Once you become familiar with Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), you soon realize that to make “decent” money with MTurk, you need some experience, patience and realistic expectations since MTurk will not likely be your primary source of income.
After all, MTurk was designed for you to make some extra money in your spare time, not to become your only income source.
It is possible to make near USA federal minimum wage within the platform, but this is only achieved by a few experienced Mechanical Turk workers (also known as Turkers).
The vast majority of workers earn less than $2 an hour, and only 4% earned more than $7.25.
Turkers are considered independent contractors, not employees. As with any entrepreneurial activity, the harder and smarter you work, the better the results. No matter how you slice it, Mechanical Turk will most likely not be your primary income source.
The big plus of MTurk is that you can do the tasks wherever and whenever you want for the most part using the skills you already have.
What is Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a platform where workers called Turkers complete small tasks for individuals or companies who need the work completed. MTurk exists because there are still many tasks that humans can complete better than machines.
For a typical task, a person who needs a small job completed (a Requester) will post a task, which is called a HIT (Human Intelligence Task), the amount to be paid, and the approximate time to finish. The worker (Turker) will complete the job, submit it for approval, and get paid when the task is approved.
Meet the people inside the land of Mechanical Turk.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is named after the chess-playing fake machine from the 18th-century, which surprisingly defeated nearly every opponent it faced. But the machine was not using artificial intelligence. There was a chess master cleverly hidden inside.
This is an interesting podcast where NPR staff sneak into the world of the Mechanical Turk and find the people who live inside.
Who can sign up for MTurk?
MTurk’s only requirement for completing tasks and receiving compensation from Requesters is a computer or mobile device connected to the Internet and be at least 18 years of age. Based on Amazon Mechanical Turk Blog, MTurk is now available to Requesters from 43 countries. I believe the same MTurk workers are also accepted from the same countries below.
Americas: Barbados, Canada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, United States, US Virgin Islands; Africa: Botswana, Mayotte, Reunion, South Africa; Asia-Pacific: Australia, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, Taiwan; Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom
How can you sign up for an account?
To create a worker account on MTurk, go to the worker website and click the “Get Started with Amazon Mechanical Turk” link and follow the instructions.
You need to be a little patient, it usually takes about 48 hours to get approved.
After signup, during the first 10 days, you can accept a maximum of 100 HITs per day. After the 10 day introduction period, you can accept a maximum of 3800 HITs per day. I don’t know who can complete so many, but that’s your limit.
How much can you make with MTurK?
We already said that the vast majority of Turkers make less than $2 per hour. But what is the earning potential per month? I believe the majority of Turkers make a few dollars a month with little effort, but below are examples and proof of people who make significantly more than than that.
This is an example of a Turker who made over $1,000 in his first month.
This is an example of one Turker that made almost $2,500 in less than one month. I don’t think he mentioned how many hours he worked though. But I think it is important to show that you can make more than pennies.
This is an example of a Turker that makes over $10,000 every year. This is particularly interesting to me since it means that I could potentially achieve my 2020 income goal only working on MTurk.
How do you get paid?
Requesters pre-pay for HITs. Once a HIT has been approved, the money assigned for the HIT goes to the MTurk account of the Worker. Below is the screenshot of my MTurk account. As you can see I have a total of 389 HITS completed, 374 approved, 14 pending and 1 rejected. The amount available for transfer is $108.92.
Workers in the United States can transfer earnings to their Amazon Payments account or to their Amazon.com gift card balance. Workers outside of the United States can transfer earnings to their Amazon.com gift card balance. As you can see from my MTurk account, I have the two options because I am in the United States. According to Amazon, some Workers may be eligible to transfer earnings to their bank accounts. I don’t know what the eligibility requirement is, but I had no problem adding my bank account.
How Can You Make More Money With MTurk
In this video, “selfemploymentpro” shows what he does to earn $200 to $500 a week using Mechanical Turk. He agrees the pay is not great, he thinks he is probably averaging about $7 an hour. According to this study, he would be considered to be within the top 5% earners in MTurk. You can listen to the video to follow his technique.
Takeaways from the video:
Don’t worry too much about how much money you make at the beginning. The goal is to get to 1,000 HITS because after that you will have better-paid HITS, mostly surveys.
