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Amazon Mechanical Turk Review: Is It Legit or a Scam?

Are you curious if Amazon Mechanical Turk is a scam or legit? Do you want to know what it is and how it works?

You’ve probably heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk, or “MTurk,” before. It’s a crowdsourcing service that lets you complete small tasks in exchange for money.

You might think it sounds too good to be true—and, well… you’d be right. The thing is, MTurk isn’t really the place to go if you’re looking for a full-time job or high income. It’s more like a hobby or side hustle than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits to using MTurk! In fact, I’ve found that there are lots of ways MTurk can help you out if you’re willing to put in some work and have a little bit of patience. So let’s take an honest look at what it’s all about and see if it’s worth your time!

What is Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)?

Amazon Mechanical Turk Logo

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace that allows individuals and businesses to outsource their processes and jobs to a distributed workforce who can perform these tasks virtually. Amazon Mechanical Turk has been operating since 2005 and is available in over 190 countries.

Tasks that can be completed on Amazon Mechanical Turk are called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs). Amazon Mechanical Turk workers are called Turkers. Amazon Mechanical Turk is one of the most well-known microtask sites.

Microtask sites are websites where people can complete small tasks and earn money. Amazon Mechanical Turk is open to anyone over 18 with a valid Amazon account. You do not need prior experience to start working on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Amazon Mechanical Turk is available 24/7.

Workers can work as much or as little as they want. Payments are made via Amazon Payments. The amount you earn depends on the HIT you complete. Some HITs may only pay a few cents, while others may pay a few dollars. Amazon Mechanical Turk has a low payout threshold of $1.00.

This means you only need to earn $1.00 before you can cash out your earnings via Amazon Payments. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a great way to make extra money in your spare time. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or mobile device.

How Does It Work?

How Amazon Mechanical Turk Works

Amazon Mechanical Turk for Gig Seekers

If you’re looking for gig work, you can sign up for an Amazon Mechanical Turk account as a worker. Once you’re signed up, you’ll be able to see all of the available Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs). When you find a HIT that you want to work on, click “Accept” and start working.

Human Intelligence Task employees on Amazon Mechanical Turk are compensated on a daily basis. The platform advertises data analysis jobs, HIT content moderation jobs, browser gaming jobs, and website content jobs. You can earn an hourly wage by choosing from among thousands of HIT microtasks.

You can accept Human Intelligence Tasks that interest you from a list posted on the worker website by businesses or requesters using Turk. Requesters have 30 days from the time you submit your HIT tasks to verify their completion. After they have been confirmed, you will be able to receive your payment. A bank transfer or an Amazon.com gift card is at your disposal as a payment method.

You can only do so many HITs on Amazon Mechanical Turk daily, but you can pick and select from high-paying HITs to boost your hourly wage. The Amazon Mechanical Turk platform is open to anyone, whether they live in the United States or not.

A social security number and other tax information will be needed to verify your identity for all HIT employees. Dependent on where you call home and where you are a citizen, you will need to look out for different tax information.

Signing up for Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker

To start, go to the Amazon Mechanical Turk site. You’ll find the sign-in link at the top right corner.

Amazon Mechanical Turk Sign in

Signing in is simple. You only have to provide your Amazon account email, phone number, and password. Now, if you don’t have an Amazon account yet, click “Create your Amazon Account.”

MTurk Worker Registration

After creating a new account on Amazon, you’ll have to fill out the Worker Registration form. Here you have to give details about yourself, like your name, address, email, or phone number. It’s pretty simple, so registration is easy.

MTurk Pending Invitation

After submitting the form, the next page states, “Pending Invitation.” This means that you have successfully registered and have an MTurk account. But you can’t complete tasks yet, whether they be long or short tasks. They will send you an email within 3 business days about the status of your invitation. Though you can’t do online tasks, you can browse the available HITs.

Amazon MTurk HIT Groups

You’ll see the HIT Groups in the picture above. You’ll also see that they don’t pay much despite being demanding. But if you have free time and want extra money, go for them. You can earn some cents by answering surveys. Certain tasks pay the median hourly wage, and there are better-paying HITS available among the low-paying ones.

Many jobs require you to have worked on at least several thousand others before you’ll be considered for them.

A task’s “Accept & Work” button will appear if you meet the prerequisites. In that case, you could try making a manual request for approval of your qualification. Location, language skills, HIT completion rate, HIT approval rate, and similar factors are typical selection criteria.

