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The Amazon Mechanical Turk Program: How I Made $26.80 in Only 2 Hours!

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KCL recently posted an article about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Worker Program (MTurk). The comments section for this article on both the website and on their Facebook page blew up with questions and concerns about this work-from-home opportunity. Lucky for you, I have the answers.

What exactly is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Worker Program?

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos described the Mechanical Turk program best when he said, "MTurk is a [online] marketplace where folks who have work meet up with folks who want to do work." While computers are doing lots of jobs that formerly required humans, there are some tasks that can only be done by good ol' human intelligence—things such as writing reviews and taking surveys. Requesters (companies who need a task completed by a human) submit a "human intelligence task" (“HIT”) to the MTurk site. Registered MTurk workers can then select a HIT listed on the system and get paid for completing it.

Why do I have to give my social security number to join? Is MTurk safe?

In order to sign up for MTurk, Amazon requires your social security number for tax purposes. If you exceed the reporting threshold for a particular requester, MTurk will send you a 1099 and your earnings will be taxed accordingly as an independent contractor. You can rest assured that Amazon will never share your confidential information with requesters on the site and will keep your confidential information safe using bank-level security and encryption procedures.

If you join, you do need to be careful of requesters who are running scams or cons on the site.  Examples included fraudulent HITS that attempt to data mine your personal information (i.e. ask for your bank account or credit card information) or attempt to sign you up for pay services (i.e. a paid subscription to a joke of the day text message service). Both of these types of HITS are in violation of terms of Mechanical Turk. However, since MTurk cannot vet every posted HIT on the site, it is up to you to use common sense to avoid such cons and scams and to report the fraudulent HITS to MTurk to have them removed.

How Much Can You Earn on MTurk? How do you get paid?

Some HITS take under 20 seconds to complete and are so easy a child could complete the task, like looking at 2 nearly identical images and pointing out the small differences. Such HITs may only pay the worker $0.10. A HIT that is more complex and time intensive, such as one requiring the worker to write a 250 word review of an outdoor wedding venue, will typically pay the worker around $2.50. Some requesters will pay workers bonus payments in addition to scheduled compensation to reward the worker for exemplary work.

After you submit a completed HIT to the system, the requester will either automatically submit the designated compensation amount to your MTurk account or the requester will withhold compensation until he checks over your submitted work to make sure you followed directions and submitted competent work. When you want to "cash out" your combined MTurk earnings, click on your Account Settings page and add your bank account information to instantly transfer your earnings to your bank account (or to an gift certificate).

If you’re interested in how much money I made in just two hours of work on MTurk, check out my personal MTurk earnings ledger below:

My Personal MTurk Earnings Ledger – How I earned $26.80 in 2 hours:
HIT: Write 250 word article reviewing outdoor wedding venue (9 minutes, $2.50)
HIT: Write 250 word article reviewing wedding venue in Atlanta, GA (9 minutes, $2.55)
HIT: Survey on my consumer electronics buying habits (15 minutes, $2.00)
HIT: Write 250 word article reviewing rented meeting space in Manhattan (8 minutes, $2.55)
HIT: Write 250 word article reviewing conference center in Los Angeles, CA (8 minutes, $2.55)
HIT: Survey for people who have been employed as paralegals (12 minutes, $1.50)
HIT: Survey for people who have been employed as attorneys (10 minutes, $1.50)
HIT: Survey about education history for lawyers (12 minutes, $1.00)
HIT: Write a 300 word article on grandfather clocks (16 minutes, $2.90 + $1.75 bonus)
HIT: Write an 80 word unique product description (11 minutes, $3.00 + $2.00 bonus)
HIT: Survey about personal political opinions (7 minutes, $1.00)

TOTAL EARNINGS: $26.80 (including bonuses)/2 hours

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the average real hourly earnings for all U.S workers in early 2012 was $10.20. With my MTurk hourly rate of $13.40, I'm making nearly 25% more than the national hourly wage average by doing odd jobs on my couch—not too shabby. If I worked 2 hours a day/7 days a week at this rate I would earn a pre-tax income of $187.60/week, $815.31/month, and $9755.20/year. Imagine that, almost $10,000.00 a year for completing odd jobs on my laptop in my pajamas for just two hours a day. While this is not dependable income and it doesn’t offer benefits, it is certainly an avenue I will be pursuing for extra cash in the future.

Interested? Make sure to read the March 2012 KCL article on MTurk. Then head over to’s Mechanical Turk Site at where you can read more about the program and/or sign up to become an MTurk worker. 

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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