Has anyone ever suggested you should become a tutor? Do you have a passion for your chosen subjects and want to assist students with study skills or getting their heads around the content?
One-on-one tutoring, either as an online tutor or face-to-face, is a great way to earn some extra money while you're at uni. If you're studying to become a teacher, it's also a fantastic way to get some practice. Even if you're already working in your field, you can give private lessons after hours. Sharing your knowledge and expertise is a wonderful way to give something back.
Providing private tuition is not just a case of helping out with homework — but don't let that put you off. Tutoring jobs are rewarding, whether you're a student wanting to help your younger peers or an expert in your field, and if you follow our tips, you'll be on your way to running successful tutoring sessions in no time.
In this article, we'll give you tips about finding clients, establishing rapport, preparing and teaching your lessons — not to mention the all-important steps you can take to ensure your own job satisfaction.
What Do Tutoring Jobs Involve?
The first thing to remember when you start doing private tutoring is that you are providing a service to your students. When you become a tutor, you don't merely deliver the content. Listening and responding to your student's needs, their goals and their feedback is essential.
The best tutor-student relationship, the one that will achieve the most success, is built on trust.
Knowing your students on a personal level, understanding their learning styles and past experiences, gives you the knowledge to develop an individualised learning program. Teaching the student, not just the subject, is the key to academic success.
So, what types of tutoring jobs can you do?
Many people who offer private tutoring hold qualifications in their subject, or are working towards these at university — but not everyone.
Naturally, you wouldn't offer to teach a language if you've only done one term of it in primary school. However, if you've learned guitar since you were five, and you feel comfortable teaching it, there's no reason why you can't.
It's all about common sense and making sure the tutor jobs you apply for are ones where you feel you could really assist students.
A point to remember, though, is the rates people will pay you as a private tutor will be affected by your qualifications.
What You Need to Become a Tutor
As mentioned above, having a particular degree is not a prerequisite for private tutoring. Competency in your chosen topic is sufficient, along with a passion to share your knowledge.
Legally, you don't need any certifications to give private lessons, although it could be worth your while to register for a working with vulnerable persons/children check. You will need to find out what your state's requirements are, but generally, this will involve a simple background check and possibly paying a small fee. Once obtained, you can mention this in your advertising, providing reassurance to parents and students.
In addition, it would be useful to check with your local government or council what other legal formalities there are before you can earn money as a private tutor.
What to be Aware of as a Self-Employed Tutor
If you decide to build a sole-trader business offering private tutoring (rather than working for an established company), you may need to register your business with the relevant government authorities. There is a range of factors to consider, so it is best to check first.
Aside from the formalities, it is advised you document your earnings so you can complete your tax return accurately at the end of the financial year.
You may also wish to consider obtaining public liability insurance. While this is not mandatory, it does offer you protection in the event of injury or damage in the course of your work.
Employment with a Tutoring Company
There are definite advantages to working for an established tutoring agency:
- guaranteed work
- agency finds your clients for you
- no paperwork
- no concerns about payment, taxes, insurances etc
Different tutoring companies have varying requirements concerning your level of qualification, so it is best to check what these are. They will vary from only employing qualified teachers or university graduates through to only requiring some level of experience in the subject being taught.
Remember, not all tutoring companies are 'bricks and mortar'. You may feel that online tutoring jobs will better suit your circumstances and many companies have this option as well.
Either way, working for a reputable tutoring agency can help you build a solid reputation and notch up some experience, as well as developing your online presence if you have that option available.
Ways to Find Tutoring Clients
When you've sorted the relevant registrations and other paperwork, your next step is to find students.
How do you let people know who you are and what you do?
Ways to promote yourself as a tutor is limited only by imagination, but you could start with the following:
- Advertise: Your clients are going to be found in schools — primary schools, secondary schools, universities. Why wouldn't you start there? Ask if you can put up posters in the front office or flyers in the newsletter. You might be surprised how many parents want extra academic support for their children. Don't forget the staffroom (or ask if you can do a quick talk at a staff meeting) — teachers will often be more than happy to recommend you.