Amazon Mechanical Turk for Requesters

Through a customizable interface or by integrating with a straightforward API, MTurk provides developers access to a large, diversified, and always-available workforce. With MTurk, businesses can tap into the crowdsourcing revolution for tasks as varied as data entry, market research, and machine learning training.

In many cases, MTurk can help you save money and time during the ML development process. With MTurk, amassing and annotating the vast volumes of data needed for ML model training is a breeze. An effective machine-learning model is built through many iterations and tweaks.

Human-in-the-loop (HITL) is another way MTurk is used in ML development; it involves incorporating human input into validating and retraining an existing model. One task that may be too vague for a purely mechanical solution and too extensive for even a large team of human experts is drawing bounding boxes in order to construct high-quality datasets for computer vision models.

Sometimes, a huge, daunting activity can be broken down into a series of much smaller, more doable microtasks that can be completed in their own time. By delegating tasks to people worldwide over the Internet, crowdsourcing can be a powerful method for businesses to foster creativity and adaptability. MTurk allows businesses or developers to tap into a pool of thousands of on-demand workers and seamlessly incorporate the results of those workers’ efforts into their own operations. Web and social media moderation, product or image classification, and data harvesting from the Internet are only a few of the most frequent uses of this kind of technology.

See Related: Ways to Earn Money Writing Reviews on Amazon

Creating a Requester Account

Amazon Mechanical Turk Requester

Upon going to the MTurk site, press the “Sign in as a Requester” button. You can find this easily on the top right of the page, as it is enclosed with a yellow rectangle.

MTurk Requester Sign in

You can sign in as a Requester by using your Amazon Web Services (AWS) account or your Amazon account. If you don’t have either account, you can choose to create a new MTurk account with a new AWS account. You may also register a new MTurk account with your AWS account.

Sign up for AWS

If you don’t have an AWS account, you will be redirected to AWS to create a new one. You just need to give your email and make a username. They will send you a code via email for verification purposes. Just enter the code to AWS then you’re good to go.

The next step is to go back to the MTurk site for a Requester account. I must warn you because the next steps will be very technical. You can make others who can understand read it for you. You can find this information in the Amazon Mechanical Turk getting started guide.

Sign in with AWS

Now that you have your AWS account, you can use it to sign in to MTurk. You only need t follow the prompts to complete your Requester account registration. Type your mailing address and accept the Amazon Mechanical Turk Participation Agreement when prompted.

Next, connect your AWS and MTurk Requester accounts. Once you have an AWS account, you can connect it to your MTurk Requester account. By completing this action, you authorize your AWS account to access the MTurk APIs on behalf of the Requester. To become a developer, visit https://requester.mturk.com. Connect your AWS account by clicking the button and entering your AWS Root user email and password.

Now, make a new IAM user account. Access to AWS resources and services can be strictly governed by implementing AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). Instead of using the credentials for your root account to access the Amazon Mechanical Turk API, you can create an IAM user and use those credentials instead. Please be aware that IAM role credentials cannot be used with Mechanical Turk at this time.

Note that You can only make legitimate requests to the Mechanical Turk API with your IAM credentials. They are not valid login credentials for the Mechanical Turk Requester. 

Access the Amazon Web Services website at http://aws.amazon.com/security-credentials and click the “Create an IAM User” button. Select IAM Users Getting Started to begin working with IAM, then pick the Add user option.

In the section labeled “Set user details,” enter the user’s name. Click the Add another user option and provide a new user name to create a user with the same access levels as the original user. 

To continue, click Next: Permissions after selecting Programmatic access under Select AWS access type. Select Attach existing policies directly from the Set permissions menu.

Based on how much access you wish to give, either the AmazonMechanicalTurkFullAccess or AmazonMechanicalTurkReadOnly policy should be chosen.

To proceed, select Next: Tags. Tags are unnecessary in this case. You can proceed by selecting Next > Review. Check your chosen options and click the Create User or Create Users button.

This user has been added. Select Download.csv to save the details of the user or users generated, then utilize it with SDKs or the CLI. Or, you can reveal the hidden passcode by selecting the Show link next to it. You should save a copy of it in a safe place in case you want to refer to it again.

To assign roles and permissions for Amazon Mechanical Turk to existing IAM users, see the IAM User Guide’s Overview of IAM Policies. Enter your credentials to access the IAM console.

