You Could Side Hustle As A Mechanical Turk For Amazon…

mechanical turk side hustle

… But You May Be Counting Pennies.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service can be a quick way to side hustle a couple bucks online if you’re not particularly skilled at any of the usual avenues of services which are offered online. Don’t expect to get rich, though, making money on mTurk is a grinding task.

What is a Mechanical Turk? It is an expression used for machines or devices that can purportedly do a fully automated task, but which in reality is done by a hidden person.

Cartman is a Mechanical Turk

How The Side Hustle Works

You’ll take on various tasks of different types by signing up for them. The tasks are called HITs or Human Interaction Tasks and include a lot of different types of basic functions which can’t be fulfilled by a computer in their present state.

All of this is anonymous, meaning that if you do particularly good work you’re only going to be identified by a number. Some of the task givers will have higher paying tasks they only offer to those who’ve done consistent work for them, generally in the range of a couple of hundred HITs.

For the most part, this will entail a lot of grinding on your part. You’ll sort photos or enter captchas. Basic data entry, like transcribing receipts, are also fairly common. Surveys can be fairly lucrative, especially during election season, but most tasks will only pay a couple of cents per completion.

Nearly everyone who seriously uses the site will have their browser optimized in some way, just finding the right HITs to make money can take a lot of time in and of itself. Everyone has their own preference of scripts and browser plug-ins, but if you’re going to give it a shot you definitely want to at least run Turkopticon which will let you know how reputable the giver of a certain task is.

After you reach the payout limit you can receive the money as an Amazon gift card or deposited into your account. In practice what this means is that you’ll have to spend a good bit of time working on the site before you can really access the money you’ve earned.

Is Amazon Turk A Lucrative Side Hustle?

Not really. Grinding non-stop for an hour you can sometimes make about five dollars an hour, some “turkers” claim to be able to make more like ten to fifteen but your time is probably better spent doing something else if you’re looking to make serious money.

The main exception to this is the surveys available around elections. Someone who’s quick, and not exactly concerned with their answers, might be able to scrape out about ten dollars per hour. As a general rule, these tasks will be location dependent, and it can be a bit mind-numbing.

Some of the top people who use the site claim to be able to make ten dollars an hour or more on a regular basis, but this is generally after putting out at least ten thousand HITs with a 99% approval rate and using specialized scripts and alerts that let them know when the more valuable tasks are up to par.

One of the most confounding things is the timer between HITs, where some of the simpler and seemingly lucrative tasks might be able to be completed within five or six seconds, you’ll still only be able to do one per minute which makes that nickel a lot less appealing.


Election season might be a good time to hit the site, you can do surveys while watching TV pretty easily after all, but those looking to make some decent money should find another online income stream. Those who just want a couple of bucks to spend on Amazon might enjoy it as a small supplement to their income, but even those who spend all day grinding out on the site rarely enjoy anything like a substantial income.

It’s a good idea, but the flawed execution on the site means that it’s less than ideal for those who want to earn some real money most of the time. We can’t recommend it for much, but you might want to give it a shot and see for yourself.