Employment authorization to allow international students to be paid for work in the US is restricted by law. In general there are two overall categories of employment for during student status: on-campus and off-campus.
Enrolled F1 and J1 students may be paid for work on the campus of their educational institutions. You may work at any type of job on campus (does not have to be in your field of study). While classes are in session during the fall or spring semesters or if you are registered during the summer, you may work ONLY 20 hours per week. During your vacation periods you may work full time (any amount over 20 per week), for instance in summer if you are NOT registered, or 2-3 weeks at the end of the summer if you are registered during the summer, or during winter break.
After having been in F1 status for at one full academic year (or J1 student status after a semester), you are eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization in your field of study only. This could be full-time during the summer and the winter semester break, or part-time (limited to 20 hours of total employment per week, including any on-campus positions) during the academic year. There are two types of off campus work authorization for F1 students called "practical training" and one type for J1 students:
After graduation, there are a variety of visa statuses students will change to in order to continue a career in the US. Our Visas After Graduation section explores these options.
You may want to attend a variety of immigration workshops we hold every semester on the topics of work authorization and staying in the US long term.
When you are working in the US, you will need to obtain a US social security number. Read more about SSNs and how to get one here.