Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)


What Kind of Work Is it?

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is an online marketplace specializing in what the site calls "Human Intelligence Tasks," or HITs. Hundreds of thousands of HITs are available at any time, ranging from tasks that pay pennies and take only seconds to complete to professional jobs. The most common HIT types are transcribing, rating, image tagging, surveys, and writing, but The concept links "requesters," individuals or companies that need work done, with a diverse pool of workers ready to complete tasks on an as-needed basis. Amazon refers to the people doing the tasks as "workers," but they are widely referred to as "Turkers."

Requesters can set qualifications for their tasks and ask workers to complete tests to demonstrate that they meet the qualifications. Requesters only pay for jobs that are completed and approved. Workers work whatever hours they choose and select the tasks they want to perform. The more tasks you perform successfully, the higher your rating becomes; higher ratings get you access to HITs with greater earnings.

Workers register, log in, and have immediate access to tabs indicating their total earnings and the status of their active HITs. Listings of available HITs are continuously updated. Workers browse these lists and select the HITs that they wish to perform. The average wage for a variety of tasks completed quickly has been reported at about $1 per hour, though many users report that with a systematic selection of HITs and skilled implementation, earnings can be substantially higher.

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How Do I Get Paid?

MTurk pays US workers through the proprietary Amazon Payments system, which releases payments as deposits to your bank account or as Amazon gift cards. Payments are made on request, but no more than once a day. Indian citizens can withdraw to a bank account, but all other nationalities can only be paid in gift cards.

Qualifications and Requirements

You must be 18 years old or above to register as a worker. There are no specific restrictions on nationalities, but the current MTurk workforce is almost exclusively restricted to the US and India, and several sources report that MTurk is not accepting registrations from other countries.

Top Earner Tips

The key to making money on MTurk is to know your skills, target higher-paid HITs that use those skills and put out work fast and efficiently. If you are able to write clear and correct English fast, for instance, writing HITs can bring you money. If you target the lowest paid HITs, you will have very easy tasks, but it will be difficult to make anything above a very minimal income. Don't be afraid to take tests and prove your qualifications: many are not difficult to pass and they open the door to better-paid work.

MTurk is particularly useful to people who work in front of a computer and have down time. For example, if you are doing home-based customer service work you can accomplish fast HITs in between calls, and pile up a bit of money on the side during your down time.

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