Over the years, media outlets have repeatedly stated that Australian education is failing our kids. In response to these reports, the country is seeing a rapid increase in demand for tutoring.
Recent figures from the Australian Tutoring Association reveal that a quarter of families use tutoring services and a further 17% are considering individualised tutoring. These figures include private tutors, online tutoring, tutoring companies and group tutoring.
With increasing demand comes a range of tutoring opportunities.
While tutoring used to be the realm of university students and tutoring centres, there are now more qualified teachers looking to obtain private tutoring jobs due to dissatisfaction with teaching conditions. Hourly rates can range from $15 to over $80, depending on qualifications and location, however, there's no denying that tutoring jobs in areas like Brisbane can offer job satisfaction and attractive rates for ex-teachers.
Teachers know they are underpaid in comparison to other professions, and this is backed by statistics showing that while they may start their career roughly in line, the rate of pay increase with experience and age is significantly less. To add to the insult, teachers are simply not valued in Australia in the way they are in other places.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that qualified and passionate teachers are looking to supplement their income or searching for alternative ways to keep teaching but achieve a more flexible lifestyle.
Qualified teachers aren't the only people interested in becoming tutors.
'Creatives', including writers, artists and musicians, often combine their creative work with tutoring. University students also seek out tutoring jobs, often in the subject they're studying, to gain experience and earn some money on the side. In all cases, one-on-one tutoring allows the tutor to manage his/her own schedule and hourly rates.
Where to Start when Setting your Hourly Private Tutoring Rates
When you work for yourself, you have to make some important decisions. As a tutor, you'll need to determine one of these very early on: what is a reasonable fee to charge for tutoring? It doesn't matter if you're an experienced teacher, a musician or a student — you need to know whether to set your rates at $25 or $75 (or more; or somewhere in between).
The dollar amount you put on your tutoring profile is so much more than an hourly rate — it can affect potential clients' first impression of you. If your rate is too high, you won't get any students. The same will happen if it's too low as people will see it as being 'too good to be true.'
The problem is, there's no set answer or rule book that tells you what to charge. Even online, you'll see a huge range, and advice can seem inconsistent. It's an important decision, so do try to avoid settling on any old amount.
At Superprof, we can't tell you what hourly rate to charge, but we can provide relevant information on current tutoring rates, and guidance on things you should consider when setting your own.
Time Spent Preparing for Tutoring Sessions Should be Incorporated
When is a 'per hour' tuition rate not really a 'per hour' rate?
The time you spend with your student is only the part of the job your client actually witnesses. In general, each hour of face-to-face tutoring, whether online or in person, takes roughly another hour to prepare for.
The amount of pre-lesson work you need to undertake will depend on your experience and your subject. Preparation for writing tutors could involve:
- selecting relevant resources, such as mentor texts
- writing and annotating examples
- reviewing progress and adapting lessons to suit
- developing homework exercises
- marking student work and providing comprehensive feedback.
Essentially, if your 'hourly rate' is $40 per one-on-one session, when you include preparation time, it's actually $20 per hour.
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The Superprof platform does not charge a commission. What this means for our tutors, is you receive the amount you charge, i.e. if your fee is $40 an hour, then that's what will go into your bank account. It is up to you to ensure you factor in your preparation time when you set your rates.
The Level of Each Student is Often Taken into Consideration when Determining Rates
In addition to considering your qualifications and experience, you should also set your rates according to the needs and level of your students.
- students want an overview or taste of the subject
- student goal is to cover the basics
- tutor does not need to provide a lot of background or detail
- rates — below or up to average subject-based fee
- students are past the basics
- student goal is to consolidate their skills
- tutor provides support and guidance
- rates — average subject-based fee
- students have a solid grounding in all the necessary skills and knowledge
- student goal is to perfect skills or specialise; focus is on details
- tutors require advanced knowledge and experience; more time is needed for preparation
- rates — above average subject-based fee
Homework, Study Skills or Academic Support for Compulsory Education Years
In the pre-tertiary sector, obtaining tutoring roles may be more competitive and hourly rates are often dependent on demand, or even the education sector your students are from. The table below gives an average rate for each level of tuition, as calculated by Superprof.
|School Level||Average Hourly Rate|
|Primary Level Tuition (P-6)||$35.24|
|Secondary Level of Tuition (7-10)||$29.90|
|Senior Secondary Level of Tuition (11-12 or equivalent)||$38.44|
In private schools, states that sit the Higher School Certificate or equivalent, or specific TAFE education courses, private tutoring may attract a higher rate.
