How Professors Can Make Extra Money

In addition to teaching and conducting research, professors make more income through various means. Let’s discuss how professors can earn extra money.

From consulting and speaking engagements to book royalties and online courses, there are numerous ways for professors to supplement their salaries and diversify their income streams. In this article, we will explore some of the most common ways that professors make extra money.

Whether you’re a professor looking to boost your earnings or simply curious about the financial side of academia, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of the many opportunities available to professors to earn additional income.

How Professors Make Extra Money

Ethical Considerations

Before we discuss the various ways that professors can earn extra money, a couple of ethical considerations must be taken seriously.

Professors should be aware of potential conflicts of interest arising from their work outside of academia. For example, a professor who consults for a company may be tempted to promote that company’s interests in their academic work. This could compromise their objectivity and integrity. 

To avoid this, professors should disclose any potential conflicts of interest and take steps to ensure that their outside work does not compromise their academic careers.

They should also be mindful of intellectual property rights when pursuing income-generating activities outside of academia. For example, suppose a professor develops a new product or invention while consulting for a company. In that case, they should know who owns the rights to that invention and whether any potential conflicts of interest may arise. 

This is especially important for patentable inventions or copyrighted material, as professors may be obligated to assign the rights to their institution.

Pursuing additional income streams can be time-consuming, and professors should be careful not to let their outside work interfere with their academic responsibilities. 

While it may be tempting to take on more consulting work or speaking engagements, professors should ensure that they have enough time to devote to teaching, research, and service obligations.

Finally, professors should conduct themselves in a professional manner when pursuing outside income streams. This includes maintaining confidentiality, avoiding conflicts of interest, and adhering to ethical standards in their work outside of academia.

In summary, while pursuing additional income streams can be a great way for professors to supplement their salaries, evaluating potential ethical considerations is essential. 

Ways Professors Can Earn Extra Money

Professors can earn extra money outside their regular salaries in various ways. And if you want to know how professors get paid, check out my article!

Disclaimer: Some universities have policies restricting or limiting the amount of outside income that professors can earn. Professors should check with their universities to ensure they comply with relevant policies or regulations.

Advising/Mentoring Startups And Entrepreneurs

Serving as an advisor or mentor to startups or entrepreneurs can be a lucrative side hustle. This is an excellent way professors can earn extra money while helping others build successful businesses. 

Many startups and entrepreneurs seek advisors or mentors who can provide guidance and expertise in a specific area of study or industry. Professors are often sought after for their deep knowledge and experience in their field.

As an advisor or mentor, a professor might guide clients through various issues. This can include business strategy, product development, marketing, and more. They may also provide technical expertise in engineering, computer science, or materials science.

By working with startups, professors can stay up-to-date with emerging trends and technologies in their field. They may also have the opportunity to contribute to developing innovative new products or services. Plus, they might take the initiative to invest in the company before it grows.

However, there are potential drawbacks to serving as an advisor or mentor to startups. For example, startups can be risky ventures, and a professor’s reputation may be at stake if the startup fails or engages in unethical practices. 

Additionally, the demands of advising or mentoring a startup can be significant, and professors may need to balance their advising responsibilities with their teaching and research obligations.

Despite these potential challenges, many professors find serving as an advisor/mentor a valuable source of extra income. Plus, it’s a rewarding way to contribute to developing new technologies and innovations. 

To explore opportunities to serve as an advisor/mentor, professors might consider networking with startups and entrepreneurs in their field. They can do so by attending relevant conferences or events, or exploring online platforms that connect advisors with startups.

Research Grants.

Professors often apply for research grants from government agencies, private foundations, or other organizations to fund their research projects. They may receive a portion of the grant money as compensation for their time and effort.

Research grants can be a significant source of extra income for professors. These grants are typically awarded by government agencies, private foundations, or other organizations to support research projects.

The amount of funding available through these grants can vary widely, depending on the type of grant, the scope of the research project, and the level of competition for the grant.

To apply for a research grant, a professor typically needs to develop a detailed proposal that outlines the research project, including the goals, methods, timeline and expected outcomes. 

The proposal may also include a budget outlining the research costs, such as salaries, equipment, travel expenses, and other expenses.

If the proposal is approved, the professor will receive the grant funding and can use it to support their research project. This funding can significantly boost a professor’s income, especially if the research project is a large-scale or long-term effort.

By conducting research funded by a grant, professors can explore new areas of study. In addition, they can develop new techniques or methodologies or make significant contributions to existing bodies of knowledge.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to relying on research grants for extra income. Grant proposals can be time-consuming and highly competitive, and there is no guarantee that a professor will be awarded a grant. 

In addition, the research projects funded by grants may not align with a professor’s personal research interests, which could make the work less satisfying.

Teaching Online Courses

With the rise of online learning, many universities and colleges now offer online courses. Professors can earn extra money by teaching online courses in addition to their regular teaching duties.

There are various ways that college professors can get involved in teaching online courses. Some professors may choose to develop and teach their own courses through their home institution or an external online platform. 

Other professors may be recruited to teach courses that their institution or an external organization has already developed.

One of the main benefits of teaching online courses is that it can be a flexible and convenient way to earn extra income. Professors can often teach these courses from their homes or offices. And they can typically set their schedules and work at their own pace. 

This can be particularly beneficial for professors with busy teaching and research schedules. It allows them to earn extra income without taking on significant additional work.

In addition to the flexibility and convenience, teaching online courses can also allow professors to reach a wider audience and expand their teaching skills. 

By developing and teaching online courses, professors can share their expertise with students worldwide and create new strategies for engaging and educating students in a digital environment.

However, there are also potential challenges to teaching online courses. Developing and teaching an online course can be time-consuming, and professors may need to invest significant time and resources in developing course materials, responding to student inquiries, and grading assignments. 

Additionally, online courses may require different teaching strategies and tools than traditional in-person courses. Professors may need to develop new skills to be successful.

Additional Methods Professors Can Earn Extra Money

If the above doesn’t interest you, there are other ways to expand income and branch out from just teaching. Take a look below.

Speaking Engagements

Professors may be invited to speak at conferences, seminars, and other events, where they can earn fees for their presentations. They may also be asked to give talks at universities, schools, or community organizations, where they can receive an honorarium.

Writing And Publishing

Professors may write and publish books, articles, and other materials related to their expertise. They may receive royalties for their published work or be paid to write articles for magazines, newspapers, or online publications.

Adjunct Teaching 

Professors may teach as adjunct faculty at other universities or colleges. Adjuncts are typically hired per course and paid a set fee for each course they teach.

Expert Witness Services 

Professors may be called upon to serve as expert witnesses in legal cases related to their area of expertise. They can earn fees for their testimony and consulting services.


Many professors work as consultants for businesses, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. They use their expertise in their field to provide advice and solutions to problems related to their area of research.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are many ways that professors can earn extra money outside of their regular salaries. From consulting and coaching to research grants and book royalties.

While each of these opportunities has unique benefits and potential drawbacks, the common thread is that professors can earn extra money by leveraging their expertise, experience, and reputation in their field. 

By carefully evaluating the available options and selecting those that align with their interests and goals, professors can take advantage of these opportunities to enhance their professional development and financial well-being.

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