Amazon Mechanical Turk Review: When Outsourcing Doesn’t Even Earn Pennies On The Dollar

January 19, 2023

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing marketplace that lists down a Human Intelligence Task (HIT) that people from around the world can accomplish for a simple dollar. Usually, these tasks only take a few minutes to complete, so it’s conceivable to finish several tasks in an hour and earn a decent income - or at least, that’s what Amazon would have you believe

But, for the beginner MTurk worker, you would need to complete at least 5,000 “low-level” tasks (which are also low-paying) to even be considered for a high-paying, premium task. Not only that, but you would need to maintain a high rating for all your clients, despite the allegations that there are a lot of scam requesters who reject tasks and give a negative rating just so that they don’t have to pay. 

This is on top of other allegations that beginner Turks have to contend with bots who can complete these mind-numbing, repetitive tasks ad nauseam. You do what you can, but you’ll be earning pennies on the dollar or even less than that - and did I mention that unless you live in the United States or India, you’d only be paid through Amazon credits, not actual cash? 

This Amazon Mechanical Turk review will cover what type of tasks you can expect from the marketplace, the going rate for each HIT task, and how much extra money you can realistically earn per month. Despite its advantages, this model still pales compared to local lead generation, my preferred eCommerce choice. 

In local lead generation, you can realistically earn thousands of passive income each month without having to do robotic, repetitive tasks every day. 

Pros

Run by Amazon, so you know that it’s a stable company

Requires no experience

Flexible - You earn what you finish at your own pace

Cons

Menial, repetitive tasks

Does not earn you a lot - This is meant for extra income only

Not worth it for anyone outside of the US or India

Steep learning curve

Price: 

Free to register

Refund Policy: 

 None

Origin:

2005

Reputation: 

Mixed

How much can you realistically earn in Amazon Mechanical Turk?

You can earn $10 to $20 for only 3 hours of work each day ($3.33 to $6.66 per hour). 

Assuming you will work for 5 days each week, you can realistically expect around $200 to $400 each month. Naturally, this can be more (or less) depending on the number of tasks you can complete, but keep these considerations in mind, especially if you’re just beginning. 

  • During your first 10 days of starting, you will be limited to only 100 HITs per day. To build up your reputation and earn “credits”, you need to accomplish the less demanding (but also less paying) ones. 
  • Once you’ve established a good rating and become an MTurk master, you can then choose more “intelligent” jobs which will also pay you more. However, some HITs require a certain percentage of previous jobs before you can be qualified to do them. Think of it like a microcosm of the actual employee journey: You need to start out small and keep grinding until you can earn more money because you have more experience. 
  • Most people recommend you reach 5,000 completed short tasks to qualify for more well-paying jobs. 
  • There are many scripts you can use, but most people use a script to automatically “accept” tasks for them. 
  • ONLY accept jobs from a requester who has a 99% worker rating. This may sound too harsh, but keeping that rating is actually quite easy and getting a rating of 90% or below means that a requestor has had THOUSANDS of negative reviews. 
  • This is because requestors can reject work for arbitrary reasons, not pay you, and STILL use what you gave them. 
  • There is a steep learning curve. Though the interface is simple and the tasks are repetitive, it requires handling and mastering different features all at once. This means that during the early stages, it’s quite possible for you to spend 20 to 40 hours just figuring things out before going to your first task. 
  • If you want to earn more money, look for batch HITs. As their names suggest, these are human intelligence tasks that you need to complete in batches. However, batch HITs are usually only given to more experienced Turkers. 

One more thing that I should mention is that the Amazon payment differs from the United States and India and other parts of the world. Whereas those two countries get paid in cash (meaning that the money is transferred to your respective bank account), they will only pay you in an Amazon gift card if you live anywhere else in the world.

KEEP IN MIND: 

These gift cards ONLY WORK on Amazon.COM, not your country’s respective Amazon page. This can mean more expensive shipping fees. 

Why qualifying for HITs is now more challenging

It’s a basic rule in economics that when supply is low and demand is up, suppliers can be pickier. It’s the same in Amazon Mechanical Turk. More experienced Turkers have scripts that allow them to monopolize many higher-paying HITs and these workers are more likely to be accepted by a requester because of their qualifications. 

If you’re just starting out, you may need to fight tooth and nail for scraps.

Is Amazon Mechanical Turk a good side income?

Amazons Mechanical Turk was a great place to earn extra income back when it started in 2005. Not a lot of people knew about it, and you didn’t have to jump through hoops just to get more meaningful jobs. 

2023 is a lot different though. The competition is fierce, there are so many Turkers in the market and you still are earning the same pay as 10 years ago. It is quite possible for you to earn more than $1,000 each month being an Amazon MTurk, but you’d have to put in a lot of effort for brainless and inconsistent work each day. 

To have a point of reference, the average hourly rate for a freelancer in the United States is $33.15 an hour. Even in a developing country such as India (where Mechanical Turks seem to be targeting), freelancers earn around $26 an hour. These are more than what you’d earn in Amazon Mechanical Turk. 

So, is it a good side income to earn money online? Yes, to a certain degree. It’s great if you have spare time and would like to earn extra cash, but it is not something you should consider if you are looking for a consistent and decent income. 

What qualifications do I need to be an Amazon MTurk? 

You need to be at least 18 years old and have a stable internet connection. I’d also recommend that you have a decent understanding of the entire Microsoft suite and some basic knowledge of transcribing audio files and data collection. You can learn the other skills, as you go and as needed.  

Is MTurk a good side hustle for people living in developing countries? 