Choose either AmazonMechanicalTurkFullAccess or AmazonMechanicalTurkReadOnly from the drop-down menu on the Policies page.

Pick Attach from the list of Policy Actions at the top of the page, then s Select the desired IAM user(s) on the Attach Policy page. Finally, select Attach Policy to grant API access to Mechanical Turk to the selected users.

Setting Up the Developer Sandbox

Before releasing your HITs to the Mechanical Turk marketplace on Amazon, you should put them through their paces in the sandbox testing environment to ensure they function as intended. Before releasing a HIT to the Amazon Mechanical Turk Marketplace, you can publish it to the sandbox for testing. The sandbox is made up of two websites, one for Requesters and one for Workers.

In order to use the Requester sandbox, you must first register for a Requester account at https://requestersandbox.mturk.com. Additionally, in order to access your HITs made in the sandbox as a Worker, you will need to sign up for an account on the Worker sandbox website. Sandbox sites on Mechanical Turk are available at no cost to users.

It’s important to note that in order to use the MTurk APIs to produce HITs in the sandbox, you’ll need to link your AWS account to your sandbox Requester account. To do this, visit the Requester sandbox website at https://requestersandbox.mturk.com/developer.

Be sure that each HIT functions uniformly across all major web browsers by testing it in the sandbox. Make that any embedded media (photos, videos, etc.) in your HITs really loads. When testing, make sure to check that the given answers are in a valid format.

Installing an Amazon Web Services Software Development Kit (SDK)

Python/Boto (Boto3), Javascript (NodeJS or Browser), Java,.NET, Go, Ruby, PHP, and C++ are all AWS SDKs that can be used to connect to the MTurk API.

Change the AWS Software Development Kit settings so the us-east-1 region is used. The MTurk Application Programming Interface is now accessible here. Then, check your account balance by logging in to the MTurk Developer Sandbox (which should always show $10,000). Setting your SDK’s API endpoint to https://mturk-requester-sandbox.us-east-1.amazonaws.com will allow you to communicate with the MTurk Developer Sandbox. Here you’ll discover some samples.

Setting Up AWS billing or Prepaying for your HITs

You must prepay for HITs you generate before using the production version of Amazon Mechanical Turk. If you don’t, your workers won’t see your HITs.

To issue HITs to employees, you must first have enough funds in your Prepaid HIT Balance to cover the whole amount of HITs that will be issued. Prepayment for the HITs can be made using any major credit or debit card.

You can also set up AWS Billing if you choose. On the AWS Anniversary Bill for your related AWS account, you will see the awards and expenses associated with your HITs.

Visit the Requester site to learn how to prepay for your HITs or activate AWS Billing.

The Pros and Cons of Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk Benefits

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is Amazon Mechanical Turk?”, it’s time to look at the pros and cons of using the platform.

Pros of MTurk

For Gig Seekers (HIT Cr

  • You can work as much or as little as you want. There is no supervision, no required hours or output, and no fixed workplace. You can do work in your free time!
  • You can choose which tasks you want to work on. The more free time you have and the more willing you are, the more tasks you can take on.
  • Tasks are usually quick and easy to complete. Performing simple tasks will give you supplemental income.
  • Secure payments. Payments are made via Amazon Payments, so you don’t have to worry about getting paid by a sketchy requester.
  • Possibility of earning more than $10 per hour. Making a living salary that approaches $10 an hour can be challenging when you’re just starting out. However, many seasoned “Turkers” boast of such earnings.
  • Extensive availability of reliable outside sources. The widespread adoption of MTurk has resulted in a thriving community of complementary tools, such as bots and scripts. A surprisingly large number of communities are dedicated solely to discussing or providing assistance with MTurk.
  • Increased work variety and volume. When compared to other task-based organizations, MTurk has a significantly greater variety and amount of offered tasks.
  • A variety of high-quality external sources. The widespread adoption of MTurk has spurred the development of numerous automation tools and scripts that can be integrated with the platform. There are also an unusually large number of forums, subreddits, and assistance sites dedicated solely to MTurk.
  • You will unlock higher-paying Human Intelligence Tasks as you work more.
  • Your free time will be productive, and you will earn money if you choose to.
  • Aside from using your profits on Amazon, you may also send them directly to your bank account by linking them to your Amazon account. There is also no withdrawal threshold to reach (unlike some other survey sites). So if you want cash, make sure you have a bank account! But it’s alright if you want to add your earned money to your Amazon gift card balance.
  • It only requires you to have basic computer skills. Aside from that, Amazon Mechanical Turk has gigs that are best if you want to maintain or learn new computer skills.

