Have you ever thought about supplementing your primary income with some extra earnings on the side, but not quite sure how to earn extra money as an occupational therapist.
That’s the subject of todays post, giving you some fantastic options for making some extra cash.
As an occupational therapist, you likely chose this career path not only to help improve patients’ wellbeing and independence, but also to have a stable and rewarding job.
However, have you ever thought about supplementing your primary income with some extra earnings on the side?
Pursuing secondary income streams can be highly beneficial for occupational therapists seeking additional revenue, flexibility, and opportunities to leverage your expertise.
Diversifying beyond a full-time job or standard OT practice allows you to tap into new sources of income when you want and on your own terms.
You can put your specialized skill set to use in other settings, reach new types of clients, create products, and explore passions outside of a rigid workplace structure.
Having multiple income streams also provides more stability, as you have backup funds if one revenue source is reduced.
The great news is, as an occupational therapist, you already have highly valuable qualifications and niche expertise.
There is ample opportunity to apply your knowledge through private practice, teaching specialized skills, creating educational products, offering your services virtually, and essentially monetizing the unique OT abilities you have worked hard to develop.
This guide will explore great ideas for generating extra earnings through online and in-person side hustles, passive income production, and creative applications of your occupational therapy background.
With some initiative and effort, supplementing your income can greatly bolster your career satisfaction and financial situation.
1. Leveraging Your Occupational Therapy Skills
As an occupational therapist, you have highly specialized skills that are applicable and valuable across a number of settings.
While many OTs work in hospitals, clinics, schools and nursing homes, there is huge potential to make the most of your expertise outside of those traditional occupational therapy roles as well.
Making use of your skills in new environments can not only benefit more people, but also generate rewarding extra income for you. Some ways you can apply your OT abilities beyond an standard job include:
Offering private consulting services enables companies, organizations, educators, caregivers and other groups to tap into your expertise on an as-needed basis.
As a consultant, you can provide customized assessments and recommendations tailored to that client’s particular needs.
This may involve one-on-one coaching for individuals, developing programs and protocols for companies, or conducting trainings and lectures for schools.
For example, you might consult with assisted living facilities on fall prevention strategies, work with schools on establishing sensory rooms, or show caregivers techniques for cognitive and physical home exercises.
Consulting provides the flexibility to offer your services to diverse audiences while earning fees.
Workshops & Training Seminars
In addition to private consulting, consider developing professional workshops and in-depth training programs on occupational therapy topics to offer group education.
These can range from single-session lunch-and-learns to multi-week intensive seminars.
As an expert, you can develop branded workshops on specialty issues like driving assessments, accessibility recommendations, paediatric feeding approaches and more.
Training corporate wellness staff, educators, healthcare workers and other audiences is an impactful way to multiply your reach and income.
Identifying and developing deep expertise in niche OT specialties allows you to stand out as an authority in that area and offer unique services.
For instance, you may focus intensively on seating/wheelchair positioning, sensory integration techniques, managing MS symptoms, or hand therapy interventions.
Becoming known as one of few leading experts in a given occupational therapy subdomain can greatly expand your opportunities to utilize that specialty skillset through side gigs like specialized private practice, speaking engagements, product launches and writing books or articles.
The key is determining what unique spin you can put on your OT skills to provide value to audiences that traditional occupational therapy may not reach. Get creative in how and where you deliver your expertise!
2. Freelancing and Contract Work
Freelancing involves working independently on a project-by-project basis for various clients, as opposed to being consistently employed by one company.
This allows for a dynamic variety of work, with the freedom of operating as your own boss.
Some examples of freelance work occupational therapists can pursue include:
- Teletherapy sessions
- Individual client assessments
- IEP collaboration
- Article, blog, video writing
- Product designer/reviewer
- Conference presentation or workshop instructor
- Expert witness consultation
- Accessibility evaluator
Freelance opportunities arise through word-of-mouth referrals, directly contacting companies/clients, or leveraging online platforms connecting service providers to those requesting their expertise.
