Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk): A Guide for Aspiring Workers

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a well-known platform offering a variety of online jobs that require no experience, making it a popular choice for those looking to earn extra income.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to MTurk for people interested in learning about the platform, joining its workforce, and exploring the opportunities it offers. Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) have become an integral part of the gig economy, and understanding how MTurk operates can help you determine if it's the right fit for you.

What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?

Amazon Mechanical Turk, also known as MTurk, is an online marketplace that connects businesses or individuals (requesters) with a large, diverse workforce (workers) who complete various Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs). These tasks often require human judgment and cannot be easily automated, making them ideal for the platform's crowdsourcing model.

Background and history

MTurk was launched in 2005 by Amazon as an experimental project aimed at exploring the potential of leveraging human intelligence to complete tasks that machines couldn't handle effectively. Over the years, it has evolved into a popular platform for businesses and individuals to outsource various tasks and for workers to earn income through completing those tasks.

As a subsidiary of Amazon, MTurk benefits from the vast resources, infrastructure, and reputation of the parent company. Amazon's backing provides both requesters and workers with a sense of security and trust, knowing that the platform is backed by a reputable, established company.

Mechanical turk: The human behind the machine

The name "Mechanical Turk" for Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform originates from an 18th-century automaton named "The Turk." This automaton, created in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen, was designed to play chess and was famously known for its ability to defeat many human opponents, including notable figures of the time. However, the secret behind The Turk was that it wasn't an actual machine making the moves, but rather a human chess master cleverly concealed inside the machine.

Amazon's Mechanical Turk service draws on this concept by using the term "Mechanical Turk" to represent the idea of a machine that appears to run on its own (like an automaton) but is actually powered by humans. In Amazon's case, these are people performing small tasks (called HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks) that computers are currently unable to do efficiently, such as image recognition, data entry, and other tasks that require human judgment. This platform connects businesses and developers with a large, scalable workforce, while providing individuals with a way to earn money by completing these tasks.

How Does MTurk Work?

Explanation of HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks)

HITs are tasks that require human intelligence and cannot be easily automated. They vary in complexity and duration, from simple data entry to more intricate research assignments. Requesters post HITs on the platform, providing details about the task, including the expected outcome, instructions, time limit, and compensation.

Worker registration process

To become a worker on MTurk, you need to sign up for an Amazon account if you don't already have one. After completing the registration process, you'll be asked to provide additional information, such as your tax identification number and bank account details. Once your account is approved, you can start browsing and accepting HITs.

Worker dashboard and task selection

Upon logging in, you'll see your worker dashboard, which provides an overview of your earnings, completed tasks, and available HITs. You can filter and sort HITs based on various criteria, such as pay rate, time required, and requester rating. When you find a task that interests you, simply click "Accept" to start working on it.

Types of Jobs Available on MTurk


Microtasks are small, simple tasks that can be completed quickly, often in a matter of seconds or minutes. Examples include image tagging, data entry, and short transcription jobs. Microtasks often pay small amounts, but because of their simplicity and quick completion time, they can add up over time.

Data labeling and annotation

Data labeling and annotation tasks involve tagging, classifying, or annotating various forms of data, such as images, text, or audio files. This work is crucial for training and improving machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence systems.

Content moderation

Content moderation tasks require workers to review and moderate user-generated content on websites, forums, or social media platforms. This may involve flagging inappropriate content, verifying user submissions, or ensuring content adheres to platform guidelines.

Search evaluation

Search evaluation tasks involve reviewing and rating search engine results to ensure their quality and relevance. These tasks help improve search engine algorithms and the overall user experience.

Social media evaluation

Social media evaluation tasks require workers to review, rate, or categorize social media content, such as posts, images, or videos. These tasks help improve the quality and relevance of content displayed on social media platforms.

Other jobs

MTurk also offers a variety of other jobs, such as transcription, where workers convert audio files into written text, or survey participation, where workers provide their opinions and feedback on various topics. These tasks provide additional opportunities for workers with different skill sets and interests.

Understanding MTurk Pay

Earnings on MTurk depend on several factors, including the type and complexity of tasks, time spent working, worker skill level, and task availability. Additionally, as you gain experience and improve your worker profile, you may qualify for higher-paying tasks.

