As an occupational therapist, you’ve chosen a career focused on helping people of all ages gain independence and live better lives. Whether you’re working to adapt your patients’ surroundings or figuring out creative ways to help them complete daily tasks, the work you do is meaningful and needed.
Although becoming an occupational therapist (OT) is both intrinsically and monetarily rewarding, it’s also very costly. The average Student Loan Planner client carries roughly $180,000 of OT student debt, with some pushing well over $200,000.
Thanks to this six-figure debt, many occupational therapists are turning to side jobs to boost their income. Here are some top side hustles for occupational therapists to help pay off student debt faster and reach other financial goals.
Best side hustles for occupational therapists
First, let’s start by looking at some additional roles that leverage your existing occupational therapy license.
1. Pick up PRN shifts
Check with local facilities (e.g. schools, skilled nursing facilities, private clinics, home health agencies, etc.) for PRN openings. PRN hourly rates are often much higher than a full-time job rate because the facility doesn’t necessarily have to provide benefits. Keep in mind these assignments are typically on-call or relatively short notice since they’re on an as-needed basis.
You can also ask your employer about any overtime or advancement opportunities that could provide extra money.
2. Join the telehealth movement
With the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals all over the country saw a big jump in the need for telehealth services (occupational therapy included).
Consider providing OT telehealth services as a private practitioner, or find an existing practice with PRN or part-time options.
This telehealth occupational therapy guide might be helpful in terms of learning how the OT world is aligning more with telehealth services.
3. Become an occupational therapy consultant
Given your broad training and passion as an OT, there are a number of routes you can take as an occupational therapy consultant.
Your skillset is already well-suited to address a variety of workplace-safety design challenge issues. For example, a consultant might be needed to recommend removal of physical barriers within office buildings, residential settings (e.g. an apartment complex) and outdoor areas, like neighborhood parks.
4. Provide home safety services
Use your OT job experience to help modify homes for aging individuals and people with new disabilities. You’ll work to ensure their environment is free from potential hazards and recommend injury prevention measures.
Start your own side business or link up with an organization in your area that needs a consultant for this specialty service.
5. Become an OT educator
Remember how challenging OT school was? There’s always room for more OT educators, whether it be as a professor, adjunct instructor or as a tutor.
Reach out to occupational therapy programs and students in your area or online. You can also contact your OT school’s alumni association to network and stay in the loop on available opportunities.
Other side gigs to boost your income
Here’s some additional side hustles for occupational therapists that are tailored to your skillset, but don’t necessarily require an OT credential.
6. Become a freelance writer
If you have a knack for writing, then freelancing is a great way to earn extra income. It allows for a flexible schedule and can quickly become lucrative once you have a portfolio of occupational therapy blogging clips to share.
Considering your extensive healthcare background, medical and health topics will likely come naturally. You can also niche down and provide written expertise related to occupational therapy. For example, you could pitch topics related to stroke recovery or living with memory loss.
There are endless writing gigs, ranging from opportunities with nationally recognized organizations down to small blogs run by a handful of people.
7. Share your knowledge online
Even if you don’t realize it, your OT experience can be turned into a brand by using a blog and social media platforms (e.g. Instagram, YouTube, etc.) to share your knowledge. You can choose to create content that speaks to other OTs that are progressing through different stages of their career. Alternatively, you can churn out content that provides resources to individuals and families in need of OT expertise or services.
For example, pediatric occupational therapist Rachel Coley has created a successful online business, with tons of free and paid (e.g. courses, books, consulting) resources for parents with infants and toddlers.
8. Become a health coach
Your career already revolves around improving the well-being of your patients. So, becoming a health coach is a natural extension of helping others learn better ways to live a full life.
People use in-person or online health coaches for a variety of health issues surrounding nutrition and fitness. But there are many other health avenues to focus on, including addressing concerns like stress reduction or body positivity.
Note that depending on your interests, you might need additional coaching certificates or training.
A side hustle can help you pay off your student loans faster
It seems like everyone has some form of a side hustle these days as it’s quickly becoming the norm to balance multiple streams of income. But what’s your reason for exploring side hustles for occupational therapists?
Are you having trouble paying your rent or other normal bills? Do you want to save for a major milestone, like buying a home? Are you expanding your family in the near future, or simply want to rid yourself of student debt?
Most student loan borrowers are juggling multiple reasons as to why they want or need additional income. OTs are no different.
If you love being an occupational therapist, but also need to bring in some extra cash, there are tons of ways to pay off your student loans faster and work toward other financial goals.
You can also check out the Non-Clinical Networking & Jobs for Rehab Professionals Facebook group to network within your profession and gain leads for OT side gigs.
Our team of student debt experts can guide you to the best repayment strategy for your unique loan situation. Saving on your student debt might even eliminate your need for a side hustle, which means less overall burnout.