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Human Guinea Pigs Get Paid


Yes, it's true. Professional human guinea pigs get paid for participating in medical experiments. The idea might remind you of the scene from the movie Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, in which the father explains to his fifty children that he can't afford to feed them any longer. "It's medical experiments for the lot of you," he announces, and all the children are sad (as they sing the infamous "sperm" song).

In real life it isn't so bad according to those who have done this for a living or for extra income. In some cases you simply take a drug for a while, have a few blood tests done, and get paid. That certainly sounds easy enough. Other test procedures and studies are more intrusive, but they usually pay better.

Researchers doing medical, health and psychological studies require a steady supply of new participants for testing various things. Trials and experiments can be for testing of new drugs, new medical devices, or even new psychological therapies. There is also general research into various diets, exercise routines or other things related to health or medicine. Volunteers -- the human guinea pigs -- who participate in the various trials, tests and experiments, generally get paid, and sometimes more than just a token amount.

Here's a video on volunteering for medical trials:

For example, in researching the topic for this page, I came across a study that was done on the benefits of a diet based on what ancient hunter-gatherers ate. The volunteers used for this study were paid $200 and given all the food they were supposed to eat for three weeks. Daily blood testing was one of the requirements, and nothing else could be eaten during this time, but the subjects were otherwise free to live their lives normally.

Now, that is an example of a relatively low-paying job for research participants (which is a nicer title than guinea pigs). Of course, in addition to the $200, the participants did save the money they would have otherwise spent on food for those three weeks. Every study, trial or test has its own budget and pay-scale. Sometimes it will hardly seem worth your while. On the other hand, there are some people that make a living at this.

In another study subjects were paid $9,000 each for participating in three weeks of asthma research. This was much more intrusive. In fact, it required having a tube down their throats for much of the time. You probably couldn't do this one if you had a regular job. But $3,000 per week is decent pay if you have nothing else going on. The requirements of different tests will obviously vary, and the pay varies greatly as well.

The website http://www.gpgp.net (guinea pigs get paid) has information on drug trials and other studies that you can get paid to participate in. Checking for opportunities in Florida (where I currently live), as of early 2014 they listed a dozen places which were looking for volunteers for clinical trial of different sorts. There were also four or five universities listed under the category "Non Invasive Research," and a consumer products testing company that needs people to try shampoos, skin creams, and such. Several places were listed under "Cognitive Studies," including one that pays participants $20 per hour (most do not specify the payment amount until you talk to them).

What are some other ways you can you find these kinds of opportunities? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Try calling major research facilities and simply asking if they need volunteers for any upcoming studies.

2. Search online for the various types of research you might be interested in being a part of ("dietary research volunteers," or "cancer drug trials"). You can start by looking for any studies that are relevant to conditions you already have. If you have diabetes, for example, you might even find a better way to treat it while you get paid.

3. Find a group of people that participates in these trials and experiments regularly if you want to do this more than once. Hanging out with the other human guinea pigs, at least in an online forum, is a great way to hear about new opportunities. You might hear the occasional horror story as well, but hey, you need to stay informed if you want to do this regularly.

Note: I also have a true account of the experiences of a test subject in Amsterdam on the website EveryWayToMakeMoney.com, and another page there about one person's experiences participating in paid studies.

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