There are various reasons for this, ranging from the need for additional income to a purposeful strategy for avoiding burnout. For example, even though 66% of nurses called their job rewarding, the same number said they struggle with burnout.
Whether you’re looking for extra money, need more flexible work arrangements, or want to make a transition out of bedside nursing, the side jobs listed below allow you to leverage your valuable nursing education, credentials and experience.
#1. Per Diem Shifts
Because of the nursing shortage around the country, nurses may be able to pick up shifts at various facilities in their area without needing to be an employee of that particular facility.
There are several websites and/or apps where hospitals and other healthcare facilities can request nurses for per diem shifts. The hourly or shift rate is stated on each job posting. Once you sign-up and get verified through the website or app, you’re able to apply to and accept jobs.
In this format, you operate as an independent contractor. There’s no limit to how many hours you can work (aside from any pertinent regulations), but you also don’t qualify for any benefits.
However, you may be eligible for holiday pay or bonuses for working over 40 hours per week through a specific app or website.
Medical focus groups are convened by companies looking for feedback on topics or products related to their organizations. Focus groups can be arranged in many categories, but medically skilled staff may be highly sought after by pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
Typically, the process involves filling out a basic questionnaire. If that survey shows you would be a good fit for a particular study, you’ll be contacted to proceed to the next stage (which is usually a 60-90 minute interview-style meeting with a representative from the company).
Past participants say that qualifying for focus groups can be difficult. The biggest complaint from most people is that you have to spend several minutes filling out a pre-screening form, only to be disqualified from the opportunity. In other words, be prepared to invest time in applying to multiple studies, as you won’t qualify for all of them.
Many publishers of medical, health, diet, nutrition and fitness-related content seek out licensed professionals to write for their websites. Having a combination of solid writing skills and credentials within one of these niches can make you a very valuable commodity.
Publishers often use job sites like Upwork and Problogger to advertise opportunities for new writers. Editors may also put out open calls on Linkedin and Twitter/X looking for healthcare writers. Networking with previous co-workers or employers can also be a great way to find clients who need a health writer.
When researching for this article, we spoke with Janelle McSwiggin RN, who was able to fully replace her bedside nurse salary as a health writer. “There are some months where I make more as a writer than I did as a nurse. Certifications aren’t as important for writing as they are in nursing. You are more likely to get higher paying writing jobs as a nurse, though.”
How much it pays:
According to ZipRecruiter, the current average salary for freelance writers is $23 per hour. However, that rate goes up quickly with experience and health writers can often command a premium.
Where to find jobs:
Focus on freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Problogger at first, then network on LinkedIn for better gigs when you have experience.
Topic area knowledge, credentials (to earn the best rates), and solid writing skills.
“Overall, writing is an amazing side hustle for nurses,” McSwiggin said. “You can do it anywhere, any time, with limited startup. You just need a laptop and internet to get going. You can do it full-time, part-time, or as a side hustle, it’s really flexible.”
Medical transcription involves turning audio files into text files for doctors, hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Most companies expect you to type at least 50 words per minute, but it’s not just about speed — you need to be accurate, too.
That’s why this is an especially good side hustle for nurses: while there are usually no educational or licensure requirements to work as a transcriptionist, being able to understand and efficiently transcribe technical terminology and medical jargon is important for success in the role.
These jobs are usually paid by the volume of work you complete rather than based on an hourly rate. That means the faster you are, the more money you can make (as long as your transcriptions are accurate). Depending on the type of medical transcription, you may be paid per line of text or per minute of audio/video transcribed.
How much it pays:
Earnings can range from about 7 to 10 cents per line, though some companies pay by the minute, with rates ranging from 30 cents per minute to $1.10.
Where to find jobs:
Check job boards like Indeed, as well as transcription services companies such as Ditto, Rev and Speakwrite. You can also occasionally find these jobs on Upwork.
A computer, a foot pedal (to start and stop the audio), and typing skills of at least 50 words per minute.
You will need to provide your own equipment, including a computer and foot pedal. Basic foot pedal models will cost around $20, but allow you to transcribe much faster.
As a home health care provider, you visit patients’ homes to provide them with a variety of health services. Caregivers do everything from administering medications and vaccinations to palliative and hospice care.
Companies typically pay per hour, and may also include mileage reimbursement. A lot of companies focus on home health care services for seniors, both because they have reduced mobility and a high propensity for health issues.
Lactation consultants specialize in helping nursing mothers. While this is also a full-time career position, it is possible to make it a side gig.
For the most flexibility, being an independent contractor is the route you want to take. In this setting, you would get to see patients in their own homes and be completely in charge of your own schedule.
To find work, use websites like lactationnetwork.com and hellomeela.com, which connect health care providers with potential clients. And you can also apply to be listed in directories of lactation consultants provided by lactation support organizations like Le Leche League.
While you aren’t required by law to obtain any specific certification, it will be challenging to work as a lactation consultant without one.