Adjusting Your Rates for Different Tutoring Formats
You can offer private tuition in a range of settings or formats, each one requiring a slightly different hourly rate.
Travelling to exotic locations as a 'Super Tutor' and earning around $2000 per hour to guarantee a student passes her entrance exam seems like a dream-come-true. While it's not a total fabrication, it is, however, relatively rare, so you're best to avoid starting out charging exorbitant fees — lest you find yourself with no students.
If you're after a bit of variety though, there are some other tutoring formats you might wish to try.
Work as an Online Tutor
Web-based private tutoring is becoming significantly more popular for its convenience and the 'fun' aspect in our current online age.
Tutoring programs which offer online access mean that it is easier for students to find a tutor to suit their needs. Naturally, for the private tutor, the ability to offer online learning also means you instantly gain a wider pool of potential students as you are not limited by geographic location and the logistics of travel. Whether or not you charge a lower rate for this service is your choice, many tutors don't. However, you may feel that, with no travel time, your costs are less and you should pass that on to your students. If you are innovative, even the more practical or physical subjects can be tutored online, like sports and music.
Tutoring in Person
Sitting with your student, face-to-face, is the most traditional tutoring format. It is often preferred as non-verbal signs of misunderstanding or disengagement can be hard to pick up in the online environment. On the other hand, with the in-person format, you are limited by location — which not only cuts into your time, but also adds to your costs.
If you decide you would prefer this format, remember to incorporate travel costs and travel time into your fees — whether you charge your students a separate fee for travel and a flat rate for the tutoring session, or you incorporate travel-related costs into your set fees.
If you are tutoring in a small group setting, the usual practice is to charge less per student — bearing in mind that you still stand to earn more in your hour than you would one-on-one. Younger children, in particular, often prefer a group environment and while this facilitates shared learning experiences, it is important that you also spend time to assist students individually. You also need to remember that you will still have to cater for individual student learning needs, and that your preparation time will likely be longer as there will be more marking.
What Subjects Offer the Highest-Paying Tutoring Opportunities?
The best way to get students is to check out what rates other tutors are offering, then set your rates lower. Right?
Underselling the competition is not best practice, and you may well end up working for peanuts, or worse, having no students because 'super-cheap rates equals poor quality tutoring'. The ideal hourly rate will be reasonable, without seeming cheap, and will make clients feel they're getting good value. Basically, the rate you set should be within the average range of other similar private tutoring services.
As with most businesses, the tutoring market can be competitive.
Know Your Market and Your Immediate Competition
Let's say you're a maths tutor. No doubt, there are hundreds of maths tutors out in tutoring land who want to work with the same level as you, and have similar educational backgrounds and experiences. If they're all charging $40 an hour, and you're advertising at $20 an hour, not only are you working for peanuts, but potential clients may doubt your professionalism. On the other hand, if you're charging $60 an hour, potential clients are going to expect something spectacular from you in terms of qualifications and results.
One of the first things you should do, when you initially decide to become a tutor, is work out the average hourly rate for your particular subject taught in whichever method you choose. You can then use this amount as a benchmark as you take your experience and qualifications into consideration to set your fees.
In order to start you off, Superprof has worked out each subject's average tutoring rates per hour:
|Subject||Average Hourly Rate|
|Humanities - Psychology||$29.65|
|Humanities - Sociology||$30.58|
|Law - Criminal||$36.84|
|Law - Tax||$37.20|
|Languages - Arabic||$29.94|
|Languages - French||$31.56|
|Languages - German||$30.39|
|Languages - Italian||$30.69|
|Languages - Mandarin||$30.82|
|Languages - Spanish||$26.69|
|Sciences - Biology||$27.47|
|Sciences - Chemistry||$29.54|
|Sciences - Physics||$31.42|
The rate you decide to charge will take into consideration multiple factors, including format of the lesson, location, your experience or qualifications and the level of your student.
The Music Teachers Association of NSW recommends its members charge a minimum fee of $92 an hour for private tuition. Of course, if you are the only bassoon tutor in your region, you could easily charge more. Piano teachers, on the other hand, will need to be more competitive.
