As an international student, finding part-time work in the UK might be high up your priority list. While part-time work can’t realistically cover your tuition fees and living expenses, it does give you some leeway. After all, you don’t get the chance to live and study in the UK every day! And to make the most of the experience, having some change to spare is always a plus. That’s not even counting how valuable the experience is in building up your skill sets and desirability within the workforce! After all, employers are always on the lookout for fresh recruits who already have some experience under their belts by the time they graduate. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the ins and outs of finding part-time work in the UK!
Can Students Work Part-Time in the UK?
As an international student, you need to check off some specific requirements to be able to work part-time jobs in the UK. Your Student visa clarifies whether or not you have the authorisation to work as a student. A couple of factors determine whether or not you can work as an international student in the UK.
Higher Education Provider (HEP) with A Track Record of Compliance
To qualify for part-time work, you must enrol in a full-time course offered by a higher education provider (HEP) which has a track record of compliance. Now, these may look like a bunch of big, complicated words, but rest assured. A total of 185 UK higher education providers fall under this category. These may be public or private universities, independent schools, and embedded colleges that offer pathway courses. So, chances are your chosen HEP is a student sponsor with a track record of compliance from the get-go. Just to be safe, though, look up the Register of Student Sponsors before shortlisting your top picks, if working as a student is something you really want to commit to!
As a full-time student of a course offered by these HEPs, you have specific part-time work hour limits depending on your level of study.
You can work a total of 20 hours a week part-time during “term time” – in other words, when classes are in session. During the holidays – meaning the vacation weeks of your academic calendar – you can work full-time!
You can work a total of 10 hours a week during term-time, and full-time during breaks.
Overseas Higher Education Institution
If you’re coming into the UK as part of an exchange program, you might also qualify to work part-time in the UK. The program you enrol in must be a sponsor listed on the Register of Student Sponsors as an “overseas higher education institution”. As a student of this program you can work for:
- 20 hours a week when your classes are in session
- Full-time when classes aren’t in session
Note that a week has a very specific definition in this context. The Home Office will count a week beginning Monday and ending on Sunday. If you’re working multiple jobs, you have to make sure the collective hours don’t go over the 20 hours a week limit. Going over the limit can jeopardise your Student visa validity.
Who Can’t Do Part-Time Work in the UK?
If you fall into any of the categories below, you don’t qualify for working part-time in the UK:
- Children below the age of 16
- Students enrolling in part-time programs
- Students enrolling with student sponsors who don’t have a track record of compliance or aren’t overseas higher education institutions
If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you need official consent from your parents or legal guardians to work in the UK. As a minor, you are beholden to the 10 hours per week limit (you can work full-time over the holidays!)
How Can I Find Part-Time Jobs in the UK?
Now that we’ve cleared up who can and who can’t work part-time, the next question is – how can you find work in the UK? There are a couple of options available to you to explore.
- Careers Counselling – your university will likely have a dedicated team to guide you through your career planning. Seek out their help to figure out the best way to secure a student job! They can also coach you to be job-ready, with a professional CV and interview skills to boot
- Online Job Platforms – there are plenty of options online to keep you up-to-date about the latest part-time job openings. A simple search looking into “part-time job in London” or “part-time jobs in Edinburgh” can help shortlist the opportunities in your vicinity. The best job portals also let you filter down your options based on your preferences. You can shortlist the type of job, hours, and pay you’re looking for, and sign up for daily updates on new openings
- On-Campus Jobs – a prime opportunity for students is to look into work opportunities on campus. It takes a lot to run a university, and plenty of departments and facilities may be willing to take in an extra helping hand
- Walk-in Job Opportunities – there may be lots of places that don’t put up job postings online but are hiring. Neighbourhood cafes, bars and restaurants, department and convenience stores, and so on fall under this category. Dress professionally, print out your CV and a cover letter, and visit these establishments, asking for the manager. Even if they aren’t taking on any employees at the moment, you can always ask them to call you up if there’s an opening!
What Part-Time Jobs Can I Do in the UK
According to CV-Library, the following are the highest paying part-time jobs in the UK for students, including international students:
Labourer (includes jobs such as window-washer, lawn maintenance, construction)
£10.83 – £11.88
£9.55 – £12.26
£10.22 – £11.17
£9.65 – £11.49
£9.84 – £10.87
£9.86 – £10.68
£9.98 – £10.45
Customer Service Advisor
£9.76 – £10.03
Food Production Operative
£9.15 – £10.60
£9.01 – £10.61
These aren’t the only options out there either. Be it working as a freelance writer, a server or bartender, a store clerk, or a retail assistant – there are plenty of options to consider when looking into part-time work. Ultimately, it boils down to your preferences. The level of flexibility you’re looking for, the type of work environment you prefer, the pay grade you’re targeting, and how open you are to new and sometimes challenging experiences determine the right job for you.
There are a couple of employment opportunities you don’t qualify for, however:
- Full-time work in a permanent position
- Entertainer or sportsperson
- Dentist or doctor in training
How Can I Guarantee I’ll Get the Job?