- Make some flyers: An hour or so on the computer, putting together key information about your skills and experience, as well as contact details, a photo and a testimonial or two, will be well worth the time. Put your flyers up on community notice boards at the shops or at play centres, libraries and schools. Do a letterbox drop. Ask your family and friends to put them near the coffee machine at their workplace.
- Make use of your existing networks: The people who know you – family, friends, colleagues, current or past students – are often your strongest advocates. Ask them to spread the word about your tutoring work. Try your existing social media – mention what you do on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (and ask your friends to share your posts). Don't underestimate the power of talking about yourself to anyone who will listen – local community members, neighbours, gym buddies. Tell people what you do.
- Create an online presence: Register with Superprof – it's no obligation, free and easy. You decide on your fees and the students contact you. Being visible online is great for building your reputation and allowing people to find you when they Google.
- Build a website: Your website doesn't have to be fancy or detailed. Create a couple of pages to showcase your services and your experience. Add your advertising flyers and some testimonials. Don't forget to put your CV up as well.
Remember to try all of these – make your reach as broad as you can in the early stages.
Where Can I Get Online Tutoring Jobs?
Do you live in a remote area? Are you going away for a month or so? Either way, if you offer online tutoring you are instantly more accessible.
There are a few online tutoring requirements you'll need before you start:
- webcam (preferably with a headset/microphone)
- Skype account (or similar)
Aside from the technical setup, online tutoring has the potential to achieve the same outcomes as in-home, face-to-face tutoring sessions. Online tutors need to be equally as capable and students need to be just as motivated if the lesson is going to be productive — the format and setting make very little difference, if any.
As with many things technical, the potential for interruptions or glitching is there. However, investing in webcam equipment of high quality should help ensure your lessons are as problem-free as possible.
In addition, your online lessons could potentially be even more effective if you make use of technologies, including screen sharing, Google Apps and other communication apps like Whatsapp. Your students will likely have some suggestions as well.
Just because you'll be teaching remotely doesn't mean you'll be earning less. Hourly rates for private tutoring jobs tend to be similar whether you are tutoring in person or online. In fact, if you take into account you won't have travel expenses, you'll probably find online teaching is more cost-effective.
So, if you decide to move your one-on-one tutoring online, or try a mix of in-person and online tutoring, you'll find your service will cater to a broader range of clientele.
After reading this, if you're thinking online tutoring jobs will fit your circumstances — what's your next step?
You can advertise your online tutoring services on multiple platforms. Gumtree is a useful place to begin, but you may also want to advertise on other platforms that are targeted towards education services, such as tutoring and teaching.
A Google search will bring up pages and pages of tutoring sites, many of which will be agencies with set rates.
However, if you look carefully, there are a few that give you more flexibility, including:
Anybody can register with TutorFinder, from students to qualified teachers. Registration is free and gives you a basic profile entry where you list your qualifications, experience, subjects and levels and your hourly rate. For a fee, you can upgrade to premium to get more exposure.
TutorFinder has a listing page of students looking for tutors, and you can contact students directly. Or, students can request your services, with the initial contact being made through TutorFinder messaging.
There is a broad range of subject offerings, however, most of them tend towards academic or musical. You negotiate with the student whether your lessons take place in person or online.
Superprof caters for all types of tutors — from new to experienced, and physics to yoga. Tutors create a profile, with information about their specialisations, qualifications and hourly rates — and, they can advertise for free.
Students find you themselves. They scroll through the profiles and reviews, then get in touch with you.
As a Superprof tutor, you set your hours and you set your rates. Many tutors offer the first lesson for free to build trust. It's so flexible and, best of all, you keep everything you earn.
All you need to do is put up your advertisement, and wait for the requests to flood in.
Like Superprof, Airstudy offers free signup and the opportunity to create a teacher profile. To register as an Airstudy tutor, you need to apply with your details and choose from their list of offered subjects.
Once you're accepted as a tutor, you can set your hours and rates. Airstudy will then match you with potential students and send you a contact email.