Here are some top websites OTs can access to find freelance and contract-based jobs or clients:
- AOTA career center
The main pros of freelance work include:
- Freedom to set your schedule
- Ability to work from anywhere
- Experience variety vs one long-term role
- Expand professional connections
- Supplemental income
Cons can involve:
- Unpredictable workflow and pay
- Constantly networking and applying for new projects
- Lack of employee benefits
- Need to motivate yourself without structure
- Managing finances across irregular income streams
Overall though, if you are comfortable operating independently, freelancing allows occupational therapists a flexible way to monetize expertise when and how they choose to take on projects.
3.Teletherapy and Online Services
The utilization of teletherapy and virtual care has rapidly expanded in recent years across healthcare.
Offering online occupational therapy services can make OT accessible for more people, while earning you supplemental income through an easily scalable digital practice.
As video conferencing technology improves and telehealth regulations loosen, establishing an online OT practice continues gaining traction.
Video sessions allow greater flexibility for assessing patients’ homes/environments and fosters better collaboration with caregivers.
Some types of teletherapy services occupational therapists can provide include:
- Cognitive and physical activity training
- Pain management strategies
- Home modification suggestions
- Assistive equipment recommendations
- Motor skill development
- ADL training for caregivers
- Visual perceptual testing
- Client education on health conditions
To begin offering teletherapy, first ensure licensure within the states you’ll practice. Invest in HIPAA-compliant platform for video calls, documentation and scheduling.
Build a website highlighting your tele-occupational therapy services, areas of focus, fees and insurance policies.
Market across social media and utilize directories like AOTA’s “Find an OT” to drive referrals. Start slow by offering discounted intro sessions to get comfortable providing online therapy.
Benefits of online OT services include:
- Flexible schedule without location restraints
- Lower overhead costs than leasing a clinic
- Ability to reach rural/underserved populations
- Specialize in niche focus areas
- Leverage pre-recorded educational content
Potential challenges involve:
- Lagging video connectivity issues
- Fewer sensory cues without in-person interaction
- Coordinating equipment/supplies delivery
- Stiff competition among online providers
- Reduced reimbursement rates compared to physical clinics
Getting creative in how you deliver occupational therapy through virtual methods can greatly expand client access. Mastering telehealth technology enables you to supplement income with more flexibility.
4. Creating and Selling Products
Beyond offering direct OT services, consider creating therapy tools, educational resources, courses or other products to sell for additional revenue streams.
As an expert in improving functionality and skills for daily living, you can develop relevant solutions to common challenges faced by your clients.
Some occupational therapist product ideas include:
Design, manufacture and sell specialized therapeutic devices that aid in dexterity, coordination, strength-building and other areas.
For example, create adapted cutlery, weighted lap pads, finger exercisers or even video games targeting specific rehab areas.
Digital Information Products
Develop online courses teaching specialized interventions, Caregiver guides with home program instructions, video exercise libraries, webinars explaining medical conditions from an OT perspective, and more valuable info products
Sell handmade items such as sensory tools and tactile toys for kids, adapted journals or water bottles for arthritic hands, or helpful living aids like dressing sticks.
When generating productized services and physical/digital goods to sell, focus on solving a specific problem or need faced by your niche occupational therapy audience. Ensure you have any certifications or qualifications as needed legally.
To market OT products effectively:
- Highlight unique value propositions
- Share how the problem sparked idea
- Utilize professional affiliations and conferences
- Compare merits over alternatives
- Offer promos like free demos or giveaways
The appeal of info-products is they can passively earn income long after creation. Physical products require more ongoing effort but enjoy higher perceived value.
Getting creative in packaging your expertise into sellable solutions offers great supplemental earnings potential.
5. Continuing Education and Specializations
As an occupational therapist, actively seeking continued learning opportunities and advanced certifications can greatly boost your income potential and allow you to offer more specialized, highly-valued services.
Remaining on the cutting edge of emerging techniques, assistive technologies, diagnoses advancements and niche therapy approaches makes you more marketable for elite jobs and positions you establishing as an expert in those areas.
