As much as you might love talking about finance, markets, policy, business and economic theory, if you're honest about it, you'll know that jobs for economics teachers are not considered the most glamorous or exciting.
You would definitely know the name, Marie Curie. And you have probably heard of Elizabeth Blackburn and Patrick White. But do you know who the Nobel Laureate for Economic Science was in 2020?
No? Me neither — I had to look it up. (There were two: Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson.)
To add to the insult, the economics category was only added to the prize list in 1969 — like a 70-years-later afterthought.
In a traditionally male-dominated field of study, it probably comes as no surprise that there are only two female Nobel Laureates in economics. (Female laureates in every category are woefully scant, but we'll leave that for another day.)
Whether you are passionate about encouraging more females to enter into economics study, or just want to share your passion via economics lessons, you need to first know where to find these students.
Who is Your Ideal Student?
Anyone can become a private tutor in Australia, there is no law saying you have to be qualified or have a degree.
That being said, students are becoming savvier about making sure the tutor they are trusting to help with their learning is knowledgeable and experienced in their subject. On the whole, however, as long as you are at least one year level higher than the students taking your economics lessons, you should be fine.
Let's assume, though, that you have some sort of qualification, whether a certificate, undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree in economics — your students could easily range from a high school student grappling with basic economic theory, through to students learning concepts in macroeconomics or microeconomics or even a student in the final stages of a paper on international economics.
However, why would you limit yourself to high school or university students? Remember to consider:
- students looking to forge a career in the public service, specialising in policy, management or political economy
- government employees or other people getting ready to move overseas in their career and needing to learn more about the international economy
- students enrolled in a continuing education program or online evening course who may either be expanding their knowledge of economic theory, concepts and models, or who may just be interested in expanding their general knowledge through extra study
- people retraining for promotion or a new career
- retirees, or people nearing retirement, who want to learn more about the finance market, interest rates and economic planning.
The question is: who is your ideal student?
Do you relish the challenge of a university undergraduate or postgraduate student who needs a solid understanding of economic theory and principles? Or would you prefer to work with students at the fundamental level of understanding, providing lessons and support in the practical, real-life application of economic concepts and skills?
What Field of Economics is Your Focus?
While it is a good idea to find your niche market in tutoring by specialising in a particular field of economics, it is also a good idea to ensure you keep your finger on the pulse of the Australian and international economy.
If you have a favourite economic theory or a particular field you are passionate about — whether behavioural economics, applied economics, microeconomics, macroeconomics or any other discipline — it would certainly be worth your while to advertise this, while also expanding on your broad outlook and knowledge of key principles.
Remember, too, that you may come across students in your economics lessons or online who have opposing points of view, or want to argue economic theory with you. Let them — it's good practice — but always remain the education professional. You can have an opinion, while still appearing unbiased.
Tips for Teaching Economics Classes Online or Face-to-Face
Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.
~ W.B. Yeats ~
Teachers, particularly those who deliver lessons in the 'drier' subjects, like economics, would do well to remember the words of Yeats.
It is very easy to drone on to your students about economic theory, the principles of economics, market economy, finance and management, blah, blah, blah ... however, inspiring teachers provide rich tasks and facilitate engaging discussions, which both increase the skills of their students and ignite the passion.
Another tip is for teachers to remember what it was like to be a student.
Do you remember how much time and effort it took for you to remember the intricacies of the law of supply and demand or Keynesian economic theory? If so, why would you expect your students to fully understand and apply these concepts after only a few lessons?
Knowledge, which is acquired under compulsion, obtains no hold on the mind.
~ Plato ~
In fact, there is no easier way to turn a student off learning than to expect too much, too soon, or to provide no real context which they can connect with and apply new concepts.
Keeping your lessons fresh and time relevant not only aids the understanding and interest level of your students, but it keeps your interest level high.
Listening to your students and encouraging them to seek clarification, question concepts and apply their understanding is important, and time for this should be built into your lessons and courses.
Spend time building your reputation — word-of-mouth advertising and referrals remain the largest advertising market in tutoring, so remember that your reputation will precede you.
Some factors that determine your value as an economics teacher include your:
- lesson preparation
- delivery (development and application of content to engage and promote understanding)
- economic understanding
- level of professionalism.
Build that reputation and you can start delivering your economics lessons face-to-face or offering economics classes online — with students lining up for a spot.
Booking in Students
At this point, you should have decided who your ideal economics student is, determined your teaching strategies and prepared a handful of resources to use in your initial lessons.
Now, it's time to start booking in students.
Oh no! Actually, it's not that hard.
Students who are electing to study economics during senior high school and at university are increasing, and there are huge numbers of people who are simply interested but don't want to commit to a full degree.
So — where do you advertise your services?
Schools and university campuses
Ask if you can put flyers in school newsletters or in the front foyer of the school office. You can post flyers on noticeboards around your local university, in the student services area as well as in the faculty or school of economics or business.
Make sure your flyer includes the type of help you offer — exam preparation, an overview of economic concepts and principles or analysis of specific topics including microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance market, international economy and so on.
Consider talking to the head of student services or even the Dean of Economics as they may be willing to refer students directly to you.
Public library or government council
Workshops and study help sessions are often offered by libraries, community groups and government councils. If they don't already offer economics, you can suggest they do. Think outside the square too — what would people want advice on? Money matters? Small business management? The finance market and financial investment?
If you're offering economics classes online, it makes sense to advertise online as well, as this is where your students will be hanging out. Even if you are offering in-person private lessons or group courses, online advertising has a larger reach locally.
Try social media or other platforms like Gumtree where you can advertise for free.
You must spend money to make money.
In the past, this adage may have been true, but these days there are many other viable options. You shouldn't feel compelled to pay to get premium placement and boosted reach. It's more about clear messaging, branding and consistency.
Create a Superprof profile
The Superprof platform supports both teachers and students.
As a tutor, you are free to set your own rates, which are usually based on your experience and skills. Your profile page allows you to add the information you want to provide to prospective students, such as your experience, CV, areas of specialisation and student testimonials. It is your choice as to the lesson format and delivery — online, face-to-face, group, private.
Students benefit by being able to easily see all your information in one place, with easy contact options. They also appreciate the opportunity for the free trial lesson offered by many teachers.
The best thing for you is that once your information is on the Superprof platform, you no longer have to chase students. They seek you out.
This table outlines the pros and cons of different methods of advertising to find students.
|Online or print advertisement||Succinct|
|No room for details |
Could be missed
|Flyers (letterbox drop or noticeboards)||Room for details|
Target your market
|Printing costs |
Time to distribute
|Community tutoring||Gain experience|
|Usually voluntary |
Low or no pay
|Sign up with a tutoring agency||Guaranteed students|
|You must teach how and what the company dictates |
Company takes a percentage of your fees
|Set up a Superprof profile||Free|
Include all details
Options for delivery
Set your own fees and hours
|?? Can you think of any?|
Which ones will work for you?
Next step: how should you create your lesson plans?
The platform that connects tutors and students