It is a tradition that Cabinet members cash in on their government experience after leaving office, but the two most prominent members of the Ford Cabinet, Henry A. Kissinger and William E. Simon, have developed new ways of making money while remaining in the public eye.

A year after President Ford left office, Kissinger and Simon are the only two of the 11 Ford Cabinet members who are still public figures and also are the only two who have made themselves mini-conglomerates by taking on a dazzling array of paid and unpaid positions.

"Kissinger is an enterprise unto himself," one admirer said. "Henry, Inc.," is another admirer's friendly label for the former secretary of state.

The former secretary of the treasury, Simon, describes his position as the result of a decision "to diversify all may activities."

Simon and Kissinger had different starting points for their post-government careers. Simon was already a millionaire while Kissinger had remarked of his reported $2 million book contract and other large fees: "I think one has to consider that I was deeply in debt when I left office as a result of public service."

Both are sensitive to charges that they have spread themselves too thin.

"Henry's being paid very well for doing very little," one man who has business dealings with Kissinger said recently.

Sources close to Kissinger, however, reject the accusation. "You have to keep in mind that these announcements of Henry's positions sound infinitely more dramatic than they are," one said.

Kissinger, keeping his in-government practices, only discusses his present obligations off the record. Simon admits he may have taken on too much and said recently: "I'm tightening up on my priorities. I know in certain areas where I'm spread too thin, and as it occurs, I unspread them."

Kissinger and Simon are equally sensitive to allegations that they have allowed their names to be used as window dressing.

"I attempted every way I could to sift all the things people wanted me to do - and obviously some people are interested only in what they could get out of the name of the former treasury secretary - and were not concerned about substance. I turned those down," Simon said.

Kissinger according to sources close to him, decided not to accept any offers to go on corporate boards where he would have a directing responsibility. "He was willing to do advising, but not to become an officer of a corporation," one said.

Friends of each man describe them as workaholics whose energies enable them to deliver on their commitments even if the commitments seem too great for one man's time.

Both Kissinger, working from the suite of K Street offices supplied by Georgetown University, and Simon, with his offices at two New York firms, decline to discuss how much they are paid. So do their publishers, employers, agents and associates.

Simon said he took "a mildly drastic cut in salary" compared to the more than $2 million he made in good years as a senior partner of Salomon Brothers, the investment banking firm, before he went to Washington with the Nixon administration.

Booz-Allen and Hamilton Co., the management consultant firm, pays him an estimated $200,000 for his counsel. His other main office is at the brokerage and investment banking firm Blyth Eastman Dillon where he reportedly earns a comparable salary.

"He introduces us to foreign governments and chief executive officers of major corporations that he knows by virtue of his experience in Washington and at Salomon Brothers," said a spokeswoman for Blyth.

"There is not one big chief executive officer who won't come to a small dinner for 20 or 30 to hear what Bill Simon has to say about domestic and international economic development," the spokeswoman said.

At Booz-Allen, Simon is supervising a study of world economic change for about 30 individual clients. "He spends as much time as necessary," according to the company's chairman, James B. Farley, which works out to six to 10 days a month, by Farley's estimate.

Simon, unlike Kissinger, has accepted corporate directorships and easily earns $100,000 in addition annually from seven directorships, including New York's biggest bank, Citibank, its holding company Citicorp; the world's largest advertising company, the Interpublic Group of Companies; and Xerox.

Kissinger's major sources of income begin with his book contract with Little-Brown which is reported to pay him more than $2 million although neither Little-Brown nor Kissinger will discuss it.

The book, according to sources close to Kissinger, is becoming "a monster." He has reportedly written 65,000 words and is still in 1969 - the first of his eight years as White House national security affairs adviser or secretary of state.

Kissinger spends half his time on the book, sources close to him say.

Most of the other half goes of Georgetown where he holds two appointments as a university professor in the School of Foreign Service and a counselor to the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is paid about $20,000 by the school and about $15,000 by the center, according to a university spokesman.

The salary is equivalent to that of other Georgetown full professors, the spokesman said, but Kissinger also receives office space for himself and his staff. Kissinger pays his small force of security men headed by Walter Bothe, who guarded him when he was secretary of state, out of his own pocket.

