56°F
weather icon Clear

5 ways to get paid to be a test subject

What do your brains, your body, and your child’s toy box have in common? They can all score you extra cash!

From market research to medical tests, being a test subject offers an opportunity for people young and old to fatten up their wallets with cash, checks and gift cards. If you’re willing to try a new product or experience and share your thoughts with its creators, you could give your bank account a boost in time for the holidays.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to make money as a test subject.

1. Sign up for medical tests and trials

If you don’t mind being poked and prodded, this may be a great gig for you.

Be prepared to fill out lots of paperwork on your medical history, and in many cases, show proof to support what you’ve listed. This may include providing copies of your charts or having a physical or other tests done to determine if you qualify.

Since criteria vary from test to test, your participation in one research study doesn’t guarantee you a slot in another study — in fact, it may even disqualify you!

The National Institute of Health (NIH), which has nearly 3,500 volunteers participate in its studies each year, states that it “compensates study participants for their time and, in some instances, for the inconvenience of a procedure.” Time is compensated at a standard rate, while inconvenience rates vary.

The NIH suggests that people interested in volunteering consider the risks and possible side effects of a study before taking part.

2. Participate in psychological research studies

Looking for something less invasive? Consider participating in a psychological research study, where you can be paid per hour paid out in cash or gift cards. Rates can vary from $10 to $50 an hour to a flat rate for participation.

It’s not as scary as you might think. Many studies look for insights into human thought and behavior, including memory, decision making, learning and perception.

But there are many others that study the overlap between psychology and market research. Yale’s SOM eLab, for example, explores a “wide range of academic studies on topics in individual decision making, including consumer goals and behavior, influences of marketing, interactions with culture and politics, health and public policies, and even moral and ethical issues.”

It’s no surprise that the best place to find opportunities like this is at a large university. Harvard, NYU, and the University of Maryland all boast outstanding psychology research programs.

Don’t live near one of these schools? No worries. Some universities, like Stanford and Yale, allow online participation, and many use the same Sona system to register volunteers for their study pool.

Make sure to read the fine print before signing up. While many research studies pay via bank check, PayPal or gift cards, some simply enter you in a draw where you could potentially win money. Also, many universities offer class credit for participation, so you must select your “payment” carefully if you are looking to earn cash.

3. Share your thoughts through market research

You know what they say about opinions, don’t you? Well, since “everybody’s got one,” why not start getting paid for yours?

Since companies run off the basic principles of supply and demand, they want to hear from people like you to see what the market is demanding, so they can supply it.

How does it work? Participants in focus groups earn money for giving their honest feedback, often in the form of a survey or group discussion.

Participation in these focus groups is based largely on your demographics. When you sign up for a research group’s database, you’ll answer a number of questions to determine which studies you qualify for.

Ready to try a focus group? Some companies to contact include 2020 Panel, Focuscope, Inc., MindSwarms (online participation), Mediabarn Research, and Shugoll Research.

4. Get your kids involved as toy testers

If you’re toying around with the idea of market research, why not get your kids in on the action?

If you live near El Segundo, California, the Mattel Imagination Center is a great option for kids (typically ages 3-13) to test out toys in exchange for a toy and/or a gift card. (Parents will also receive a gift card.)

Hasbro also has a toy-testing program listed on their FAQ page, or you can see if their Fun Lab in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is recruiting.

The best way to get your family involved in one of these opportunities is by following the toy company’s social media feeds. As you might imagine, people don’t “play around” when it comes to toy testing; the competition can be tough. Often, the companies hold contests and select new testers from the pool of entrants.

5. Get paid for jury duty as part of a mock trial

Another way your opinion can earn you some extra money is by being a surrogate juror. If you meet the requirements for regular jury duty, attorneys in your county or federal district may pay you to review a case and give feedback.

Check out opportunities to participate in mock trials in person through companies such as Sign Up Direct or online through sites like Online Verdict.