As with Superprof, you are paid by the students.
- Tutors Field
Tutors Field offers free and paid registration to their database, with the paid one allowing you to create a profile for their website. Anybody may register, although the focus is on qualified teachers and university graduates.
Once you have registered with Tutors Field, you can wait to be contacted and put in touch with potential students. Alternatively, you may also bid for jobs. You may set your own rates, however, there is a recommended range depending on your level of experience, and Tutors Field deals with payments as part of their service.
Tutoring jobs are listed by subject as well as by region. While they are predominantly face-to-face sessions, there are options for online tutors as well.
- Other online platforms/agencies
As mentioned above, there are many online tutoring agencies available. Many of these, like Cluey and Learnmate offer some degree of flexibility, but set their own fees and take a commission.
It really pays to do your research, contact companies, and ask around to find the platform or agency that best suits your needs as an online tutor.
Where can Face-to-Face Tutor Jobs be Conducted?
Tutoring in your student's home is often thought to be the best location for private tutoring due to its convenience for your clients.
While it can certainly many benefits for students who are tutored in familiar environments, there can also be distractions, such as family members and simple day-to-day life tasks.
In fact, if you find the right place — one that is both interesting and has an uplifting atmosphere conducive to learning — you may find a change of study location leads to more positive outcomes. Not only that, but a new learning environment lends itself to fun, encourages inspiration and may even increase self-confidence as you and your student discover and adjust to different situations.
There's no limit to where you can give private lessons. Here's a few potential locations to get you started:
- Outside: Fresh air re-energises us and stimulates the brain. Try a park, a bushwalk or sit by the lake — relax and learning will follow.
- Surrounded by books: Public libraries and bookstores often have tables nestled in among the shelves. Take advantage of the quiet that often surrounds books.
- Food outlets: Coffeeshops, cafes and local eateries can be great places to study through conversation, not only languages but humanities or other discussion-based subjects too.
- Cultural institutions: Go on an 'excursion' to a museum, art gallery or another 'touristy' location which is relevant to your subject matter.
Use your imagination, everywhere has 'teachable moments' if you're open to change and have an inkling of what to look for. The more unusual, the better.
Prepare Student-centred Lessons
A good rapport is key to achieving personal or academic success. Building and maintaining a positive, mutually respectful relationship with your student is essential if you want to truly meet their needs and support them. Good relationships also go a long way towards securing ongoing jobs.
Students who are already achieving success with traditional teaching methods generally don't enlist the support of tutors. Students will come to you because they require academic support tailored to their individual needs. Taking the time to prepare individualised lessons is the key to successful private tuition.
We suggest meeting with your students prior to their first lesson as a great way to start building that important teacher-student relationship. Use this opportunity to not only get to know them on a personal level, but to find out about their goals, past experiences and what they want from you as a tutor. You could also conduct a short, informal assessment to find out what their academic strengths and weaknesses are.
Talk to the parents too. They will want to tell you about their concerns and what they want their child to achieve. Parents will know how their child learns and may also be able to pass on valuable information from the teacher.
It's important to be open about your teaching approach and to keep parents informed of the progress of their child. Involve your students in these discussions too — it will empower them and let them know they're supported.
You may be asked to work with students who have special needs or specific learning difficulties, including autism, ADHD or dyslexia/dysgraphia. As their tutor, you may need to help them develop study skills and alternative learning strategies first, before you can get to specific content.
While certain learning difficulties often respond to specific strategies (for example, students on the autism spectrum often require work to be broken down into shorter sections, or respond better to visual cues), it is important to remember that all students are different. You may need to test a number of alternative strategies before you find the one that resonates with your student and allows for the greatest success.
Acknowledging the positives is essential if you are to boost the self-esteem and confidence of your student. Try to discover their strengths and use these to help work on their weaknesses. Always offer constructive criticism and make sure you spend time each lesson focusing on what your student can do.
When you are familiar with the strengths of your student, and you know which learning styles your student prefers, you can incorporate one into the other — allowing your student to feel confident and able to take control of his or her own learning.
