Are you looking for a flexible way to earn extra income from home? Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) allows people to make money completing simple online tasks called HITs. Read on to learn everything you need to know about getting started as a “Turker” and maximizing your earnings on this microtask platform.
An Introduction to Amazon Mechanical Turk
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is an online crowdsourcing marketplace launched by Amazon in 2005. The name was inspired by an 18th century chess-playing automaton called “The Mechanical Turk”, which was secretly operated by a human chess master hidden inside.
Similarly, the MTurk platform enables businesses and individuals to outsource basic, repetitive digital tasks to a distributed workforce who can complete them virtually. Requesters post jobs known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), and remote workers or “Providers” complete them for a fee.
Common HITs include data entry, surveys, content moderation, transcription, ad testing, research participation, image tagging and more. HITs pay anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars, and workers can choose which tasks to complete and when to work.
The Benefits of Completing MTurk HITs
Here are some of the main benefits of doing paid tasks on Mechanical Turk as a Provider:
- Make money easily from home – MTurk allows people to earn extra money in their spare time with minimal commitment. You can work for just a few minutes or hours a day, on your own schedule.
- Flexibility – There are no set hours. You can work any time of day or night, 7 days a week, and choose HITs that interest you.
- Low barriers to getting started – Signing up is fast, free, and easy for workers based in the US. All you need is an Amazon account and to be approved as a Provider.
- Variety of tasks – There is a wide range of HITs to choose from, allowing you to work on different types of projects so the tasks stay interesting.
- Gain new skills – Many tasks don’t require special skills but some teach you new things like transcription, data entry, writing, content analysis and more.
- Supplemental income – Earn extra spending money for bills, debt, holidays or your savings. While Mechanical Turk earnings are modest, every little bit adds up.
- Sense of contribution – By completing HITs, you help businesses, researchers and other Requesters get projects done and make progress on their goals.
As an independent contractor, it’s easy to get started with MTurk if you meet the basic eligibility requirements. Keep reading to learn more!
Who Can Become an MTurk Provider?
Amazon Mechanical Turk is open to Providers worldwide, but most HITs are posted by Requesters from the United States and target US Providers.
Here are the requirements to work on MTurk as a Provider based in the US:
- You must have an Amazon account. If you don’t have one yet, you can easily sign up for free.
- Providers must be at least 18 years old.
- You must provide a valid US tax ID number, usually your Social Security Number, and bank account information to receive payments.
- There are no education requirements or prior work experience needed. All skill levels are welcome!
- You’ll need a computer and high-speed internet access to perform most HITs. Some also require a smartphone.
Once approved, you can start working on tasks right away as an independent contractor. There’s no lengthy hiring process or minimum hours required.
International Providers outside of the US can also sign up for MTurk. The eligibility criteria are similar but may include providing a national ID number instead of Social Security Number.
Most Requesters are looking for high-quality results from US-based Workers. So Workers outside the US may find fewer tasks available. Read on to learn how to maximize your success on MTurk as a Provider.
How to Make the Most Money on Amazon MTurk
When you’re first getting started on MTurk, it can take some time to learn the ropes and earn decent money. But with the right strategies, many savvy Workers make $10-20 per hour and some even up to $25 per hour or more!
Follow this guide to start making the most money on Mechanical Turk:
Complete Your Provider Profile
Take time to fully complete your Mechanical Turk Provider account profile. The more info you provide, the more HITs you’ll qualify for:
- Use a profile photo of your face. Many Requesters prefer to work with real people, not fake or anonymous accounts.
- Fill out all profile fields accurately, including your skills, education, languages spoken, location and interests.
- Complete any assessments or exams to demonstrate your abilities, like writing tests. This unlocks higher paying HITs.
Install Helper Browser Extensions
Specialized browser tools can help you find and manage MTurk HITs more efficiently:
- MTurk Suite highlights lucrative HITs and lets you filter, preview and organize them.
- TurkOpticon shows reviews and ratings for Requesters, helping you avoid scams and rejections.
- Scripts like MTurk Crow and Hit Scraper auto-populate searches and alerts for HITs based on your chosen criteria.
Only Complete Relevant, Well-Paying HITs
As a new Provider, don’t get tempted to complete every HIT that comes your way. Focus on well-paying tasks that match your skills and interests. A few tips:
- Estimate how long a HIT will take and calculate your effective hourly wage. Avoid HITs paying less than federal minimum wage.