From my own experience, be careful with questions that will test if you are paying attention. These are validation questions or attention checks, which may ask you to select a particular response even if it doesn’t make sense, to make sure you are reading the question. If you don’t answer it right, you may not get credit for that HIT.
Make sure to have an approval rate as high as possible. Above 98% is best. See this Qualifications and Worker Task Quality from Amazon MTurk blog to understand why it is important.
I have been lucky so far and have a 99.73% approval rate, with only one rejection, but this will likely change. I need to make sure it doesn’t go below 98%. I also need to increase the number of HITS I complete each day to get to the magical 1,000 HITS.
MTurk Resources and Tools
These are key resources and tools if you want to learn more about MTurk and become more proficient.
- MTurk Crowd: This is a forum where you can learn from the best and even have fun doing it.
- Reddit MTurk Community: A subreddit focused on Amazon’s MTurk. There are currently 59K members
- Amazon MTurk Blog: If you want to be up-to-date on happenings at MTurk from Amazon’s perspective
- Amazon MTurk Help pages: Amazon.com FAQs for both workers and Requesters.
Negative Media Opinions
I personally think the media focus too much on the negative effects of working on MTurk, instead of considering simply an opportunity to earn money as an online entrepreneur.
- The Crazy Hacks One Woman Used to Make Money on Mechanical Turk
- I Found Work on an Amazon Website. I Made 97 Cents an Hour
- The Unknown, Poorly Paid Labor Force Powering Academic Research
- The Internet Is Enabling a New Kind of Poorly Paid Hell
- Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has Reinvented Research
My Experience with MTurk
How much money have I made with MTurk?
I have made $127.78 so far with MTurk. This screenshot below is proof of my current earnings. I will update this section as earnings increase. [Updated November 29, 2019]
Every blog post I write is based on many hours of research. I also like to test every side hustle I review when possible. See how much I have made with all my income sources.
How much have I made per hour?
I recorded the time I spent and the amount I made to calculate how much I made per hour for 18 HITS. My earnings per hour for these 18 HITS was $4.05, which is below the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, my experience is only 1 week as of this writing. Since I don’t consider myself a techy person, I think these results can be improved.
|MTurk-HIT name||Minutes Spent||Compensation|
|Response to short scenarios||20||$2.50|
|Investigating Consumer Decision-Making||20||$1.00|
|Record your speech||5||$0.50|
|Make 10 short recordings||10||$0.75|
|Wearable Device Survey||15||$0.75|
|Record yourself reading for 2 minutes-script||10||$0.33|
|Answer a few surveys ~10 mins||15||$2.00|
|Study on perceptions of people||10||$0.75|
|Study on Life Perspectives(~ 6 minutes)||15||$0.65|
|Individual Judgment-Decision Making||10||$0.45|
|A 5-7 minute study||10||$0.75|
|Customers Service […] during Service Recovery||15||$0.35|
|Opinion Survey (~ 10 minutes)||15||$1.00|
|Short 3-minute survey about local issues||5||$0.10|
|5-7 Minutes Survey on a Food Product||10||$0.35|
|Visual Decision-Making(~ 15 minutes)||20||$1.50|
|Research Survey(~ 3 minutes)||5||$0.30|
|My average earnings per hour||60||$4.05|
Ratings and Conclusion
|Overall Rating for MTurk||★||★||★||★||–|
Again, MTurk will not solve all your financial problems, but for some people in some situations, it may provide significant money when done right.
Potential Income per hour: I am convinced that after you master the ins and outs of MTurk and you get to 1,000 HITs, you can average about $6 per hour of work completed.
Available hours per week: After you complete 1,000 HITs and assuming you can be available most hours of the day, you can get up to 40 hours a week of work.
Level of difficulty: I consider MTurk average in terms of difficulty. If you don’t try to master some of the complicated scripts, it is not very hard. You do have to be careful with the approval rate doesn’t go below 95%. But this is not difficult, you just have to be careful.
Level of Enjoyment: I am presently surprised about how fun some HITs are. Sure you have some very annoying you wish you wouldn’t have selected. But overall, there are some very interesting surveys and other tasks that are actually fun.
Importance For Long-Term Strategy: MTurk will be important for my first year, second year and partially the third year. I don’t think I will need MTurk for the fourth and fifth year. Read more about my long-term strategy.
📖 Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.