After years of toiling in undergraduate and dental school, you’ve arrived in your chosen profession of dentistry. Chances are, you’re earning somewhere in the ballpark of $164,010 annually, which is the median salary listed for dentists in 2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If you’re early in your career, perhaps employed as an associate dentist, your income’s likely not at the level you’d prefer. And even seasoned dental professionals might be saddled with massive student loan debt to pay off.
Fortunately, dentists are in demand as health care professionals, and the dental career outlook is positive, with a projected 3% growth from 2019 to 2029. Still earning more money can ease your financial burdens, whether from student loans or goals of building wealth for your future. If you’re for more income to provide breathing room each month or accelerate your debt payoff, you’ll find plenty of great side hustle ideas here.
Focus on why you want a side hustle
Since you’re examining ways to earn more money on the side of your full-time dental career, consider why you want to do so. Your reasons for finding a dentist side hustle might be purely financial, but it’s possible you’re also eager to explore a different interest in your spare time.
Before you settle on a side job or way to make money online as a dentist, decide what your main purpose is. If you need to hit a specific target of extra income every month, hone your side job search around that. Your motivation could be about finding a creative outlet or doing something completely different than in your nine-to-five.
Thinking through your motivations and goals for a dentist side hustle helps you narrow down your options. First, let’s explore several dentist side hustles that are distinctly suitable for those with dental expertise.
How to make more money as a dentist: Industry-specific opportunities
1. Take extra shifts
Sometimes people get excited about starting a side hustle but don’t think through this fairly simple choice: taking extra shifts at your regular job. Although this might not be possible with every employer, if your dental office allows dentists to request overtime or extra shifts, that’s an effective way to make more money.
2. Moonlight with another dental practice
Your primary employer might not offer overtime, but they also might not object to you serving in other dental offices in your area. You could ease the burden on a fellow professional by offering to open up appointments on weekends, when the primary dentist prefers not to work. Or simply take on shifts to cover the office when it’s short on staff.
It’s not uncommon for dental professionals to use moonlighting as a way to pay their bills during the lean residency years. Why use this option to fill up a few more hours of your week? You also could be thrilled at a change of location or colleagues on a part-time basis.
3. Increase your talent stack with a dental specialty
A fantastic way to earn more money is to gain additional credentials in a dental specialty. The American Dental Association identifies a wide range of specialties, approved and adopted by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
- Dental anesthesiology
- Dental public health
- Oral and maxillofacial pathology
- Oral and maxillofacial radiology
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
- Oral medicine
- Orofacial pain
- Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
- Pediatric dentistry
Getting certified in one or more specialties could serve as a positive mark on your resume, and provide additional income opportunities. Plus, if you have a particular passion for a specialty, it could bring more meaning to your career.
4. Go virtual with teledentistry work
As more of our everyday activities move into an online setting, including telemedicine, even dentists are learning how to perform virtual assessments of patients’ oral health. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that although dentistry has traditionally been a hands-on, in-person field, technological advances make it possible for dentists to deliver adequate care and consultation via virtual methods.
5. Take a locum tenens position
“Locum tenens” means someone fulfills a temporary role. It’s often used in reference to physicians and clergy. Although this doesn’t exactly qualify as a side gig for dentists, locum tenens positions are an option for those with location flexibility and who want to serve in an area lacking in dental care services.
Many medical specialties, including dentistry, might be assigned to underserved areas where a locum tenens professional works for a period of time. This would make you a full-time employee, rather than it being a side hustle, but it could be an interesting alternative to working in a conventional practice.
LocumTenens.com is one online job board for such positions.
6. Test prep for dental school admission
Although there are various resources available to pre-dental students preparing for the Dental Admission Test (DAT), perhaps a side gig for you in your spare time could be offering test-prep services.
You might hold individual or small-group tutoring sessions or create a mini-course that guides students on how to study for the exam.
Other side hustles to make more money as a dentist
The following income opportunities don’t necessarily require dental knowledge or training. They’re legitimate ways to earn a little or a lot of money. Remember most of these won’t produce nearly the same hourly wage you can make in your dental practice, but can be beneficial just the same.
7. Teaching online
You’ve probably heard of a plethora of online companies that offer classes and tutoring. With a great internet connection and an interest in kids and teaching, you can join them and make online teaching a lucrative side hustle.