- Seek out Requesters with good ratings and fair rejection policies. Check TurkOpticon.
- Do HITs with high approval ratings and that you can complete quickly and accurately based on the instructions.
Provide High Quality Results
Even seemingly simple HITs like data entry require your full attention and accuracy. Follow Requester instructions closely and avoid careless mistakes. Taking your time results in higher earnings over both the short and long term.
Get Qualified for Additional HITs
Many of the highest paying HITs require Workers to first qualify for certain skills, aptitudes and demographics the Requester needs.
- Take qualification tests – these unlock HIT groups once you meet the required score threshold set by the Requester.
- Check for special qualifications needed before accepting a HIT, like a specific location or language skill.
- Read HIT descriptions closely and only accept those you’re confident you can complete correctly.
Gaining more qualifications and experience over time will open up better opportunities and potential bonuses.
Maximizing Earnings with MTurk Extension Tools
We’ve already covered the importance of installing helpful browser extensions like MTurk Suite to boost your productivity on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Let’s go over some of the top features and custom settings of these tools to help you earn more.
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Finding Lucrative New HITs
Extensions like MTurk Suite and Hit Finder include filters and custom alerts so you never miss newly posted high-paying HITs:
- Filter by keywords, Requester name, time allotted, reward amount and other criteria.
- Set up alerts and an auto-search that runs in background. Get notified when a desired HIT is found based on your settings.
- Save favorite search filters and view lists of best HIT groups, search history and completed HITs.
Reviewing Requester Reputation
Don’t waste time on rejections or unsatisfyingly low pay. Check a Requester’s ratings first:
- Install TurkOpticon to see detailed community reviews and rejection rates. Avoid new Requesters with no rating history.
- Configure MTurk Suite settings to exclude HITs below a certain TurkOpticon rating threshold.
- Read Turker forums and subreddits to learn from others’ experiences with specific Requesters.
OrganizingHITs More Efficiently
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Make use of available organizational features:
- Tag HIT groups and save them in folders to revisit later.
- Remove clutter by hiding low paying or irrelevant HITs from your dashboard.
- Use a hit tracker like MTS to tally your progress, time spent per HIT and earnings per requester or project type.
Browser Scripts and Keyboard Shortcuts
Scripts help you work faster by automating repetitive actions:
- MTurk Crow auto-accepts the next available HIT as you submit work, creating a seamless workflow.
- Keyboard shortcuts through a script manager submit HITs with one click rather than multiple menus and pages.
- Batch accepting, opening and submitting HITs in fewer clicks reduces tedious navigation time.
The top earners on Mechanical Turk leverage scripts and shortcuts to complete more HITs efficiently and with less effort.
Getting Paid: How MTurk Workers Receive Their Earnings
One of the most frequently asked questions from new Providers is “How exactly do I get paid on Mechanical Turk?” Let’s walk through the details.
Completing Work and Getting Approval
As a Provider, you’ll browse available HITs and complete ones that interest you for the listed fee. When you submit finished work, it goes to the Requester for review.
Requesters typically approve or reject submissions within a week or less. Once approved, the fee will appear in your Mechanical Turk account as funds available for withdrawal.
Transferring to Amazon Payments Account
To receive your actual earnings, you’ll transfer money from Mechanical Turk to an Amazon Payments account using your bank details.
Sign up for an Amazon Payments account using the same log-in email as your Amazon Mechanical Turk account. Enter your US bank account and routing number to link them.
Withdrawing Money to Your Bank
Once money is in your Amazon Payments account balance, you can request a transfer to your bank. There is often a delay of several business days for transfers to complete after requested.
For quick access to your earnings, it’s recommended to set up direct deposit to your bank account through Amazon Payments. You can also request delivery of funds on an Amazon gift card for instant access.
Taxes on MTurk Earnings
Any earnings you receive from completing HITs on Mechanical Turk are taxable income. You’ll receive a 1099 tax form if you earn $600 or more in a calendar year.
Be sure to report your MTurk income and pay any taxes owed when filing your returns to stay compliant and avoid IRS penalties. Many Workers deduct eligible home office expenses to reduce their taxable income.
It’s quick and easy to get set up on MTurk and start getting paid for your work. Just be diligent about transferring funds from your Turk account balance regularly to your bank!
