Paid Studies: A Complete Guide

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Most of the time, getting paid requires actually working. But some types of jobs reward you just for showing up and going through the motions, without actually requiring you to do much at all–like taking paid research studies. 

Opportunities abound to take part in paid studies from many types of institutions: from medical facilities and universities to sleep centers and everything in between. You just have to meet eligibility requirements to participate.

If you’re looking for a way to make extra money without too much of a commitment, it’s a great opportunity to find paid research studies online. 

The Best Places to Find Paid Research Studies

  1. 🏆 Swagbucks
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. Opinion Outpost
  4. American Consumer Opinion
  5. Nielsen
  6. Respondent
  7. User Interviews
  8. Craigslist
  9. Local universities
  10. Fieldwork
  11. MyLocalStudy
  12. Mindswarms
  13. ClinicalTrials.gov

1. Swagbucks 

Swagbucks is one of the longest-running providers of online surveys and studies for consumers. Since 2005, Swagbucks has been connecting consumers with brands and giving them the opportunity to express their opinions about products and services. 

Swagbucks is completely trustworthy, and a variety of companies conduct research through them. You can get paid to voice your opinions from the comfort of your couch and have a great time while you’re at it.

As compensation, you’ll rack up Swagbucks points when taking surveys, which you can exchange for either gift cards from leading retailers like Home Depot and Walmart or payments to a prepaid Visa debit card or PayPal account. 

Learn More: Read our Swagbucks Review

2. Survey Junkie 

Survey Junkie also offers paid surveys. However, it has one major difference from Swagbucks: the company is a survey aggregator. 

In other words, when you participate in an online study from Survey Junkie, you’ll have to leave the Survey Junkie site for third-party locations. The Survey Junkie team does a decent job of vetting surveys. But it’s still somewhat of a security risk. These aren’t Survey Junkie-sanctioned studies. 

That said, you can access a much wider range of paid research studies through Survey Junkie.

Learn More: Read our Survey Junkie Review

3. Opinion Outpost 

Another great consumer opinion site is Opinion Outpost, which gives participants rewards for participating in surveys for government bodies and businesses.

To get started, simply join and start taking surveys. That’s it. You’ll be on your way to fun rewards in the form of cash payments and gift cards to sites like Amazon and iTunes in no time. 

Learn More: Read our Opinion Outpost Review

4. American Consumer Opinion

Companies depend heavily on market research to make great products and services that resonate with actual consumers. To accomplish this, they often partner with groups like American Consumer Opinion (ACOP). 

You can work directly with ACOP to help companies achieve their market research goals. Membership participation is free and you can make money simply by taking an online survey. 

Your opinions will be directly reviewed by participant brands and you’ll get points with cash value, too.

5. Nielsen

Similarly, Nielsen has been providing companies with market research for over 90 years.

Nielsen specifically focuses on consumer behavior largely centered around the customer experience and the products people buy. If you’re looking for a reputable and safe company to work with, you can’t go wrong with Nielsen.

Sign up with Nielsen

6. Respondent 

Instead of looking for regular consumer feedback, the research provider Respondent works with business professionals. You can get paid to provide feedback and help further specific projects. 

Respondent works with software developers, enterprise software users, marketers, business owners, executives, and sales and support teams. Average hourly incentives range from $150 for enterprise software users to $700 for executives. 

That’s a lot of dough for an hourly rate by any stretch of the imagination–and far more per hour than most side hustles

If you’re in a position to provide valuable feedback, consider partnering with Respondent and voicing your opinion. You could walk away with a handsome paycheck just for giving a little time.

7. User Interviews 

User Interviews is another consumer survey site that will pay for your opinions. It’s very easy to get started with them, too. 

To join User Interviews, just create a profile and browse studies that match your interest. After that, complete a few screening surveys so that the company can qualify you for specific studies. From there, all you have to do is participate and get paid for your feedback.

Through User Interviews, you can do an online focus group, online interview, user questionnaire, diary studies, and surveys. Suffice it to say there’s something for everyone.

8. Craigslist

One surprising place where you can find great studies is your local Craigslist.

If you’re familiar with Craigslist, you’re probably already aware the site has many scams. As such, you have to be very careful when browsing it or giving out your phone number. 

