What is Amazon Mechanical Turk and Why Should I Care?

What is Amazon Mechanical Turk and Why Should I Care-.png

What is AMT?

Amazon Mechanical Turk (also called AMT or MTurk) is a crowdsourcing site and is a great way to earn money online. You can do it from anywhere, at any time. There is no application or interview–it’s freelance work, and anyone with a social security number can do it.

On AMT, there is all kinds of different tasks you can complete. You can do transcription (from images or from audio), product categorization, image labeling or tagging, website feedback, search engine classification, and surveys. Before you balk at the word ‘survey’, listen to this: surveys on AMT are not like surveys on other websites. You will qualify for the majority of surveys, and if you don’t, you’ll know within about 30 seconds.

The work (called HITs) is posted by ‘requesters’. You accept whatever HITs you want and complete them within the set time limit (anywhere from 1 minute to 7 days). You can cash out when you’ve earned at least $1, and the money can be deposited into your bank account or onto your Amazon.com account in the form of an Amazon gift card. I personally have my earnings deposited into my checking account because I use it to pay my bills.

Before I go any further, let me say that there are no referral links for AMT. I do not get anything for having people sign up for and use AMT. I am doing this because AMT has been a lifesaver for me when I was unable to work outside the home, so I’m passing along this great information to hopefully help others!

Why Should I Use AMT?

AMT is a great way to earn money when you can’t work outside the home or have a full-time job. It’s different from other crowdsourcing and survey sites because you can earn an actual living wage on it. In a five hour day, I can earn about $40, which is more than minimum wage. This means I earn about $200 per week without ever leaving my home.

Another great reason to use AMT is because the majority of the work is amazingly easy. Some HITs have a learning curve depending on what the requester is asking for, but for the most part it’s pretty simple. Sometimes it’s so simple it starts to get boring, but hey–you’re earning easy money; who cares if it’s boring?

If you still aren’t sold yet, here are my main reasons for working on AMT:

  • Work anytime
  • Anyone can do it–no experience, no interview
  • Earn a living wage
  • Payout threshold is only $1
  • Deposit into your bank account or as an Amazon gift card
  • Amazingly easy work

If you still aren’t convinced to do AMT, keep reading to find out how easy it really is!

Getting Started on AMT

To get started on AMT, go to Mturk.com and sign up using your Amazon.com account. You will also need to provide Amazon with your social security number, which is only used to ensure you are a US citizen and are over 18 years of ago. Your SSN is not used to report your earnings to the IRS–you are responsible for reporting your earnings as an independent contractor using a 1099 form when you file your taxes. 


If you plan on having your earnings deposited into your bank account, you’ll want to go ahead and link your bank account to your AMT account. It can take a few days to process, which is why I suggest doing that before you start completing HITs. To do this, go to your dashboard on AMT and ‘View or edit your payments information on Amazon Payments’:


This will prompt you to link a new  Amazon Payments account to your AMT account. Once you’re able to log in to your Amazon Payments account, you can start linking it to your bank account. You’ll need  your account and routing numbers, as well as your driver’s license number.


Now that you have that started, you can officially start doing HITs! I’ll be honest here: you’re going to start off doing cheap, boring, underpaid work. However, once you get your first 1000 HITs, you’ll be qualified for a lot more work (other noteworthy milestones are 5,000 and 10,000 HITs). Lucky for you, for the first ten days that you complete at least one HIT (not just ten days after creating your account), you can only do a total of 100 HITs per day. This will get you your first 1000 HITs.

Getting to Know Your Dashboard

When you first log in to your new AMT account, you’re going to see what’s called your dashboard. It’s the page you’ll be on most often, so you need to get to know it well!


