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How to Make Extra Money as a Psychologist

Side hustles and freelance work have become a major part of the economy. The nonprofit organization Freelancers Union reported that 56.7 million Americans freelanced last year. With the median psychologist pay of $81,040 being solid but not six figures, it makes sense many psychologists would be looking for other opportunities to earn some extra dough.  

The number of people seeking income opportunities outside of their regular job is on the rise, and psychologists can join in, too. Professionals with psychology degrees can take advantage of plenty of the lucrative side gigs out there today.

If your income isn’t at the level you’d like, consider finding ways to make extra money and when it’s a good idea for psychologists.

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When side jobs make sense for a psychologist

For professionals with a bachelor’s degree, master’s or doctorate in psychology, your best bet for earning more income is usually professional work within your field. In many cases, you can take extra shifts with your current employer to earn additional income.

For instance, if you’re a therapist with a local mental health agency, it can be more efficient to stick with a familiar work environment and add an extra few hours a week.

There might be potential to make extra money as a psychologist at a different clinic or medical office. As long as it doesn’t conflict with your full-time employment, you can command a healthy hourly wage with this strategy.

Many side hustles don’t bring in a great deal of money, especially those that take a lot of time to build up profit or client rosters. It can be draining to spend a lot of time developing a new side gig and doesn’t always reap solid financial rewards.

Clarify why you want a side gig

Before deciding on the best side job for you as a psychologist or therapist, it’s vital to examine your motives for having one.

Do you have a serious financial need to meet, like psychology student loans? If so, then focus your efforts on the best-paying side gigs.

Are you in search of a creative outlet or a way to explore an interest beyond your nine-to-five job? If that’s the case, you might have more freedom to play with side hustles that activate your  curiosity, but don’t earn much money.

Once you know your “why,” you’re better equipped to determine the best side job for you.

Best side jobs jor therapists to boost income or pursue passions

For a therapist or psychologist, your highest earnings will likely come from work that uses your degree and expertise. Employers will pay for what you can bring to the table.

Looking toward online side hustles can be great options as well due to their flexibility in scheduling. You might be able to make extra money as a psychologist without having to leave your home. Here are some of the best ways psychologists can earn more money to advance toward their financial goals.

You can teach as an adjunct professor at a local college or university graduate school. This offers some flexibility to teach whatever course load fits your schedule, without the rigid expectations often placed on tenured faculty members.

Teaching can be a wonderful way to explore your subject-matter expertise from new angles. Working with younger students can offer the opportunity to share lessons you’ve learned in your career and even renew your enthusiasm for the specific field you’ve chosen.

2. Telehealth/telemedicine

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the demand for greater flexibility in terms of health care services, resulting in a surge in therapy and counseling available by phone or online. Studies show that clinical interventions done virtually have similar outcomes for patients when compared to in-person interventions.

If you’re curious about how to make money online as a therapist, a great side job is offering part-time counseling through a platform like BetterHelp or TalkSpace. Since the physical workplace is no longer considered a necessity to all professions, online and telehealth services are great alternatives.

You’ll want to research the requirements and practices of any telehealth service you choose to work for to find one that fits your schedule.

3. Professional writing

Professional journals and magazines in your field of psychology might be a place for you to exercise your research and writing muscles. Plus, you can earn more money as a psychologist by publishing respectable articles in journals, trade publications, and other publications.

Freelance writing is a flexible side hustle, enabling therapists to perform each step in the writing process according to their own schedule. This usually doesn’t require a long-term commitment either — take on the assignments that are feasible based on your other work tasks. Start by writing blog posts in your area of expertise and move from there.

A bonus: writing lends credibility to your professional profile. Being published in a respected magazine or peer-reviewed journal lets you showcase your expertise publicly, which can be useful for future job prospects.

Psychology Today is a relevant publication that accepts freelance pitches and articles.

4. Develop and run retreats and workshops

A family friend turned her therapy expertise into a lucrative income stream by running therapy sessions during long weekend retreats. Think about your psychology niche; for example, if you typically offer couples therapy, perhaps you can run marriage therapy workshops. Or if you have expertise with mental health for youth, you could develop a wilderness therapy experience on a challenging hiking trail.

You’ll need to check up on any legal requirements such as where you can or can’t practice certain types of therapy, but there are definitely options to create unique experiences that would benefit corporate teams, families or other groups.

If you’re not interested in the business side of organizing and implementing events, you could offer yourself as a speaker for organizations that already put on these events.

5. Public speaking

As mentioned above, public speaking can be a lucrative side job for therapists. As large group events and conferences come back into the norm, great psychology-related speaking opportunities will appear.

If you don’t have public speaking experience but it intrigues you, seek out places to begin practicing speaking for free. You might go to local schools or a Chamber of Commerce meeting to speak about insights you’ve learned through your career. Toastmasters also has plenty of local chapters where you can hone your speaking abilities in a supportive environment.

6. Be a consultant or coach

This is an extremely broad area of side jobs, but with your psychology degree, you have a plethora of useful skills to offer. You can earn extra money by building a side hustle as a consultant or coach.

Just imagine the wide range of areas this could bring in extra income for you:

  • Career coaching
  • Consulting for prospective college or graduate students
  • Life coaching
  • Financial coaching
  • Substance abuse therapy group
  • Fitness or health coaching

Brainstorm which subjects you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, and you can design a second job as a coach. Depending on your niche of service, getting credentials from the International Coaching Federation may be helpful or necessary.

7. Be an expert witness

Someone with licensing credentials in psychology-related fields may be called upon to serve as expert witnesses in legal cases. You might be able to earn extra money by analyzing information about people involved in these court cases related to their psychological condition.

Attorneys will likely have specific requirements as far as the degree or licensure you hold as a witness.

8. Be a mobile notary

Here’s a side hustle that’s totally unrelated to your training in psychology: you could become a mobile notary. You’d charge a fee to notarize legal documents in the area where you live.

You can be either a mobile Notary or Notary Signing Agent. The key difference is that Notary Signing Agents can sign mortgage documents. Check what the requirements are for a notary in your state, as that can impact the types of documents you’ll be called on to notarize.

9. Invest in rental property

General advice for those who are considering buying a rental property is that it’s a lot more work than you might think. If you’re interested in real estate and are able to make a sizable down payment on a property, you could become a landlord.

You’ll need to learn about the legalities of renting property, scope out the best area for investment, be able to find reliable tenants, and possibly learn some DIY to keep the place in shape.

10. Start a small business

Again, this is a wide-open category because there’s almost no limit to the types of small businesses. Be discerning about it, because some small businesses will take up more time than they’re worth. It depends on how much time and energy you’re willing to devote to making extra money as a psychologist.

Your small business doesn’t need to be affiliated with your degree work. You might consider any number of businesses you can operate on your own, at any level you choose. Here are a few ideas to get your mind going:

  • Landscaping
  • DJ or perform music at special events
  • Rent part of your home through Airbnb
  • Photography
  • Event planning
  • Sell your artwork
  • Bookkeeping
  • House-flipping

How side jobs can benefit psychologists

You may be looking to earn extra cash to help you pay off your student loans faster. Additional income streams will help accomplish that. Or perhaps you crave a creative outlet or hobby to relieve stress during your hours away from the office. There are plenty of side jobs for counselors and psychologists to explore these options.

When you decide on how you’d like to earn extra money as a psychologist, be honest with yourself about your motives and your needs. If you’d be better off simply taking on more hours to add overtime pay to your base psychologist salary, that’s great. On the other hand, plenty of other side jobs can bring fun and variety along with a little extra income.