It’s good to approach part-time work in the UK realistically. After all, as with most job sectors, there are always more applicants than there are jobs. What you can do is take steps to make sure you stand out against the crowd. Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re job-ready.
Put Together a Solid Resume
You might already have experience writing up resumes for college applications. The purpose of a resume for work, though, is quite different. And as a result, the items on this document that you’ll need to highlight are different too. While employers will be interested in your academic performance, they want to know if your skills and attitude toward work match what they’re hiring for. If you have any relevant or previous work experience, highlight it. Do you have any skill sets – because of your hobbies, extracurriculars, or academics – that would be a plus to an employer? Spotlight experience and skills that showcase these attributes in you. Which of your high school achievements show that you’re a motivated, self-driven person? What hobbies or experiences highlight your creativity or your communication abilities? We highly recommend getting the help of your university’s career counselling department, too. They can help you brainstorm how to frame and arrange your work experience and skills professionally and effectively.
Draft Up a Cover Letter
Not feeling confident applying with just your resume? Maybe you’re worried you don’t have enough work experience, or that what you do have doesn’t make a strong enough case for the job. A cover letter is a great opportunity for you to stand out to a potential employer! You get the chance to elaborate on specific experiences and skills you possess in detail, and how these make you a good match for the job.
Again, make sure you’re getting some expert advice to help you put together the best cover letter you can. If you want to go the extra mile, we recommend researching each of the places you want to apply to and crafting your cover letter around that business and what they’re looking for. A standard cover letter template is easy to adjust for multiple applications. However, employers notice and appreciate the effort that goes into drafting a cover letter specifically for their business.
Pick Up Some Interview Skills
Acing an interview is usually part of the process of a successful job application. There’s only so much an employer can know about you through your resume and even your cover letter. Be sure to take your best self into the interview room. Dress appropriately – no flip-flops, shorts, and concert tees. Make sure you’re polite and respectful. Employers taking on students for part-time work already expect that you won’t know all the bells and whistles of conducting yourself in a professional space. But they do appreciate your effort since it reflects your work ethic. Here are a couple of our tips to be interview-ready:
Research the business
Common interview questions include “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why do you think you’re a good match for this establishment?” Be honest with your answers, but avoid sounding flippant. Find out more about what the business does and the type of philosophy they work by. If you know anyone who works there, that’s a huge plus in knowing what to anticipate. If you’ve ever been a customer at this business, this gives you some helpful insight too.
Be honest in your resume and cover letter
It might be tempting to embellish parts of your application to make yourself more appealing as a candidate. But as tempting as it is, please resist! Employers will generally refer to your resume and cover letter when interviewing you. The last thing you want when you’re trying to secure a job is to get caught in a lie.
Practice answering interview questions beforehand
Whether you’re applying to one place or multiple places, practicing for interviews can be a huge help. If you know what to expect, you’re better able to stay calm and communicate clearly and confidently. It’s also an invaluable experience for other interviews you’ll sit for later in life when you launch your career full-time. There are plenty of tips and tricks online on good interview practices. But nothing quite replaces one-to-one instruction, so once again, take advantage of your university’s careers counselling services. Your university might also offer workshops and other helpful support to coach you for interviews. Sign up for them all – they go a long way in helping you stay calm, composed, and professional when sitting opposite an interview panel.
Our Final Thoughts on Finding Part-Time Work in the UK
Part-time work in the UK is one of the primary ways students – local and international – offset their expenses. Not only is it great budget-wise, but it also prepares you for entering the working world full-time. You build networks, develop hard and soft skills employers seek out, and grow as a person, too. Plus, the experience of working in one of the world’s most developed economies is one you don’t want to miss out on. We hope that our breakdown has covered everything you wanted to know about working part-time in the UK!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How old do you have to be to work part-time in the UK?
You must be 16 years or older to work part-time in the UK. If you’re 16 or 17 years old, you need official consent from your parents or legal guardian, authorising you to work. You also can’t work more than 10 hours a week during semester-time as a minor.
What are the maximum hours for part-time work in the UK?
While classes are in session, you can work for up to 20 hours every week if you’re studying at degree level or higher. A week officially begins on Monday and ends on a Sunday. To make sure you don’t go over your weekly limit, do make sure to monitor your work hours, especially if you’re doing more than one job. If you’re studying below degree level (and are 16 or 17 years old), you can work 10 hours a week. During holidays, students at or above 16 years of age can work full-time.
What are the minimum hours for part-time work in the UK?
There is no official number of hours that qualify as the minimum threshold for part-time work. However, international students can’t go above the 10- or 20-hour weekly limit while classes are in session in the UK.
What is the best part-time job in the UK?
Some of the most popular part-time job opportunities in the UK include:
- Administrative personnel
- Customer service
- Retail assistant
- Food service
- Caregiver/Support worker
- Delivery person
- Shelf packer
- Library/teaching assistant