Teaching online is a great side business for just about anyone because it’s flexible (you can work from anywhere at any time) and the possible subjects to teach are endless. Quite a few companies provide online tutoring in English, and they often prefer hiring Americans.
VIPKid and QKids are popular firms where you could choose to work. Tutors earn about $14 to $22 per hour with VIPKid, depending on factors like how many lessons you teach per week. QKids says their base rate is $8 per half-hour lesson.
If teaching English as a second language doesn’t quite strike your fancy, you might try Udemy, Outschool or another platform that enables you to teach any subject you want. There, you can monetize even the most obscure knowledge or skills, from world languages to coding to Minecraft.
8. Start a blog
If you’re super invested in a particular topic (it doesn’t have to be dental hygiene), you can start a blog to potentially earn some extra cash as a dentist. Blogging is competitive, with hundreds of millions of blogs on the web today.
If you’re willing to put in significant effort to create top-notch content and build an online presence, it’s possible to make money online through a blog. Affiliate marketing and sales of original products are two of the primary money-making strategies of bloggers. Beware, though: it often takes years of toiling before you can begin earning somewhat passive income.
9. Be a delivery driver
Perhaps you enjoy driving and service-oriented work. You can earn extra money outside of your day job as a Lyft or Uber driver, or delivering food items through Instacart or Uber Eats. A side perk of this type of work: you can listen to educational podcasts or books while you drive, growing your knowledge.
10. Freelance photography
Are you skilled with a camera? Do you enjoy interacting with people? Then you might use some of your spare time to conduct freelance sessions as a photographer. Fees range widely, but according to Indeed.com, freelance photographers earn an average of $37.29 per hour.
If you’re into major events like weddings and don’t mind sacrificing the weekends, wedding photography can be a lucrative part-time job for dentists. There are also chances to earn extra cash with your photography hobby by doing newborn or family photo sessions, helping people preserve one-time memories forever.
11. Build an online course
As an online business opportunity, creating a course is another way to go. This could certainly be combined with a blog in the same niche, so that the blog drives customers to the course, and vice versa. For a second job, an online course is a fairly good example of passive income strategy.
With an online course, you do the work of developing the content, formatting, recording any audio or video, marketing, and other tasks at the start. Then, once it’s live and available for purchase, you can largely relax and earn side income without much effort.
12. Write an e-book
For someone with an interest in writing, an engaging topic or theme, and a drive to work hard, writing an e-book is a way for dentists to earn extra money. This might be a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish or just one of many ways you choose to make money beyond your full-time job.
With Amazon or other marketplaces, publishing an e-book is accessible to nearly anyone. However, making money as an e-book author is no walk in the park. It requires dedication to quality work as well as a ton of effort to market and sell your book.
13. Sell products on Etsy or eBay
To explore your creative side, making original products to sell on Etsy can become a great dentist side hustle. Bonus points if you create a product in digital form, like a printable pdf, so you only create the product once and then can earn money passively from it indefinitely (plus pay no shipping costs).
Or perhaps you enjoy the thrill of hunting through flea markets and garage sales. Some people earn extra cash flipping items on eBay. This is probably best suited to you if you already enjoy searching for and refurbishing items. It can be quite profitable with the right combination of hard work and luck!
14. Freelance in a variety of industries
Freelancing has grown by leaps and bounds. A study by Edelman Intelligence and Upwork found that 59 million Americans freelanced in 2020, representing 36% of the total United States workforce.
Freelance opportunities exist in a variety of skills including:
- House-sitting or pet-sitting
- Graphic design
- Web development
- Social media management
- Notary services
Fiverr and Upwork are a couple of platforms where you can get started as a freelancer.
15. Rent a room on Airbnb
Perhaps you don’t feel like becoming a year-round landlord, but if there’s an unoccupied space in your home, consider becoming an Airbnb host. This allows you to share a portion of your home or another property with guests and earn rental income.
Start making more money as a dentist
Are you planning to retire early or reach financial independence? If so, a side hustle could be a way of speeding up your journey. Or if your primary goal is to finish paying off dental school debt, you can funnel any extra income you earn towards that balance.
Side hustles for dentists abound, but it’s up to you to discover the best one for you and your circumstances. Remember that your solution could be as simple as taking extra shifts at work, instead of starting up something totally new.