This table shows the average hourly rate on Superprof for a few instruments:
|Instrument||Average Hourly Rate (private lessons)|
Of course, if you need to provide the instrument or other equipment (including sheet music), or if you have to travel, you will likely charge more.
Do Private Tutors Adjust Their Rates According to Their Local Region?
You may assume that tutoring rates can be solely determined by supply and demand.
This is not quite true.
Depending on where you are located, you may discover that other factors, such as financial inequality, have to come in to play when you're working out your rates. Essentially, all students deserve to achieve academic success, but not all families can afford to employ expensive tutors for their children. This is an important fact to consider.
Standards of living and average weekly wages vary substantially between different cities and towns in Australia, and usually even within the one town. While you may be tempted to make assumptions about what people can afford depending on where they live, this is not always going to be the case in Australia — even though it often is in places like the UK and USA. This is why it is important to be flexible when it comes to your tutoring rates, perhaps considering students on a case-by-case basis, or setting your fees according to other factors instead.
A quick look at the private tuition fees charged by Superprof tutors will show you that many tutors are setting their fees depending on the level of tuition being offered, their experience and their qualifications rather than the area they are servicing.
Extend Your Market
If you do happen to live in a particularly low socio-economic area, you may have to cut your rates considerably to be more affordable. However, you can also provide private tutoring online, effectively allowing you to tutor students who live on the other side of the country if you wish.
To What Extent Does Your Experience Determine Your Potential Tutor Wage?
As mentioned previously, private tutors in Australia charge anywhere from $15 an hour through to $80 an hour or more. It is assumed that anyone charging over $70 an hour will have at least ten years of teaching experience, along with expertise in their field. It's important for potential clients to feel your fees are representative of your level of service.
Do You Meet Expectations?
Students want to look up to their private tutors as role models for academic or professional success. There are three expectations you will need to meet:
- you understand your topic — on a practical level as well as an academic one
- you don't make, or reinforce, errors
- you are well prepared and consistent with corrections and feedback
Tutors, particularly at the compulsory schooling level, have an important role in developing confidence in their students and, ultimately, academic achievement where they can reach their potential. Conversely, sub-standard tutoring practices, where one or more of the above expectations are not met, can result in failure.
The only source of knowledge is experience
— Albert Einstein
When it comes to setting your tuition fees — more experience equals higher fees.
A great way to highlight how this works is to consider different types of tutors in foreign languages:
- Native speakers — have an in-depth and natural knowledge of the nuances and expressions in the language they are tutoring because it is their first language. A student will obviously get the best language experiences with a native speaker, although it is worthwhile remembering that some students may need more explanation than the native speaker can provide, i.e. just because a person speaks a language, it doesn't necessarily mean they understand the grammar. That said, however, native speakers can often set higher fees than non-native speakers.
- Language tutors with teaching qualifications — people who possess an education degree in the teaching of languages are often proficient in at least one other language and have often, although not always, had in-country experiences. While their language and culture knowledge cannot possibly be as high as a native speaker, these tutors will have pedagogical knowledge that is often essential in secondary and tertiary-level tuition. Like native speakers, qualified language teachers are also justified in charging a higher hourly rate.
- Tutors who are currently studying — many students offer tutoring services to other students who are learning the language at a lower level. For example, a third-year student of Japanese may be providing tuition to students in Years 7-10. The benefits these tutors offer include recent experience of the studying process, up-to-date knowledge of curriculum requirements and enthusiasm. Student tutors should not be charging excessive rates, due to their lack of experience, however, their skills are often worthwhile for people with limited budgets.
How Important are Qualifications When You're Looking for Private Tutoring Jobs?
When potential clients are looking at your profile, they will see any qualifications you have as evidence of your expertise. The more advanced your qualification, the more clients may be willing to pay — a tutor with a Masters or PhD can charge a higher hourly rate than a tutor with a Bachelors degree, who can in turn charge more than a tutor who is still studying. It goes without saying that the qualification needs to be related to the subject being tutored, and that an education degree on top of subject-specific qualifications is a bonus.
Unlike other countries, in Australia, it is the qualification that matters rather than 'where' you obtained it. However, a membership with a related association, such as a music teachers' association, is always a good idea and will give you extra credibility.