Some examples of occupational therapy continuing education to consider include:
- Assistive technology professional certification
- Autism spectrum disorder interventions
- New mobility aid product trainings
- Low vision rehabilitation
- Custom manual and power wheelchair configuration
- Adaptive sports programs
- Hand therapy certification
Pursuing these specialized credentials and mastering prized skillsets allows you to command higher rates as one of few OTs offering those services. You can provide rare insider perspective into complex niche areas.
Some resources for finding OT continuing education include:
- AOTA specialized trainings
- University certificate programs
- Conferences like AOTA Annual Conference & Expo
- Manufacturers’ product demo events
- Online learning platforms
- Journal article authors
- Rehab facility in-service trainings
Investing in continually expanding your occupational therapy knowledge makes you more competitive in standard roles or qualified for elite specialized opportunities. This leads to higher income potential overall.
6. Side Hustles and Passive Income Streams
In addition to monetizing your occupational therapy expertise directly through clinical work, consider more passive side hustles allowing you to earn while managing the business largely on your own schedule. These include:
Create written or audio content educating patients, caregivers and other OTs on relevant health conditions, accessibility topics, home programs, emerging research and more niche themes related to your expertise. Generate affiliate commissions, advertising, digital products and donations.
Develop online learning coursework teaching specialized skills around assessments, interventions, assistive technology implementation, environmental modification analysis and topics valuable for OT continuing education needs.
Sell access to personalized video lessons, downloadable materials, certification exam prep and other info products.
Writing and distributing print books and eBooks allows you to share deep knowledge while earning royalties on sales. Self-publishing through Amazon, Kindle and blogging platforms keeps your revenue share highest.
The appeal of websites, online courses, eBooks and podcasts is they can earn income passively over time with less hands-on effort after initially creating the assets. These establish avenues for consumers to discover your expertise 24/7.
To balance multiple income streams while maintaining work-life comfort, structure consistent blocks for each. Limit total average weekly work hours across all passive and active monetization channels.
Resist overextending yourself spread thin. Automate components of each business where possible, and determine ideal client numbers given bandwidth.
Say no or refer out additional demand exceeding healthy thresholds. Create standard pricing packages/policies for your suite of OT offerings to simplify quoting and billing across the board. Streamline as able!
7. Networking and Collaboration
Building strong professional connections and relationships with other occupational therapists, healthcare practitioners, educators, product developers and various experts in spaces connected to OT can lead to insightful consultations, referrals, new opportunities and potential future income streams.
Consistently networking within the OT community allows you to stay atop of emerging trends, techniques, understand diverse perspectives and specialties, and feel part of a collaborative discipline.
This inspires innovation and can catalyse productive new projects.
Some networking tips include:
Conferences & Events
Attend annual conferences like AOTA Conference & Expo to connect in-person with thousands of OT colleagues nationwide simultaneously.
Introduce yourself to presenters and vendors relevant to your specialty interests. Exchange contact info, take informal coffee meetings and maintain dialogues.
Also seek out local workshops, continuing education events, university guest lectures and other accessible gatherings offering networking.
Engage actively within occupational therapy groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit and forums to connect with OT pros digitally 24/7. Share insights and build camaraderie. You can always move conversations offline to formalize opportunities.
Reach out to established therapists, clinicians, academic faculty focusing on your niches and ask for brief informational interviews to hear their career journeys. This builds relationships where you can support each other.
Cross-collaborating with OTs pursuing various specialties as well as professionals in complementary fields designing adaptive devices, developing therapies, informing assistive technology, helping special needs students and patients, etc. can spark mutual inspiration and fulfilling projects advancing your shared advocacy.
8. Financial Planning and Management
As an occupational therapist managing supplemental income channels, intelligently planning for your financial growth and security is crucial.
With multiple unpredictable revenue streams, effectively budgeting, saving and investing ensures you maximize control and returns.
- Track all business and personal income/expenses in a spreadsheet or app to analyse incoming/outgoing cashflow trends. This helps predict future patterns or issues needing adjustment.
