7 Best Jobs to Work in Occupational Therapy School

7 Best Jobs to Work in Occupational Therapy School

If you’re considering what jobs to work in occupational therapy school, look no further! We’re covering several great options to help you earn some extra income and save up now to conquer some of that OT school debt. While working in OT school can be challenging for many, most OT students are able to pick up part-time hours with the variety of flexible options available.

The jobs we’ve listed all offer the flexibility you need as an OT student, as well as help you gain valuable skills that you will use when you’re a practicing occupational therapist.

Many of these are jobs that we did while in OT school so we can vouch that working flexible part-time jobs, before starting full-time Level II fieldworks, can be doable and manageable. Note that you do not have to work in OT school if you find the curriculum to be enough of a challenge. I did not work my first two semesters of OT school due to the hardest classes being in the beginning.

Let’s cover the best jobs to work in occupational therapy school: 

1. Nannying/Babysitting

If you love kids and envision working in pediatrics as a therapist, being a babysitter or part-time nanny is a great way to get used to the younger population. Nannying usually refers to consistent work dedicated to one family. It’s usually done privately so you often won’t have to go through an agency and may even get referred by someone who knows a family in need. This is a good way to secure a good chunk of hours, if you have a lighter caseload one semester and can accommodate more work.

Babysitting, on the other hand, is much more flexible and may be a good way to break up long study sessions on nights or weekends. I used Care.com and a local babysitting agency to find a few families that I worked for consistently through OT school. 

Regardless of what option you choose, this job involves accountability, reliability, caretaking, basic first aid, creativity (when keeping kids busy!), clear communication, and much more. These skills all apply heavily to clinical jobs, so they get you started on the right foot. Even if you envision yourself working with adults, part-time babysitting is still a great option to help with expenses.

OT school jobs

2. Certified Nurse’s Assistant/Patient Care Technician

This is possibly one of the most well-known jobs for students interested in healthcare. However, it differs a bit from other jobs in that you often need to complete training before becoming a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (although you may be able to be trained at your hospital as a patient care tech, like I was). Many students even have the opportunity to undergo this training earlier because it was offered at their high school. It’s never too early to begin this basic work and get your sea legs in a skilled nursing facility or hospital. You can even leverage this position to be a home health aide and work within patient’s homes, if that’s a setting that you’re particularly interested in.

The training is usually around 75 hours and covers basic first aid, safe transfers, taking vitals, positioning, basic anatomy, preventing infection, emergency management, and safe bathing and dressing procedures. Depending on how accelerated of a program you enroll in, you can receive this certification in as little as 4 weeks or up to 6 or 8 months.

These topics are all formative concepts that you will learn in OT school, so being a CNA not only allows you to get a jump start on learning them but you will be implementing them much sooner than your peers. This is because CNA training often requires 10-15 hours of hands-on experience before you get your certification. We shouldn’t need to explain why these concepts are crucial to being an OT but, let’s put it this way, they will help you understand the basic needs that every patient has and how other healthcare providers play a role in meeting those needs.

occupational therapy school jobs cna

3. Tutor

Even if your school is relatively small, chances are there is a learning center on campus to help students with studying and acing tests in certain subjects. Most often, your school will contact you about becoming a tutor there based on your past grades in that class.

There are also a few online forums that allow you to sign up as a private tutor if you consider yourself to be well-versed in a certain college subject and have the transcripts to prove your smarts in this area. You can also teach English remotely to children in other countries with platforms like VIPKid which are becoming more popular in the therapy community.

In-person tutoring can also be a service you offer via word-of-mouth or to friends of friends who want help studying from someone they trust.

Being a tutor helps you hone skills such as: explaining concepts to others, clearly understanding topics before conveying information to others, and gaining a deeper understanding of basic subjects that can help you in present or future classes. The communication skills involved in tutoring can also help you better assert yourself to others in healthcare settings, when explaining OT to others, and even when writing progress reports and daily notes.

4. Rehab Aide

Working as a rehab aide or OT aide is an amazing way to truly learn about the therapy process while also earning an income. Rehab aides will typically work in outpatient therapy settings (both pediatrics and adults), as well as hospitals, rehab centers and skilled nursing facilities.

Rehab aides directly assist physical and occupational therapists with patient interventions, transfers, administrative duties and everything in between that the therapy team needs assistance with. Occupational therapists that start out as rehab aides often have a huge leg up with the on-the-job learning they’ll get from the OTs they’re assisting.

5. Healthcare Writer

If you have a knack for writing and want to work from home, there is a growing need for healthcare writers for all medical industries. For example, here at My OT Spot, we hire writers with varied experience in all occupational therapy settings, including OT students, to write about their experiences in articles like this one

As a healthcare writer, you will typically be a freelancer writing articles (often research or informational articles) for healthcare/medical websites based on topics they need, and they will typically give you guidance on their writing style.

You often will be doing a lot of research for these articles, so I would recommend you choose this option for less writing-heavy semesters. The best part about being a healthcare writer is that you can choose how much or how little you want to write, and you can work on the articles during times of day that work best for you.

To see what types of healthcare writing jobs are out there, you can start with looking at Upwork.com for jobs and typical pay rates (as this is variable based on the company).

6. Virtual Assistant (VA)

This role is growing in popularity, partly because it can be done remotely and doesn’t involve writing lengthy articles, if that isn’t your thing. Virtual assistants are responsible for many of the roles secretaries are responsible for, in that they may answer phones, respond to emails, update websites, post to social media, organize schedules, and more basic administrative tasks.

Being a virtual assistant, or VA, often has hours within the regular work week during standard office hours. But there is the possibility of finding someone who needs help catching up on weekends, if you only have availability then. Working as a VA is a great way to showcase your organization skills, multitasking abilities, time management, planning, and judgment.

You also must be well-worded in order to succinctly reply to emails and give people the answers they need, so it will also help your ability to communicate clearly. These duties and skills are all big parts of being a therapist and working in any hectic healthcare setting, so this will give you valuable practice.

occupational therapy school jobs va

7. “Gig” Work

You’ve very likely heard of the gig economy, but I wanted to add it as an option due to the flexibility of scheduling. Aside from driving for ride share apps or delivering food, you could also consider walking dogs, house sitting, grocery shopping, renting out your garage (or car!), or even maintaining scooters. These aren’t necessary the most “skilled” or coveted positions, but they can be quite easy ways to make extra money and can be done on your own time.

Another option I’d like to add that is a little more work is renting out a spare bedroom on Airbnb, if you’re able to. It is a bit less conventional, but I convinced my boyfriend (now husband) to let us rent out our second bedroom ~23 nights a month for three years, which paid for our small condo’s entire mortgage monthly, and helped me save up to pay down my student loans quicker. We met some amazing people that we’re still friends with, and overall I would say it was worth it for us. The biggest factor to consider is the time it takes cleaning, as well as managing communications, but it is a great customer service building experience.

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As you can see, there are many ways to support yourself in grad school while also gaining valuable experience in the field you know and love. These OT school job options are really just starting points, as there are many other roles you can assume to learn more about people, communicating, organization, and other vital job functions.

Let us know in the comments: What do/did you do for work in OT school? What was your favorite position?

This article was co-written by Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L and Brittany Ferri, OTR/L. It was originally published on November 1, 2021 and last updated on June 26, 2024.

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