Top Fields for Student Work Visas in the USA

Top Fields for Student Work Visas in the USA


The United States has consistently remained one of the top destinations for business, hosting over 20,000 large businesses spanning various industries. This business-friendly environment fosters a diverse job market, offering numerous opportunities for international students in the USA to kickstart their careers by working with renowned companies.


If you’re a student on an F-1 or J-1 visa seeking employment opportunities in the USA, keep reading! This guide covers popular jobs for students during their studies, training options within their programs, on-campus and off-campus opportunities, job hunting tips, and more.

Varieties of Employment Opportunities for International Students

Before diving into job applications for international students in the USA, it’s crucial to consider the types of roles you’re interested in and your career objectives. With many students vying for similar opportunities, standing out to employers by showcasing your unique skills or enthusiasm for the position enhances your chances of success.


When selecting which jobs to pursue, reflect on your personal strengths and passions. What activities do you enjoy, and where do your skills lie? Targeting roles that align with your skill set demonstrates your qualifications, enables immediate performance, and lays a solid foundation for further skill development. As you gain experience and enhance your qualifications, you’ll be better positioned to pursue more advanced roles within your field.

Lacking previous work experience can pose a challenge when applying for certain jobs. However, universities and colleges in the US provide numerous opportunities for introductory and entry-level positions, allowing you to acquire valuable work experience. These roles serve as stepping stones, enabling you to enhance your skills and transition to other positions as you progress.

  1. Campus Ambassador
  2. Teaching Assistant
  3. Library Assistant
  4. Research Study Assistant
  5. Peer Mentor

Now, let’s delve deeper into each of these roles and the responsibilities they entail. One of these positions might be the perfect fit for you!

Campus Ambassador

As a campus ambassador, your main responsibility is to promote your university or college campus to prospective or new students. This role is ideal for students who enjoy meeting new people and providing support, as you’ll interact with many new students and parents, addressing their inquiries. Campus ambassadors share their university experiences with newcomers, enhancing their conversational skills, collaborating with other ambassadors, and participating in special events.

Campus ambassadors typically earn an average hourly wage of $10.94 (USD). To apply for this role, you should be familiar with your campus, so you may only be eligible in your second semester. These positions are usually available when classes are in session, allowing interested students and parents to visit the university, tour the campus, and gain insight into university life.

Teaching Assistant 

A teaching assistant position involves supporting professors at your university or college by aiding in classroom activities and assisting students. Teaching assistants typically respond to student inquiries (within a certain level of complexity) and offer help outside of professors’ office hours. This role suits students who excel in a particular subject and wish to share their knowledge with peers, or those who enjoy teaching.

Teaching assistants typically earn an average hourly wage of $11.85 (USD). To excel in this role, you must possess a solid grasp of the course material and keen observational skills to identify students requiring extra assistance. Depending on the class, this role can be demanding, so it’s essential to assess your ability to balance your studies with teaching responsibilities. Additionally, gaining experience as a teaching assistant can be highly beneficial if you plan to pursue a career in teaching or training.

Library Assistant

Library assistants in the US typically work in university or college libraries as support staff. Their main responsibilities include organizing and shelving books, assisting fellow students in locating books, and providing book recommendations. This role suits students who appreciate reading and prefer quiet work with minimal responsibilities. Additionally, library assistant positions often allow you to study while on duty during quieter periods.

On average, library assistants earn $13.24 (USD) per hour. Since this role generally doesn’t require many prerequisites, it can be a suitable choice for your first job. Its flexibility provides valuable work experience while allowing you to manage your academic workload and adjust to life in the US.

Research Study Assistant

As a research study assistant, you collaborate with professors and faculty members from your university’s department to conduct research in a particular field. Your specific duties may vary depending on the field and department, but typically involve assisting in research activities, organizing and analyzing data, maintaining equipment, and contributing to projects. This role is well-suited for students passionate about a specific research area and eager to contribute to the discovery of new breakthroughs.

Research study assistants earn an average hourly wage of $15.48 (USD). If you aspire to pursue a career in a related field after graduation, this position offers valuable experience and skill development while you study. However, such roles often demand a strong understanding of the research topic and can be time-intensive, requiring careful balance with your academic commitments.

Peer Mentor

Peer mentors primarily assist students in improving their skills in areas such as reading, writing, understanding assignments, and mastering course content. This role is well-suited for students who enjoy teaching and can offer unique perspectives and learning approaches, particularly beneficial for international students. Peer mentors typically hold specific office hours where students can seek assistance and may collaborate with other student mentors to exchange learning and teaching techniques.