And the best news? According to Steve Gillman, who made $150 by spending a day participating in a mock trial, they tend to pay you (and feed you) better than actual jury duty. How much better? Depending on how complicated the case is, you can expect to make $20 to $60 per hour.

Leah Thayer is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
5 Las Vegas chefs to watch - VIDEO
If you want to know what’s next for dining in Las Vegas, we suggest paying close attention to these five accomplished chefs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri reflects on the Las Vegas dining scene
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri talks about the Las Vegas food scene while in town celebrating his 52nd birthday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Familiar faces among Circa culinary lineup
Derek Stevens and chefs Barry Dakake and Dan Coughlin talk about some of the new restaurants for Stevens' Circa resort project. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Ausser Rand und Band (Over the Top) bloody mary at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas
The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas serves the Ausser Rand und Band bloody mary with Hofbrau Dunkel, vodka, bloody mary mix, a Tajin rim and a soft pretzel, slider, bacon, sausage and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Custom Pizza Truck is a 'kitchen on wheels' - VIDEO
Custom Pizza Truck serves pizzas in a one of a kind food truck that traveled to Poland and back. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Squidhat Records comes to an end - VIDEO
Founder Allan Carter explains decision to shutter the Las Vegas label. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kaiseki Yuzu relocates to Chinatown - VIDEO
Kaiseki Yuzu restaurant celebrated its move from Henderson to Chinatown at 3900 Spring Mountain Road on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Panic! at the Disco frontman opens studio for kids - VIDEO
Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie launches Notes for Notes at a Henderson Boys & Girls Club. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A sneak peek at the new Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas’ Chinatown is an Instagram dream come true with original art, an arch of skulls and one of roses. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegan menu unveiled on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Truth & Tonic, one of the two dining spots within The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness, rolled out its new plant-based menu on Friday. Executive chef Pete Ghione talks about the menu. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making lobster and avocado flatbread at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Josh Grimes, chef de cuisine at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, created a lobster and avocado flatbread that also has avocado-creme fraiche spread, yellow tomatoes, red onion and Hearts On Fire microgreens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Riding the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland
What it's like to ride the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Main St. Provisions is coming to the Arts District - VIDEO
Kim Owens talks about her new Arts District restaurant, Main Street Provisions, which is under construction. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist Wayne Littlejohn on “Spin Baby” - VIDEO
Wayne Littlejohn’s sculpture celebrates Las Vegas entertainers. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiësto headlines CES 2020 closing party at Hakkasan Nightclub - VIDEO
Tiesto performs for CES conventioneers and clubgoers during the DreamlandXR Closing Night Party at Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drake's first show of 2020 at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Drake performs at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga joins her band leader at his after-hours show - VIDEO
After finishing her “Jazz + Piano” show at Park Theater, Lady Gaga joined her band leader Brian Newman for a rousing version of "Fly Me to the Moon" during his show at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip after midnight on New Year's Day, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Brian Newman rings in 2020 at NoMad at Park MGM - VIDEO
Brian Newman, bandleader for Lady Gaga, performs at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
THE LATEST
During virus crisis, Pope observes usual Ash Wednesday customs

Neither the priests nor the faithful wore face masks, but Rome has largely been spared the virus as Italy’s national case count grew to 400.

10 frugality attempts that could backfire

Here are 10 situations where trying to pinch pennies has the potential to end up costing way too much. Avoid these frugality fails.

Possible coronavirus treatment study begins in US

The first clinical trial in the U.S. of a possible coronavirus treatment is underway in Nebraska and is eventually expected to include 400 patients at 50 locations around the world, officials said Tuesday.

US, world brace for spread of virus

The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s infectious disease chief, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the world is “teetering very, very close” to a pandemic.

Sanitize blades of loppers, hand shears before using

When preparing to prune plants, follow these three rules: adjusting loppers or hand shears so they don’t rip plants instead of cutting them, making sure the blade is sharp for the same reason and sanitizing the blades.