  1. Earnings to Date tells you how much of your work has been approved (as opposed to still being reviewed by the requester or rejected), any bonuses requesters have issued you, and your total earnings.
  2. Earnings Available tells you how much money you have on your AMT account right now, ready to be transferred into your bank or Amazon.com account.
  3. Your HIT Status shows you the total number of HITs you’ve submitted for that day, how many have already been approved, how many have been rejected (hopefully none!), and how many are still pending approval. It also tells you how much you’ve earned from the HITs that have been approved so far–it does not take into account the HITs that are still pending or have been rejected.
  4. HITs You Have Submitted tells you how many HITs you have ever submitted on your account, how many of those have been approved or rejected, and how many are still pending. It also tells you your approval rate, which is very important. Most requesters have a requirement (called a qualification–I’ll explain more about those later) that your approval rate is not under 98%. So be very careful not to make too many mistakes and risk having your work rejected!
  5. This is where your Worker ID will be. It’s a 14 character code that will identify you to requesters.
  6. This is where you can search for HITs using specific settings. I’ll explain more about them in a bit.
  7. This is where you can look at all the HITs available on AMT right now (not to say you’ll be qualified for all of them!). This is also where you’ll find your queue–the list of HITs you have already accepted and need to start working on (your queue can only hold 25 HITs at a time).
  8. This is where you can look at qualifications requesters have granted you. Qualifications are how requesters keep people from turning in the same survey twice or keep specific people from working on their HITs (either because they made too many mistakes previously or because they don’t meet certain demographics).

Finding HITs


Once you’re ready to start completing some HITs, click the ‘HITs’ tab at the top of your dashboard (number seven on the above list). You’ll want to pay attention to the three boxes on the right. First, specify the minimum amount the HIT has to pay. Since you’re just starting out, keep this at two or three cents; the more HITs you complete, the higher you can set this.

Next, there’s a checkbox labeled ‘for which you are qualified’. If you check this, you’ll only be able to see HITs you’re already qualified for. You might want to start off leaving this unchecked; some qualifications are auto-granted, so all you have to do is request it and you automatically get it. Doing that with a lot of different qualifications will open up more work for you.

The next checkbox, ‘require Master Qualification’, has to be left unmarked for now. Master qualification is granted by Amazon itself. They usually grant it in one big batch once a year, and it’s a complete mystery how they choose who gets the Master qualification and who doesn’t.

Now you can choose how you want the HITs sorted. You can sort them by creation date, how many are available, reward amount, expiration date, title, and time allotted. I prefer to sort mine by ‘Reward Amount (most first)’, but most of those require you to have completed at least 1000 HITs. To start out, it’s probably best if you sort them by ‘HITs Available (most first)’. This will show you the batches–the HITs that you can complete more than one of. Doing that will help you to quickly get your number of submitted HITs up.

When you find a HIT or group of HITs you want to work on, click the link on the right of the listing that says ‘View a HIT in this group’.

Completing HITs

Now that you’ve found a HIT, you need to actually complete it! Completing HITs is pretty straightforward, but here’s a nice little for you:


  1. If this is a HIT you want to work on, click ‘Accept HIT’ and it will put it in your queue (which, again, can only hold 25 HITs at a time).
  2. This will tell you how much money you’ll earn for each of these particular HITs you complete.
  3. This tells you how many of this particular HIT there are.
  4. This shows you the total time you have to complete this HIT and how much longer you have until it expires. Once it expires, it’s gone, and you don’t get credit even if you have partially completed the HIT. Always keep an eye on the timer!
  5. This is where you can see what qualifications are required in order to complete the HIT. If you don’t have one of these qualifications, you can’t accept the HIT. If that’s the case, it’s sometimes possible for you to try to request the qualification.
  6. You’ll actually work on the HIT here. Instructions will show up at the top if there are any.
  7. This will take you to your queue.

Now What?

Unfortunately, a lot of requesters want you to already have at least 1000 HITs submitted. To get your numbers and approval rating up, a good place to look for HITs without that qualification is on one of the AMT forums. These are not affiliated with AMT, but are run by people who do work on AMT full-time and have set these sites up to help others. My favorite one of these is MTurk Crowd. They have a daily thread where you can post high-paying HITs, get help if you’re new to AMT, and just generally socialize. They also have a Cheap Numbers HITs thread, which is where you can find suggestions to get your first 1000 HITs.

Since you won’t be doing a lot of work for the first ten days, you’ll have plenty of time to set up some extremely helpful scripts. These are tiny programs that will save you a lot of time and effort. In my opinion, scripts are absolutely essential to making a living on AMT. Without using scripts, you’ll be lucky to make $15 in 5 hours.

Scripts can be a bit confusing in the beginning. Lucky for you, I’ve taken the time to create a guide (linked below) to show you how to get started setting up my  favorite script. This was the first script I started using, and my daily earnings jumped from $10 in eight hours to $8 an hour. I know that still might not seem like much, but it’s easy money that you can do while multitasking (any stay-at-home-moms out there?), and there are ways to earn way more than that. Stay tuned for information on how to do that!

Interested in learning how to use scripts? Come check out my guide!





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