’s time to get serious about the type of work that most interests you or will be most convenient for your specific situation. To better do so, let’s first understand the three main opportunities to pick up some cash abroad.

Working for a company

When you’re an expat in a new city, there is a myriad of job opportunities that are just perfect for students, and the good news is that a big portion of them require no experience.

Some good choices include restaurants, bars, nightclubs or delivery services. These types of positions will usually work around your study schedules.

You’ll also usually find that shops and other businesses close to universities are pretty used to hiring students, especially when they require additional help during certain seasons. This type of short-term work is perfect for expats!

Just keep in mind that if you’re going to apply for a position where you’re going to be dealing with the general population a lot, you’re going to need to be able to communicate in their language. Sure, it has become pretty common for a lot of people to speak English. But let’s say, for example, that you’re applying to be a waiter/tress in Germany. You’ll need to brush up on your German to make sure that you can offer the best service to your guests.

On-campus opportunities

Of course, if you’re there to study at the university, what could be more convenient than to never have to leave to make an income? However, keep in mind that these positions typically fill pretty far in advance, because everyone else also has the same idea.

First, there are obvious roles, such as working part-time in the campus bookstore, the library, in the mailroom or at the cafeteria. These positions are almost always filled each year by students, especially considering the steady influx of internationals who are seeking employment. Again, though, you’ll need to be sure that you can speak the language. There are excellent free apps like Duolingo that can be very beneficial, especially if you begin using it in preparation for your move.

Additionally, many professors may require the assistance of a student or two throughout the semester. The most popular of these types of positions include being an administrative assistant, a researcher or a teaching assistant. This is something that you’ll want to discuss when you’ve made a good impression or have had previous experience with the subject matter.


Formerly seen as merely a side hustle, freelancing has grown to be full-time employment for people from all walks of life, from digital nomads and international students to large companies offering remote working opportunities.

But if you’re not completely in the know about how this seemingly magical working opportunity actually “works,” let’s take a look at some possibilities. First, there are numerous skills that are heavily sought after in freelancing positions. Just a few include:

  • Copywriting
  • Graphic Design
  • Content Editing
  • Video Editing
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Photography
  • Data Entry
  • Surveys
  • Research
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Backlinking
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Management

And there are dozens more, including many general positions that don’t require a particular skill set or level of experience. But where do you find these jobs?

The good news is that there are quite a few online platforms created specifically for freelancers to find opportunities. One to keep your eye on is Upwork, which connects thousands of employers and freelancers from all across the globe. All you have to do is create a profile that highlights your skills, and then one of two things will happen: companies will begin sending you invitations to apply for certain positions, or you can search for roles that appeal to you and apply directly, which will look something like a bid.

Another similar platform is Fiverr, which works in a similar way and is very popular with graphic designers, programmers, animators, digital marketers and those in the music industry.

Maintaining a study/work balance

Now, the only thing left to do is ensure that the hours you spend working don’t interfere with your studies. This may sound like an easy task, but remember that there will also be social events to attend, as well as endless nights of parties and club hopping.

Try to look ahead at exam week and make arrangements with your employer to take some time off. A lot of students also find that it’s easier to take a shift right after their classes so that the night can be reserved for any last-minute cramming that’s necessary.

When you move to study abroad, it can be difficult to maintain a budget that will include all of the necessities. That’s why it’s important to find a part-time job or freelance position that will provide you with additional cash and maybe even a little experience that can brighten up your CV.

Being an international student is all about the adventure and stepping outside of your comfort zone to experience new and exciting things. So, just imagine working at a bustling bar during your spare time and learning from all the locals, or picking up a sweet freelance gig that you can continue with even when you get back home. Get ready to experience the most mind-opening time of your life!

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