On average, peer mentors earn around $14.31 (USD) per hour. While tasks may overlap with those of a teaching assistant, peer mentors generally assist a broader range of students rather than focusing on specific classrooms. For those considering a future career in education, this role provides valuable experience and lays the groundwork for teaching fundamentals.

Work-Study Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a work-study opportunity integrated into specific academic programs, authorized by your Designated School Official (DSO). It allows students to gain practical work experience relevant to their field of study. Some programs may require CPT as part of the degree completion process. Typically, CPT roles are short-term and must be completed before graduation.

CPT jobs often serve as training roles, making them suitable for students with limited or no prior work experience. During CPT, you work with a single employer for the duration of the training, and you can only work with one employer at a time. Depending on your program, you may have the option to engage in multiple CPT jobs throughout your studies.

Whether you pursue a program with CPT or seek employment independently, it’s crucial to adhere to work restrictions outlined on your student visa to maintain your status as an international student. These restrictions dictate your permissions for on-campus versus off-campus work and specify the number of hours you are permitted to work.

On-Campus Employment for International Students

Both F-1 and J-1 students have the opportunity to work on-campus jobs, which involve employment within specific departments or facilities at their university or college. These roles offer a great way for students to gain work experience in the US, as they typically have manageable responsibilities and flexible working hours that can accommodate class schedules. Examples of on-campus jobs include food service in the campus cafeteria, computer lab maintenance, fitness center assistance, and more.

On-campus jobs also facilitate better adjustment to life in the US, as they involve daily interactions with fellow students and faculty. This setup is ideal for those seeking additional time and support to adapt to their new environment. However, it’s important to note that on-campus jobs usually offer slightly lower pay compared to off-campus positions.

Off-Campus Jobs for International Students

Off-campus jobs involve working outside of your college or university campus, typically with organizations not affiliated with your institution. These roles may pose challenges for students without prior work experience, as they are not always tailored for student employment.

Additionally, off-campus jobs may not offer the same flexibility as on-campus roles regarding class schedules, making it difficult to balance work and studies. However, these positions often provide higher pay and offer a wide range of tasks that can help students develop new skills, knowledge, and professional qualifications.

It’s important to note that J-1 students are generally not permitted to work in off-campus jobs, while F-1 students can only do so after completing one academic year with approval from their Designated School Official (DSO). In cases of severe economic hardship, F-1 students may be granted off-campus work authorization on a case-by-case basis.

When searching for jobs as an international student in the USA, be sure to review the job requirements carefully, paying attention to any restrictions on work hours imposed by your visa status. These limitations will also affect your eligibility to apply for certain part-time and full-time positions.

Part-Time Work vs. Full-Time Work

Part-time jobs typically entail around 10 to 20 hours of work per week, scheduled on a shift or roster basis. These roles are often suitable for individuals with limited work experience and can be a good fit for international students due to their manageable hours. Both J-1 and F-1 students are permitted to work part-time while studying.

On the other hand, full-time jobs require 32 or more hours of work per week and demand a significant time and effort commitment. Balancing full-time work with full-time studies can be challenging, particularly for students enrolled in intensive degree programs with heavy coursework. J-1 and F-1 students are only allowed to work full-time during breaks or when their semester is not in progress.

It’s crucial to remember that both J-1 and F-1 students are restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week while their semester is in progress, as mandated by their student visa regulations. Adhering to this condition is essential while studying in the US.

Once you’ve assessed the available job opportunities for international students in the USA, it’s time to embark on your job search to find the role that best suits your needs!


Are international students permitted to work in the USA while studying?

Yes, international students can work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during holidays and vacations.

What does the STEM OPT extension entail?

The STEM OPT extension enables F-1 students with STEM degrees to request a 24-month extension of their post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), allowing for a total of up to 36 months of OPT.

Are international students allowed to work in the USA after completing their studies?

Yes, F-1 students can apply for OPT to work in the USA for up to 12 months after finishing their studies, or up to 36 months for those with STEM majors.

What is the procedure for international students to work in the USA?

The process involves securing a job offer, applying for a Social Security Number, and collaborating with their Designated School Official to ensure compliance with visa regulations.

Can international students engage in employment in the USA while on vacation?

Yes, F-1 students can work full-time on-campus during holidays and vacations if they intend to register for the subsequent academic term.

What are the limitations on international student employment in the USA?

The primary restrictions include a maximum of 20 hours per week for on-campus work during the school term, and off-campus employment must be directly related to their field of study, approved by their Designated School Official and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


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