In the fall semester, Kissinger gave four talks on problems of contemporary diplomacy. "He really covered the world," said Dean Peter Krogh of the School of Foreign Serivce.

This semester he is teaching a seminar for credit on American diplomacy. A "lucky" 27 students were selected from a large pool by Georgetown's computer just as students are selected fro other university courses, Krogh said.

When Kissinger is unable to meet the weekly seminar it will be taught by his former assistant on the National Security Council, William Hyland. Kissinger will also deliver two major lectures at Georgetown this semester. The topics have not been selected.

"He's a very busy guy," said a university spokesman. "He's not just window dressing."

For the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kissinger is heading up a "future of business program" that follows from a lecture he delivered last year called "The Future of Business and the International Environment."

The program is an attempt to make up for the fact that "high policymakers are almost never asked what impact their policies would have on business," a university official said.

Everywhere Kissinger goes he still is greeted with the awe and respect accored him when he was secretary of state, according to several people who have followed his private career.

It is almost as though he had not left office. Foreign leaders consult him regularly (both Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Annwar Sadat spoke to Kissinger before their historic Jerusalem meeting. They know he respects confidences and he has also made clear that he advises the State Department of any conversation of significance.

With his limousine, his staff and security men he cuts an impressive swath. Doors are opened, local police cooperate sometimes to the extent of blocking intersections to speed his passage. It is not Air Force Two shuttling between Mideast capitals, but it is not the Eastern Airlines shuttle either.

Kissinger lectures at $10,000 or better each time to such groups as the IBM Golden Circle for top salesmen and engineers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce convention, the New York Commodities Exchange.

He is also chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank's international advisory committee, a job which sources close to Kissinger cite as one of those sounding more dramatic than it is. The committee meets twice a year and each session lasts about a day and a half.

Last month, the invertment banking firm, Goldman, Sachs & Co., announced Kissinger had become a consultant. Officials of the firm said their arrangement with Kissinger prohibits them from discussing what services he will provide.

Sources close to Kissinger said he hasn't done anything for Goldman Sachs yet but expects to advise them on political trends in the world. When Goldman Sachs has a question they can call Kissinger or he will not, however, get involved one-on-one with their customers, sources said. "He doesn't get into deals."

The sources said Kissinger waited a year before accepting Goldman Sach's offer to avoid the appearance of trading on classified knowledge from his years as secretary of state.

Kissinger is also the special consultant for world affairs to NBC. His contract, which reportedly pays him more than $1 million over five years, calls for one special program annually and appearances on the nightly news and other public affairs programs as waranted by major news developments.

The first special Jan. 13 got low ratings even for a public affairs special and mixed reviews from critics. A number of critics pointed out that he was treated on the program about Eurocommunism neither as a reporter nor as a government offcial but as a hybrid satisfying none of the usual standards of scrutiny and cross-examination expected on news programs.

On the other hands, his live commentary during the Sadat visit to Jerusalem was widely praised as were other, briefer appearances on the network's nightly news.

Lester Crystal, president of NBC News, said the relationship with Kissinger is informal and works very well. Kissinger has responded to all the network's requests, he said.

When Kissinger is in New York he uses his offices at the Aspen Institute where he holds three titles - trustee, senior fellow and special adviser. Aspen pays an undisclosed salary and also picks up some of his research staff costs.

Kissinger, whose career has always been linked to the Rockefellers, is a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations and chairman of the board of International House, all Rockefeller-backed organizations.

He is also a director of the Foreign Policy Association, chairman of the board of advisers of the Alliance to Save Energy, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a consultant to the Center for the study of the American Experience at the University of Sourthern California.

Kissinger recently accepted the chairmanship of the international committee of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

A typewritten list of Simon's uncompensated positions fills two pages. He is a trustee of Georgetown University and of his alma mater, Lafayette College. He is a director of organizations including the Boys Club of America, the American Conservative Union, the Wolf Trap Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Hugh O'Brien Youth Foundation and the New Jersey state opera.