The Best Advertising Comes From Testimonials
The best form of advertising sounds like this: 'I know this awesome tutor who'd be perfect for you, he really helped me...here's his number.'
A personal testimonial or recommendation from someone who has worked with you is better than the most expensive advertising campaign. People will trust someone who has experience with you more than they'll trust a piece of paper with a dozen dot pointed qualifications. And that trust will then be passed on to you.
The more 'word of mouth' there is about you, the better for your business and the more you'll be able to charge.
How Do You Maintain a Consistent Income?
Private tutors are sometimes concerned about keeping their incomes consistent in this field. There are several ways to safeguard yourself in this respect:
Package Booking Deals and Upfront Payment
A 'package deal' or a block booking, such as ten weeks paid in advance, will ensure you maintain a consistent level of income. If you decide to ask for this, you may need to give your clients an incentive for paying upfront. This incentive will often be a discount, like ten lessons for the price of nine.
Keep Everything Straightforward
Flexibility for the sake of your students is important, but not at the expense of simplicity. You may wish to offer different options, like thirty-minute lessons, fortnightly sessions or flexible group classes. These are certainly appreciated by students who are limited by time or budget, however, be careful to not let your pricing become overly complicated.
Should cancellations incur a fee?
Cancellations at late notice can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when you've spent time preparing or don't have time to fill the gap.
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Make sure you are clear on your policy for cancellations before you set up your tutoring profile. It's up to you — you may not want to chase up cancellation fees, or you may decide to insist on full or reduced price for no-shows with less than a day's notice.
Do allow some flexibility, and compassion for students who may have a legitimate excuse. A good relationship with your clients, and their ensuing testimonials, may be worth more to you than a few hours of income loss.
Paying Tax on your Tutoring Income
Benjamin Franklin famously pointed out there are only two things certain in life — tax was one such certainty.
Sorry, but we can't avoid this subject — taxes.
Regardless of how much you earn from your private tutoring jobs, you will need to declare your income to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and this means you may have to pay tax. With this in mind, it's a good idea to make sure you take payable tax into account when setting your hourly rate.
If you're with Superprof, tax will be your only consideration as we don't charge you a commission. If your fee is $50 an hour, that's what you'll be paid.
When you are employed by a company or the government, they will take care of deducting tax and other payments. Unless you work for a tutoring centre, you will be classed as self-employed and will need to sort out your own tax payments. Even if you're only tutoring as a side gig for a bit of extra cash, the ATO will still need to know about it — which means declaring all of your tutoring income on your annual tax return.
Perhaps you know you won't earn enough to go over the tax-free threshold, and won't have to pay tax anyway — but you still need to declare it.
If tutoring is a supplementary income, or a second income alongside a higher paying job, you will also need to find out what your tax status is as you may be taxed a different rate for a 'second job'.
This may all seem rather annoying, but it is better to get the paperwork out of the way than be caught out and fined later on.
What Steps Should You Take to Ensure You're Complying with Tax Laws?
You will probably have lots of questions, such as:
- Do I need to register for GST?
- What's an ABN and do I need one?
- How much is the tax-free threshold?
- When do I lodge a tax return?
- How much should I put aside for tax purposes?
All the answers to these questions, and any others you may have, can be found on the Australian Taxation Office website.
For now, though, the most important things to remember are to let the ATO know you're working for yourself, and to bear in mind when setting your hourly rates that you may lose some of this to tax.
As an employee with a company, if you incur any expenses related to your work, you can claim these as a tax deduction. The same policy applies when you are self-employed. The ATO, or a tax accountant, will be able to give you a complete list of claimable expenses. Some of these may include:
- pens, paper and other necessary stationery items
- internet and phone expenses
- computer hardware, such as a webcam and speakers, for people tutoring online
- travel expenses, including public transport, petrol, car insurance etc.
- fees for advertising
- memberships, including tutoring or subject-related associations
- professional development directly related to your subjects, including the purchase of textbooks.
In all cases, you will either need receipts or a log book (for phone, travel kilometres etc.) for evidence of expenditure. Be careful not to include private purchases.
You may or may not want or need to contribute to a superannuation fund. As with all tax matters, the ATO website is a great source of information.
Now that you're aware of all the details, you are well prepared to go ahead and set your hourly tuition rate.
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