- Structure a consistent monthly budget allocating portions of earnings to essentials, discretionary, savings goals, investments, taxes, professional development, and operating costs across endeavours. Automate transfers.
- Build emergency funds covering 6+ months of fixed expenses as a safety net, allowing you to withstand potential dips in variable side income streams.
- Contribute maximums to tax-advantaged retirement investment vehicles like 401ks, IRAs and HSAs for compound growth.
- Research and invest surplus income into low-fee, diversified, hands-off stock/bond index funds proven to steadily build wealth long-term.
- Consider real estate investments like rental properties or REITs for passive cashflow.
- Define short and long-term money milestones around lifestyle aims, asset targets, professional objectives, retirement planning and legacy intentions.
- Routinely review financial statements vs. goals, assessing progress and realigning activities or budgets as necessary to reach targets. Adjust goals when appropriate.
Carefully orchestrating finances across a growing self-employed practice while navigating side incomes demands diligence and awareness around cashflow trends.
But the payoff for supplementing your OT career with smart secondary income channels can be life-changing.
As you can see, occupational therapists have immense potential to supplement their income through creative avenues leveraging their unique expertise.
From contracted clinical work, to developing educational products, to passive revenue streams like blogging, myriad opportunities exist to earn extra as an OT.
Additional income not only provides a financial upside through fuelling savings goals and secure retirement.
It also enables greater flexibility to control your schedule, expand skillsets, reach more people needing OT support, and find personal fulfilment driving initiatives you feel passionate about.
Hopefully this guide has sparked thoughts on how you might leverage specialized abilities honed through your OT training and experience to help clients in new ways while earning supplemental money.
Whether semi-passively monetizing your advice via digital channels, actively providing specialized clinical services, creating assistive products, instructing workshops or consulting 1-on-1, loads of options exist.
As healthcare delivery and educational methods evolve, so do occupational therapy offerings. Consider focusing continuing education around emerging diagnoses, niche interventions or cutting-edge assistive technology to offer exclusive services in high demand.
Pair this with iterating creative ideas for packaging your expertise into sellable assets benefiting untapped markets.
By diversifying income streams beyond a single full-time job, you reduce reliance on one employer and one type of work. This mitigates burnout risk while amplifying impact and enjoyment through variety.
The smartest initial step is outlining personal and professional goals, then brainstorming potentially fulfilling income channels. Start testing ideas incrementally to validate demand before diving in deep.
Carefully track finances across pilots to ensure profitability and manage tax/legal considerations. Make use of networks for collaborators and listeners.
If current full-time work leaves you craving greater flexibility, impact and income, explore supplementary earnings that speak to your unique passions within occupational therapy circles.
Not only can this do well for your wallet, but also your wellbeing and career vision. The opportunities await!
References and Resources
- AOTA website – The American Occupational Therapy Association offers extensive resources, job boards, education opportunities and community forums.
- Upwork – Freelance job platform connecting skilled professionals to clients hiring remote workers. Many occupational therapy side lines available.
- FlexJobs – Leading site for vetted legitimate flexible and telecommuting job listings, including OT gigs.
- Etsy – Popular handmade/vintage product marketplace where occupational therapists can sell crafted assistive devices, therapeutic tools, adaptations and more.
- Occupational Therapy and Vocational Rehabilitation – Details integrating OT in returning injured workers to jobs through rehab and skills retraining.
- Occupational Therapy in Mental Health: A Vision for Participation – Presents models and assessments for OTs treating mental health issues through activity analysis.
- Stroke Rehabilitation – A Function-Based Approach – Research and clinical techniques for OTs working in stroke recovery roles.
- Mint – Leading free budgeting, expense tracking, financial dashboard and money management app
- Personal Capital – Sophisticated net worth calculator and wealth management platform for optimizing personal finances
- Investopedia – Premier educational site for learning about investing, markets, accounting and financial concepts
The possibilities are wide open for occupational therapists to leverage niche expertise through specialized side gigs and passion projects supplementing income. Hopefully these resources offer a jumping off point for further exploring exciting ways to prosper personally and professionally!