People love the U.S. over Europe because their salaries are higher in most cases. Please tell me one other country that pays you over 100k right after graduation with the kind of work culture they have (well, Norway does, Canada does, so we get it the joke is on us!), but the probability of getting a high salary is higher here).
As an international student, during your semester, you can only work 20 hrs/week. You can read more about it on the Department of Homeland Security’s website. Also, this job has to be on-campus. You can not work in a cafe off-campus.
Let’s talk about how salaries work in part-time and full-time jobs.
On-Campus part-time jobs
Usually, in part-time jobs, you get paid on an hourly basis as you can work 20hrs/week, which equates to 80hrs/month. There is a limit to how much money you can make. Let’s say your job pays $10/hr; that equals $800 per month. If you live in a city like New York or San Francisco, you might not be able to pay your rent with that money unless you share a room with someone else. If you are in a city like Phoenix, Chicago, or Dallas, the amount of money is usually enough for rent and extra groceries.
- 1-year course. If you are doing a one year course, I will tell you one thing; it is incredibly challenging to work. You might be able to pick a job such as a proctor for exams but nothing above. The courses are incredibly hectic and suck the life out of you.
- 1.5-2 year course – If you have a 2-year course, it allows you to do multiple part-time jobs. A few of them are:
- Dorm receptionist.
- Dining hall
- Most of these jobs pay over a dollar more than the minimum wage. But the real jobs which no one will tell you about are the following.
- Grader positions – working as a grader for a professor; it pays more than the cafe work, but there is a strong chance of getting a T.A. position.
- Proctor – As a proctor, your duty is to watch the students who are taking the test. Supply them with exam papers and collect them back. With the pandemic, this job has become obsolete, but it will pick up again pretty soon.
And now comes the big bucks $$$
R.A., TA, GA.
R.A. stands for a research assistantship
T.A. stands for teaching assistantship
G.A. stands for Graduate Assistantship.
All these include working 20 hours/week. Your professor or the department may give you a .25 FTE (full-time equivalent), which means you will only work for 10 hours a week.
1 Full time equivalent = 40 hours/week. International students can get up to 5 FTE during the academic year and 1 FTE during summers if they are still working on campus.
So let’s say as a T.A., you are getting $16/hr. And you have .5 FTE, which equates to 20 hours/week. This will be equal to $1280/month; this amount can cover much more than your rent.
For R.A., TA, GA, one usually gets a monthly stipend paid by the department as you work for the university/department. It can earn you anywhere between $1500-$3000 per month depending on your location and whether you are doing a masters or PhD.
P.S. In some of the universities, this might not be true. Some universities will hire you as a T.A., R.A., GA but won’t reimburse your tuition fee. Hence, it’s always good to double-check with one of your seniors.