Frequently Asked Questions About Working on Amazon Mechanical Turk
Let’s go over answers to some of the most common questions asked by new Providers:
How long does it take to get approved on MTurk?
Amazon aims to review and approve new Mechanical Turk Worker accounts within 24 hours. However, it can sometimes take 1-3 days during busy periods before your account is approved and activated. You’ll receive an email notification as soon as you can start working and completing HITs as a Provider on the platform.
Where are most MTurk Requesters and tasks located?
The majority of HITs posted on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace come from Requesters and businesses located in the United States. As an American Worker, you’ll have access to more tasks if you’re based in the US yourself. Workers outside the US may still find opportunities depending on their skills and qualifications.
What tasks pay the most on MTurk?
Surveys tend to pay higher than other common jobs like transcription or data entry, often $1 or more for 10-30 minutes. Academic research studies focused on psychology and human behavior also pay above average. Specialized tasks requiring expert skills in translation, programming, writing or graphic design can pay up to $50+ per hour in some cases.
How much can you realistically earn?
For most Workers, it’s possible to earn $5-20 per hour on average. $10/hour is a reasonable goal when starting out. With experience, high performing Workers can earn up to $25 per hour or more. Time invested in learning the platform and gaining qualifications opens more higher paying opportunities.
Can you actually make a full time income on MTurk?
While possible, it’s extremely challenging to earn a full-time income solely from Amazon Mechanical Turk. Those who succeed devote 50+ hours a week to finding and quickly completing large batches of the best HITs. Maintaining this high level of speed and accuracy long term is difficult for many. Most use MTurk as a side income source due to the light time commitment and flexibility it offers.
What is the best way to get started?
Read through Amazon’s extensive documentation and guides for new Providers. Install browser extensions like MTurk Suite to enhance your workflow. Start slow, be selective about which HITs you complete, and focus on high quality work. As you gain experience, skills and qualifications, you’ll earn access to more rewarding HIT groups and better income potential.
Turking on Mechanical Turk isn’t for everyone, but can be ideal if you want to earn extra cash from home on a casual basis in your free time around your schedule.
Pros and Cons of Doing Paid Tasks on Mechanical Turk
Let’s summarize some of the key benefits as well as drawbacks to be aware of:
Pros of Working on MTurk
- Freedom to work when you want, even very short unscheduled sessions
- Fast access to supplemental income when you need it
- Wide variety and large quantity of tasks available
- Low barrier to entry compared to other remote work platforms
- Gain experience with skills like data entry, writing, transcription, research studies, content analysis and more
- Flexibility to set your own hours and accept or decline any work
Cons of Working on MTurk
- Unpredictable income since tasks vary day to day, hard to rely on long term
- Very low pay for some tasks, often just pennies per task
- Need to invest time learning how to use platform profitably when starting out
- Manual process of searching and filtering tasks can be tedious
- Risk of rejecting work even if completed reasonably well
- Isolated nature of work, no team communication or social interaction
- Physical risks of computer use like vision strain and repetitive stress injuries
Overall the flexibility and fast access to extra money MTurk provides is highly appealing to people looking for part time remote work. Just go in with reasonable expectations around pay rates and be ready to put in effort to get the most out of the platform.
Getting Started as an MTurk Provider in Just 5 Steps
Ready to give making money on Amazon Mechanical Turk a try for yourself? Simply follow these 5 steps:
Step 1) Sign up for an Amazon account if you don’t already have one.
Step 2) Provide your personal info like ID, birthdate, contact details and bank account.
Step 3) Get approved as an MTurk Provider, usually within 24 hours.
Step 4) Download browser extensions like MTurk Suite to boost your efficiency.
Step 5) Start searching for and completing well-paid HITs that match your skills and interests!
It doesn’t take long to begin earning extra cash on MTurk. Just stay selective about the tasks you invest time in, stick to reputable Requesters and aim for that $10-20 per hour earning rate once you get the hang of things.
The flexibility to work when you want from home makes MTurk a compelling option. Just go in with realistic expectations around the pay rates. With the right strategies, you can earn supplemental income from Mechanical Turk and get paid for all kinds of interesting micro tasks.
Want to learn more? Check out additional guides, tips and MTurk discussion forums for Providers to take your earnings to the next level. The opportunity is there if you’re willing to put in the time mastering this unique platform.
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