What Is Amazon Mechanical Turk And How It Works

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing platform that offers a way to earn money by completing small tasks.

But is Mechanical Turk worth it? And how much money can you make on the platform?

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Amazon Mechanical Turk, including the advantages it holds for both businesses and remote workers.

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What Is Amazon Mechanical Turk?

Amazon Mechanical Turk logo

Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, is a marketplace where businesses can hire a global network of remote workers to complete tasks on demand.

The businesses, called “Requesters,” post jobs known as “Human Intelligence Tasks” (HITs), which are then completed by “Turkers,” the remote workforce.

This setup lets Requesters offload repetitive or time-intensive tasks without the need to hire full-time employees.

Whether a Requester needs to transcribe lengthy audio, categorize data, or perform simple online research, MTurk spreads these tasks across a broad network of Turkers, making project completion faster and more efficient.

Turkers, in turn, have the flexibility to select tasks they wish to complete, mostly for monetary compensation or Amazon gift cards.

Since its launch in 2005, MTurk has grown significantly, with over 100,000 workers from across the world.

However, a 2018 study showed that while tens of thousands of workers might be available at any time, there was active engagement from only around 2,000 workers.

What Tasks Can You Do On Amazon Mechanical Turk?

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You can do repetitive tasks like transcriptions, data entry, answering surveys, and content moderation on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

These are tasks that businesses find too simple to allocate to their skilled employees but still slightly too complex for computers to handle with complete accuracy.

Here’s a list of the most common tasks you’ll find on Amazon Mechanical Turk:

  • Audio transcription: Listen to audio clips and transcribe them into text.
  • Categorization: Organize products into predefined categories.
  • Computer vision: Mark images by drawing boxes around animals.
  • Data collection: Search for and identify a specific business’s website.
  • Data extraction: Pull out specific information like names and prices from receipts.
  • Market research: Answer survey questions to help understand market trends.
  • Matching: Check if two pieces of information are about the same business.
  • Moderation: Review images and flag any that violate set criteria.
  • Natural Language Processing: Identify and tag named entities, such as people, places, and organizations, within a text.
  • Ranking: List products in order of how well they match a search query.
  • Rating: Assess and rate the quality of images according to given standards.
  • Research study: Answer questions related to a specific scenario for academic or business research.
  • Text transcription: Convert handwritten notes into typed text.
  • Usability testing: Use a website and give feedback on your experience.
  • Video transcription: Transcribe the spoken content in video clips.
  • Writing: Describe a product using its image and some details.

Most tasks on Amazon Turk take a few minutes of your time and don’t need your full attention.

A 2016 Pew Research Center study highlighted that over 37% of HITs on MTurk involve recording information from images, like sales receipts.

Transcription of audio or video files is the second largest category, accounting for 26%.

How Much Can You Earn On Amazon Mechanical Turk?

A lady counting cash money on her desk.

You can earn $2 per hour to $20 per hour on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

In 2019, the average worker dedicated five to eight hours per week on the platform, earning about $7 per hour.

However, a comprehensive study of 3.8 million tasks completed by 2,767 workers found a median hourly wage of around $2 per hour, with only 4% of workers making over $7.25 per hour.

Despite this, some US-based studies suggest highly active and experienced Turkers can sometimes make $20 per hour or more.

Task payments vary, with simple tasks paying as little as a penny and more complex tasks occasionally paying over $50.

The catch is that the most lucrative tasks are snapped up quickly, as the platform operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

To access these better-paying opportunities, you often need to complete many low-paying HITs to qualify. This requirement is an entry test, showing potential employers you’re reliable and produce quality work.

Given the fluctuating and low earnings on MTurk, it’s wise not to rely on it as your sole source of income.

Diversify your freelance work across platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to provide more stable and potentially higher earnings.

If you’re looking for other ways to make money through Amazon, I’ve compiled a list of 12 strategies to boost your income through the platform. These methods are ranked from the least to the most potential for making money.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Amazon Mechanical Turk?

An illustration showing how Amazon Mechanical Turk works

Amazon Mechanical Turk offers unique opportunities for workers such as flexibility and quick jobs that require no special skills. However, there are disadvantages to using the platform like low pay, monotonous work, and a competitive environment.


  • Ease of entry: You don’t need specialized skills to complete most tasks.
  • Quick jobs: Most jobs take one to two minutes to perform online. As long as you have a steady internet connection you’ll be good to go.
  • Work on your terms: You decide your work hours and the duration of your work sessions and enjoy the perk of frequent payouts (3, 7, 14, or 30 days) without a minimum amount, all from the comfort of your home.
  • Big brand: The association with Amazon adds a layer of credibility and security to MTurk, which makes it stand out from other freelance platforms.
  • Task listing: MTurk simplifies the search for work by listing all available tasks upfront. This transparency helps you quickly identify opportunities for which they are eligible and saves time.


  • Minimal earnings: Many tasks on MTurk pay only pennies, which can make it challenging to earn a significant amount without dedicating a lot of time and completing hundreds of HITs.
  • Repetitive: While the simplicity of tasks can be a pro, it can also be a con as the work tends to be quite repetitive, which might not be enjoyable for everyone.
  • Competitive task claiming: The most desirable HITs, especially those that pay higher or are posted by reputable requesters, are quickly claimed.
  • No growth potential: Although MTurk can be an acceptable side hustle, it’s not sustainable for long-term income.

How Do You Sign Up For Amazon Mechanical Turk As A Worker?

MTurk account registration as a Worker

You need an Amazon account to use Amazon Mechanical Turk and earn money as a Turker.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Sign up: Go to the Worker section of the MTurk website and click on the “Get Started with Amazon Mechanical Turk” link located in the upper right corner.
  • Fill out an account request: Enter your name, address, and email address, and create a password.
  • Wait for approval: Amazon will review your application after submitting your account request. Expect an email from Amazon informing you of their decision within three business days.

Once your account is approved, you can check the dashboard to discover HITs that match your qualifications.

The dashboard also offers tools to set and track your HIT goals, which can improve your productivity and help monitor your earnings progress.

To schedule your payouts, go to the Account Settings page and click “Manage Payment Preferences.”

You can schedule payments every 3, 7, 14, or 30 days, and select your preferred disbursement method, whether it’s an Amazon.com gift card or a transfer to a bank account.

How Do You Sign Up For Amazon Mechanical Turk As A Business?

MTurk account registration as a Requester

If you want to use MTurk for your business, simply visit the Amazon Mechanical Turk Requester website and click “Create an account.”

Complete your details and set up AWS Billing to manage worker rewards and platform fees. Alternatively, you can prepay for the HITs you plan to create using a credit card.

For those who prefer automation, Mechanical Turk can be used programmatically with your AWS account.

When setting up a task, you can use a HIT template to assign multiple tasks at once.

For example, let’s say you want Turkers to tag thousands of images with keywords to make them searchable.

Once you create a HIT template, upload your input data, such as a list of images in this case.

Mechanical Turk will then automatically generate individual HITs based on your template, which eliminates the need to create each HIT manually.

Is Using Amazon Mechanical Turk Worth It?

A side profile of a man sitting on a chair thinking

Amazon Mechanical Turk is an excellent way for businesses to get work done without hiring more employees. It connects you with people from all over the world who are ready to work for less.

But if you’re trying to make money online, Amazon Mechanical Turk might not be the best choice for you. You’d have to grind for hours just to earn minimum wage, unless you get lucky and find occasional high-paying tasks.

Want to know better ways to make online? Check out my guide on 30 things to sell online and make money.

And if you want a way to make more money in the long run, explore my strategies for making $5000 a month.

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com

His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.