Average pay per task

The pay per task on MTurk can vary significantly, ranging from a few cents to several dollars. While many tasks pay less than a dollar, some more complex or specialized tasks can offer higher compensation. It's essential to consider the time required to complete a task and its pay rate when selecting HITs.

Estimating potential earnings

Estimating potential earnings on MTurk can be challenging due to the variability in task availability and pay rates. However, by consistently working on the platform, developing a strong worker profile, and focusing on higher-paying tasks, some workers report earning several hundred dollars per month. Keep in mind that earnings may vary based on individual circumstances and effort.

Payment process

Once you complete a HIT and submit it for review, the requester has a set timeframe to approve or reject your work. If approved, the payment is transferred to your Amazon Payments account. You can then transfer the funds to your linked bank account or use them to shop on

Strategies for increasing income

To increase your income on MTurk, consider the following strategies:

  1. Focus on tasks with higher pay rates and shorter completion times.
  2. Develop a niche skill set that allows you to complete specialized tasks with higher pay.
  3. Regularly check for new tasks and accept them quickly, as high-paying tasks can be claimed fast.
  4. Improve your worker profile by maintaining a high approval rating, which can open up access to better-paying tasks.

Pros and Cons of Working on MTurk

Flexibility and convenience

One of the main advantages of working on MTurk is the flexibility it offers. You can work at your own pace and choose tasks that suit your interests and skills. This makes it a convenient option for those looking to earn extra income in their spare time.

Variety of tasks

MTurk offers a wide range of tasks, allowing workers to explore different types of work and avoid monotony. This variety can help keep the work engaging and provide valuable experience in various areas.

Access to a large pool of tasks

As a popular platform with a broad user base, MTurk has a constant stream of tasks available. This ensures that workers have continuous opportunities to earn money.

Low pay and competition

One of the main challenges of working on MTurk is the relatively low pay for many tasks. Additionally, competition for higher-paying tasks can be intense, making it difficult for new or inexperienced workers to secure consistent earnings.

Is MTurk Legitimate and Worth Your Time?

MTurk is backed by Amazon, lending it credibility and a solid reputation. Many users have shared positive experiences and reported consistent earnings on the platform. However, it's important to note that individual experiences may vary, and some workers have reported low earnings or difficulty finding suitable tasks.

Comparison with other similar platforms

While MTurk is a popular option for online work, there are other platforms like Appen, Clickworker, and Upwork that offer similar opportunities. It's essential to explore these platforms and compare their offerings, pay rates, and user experiences to determine the best fit for your needs.

Enhancing Your MTurk Experience

Building a strong worker profile

A strong worker profile is crucial for accessing better-paying tasks and improving your overall MTurk experience. Maintain a high approval rating by submitting high-quality work and focusing on tasks within your skill set. As your profile improves, you'll have more opportunities to earn higher income.

Strategies for finding high-paying tasks

  1. Use filters and sorting options on the worker dashboard to identify tasks with higher pay rates.
  2. Regularly monitor the platform for new tasks, as high-paying opportunities can be claimed quickly.
  3. Join MTurk forums and communities, where workers often share information about well-paying tasks and requesters.

Utilizing browser extensions and tools

There are several browser extensions and tools available that can improve your productivity on MTurk. An example is MTurk Suite, an extension that brings together a large collection of useful tools to assist workers. Using these tools can help you work more efficiently and maximize your earnings.

Participating in MTurk forums and communities

Joining MTurk forums and communities can provide valuable insights, tips, and support from fellow workers. These groups often share information about high-paying tasks, discuss platform updates, and offer advice on improving productivity. An example is MTurk Crowd, a forum community for Mechanical Turk workers and requesters.


Amazon Mechanical Turk is a popular platform for individuals seeking flexible online work opportunities. With a wide range of tasks and the backing of Amazon, MTurk can be a viable option for those looking to earn extra income.

However, it's important to manage expectations regarding earnings, invest time in building a strong worker profile, and explore other platforms in the gig economy. By doing so, you can make the most of your MTurk experience and maximize your online earning potential.