But don’t let that deter you. There are many legit opportunities on Craigslist. 

Do your due diligence and avoid clicking suspicious links when possible. Look for authentic-looking posts and always speak with someone on the phone and meet them in a public place before agreeing to anything.

Sometimes you can find national surveys on Craigslist. Or you may find local research companies or businesses looking for consumer feedback. Local medical groups may also post on Craigslist from time to time looking for a participant, so check it out and see what you can find. 

9. Local universities 

If you happen to live near a local research university and want to make some cash, you may be in luck. 

Universities often hire for an in-person, paid focus group and healthcare studies, especially if it’s a medical research facility. 

Check local universities and affiliated medical groups, and subscribe to a newsletter so you’ll get alerts when a paid research study is available. Larger schools often have many studies you can participate in to bring in extra money on the side.

Worried you might end up biting off more than you can chew in an experiment? The FDA’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews biomedical research to make sure it complies with relevant regulations.

10. Fieldwork

Yet another organization offering paid research studies is Fieldwork. The company actively seeks consumers of all types: from retail shoppers to people who enjoy listening to the radio.

To get started, visit their site, select your region, and go through the sign-up process. It’s fast and easy and you’ll be taking surveys for money in no time at all.

You may be able to find virtual research opportunities, too. As long as you have a webcam, you can get paid to participate in studies while sitting at home.

11. MyLocalStudy

Most people who are busy with classes, full-time work, or family obligations don’t have time to scour the internet looking for paid research opportunities. 

Fortunately, there’s MyLocalStudy, an online database that connects you to local clinical research opportunities. All you have to do is provide basic information, and you can find a variety of studies within driving distance.

This site is safe and convenient, guaranteed to save you time while connecting you with great local studies. 

12. Mindswarms 

Mindswarms claims that everyone is an expert in something… and they’re willing to pay for this expertise.

Like with most survey companies, you’ll have to fill out screeners and apply to studies through Mindswarms. You’ll also have to answer questions after getting accepted. But you’ll get paid for your responses. 

Payments on Mindswarms average $50 for just ten questions, and you get paid for every study you complete. It could be a decent way to bring in extra cash.

13. ClinicalTrials.gov

ClinicalTrials is a massive database containing privately and publicly funded clinical studies. 

On this site, you’ll find over 370,000 research studies from countries all over the world. If you’re looking for legitimate medical studies, definitely explore this site.

Are Paid Research Studies Safe?

As with most things, it depends. 

Always be cautious when approaching paid study opportunities, and be on the lookout for scams and surveys just looking to steal your identity or take advantage of you. 

Unfortunately, this happens far too often.

With that in mind, here are some ways to reduce risk when searching for paid surveys.

Ask to speak over the phone

Consider asking to speak with a member of the group’s marketing team or a researcher before you participate in the study. 

If the company doesn’t give away information about the study or you can’t get through to a representative, it’s a sign that it could be a scam.

Look for accreditation 

Look for some sort of validation or accreditation confirming the study is conducted through an official company or association. This is especially important for studies that require you to give away personally identifying information.

Keep in mind that Craigslist posts and online advertisements can often appear to be perfectly normal yet actually be traps for scammers to steal personal data. 

It bears repeating: Always be on the lookout for scams when looking for paid surveys.

Poke around for reviews

Check the internet for reviews from similar people who have interacted with the agency you’re working with. If “beware of scam” is one of the first things that pops up on Google, it’s a sure bet someone may be trying to dupe you into a phony study.

Tips for Doing Research Studies 

Work with several providers

Chances are you’ll be doing studies as supplementary income. There’s just not enough time in the day to make a full-time living doing surveys (and most don’t pay enough to provide steady income).

That said, the trick to making money with paid research is to do a lot of studies. Line up as many as you can and do them during your downtime or even at night and on weekends. 

If you do them often enough, you could bring in some nice supplementary income to help make ends meet. 

Be smart about what you test 

Be selective when participating in studies–especially when it involves your health. Talk to a doctor and get clearance before trying anything that may jeopardize your health. It’s just not worth risking your health for a quick buck.

For example, some medical companies may pay you to test drugs or different sleeping solutions. Even if it looks easy, it’s a good idea to run the study by a certified doctor so that you don’t put yourself in harm’s way.

