Side Hustles and Making Money While in Occupational Therapy School

Just because you are studying to become an occupational therapist does not mean you have to be broke. We wrote a popular post of some ideas for side-hustles in 2021. This is an even broader and extensive list.

Traditional Jobs

In fact, many students are able to work part-time with “traditional jobs”. These traditional jobs may require applying, interview, job training, showing up to a physical location such as an office, and collecting a check from the employer. These include:

  • Therapy aides, assistants for healthcare jobs and clinics
  • ABA
  • Tutoring (academic, English, music, art, special needs)
  • Hospitality and Waitressing – Coffeeshops, Fast food restaurants
  • Dogwalking and Petcare through people you know and networking
  • EMT/Paramedic
  • Helping with family businesses
  • Retail – Target, etc. etc. etc.
  • Paid researcher (public studies, professors; consider COVID-19 and vaccines)

Gig Economy Jobs

More recently, with the popular of Apps, “Gig” economy jobs have been more popular and made it much easier to connect you (the worker) to clients through Apps:

  • Accomodation – AirBnB, Couchsurfing
  • Babysitting –, Urbansitter
  • Carshare, Carpool, Transportation – Getaround, Chariot, Bird, Hopskipdrive, Luxe
  • Delivery – Amazon Flex, Shipt, Cargomatic
  • Dog Walking – Rover, Wag
  • Taxi Service – Uber, Lyft
  • Food Delivery – Doordash, Grubhub, Uber eats, Postmates
  • Grocery Delivery – Instacart
  • Cleaning – Helpling
  • Home Services – Handy, Homeadvisor, Taskrabbit
  • Movers – Dolly, Phlatbed, Lugg
  • General Tasks – Amazon mTurk
  • Music Performance and Production (streaming/royalty revenue, online sales, merchandise sales) – YouTube, Soundcloud, Distrokid, Tunecore
  • Technical and Creative – Upwork, Fiverr, Crowdspring
    • This is a big one because you can do so much based on your skill: graphic design, web design, photography, videography, writing, editing, consulting – many opportunities here!
  • Teaching English online to international students – VIPkid
  • Self-employed Retail – Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, Amazon
  • Merchandise and Dropshipping – Redbubble, Printful, Society6

So as you can see – the gig economy has grown tremendously and has expanded to many markets. These “gig” jobs are much easier to get started with than traditional jobs. You just need a phone, time, some skill (usually low-level), maybe a car and you can get started. Some may involve background checks such as childcare, babysitting, shuttling kids around, but some may not. The downside is of course you are a freelance worker and will not get the traditional W-2, therefore no benefits. You may be able to claim some deductions and mileage on your taxes. This may give you some idea of what you can do.

Some are really random and are not related to healthcare at all for occupational therapy, but if you need to “side-hustle”, this will earn you some cash while you are in school. If you can afford to be pickier, try to get jobs that involve working with say, children with special needs, in clinics such as a pediatric OT setting, and even volunteering while you work a few days. Volunteering maybe 1-2x a week will allow you to put this on your resume while in school (such as in a hospital), if you are looking to work in such a setting as a new grad. You won’t need to include your random Gig jobs like Uber on your OT resume because they are not related.

Entrepreneur and Miscellaneous

These suggestions do not fit in the prior two categories and maybe an option as well, especially if you are looking into being self-employed, starting a small business, or being an entrepreneur with some cool idea.

  • Influencer via Social Media (free to start) – affiliate marketing, sponsorships, ads, consulting, selling a service
  • Blogging, Writing, Copyrighting – Your own website, your own book, guest blogging
  • Consulting – Zoom, Webinars, various platforms
  • Crowdsource your idea – Kickstarter
  • Membership and Patron – Patreon
  • Livestreaming and gaming – Twitch
  • Online courses and education – Udemy
  • Podcasting – Libsyn, Buzzsprout, Podbean
  • Video Creation for Ads – YouTube

These are exciting areas to get into if you have some time to research, invest, and create content. They are not as quick to earn quick cash and may take time, but can potentially turn into passive income streams.


  • Day trading, cryptocurrency
  • MLM, Pyramid schemes, Timeshares
  • Fake prizes, winnings, or giveaways you never heard of or applied for.
  • Other too good to be true; get rich books, audiobooks, bootcamps, webinars, or “exclusive clubs/programs”.
  • Sketchy Craigslist or local ads

Staying Safe

  • Don’t give out personal information to unfamiliar companies or sources.
  • Research the company or source beforehand on multiple websites. Don’t just look at one website or posting and go all in. Reddit is a good place to look for some insight.
  • Let your family and friends know what you are up to.
  • Never give your password out. Change it if you feel it has been compromised.
  • Avoid giving out your real phone number. Use another App like Google Voice.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Ask to see real faces through video chat or live virtual tours instead of just photos (which can be faked).
  • Don’t leave keys in the ignition, lock your doors, have your phone with you, don’t leave items visible in your vehicle if you are doing delivery gigs and stepping away for a period of time.
  • Don’t get taken advantage of for online gigs by paying outside of the middleman such as Upwork. Try to go through Paypal and other payment sources instead of giving your bank account.
  • Don’t accept checks, consider cash, Venmo, or charging clients through Square or Stripe.
  • You should never really send money through wire and instead charge your credit card or debit when possible.
  • Ask for referrals, reviews, testimonials.

Be safe and good luck!

Jeff is a licensed occupational therapist and lead content creator for OT Dude. He covers all things occupational therapy as well as other topics including healthcare, wellness, mental health, technology, science, sociology, and philosophy. Buy me a Coffee on Venmo.