For Requesters

  • It increases your productivity. MTurk can automate low-level, repetitive processes in your workflows that would otherwise be performed manually. By delegating low-value chores to MTurk’s crowd of anonymous workers, businesses can save time and money while allowing their own employees to focus on more strategic endeavors. You can post short tasks and pay for them instead of doing them yourself.
  • Improves flexibility. Growing or shrinking a workforce is a complex process. Without the hassle of dynamically scaling your in-house workforce, businesses and organizations can get work done fast and easily thanks to MTurk’s access to a global, on-demand, 24/7 workforce.
  • Helps save money. Using MTurk, you may cut down on the time and money you would otherwise spend on temporary employees. You can save a lot of money and get better results than you would have been able to with just one team by using the talents of remote Workers on a pay-per-task basis.

Cons of MTurk

For Gig Seekers

  • Low pay for mind-numbing tasks– often just a few cents per task. There is no minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not apply to independent contractors, so you won’t reach the federal minimum wage. To put it another way, there is no requirement for Amazon Mechanical Turk to pay its workers a certain minimum rate.

    Some workers earn cents per hour. So much for extra money. If you want to earn more money, look at other online job platforms or do more one-off jobs in MTurk. Amazon Mechanical Turk work pays terribly, but many tasks are available.
  • Some requesters are very demanding and give unrealistic deadlines. Aside from that, you must complete poorly explained tasks you have to figure out yourself.
  • Long stretches of time without pay. You’ll undoubtedly waste a significant amount of time seeking HITs or attempting to do poorly defined activities or have a technical fault that prohibits you from completing them. Some tasks may also take longer than expected. There will be a lot of unpaid downtime.
  • The learning curve is steep. Understanding how to do even the most fundamental tasks on the MTurk platform was more difficult than on other sites.
  • It’s difficult to secure enough tasks. Workers spend time looking for tasks, which are usually low paying. If you apply to work for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) after 5 p.m. Eastern Time on a Wednesday, you may have to wait even longer than 48 hours for Amazon to approve your application. There is no time constraint when you manually request approval to work on a given HIT. Approval could be granted almost instantly or never, with no communication.

See Related: Best Freelance Websites & Companies in 2023

Is Amazon Mechanical Turk Worth It?

On Amazon Mechanical Turk, your hourly wage is determined by the type of work you do and how long it takes you to finish. There was research done in 2018 that found the average hourly wage for a HIT crowd worker on Amazon Mechanical Turk to be between $1 and $6. According to the survey, high-paying assignments typically cost their requesters $11.58 per hour.

However, due to the sheer volume of crowdsourced work, many low-paying projects are posted on the site. Amazon Mechanical Turk’s HIT assignments may not allow you to earn more than the minimum salary if that is what you are seeking as a crowd worker.

If you need extra money, you should consider working on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Those interested in developing their proficiency with computers, data processing, and analytical reasoning will also benefit.

This service is not meant to replace a stable and reliable income. The going rate for most human intelligence activities is between $1 and $6. Crowd workers on the site are not guaranteed a steady salary because they perform freelancing employment. Popular job search engines often feature several unfavorable comments about the labor market.

What is our verdict on Amazon Mechanical Turk? Is it a scam or legit?

We think Amazon Mechanical Turk is a legitimate site. It’s been around for over 15 years and is owned by one of the biggest companies in the world. However, we don’t think it’s worth your time unless you’re struggling to meet ends. The pay is very low, and some requesters can be demanding. There are other ways to make money online that will be more worth your time in the long run. Thanks for reading!

FAQ

Is Amazon Mechanical Turk a legitimate site?

Yes, Amazon Mechanical Turk is a legitimate site where you can find and post small tasks.

How much would I make from MTurk?

Unfortunately, you won’t make much money from MTurk. A lot of the tasks posted pay only cents. You would make more money answering surveys than doing tasks from this site.

How Much Taxes Will I Have to Pay If I Work for MTurk?

Due to your status as an independent contractor in the United States, you must report any money you make through MTurk to the Internal Revenue Service. If your annual salary is $600 or less, your employer is not required to file a Form 1099 with the IRS.

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