Most business owners suggest outsourcing talents from the Philippines because of their English-speaking skills and cheap rates (in 2022, the average freelancer in the Philippines earns only PhP110 ($1.98 USD) per hour). When MTurks opened in the Philippines, many Filipino workers decided to try their hand at using the platform.

However, even Filipino participants found the work to have such a steep learning curve, was too repetitive and had too low a pay for them to continue. Keep in mind that even if the country has one of the cheapest outsourcing rates in the world, it also has one of the fastest-growing inflations as well. 

In a 2022 report by the Commission on Population and Development, researchers found that most Filipinos now work 2 to 3 jobs just to pay for daily expenses. Necessary items such as gas and vegetables are now at rates comparable to first-world countries ($600 to $2,000 a month) that need to be paid for with a developing country's salary (the average monthly salary for a Filipino is only $300). 

This is something you should consider: If even Filipino Mechanical Turk workers avoid MTurk to pay for their survival, then it is highly unlikely that you can support yourself if you live in another country. 

At best, Amazon Mechanical Turk is something that can earn you extra income each month. 

Do I need to pay my taxes from Amazon MTurk if I live in the United States?

You are considered an independent contractor so you need to report any income you earn from MTurk. However, you do not need to submit your earnings through Form 1099 unless you make more than $600 per month. 

What tasks do you do in Amazon Mechanical Turk?

You can find a whole range of HITs, from verifying a picture on Google to transcribing audio files. Usually, however, you will be asked to fill out a survey and enter data into a spreadsheet. 

As mentioned earlier, these human intelligence tasks are pretty simple, but many former workers caution about a lot of unpaid hours. Remember that you are only paid for a HIT task you complete, not the number of hours you spend learning about it, how to set up scripts, or qualifying for more HITs. 

Your goal is to make your work environment more efficient, but even then, you may not notice a significant pay increase (keep in mind as well that a scam requestor can always reject your work!). 

How do you sign up for MTurk?

Registration is free on the official website. You need to enter some personal information (including your social security number if you’re in the US) and then wait for 48 hours for your account to be confirmed. 

It’s typically faster to get approved if you live in the United States. Some workers in the United Kingdom, for example, say that their first attempts at registering in MTurk were denied for unknown reasons. 

Once you’ve been verified, you will have a 10-day probation period. During this time, you can only finish 100 HITs a day. You also can’t withdraw your money. 

The minimum payout is $1, and you can get paid either every 3, 7, 14, or 30 days. 

Amazon Mechanical Turk tips

To make the most of your time, it is crucial that you set up the right scripts. There are several scripts you can use depending on what you need and how you work. I’d recommend joining an MTurk forum or community groups on Reddit or searching for specific MTurk script guides to help you decide which ones you want. 

Another tip I would give is to have patience. Amazon Mechanical Turk is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme and you need to be patient with yourself to earn real money. If you’re really set on using this platform to earn extra money, you need to keep your nose to the grindstone. 

KEEP IN MIND: 

There is actually no predetermined number of small tasks you need to accomplish to become qualified for higher-paying jobs, but a good number to have is 5,000. Most students say that this was the number that “broke the ceiling” and allowed them to earn more. 

Amazon Mechanical Turk reviews: Pros & Cons of the platform 

Positive:

You are your own boss. You are not answerable to anyone and you set your own daily, weekly, or monthly quota. 

Negative:

You are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. MTurk is not obligated to provide you with minimum wage as a worker - you earn solely from what you can deliver. 

There is potential to earn more than $10 an hour once you are an experienced worker. 

You may spend a lot of unpaid time learning about HITs or how to complete them. Sometimes, HITs are also poorly explained or have technical errors that prevent you from finishing them. 

There is constant work (if you're an experienced worker). 

There is a steep learning curve and may be overwhelming for new workers. 

Since there are a lot of people who are on the platform, you will find so many third-party resources to help you. 

There are few available tasks for new workers. Paradoxically, you need low-paying HITs to move forward, but there are few of these at any given time.

If you’re serious about earning money here, you need to be online during US working hours (this is when most requestors post work). This may be challenging for those living outside the United States. 

There is a lot of competition. 

I should mention that some reviews say that Mechanical Turk does not post real, honest work. Amazon doesn't really check what HITs are being requested or if they are backed by a reputable company or individual. This may mean that you could be completing work that you're not comfortable with or fall under the "gray" area of what you'll willing to do. 

For example, one person said that they found a HIT to write p*** descriptions. 

Remember, however, that all of these are allegations. Nothing has been proven. 

CONCLUSION: Is Amazon Mechanical Turk legit? 

MTurk is not worth it if you’re intending to replace the income you make from your full-time job. If, however, you have spare time and want to earn a few extra dollars each month, then maybe I’d suggest this. All things considered, you’d still need to become an “experienced” worker, working 4 hours per day to earn a decent amount of money. 

When you’re just starting out, your MTurk earnings will not be enough, and you will be spending most of your time just understanding what you need to do for a simple task. 

So, is it worth it? It’s really up to you. Amazons MTurk is definitely not a scam and you’re assured of constant work each day - but true financial freedom comes when you have multiple streams of income that work even when you’re not around. 

Take local lead generation, for example. Once your digital billboard is ranked, you have a business system that automatically earns you money each month, regardless of what you’re doing.

Local lead generation gives you time freedom, can be done by anyone in the world, doesn’t have a steep learning curve, and pays you more in the long run. 

Follow Me
Ippei Kanehara
Founder/CEO

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2023, is to build your own lead generation business.

Share your experience with us.

Use below if you want to remain anonymous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}