Course Hero works in a similar fashion to other Question/Answer sites. A student will post a question and tag it with a certain category. If you are a tutor that has registered for that category then it will appear in your dashboard and you can choose to answer it. The key is that you are not the only one that can answer that question. Other tutors can also submit their answers and at the end of the allotted time (usually 24 hours) the student picks the most helpful answer and that tutor gets $3.
What drew me to Course Hero was that even though I have a Masters degree, it’s been a while since I looked at theoretical problems and the question/answer style of Course Hero allows me to refresh my memory with a bit of Googling – something that would be infinitely harder with a real time lesson.
Signing up was straight forward, you need to select the categories that you want to tutor in. I selected predominantly Maths and Science categories and a couple of English categories. I could not see a way to add or change subjects after you have created an account so think carefully about which subjects you are comfortable with.
After that you have to fill in your education and it asks you to upload any study notes that you have. Study notes are another way to earn money on the site – if your notes are purchased by a student you get a cut of it. However I didn’t have anything to upload so opted to skip this step.
How it works
When you sign in you are taken to the Dashboard. This is the main hub where you can narrow the categories down even further. For example if you only want to look at science questions. I found this quite helpful to avoid having to context switch the whole time. You will also see the approximate number of questions that are available listed for each section.
Chosen answers will generally net you around $3 each, occasionally there are students who post bonuses for questions and it is not that unusual to get questions that pay up to $15 each. The catch is that you are randomly assigned a question from your chosen category and are not able to move on to the next question until you have answered it or provided a reason that you are not able to. This is to stop people only answering the high paying questions.
2020 update changes
As of the 2020 update tutors are also not able to see if there are already answers to the question by other tutors. In the past you were able to see if the question had already been answered and it was common to focus on only those that had no answer as this makes you more likely to have your answer selected.
It’s not all bad news with the update though, they also introduced a bonus time section where you are able to earn $5 instead of the base $3 rate during certain times when the number of tutors on the platform is low. This is generally after 8pm so if you are a night owl you can cash in on it.
How much can you earn and do they pay out?
The most important question is how much you can earn and the answer is, probably not enough to replace your full time job. On average I earn the equivalent of around $9-$12 per hour. Some days will be much higher if there are a lot of easy questions going around and other days you will run out of questions to answer so it really is a matter of making hay while the sun shines.
Recently with the advent of Covid there are a lot more students working from home and hence a lot more questions but I expect this to go back to normal once school and universities return.
As for payouts – you need a Paypal account and at least $20 to checkout. Checking out is instantaneous and I have never had an issue of them not paying but to be safe I cash out fairly regularly. So far I have been working a few hours a day for a few weeks and have cashed out around $700. There is also a two week lag from when your question gets accepted to when the money appears in your balance. This was one of the things that I was worried about when I started as I did not want to answer questions for 2 weeks without knowing if they would actually pay or not. But rest assured they do.
I really like Coursehero, the pay is not fantastic but you really do have the freedom of working your own hours and can log on for an hour here or there which is difficult to do with most other jobs. The pay seems to be on par with other gig economy work like UberEats with the advantage that you can work from the comfort of your own home and don’t have to brave the weather.
I do wish that they would scale the pay to the question difficulty more accurately, you will find that some questions are university level and can take 30+ minutes to answer while others are kinder-garden level and can be answered in a couple of minutes and both of these will pay the same amount. But this would not be an easy thing to fix.
Overall I really like CourseHero, there are a few negative reviews out there about people having their accounts closed and not being paid out but I have not had this experience. I think that this is a great way to not only earn some money on the side but to actually help people. Students are able to give you a thumbs up if they really liked your answer and it is rewarding to see students comment to thank you or giving your answers the thumbs up.
If you compare it to other online money making jobs you can do without having to conform to a schedule, such as answering surveys, helping kids with their homework is 100x more interesting and rewarding and pays around 10x as much. I would highly recommend this route if you are academically inclined and are looking to earn some cash on the side.