There are several different types of certification to become a lactation consultant, ranging from basic to expert levels. They all include required educational hours and passing an exam for the certification.
Becoming a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor (CBC) is a great option for a nurse who is looking to become a lactation consultant. This certification requires an active nursing license and focuses on assisting lactating mothers with basic breastfeeding issues.
Working as a camp nurse can be a great way to earn some extra money while enjoying nature.
Camp nurse jobs usually pay flat rates for the week, month or summer season (whichever you opt for). Room and board is frequently included as part of the compensation as well.
You will be the on-site medical support for the campers, which may include treating minor illnesses and injuries, along with administering medications as necessary.
One downside of this side hustle is that it’s typically only available during the summer months. However, if you have children, you may be able to bring them to camp with you (depending on the facility rules).
Events like music festivals, concerts and sporting events hire local staff to help attendees who may need medical attention while at the venue.
These positions can be employed by the venue directly or also through local staffing agencies. Because of the short-term nature of this type of work, compensation is usually a flat rate for a set shift.
You will most likely be dealing with things like dehydrated patrons, but you also may run into people using a variety of substances, and/or who are sick or injured.
Contact venues or local staffing agencies for open positions.
An active nursing license in the state in which you are working.
There’s a chance you may get free tickets as part of your compensation (or as a thank you), but that isn’t always the case. If you live close to a big city or large event venue, this gig may offer regular opportunities to make some cash while enjoying some of your favorite bands in the background.
Students may also be looking for help passing their nursing exams. If you’re a whiz with flashcards or passed those classes with flying colors, tutoring nursing students might be a great side hustle for you.
You may find tutoring opportunities at your local universities or colleges. But these days, most tutors opt for an online presence to help them find clients. TeachRN.com is a site specifically for nursing students, but nursing students have also taken to Reddit to look for tutors.
Being a night nanny, also sometimes called a night nurse, doesn’t require an nursing degree. However, if you do have nursing experience, you may be able to secure higher-paying jobs, particularly with NICU babies or high/special needs children. Night nannies are often hired for the first few weeks postpartum, or as respite care for regular caregivers.
Sites like Care.com are a great place to offer your services, allowing you to set your own schedule. You may also find clients through referrals by letting friends and neighbors know you offer this service. Parents are always looking for good caregiver recommendations.
Being an RN may make the certification process easier, because your nursing education provides basic knowledge about prenatal and postnatal care.
You may be able to find a frequent gig teaching at a hospital or birth center. Otherwise, you will need to market yourself and find your own clients. The benefit of this is that you’re able to set your own hours. Most of these courses are taught to clients over the course of a few weeks. You may be able to offer group classes or virtual classes, which can increase your hourly rate.
“I made $250 per couple for five weeks of birth classes,” said Aly W., a former childbirth educator from Washington who we interviewed for this article. (We’ve omitted Aly’s last name due to privacy concerns.)
“If I was able to get three or four couples to sign up, I made way more per class but was doing about the same amount of work.”
Check childbirth association directories, such as CAPPA.net or ICEA.org, and job boards for local hospitals or birthing centers.
Certification from a childbirth education association, which typically costs between $400 and $2,000.
There are several childbirth education associations because of the different childbirth methods taught. Most of these certification programs do not offer job placement, but you can be listed in their professional directory after you complete your certification.
Doulas support pregnant mothers physically and emotionally during labor. They are not there to provide medical support or intervention, so they don’t need to be licensed (although some states require certification).
Nurses make great doulas because their medical background helps them understand the physical and mental challenges that laboring mothers are experiencing.
Word of mouth, referrals from birth centers and hospitals, and doula certification directories like CAPPA.net, DONA.org and ICEA.org.
Certification, depending on state.
Doulas are typically hired individually by clients. The unpredictable nature of childbirth means your schedule could be erratic. You may be limited to how many clients you could have at once, simply because of due dates and scheduling.
To teach CPR you need to be certified through an organization like the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. While you don’t need to be a medical professional to teach CPR, a medical background can elevate your ability to explain and teach CPR techniques.
Job boards like Indeed.com, recreation centers like YMCA.org, local community centers, and college or university jobs boards.
Instructors often operate as independent contractors. Organizations or businesses will hire instructors to teach classes to employees or other participants at their locations. CPR instructor classes are available both in person and online, with the costs ranging from around $100 to $400.
The best side hustles for nurses are flexible and allow you to apply your specialized skills in the workplace, even if this is outside traditional medical settings.
While nursing may be your passion, it can also be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. With two-thirds of nurses reporting burnout, it’s important to recognize that your medical skills and knowledge can be applied to many different fields and in many different ways.
So whether you’re looking for a change of scenery, some extra cash, or a chance to explore a new career, these are great options to consider. If nothing listed here seems like the right fit, there are other good side hustle ideas that are less related to nursing but which may still be worth thinking about.
Holly Humbert is a Utah-based freelance author and social media strategist who writes about entrepreneurship, women in business and financial education. Connect with her on Linkedin and Instagram.