Make sure the study compensates you adequately 

Always think about the value you’re offering compared to what you’re getting paid in return. Your input may be worth a lot of money, especially if you’re testing a cutting-edge product or service.

One of the top reasons companies outsource research to market groups is because it’s often cheaper than hiring in-house researchers. 

So just make sure you’re being appropriately compensated for your time and effort. You may not be able to command a hefty amount, but you should still make sure you get paid fairly. 

Are Research Studies for Me?

Participating in research studies isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to consider before proceeding. 

Patience is key 

Paid studies require a lot of patience, especially when doing them in person. You may have to wait a long time until your name is finally called.

Before signing up for anything, make sure it’s clear what you’re being compensated for. 

You might also want to bring some extra work with you if possible. Why not fill out Swagbucks surveys while waiting for in-person research?

It involves a lot of testing

Research studies are all about testing. You may have to answer a substantial number of questions.

If you’re the type of person who gets anxiety from tests or doesn’t like taking them, this may not be the line of work for you. 

The truth is the majority of research studies involve taking tests, some in controlled environments. Just something to consider.

Studies take time

Studies can take a lot of time to complete, especially if you participate in overnight sleep studies. 

Make sure you have the time to devote to the study before participating so you don’t have to leave midway through. Unfortunately, most studies won’t compensate you if you leave early. 

Alternatives to Research Studies 

Here are some alternative money-making ideas to consider as you search for research studies. 

Browse the internet 

Some sites, like Swagbucks, will pay you to browse the internet. Believe it or not, you can make money just by searching for queries online.

Here’s how it typically works: You install a browser overlay and use a company’s dedicated search feature in conjunction with your existing browser. As you search for items, the site will collect data on your habits and report the findings to their partners.

If this idea bugs you, keep in mind that your personal internet data is bought and sold countless times throughout the day. This is just a way of actually getting paid for it.

Some companies will even pay you for leaving your computer running.

Watch videos

Some rewards sites also pay you to do fun things online like watching videos or playing games. That means you can get rewarded just for having a great time. Not bad!

Shop

It’s also possible to get paid to visit online or in-person stores, shop, make purchases, and provide feedback about your experiences. Companies often use these types of studies to understand how their stores perform so they can make improvements. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a referral to take surveys?

Some exclusive paid research studies may require a referral to take surveys. This is typically the exception. Most companies screen participants to determine if they’re a good fit for the study. 

Suppose a medical company is running a study on smokers. First, it’s necessary to ensure that the people taking the study are actually habitual smokers and meet the qualifications. The group may need smokers in their 40s. If you don’t meet that description, you’ll have to look for a different study.

Should I get paid in Amazon gift cards or cash?

Here’s a pro tip: Get paid in cash when you’re given the option when participating in paid studies. Amazon gift cards are fun, but let’s face it: There’s no substitute for cold hard cash. 

When you get actual money, you can invest it so it grows over time. If you buy an Amazon gift card, you’ll spend the reward quickly and miss out on a much more valuable return.

Always prioritize studies that give you cash or electronic payments over gift cards. 

Why do companies conduct consumer research?

Companies typically conduct consumer research to make better products and services, improve packaging designs, or launch more effective marketing campaigns. 

For example, a company may want to test the usability of a product or see how consumers feel about a certain experience. 

Some studies may involve taste tests, while others may simply ask consumers to interact with a product or device. Truth be told, there are many different ways to conduct consumer studies. 

It can feel great participating in a study. You get paid to review products and services while providing valuable feedback to help make better products. 

Does your demographic matter when doing research studies?

Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. In certain cases, companies survey broad sample sizes from people of all demographics. In other cases, they look for more specific examples for a more focused study.

Are paid studies side hustles?

Yes. Participating in research studies is an example of a side hustle (or a side gig). It’s a way of bringing in extra cash in addition to your full-time job.

The Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about making money doing paid surveys, there are countless online research studies and paid focus groups to explore. Thanks to the internet, it doesn’t matter where you live. From New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, you can take a paid study so long as you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer. 

Or you can contact a local research facility in your area conducting paid studies and ask what the upcoming schedule looks like.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to track down your first paid study and see if this line of work interests you!

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