Empowering your students in this way will eventually enable them to transfer their new study skills and learning strategies into the classroom. They will be aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses and will know how to act on these, and make them work to their advantage, in the future. As a private tutor, you are not only assisting your student with the here and now, you are providing them with lifelong learning habits and a positive growth mindset.
Private Tutoring for Non-Academic Subjects
While it is true that a large proportion of tutoring jobs are centred around academic subjects, there is a growing trend towards work-life balance and, with this, the desire to learn new skills purely out of interest or for leisure and personal wellbeing.
This is fantastic news for all the creatives (writers, artists and performers) and others who are trained and skilled in practical pursuits (cooking, mechanics, sports). Whatever your passion is, if you want to inspire others to develop and perfect their skills in your area of expertise, there are likely to be many people who are interested.
With the increasing awareness of stress-levels and personal wellbeing, more and more people are beginning to seek new 'life' experiences. We're seeking new skills and new information — just for us, for the fun of it, to unwind and destress.
Hand-in-hand with destressing comes fitness and wellbeing. People are congregating in hordes to try meditation, yoga, dance or personal training. In addition, they're also looking to expand their knowledge about nutrition and healthy food planning. The personal fitness and body awareness industry is massive at the moment.
A lot of people are also reconnecting with their creativity by enrolling in art classes, photography and pottery, or they might be dusting off their high school flute, or picking up a new instrument for the first time.
Non-academic subjects may also lend themselves to professional training needs.
If you're a voice coach or a public-speaking expert, you may find aspiring managers or teachers wanting to employ you for some practice sessions to build their confidence and pick up some tips.
For tutors who speak another language, there are increasing numbers of people who are realising the joys and benefits of being multi-lingual and are looking to brush up on the language of their grandparents or simply learn the language of a country they'd love to visit. Alternatively, there are many immigrants and overseas students who are keen to hone their English skills with a native-speaking tutor.
Whatever your skill, your passion or your hobby, there are boundless opportunities for you to share these with students.
There are also a variety of ways you can teach non-academic subjects.
Perhaps you are a whizz at cake decorating. You can approach lessons in several ways:
- Host a demonstration: you could show one style of decoration, allowing students to try their hand at piping and answering questions.
- Run practical workshops: a combination of a demonstration and hands-on time, where students may experience a variety of different techniques.
- Start up a cake decoration group: bring people together to learn off each other as well as gaining your insights and expertise.
- Coordinate a cake decoration weekend: you may have a theme or a function you are working towards, or it could simply be a social occasion with lots of delicious samples.
While the more academic subjects may not lend themselves to this variety, something like cake decorating could certainly be taught in the more traditional tutoring style — or even online.
It doesn't matter whether you intend to offer singing, music-making, quilting, cooking, meditation or dance — there is nothing to stop you adopting a similar format to share your skills with the wider community.
And while we're on that point, hosting an open demonstration or 'come and try' session is great advertising!
Great Advertising will bring in the Tutor Jobs
Before you start planning your advertising, allocate some time to check other ads for some inspiration. Ads are everywhere — check flyers on your local community board, advertising in newsletters and ads on tutoring platforms (like superprof.com.au). Look with a critical eye. What do you like about each ad? What catches your attention? What could be improved?
There's nothing wrong with taking great ideas and repurposing them to suit your own advertising needs.
The most important thing is to make sure your ad is attention-grabbing. Colour schemes that pop, simple branding and icons, the format of your flyer, a memorable slogan — there are lots of ways you can make your advertising stand out from the rest of the material adorning shop windows, public notice boards and school foyers.
QUICK AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO STAND OUT!
- Colour: a little bit goes a long way
- Bold eye-catching font: use it to emphasise your subject and contact details
- Relevant details only: simplicity and clarity are key
- List your qualifications, your specialist areas (year levels/range) and your contact details
- Make sure potential clients know where to go to access more information
People will not stand around and read long wordy paragraphs or tiny print. Make your ad concise. All your relevant information should be able to be taken in at a glance. If people are interested, they'll keep reading.
Use keywords to give extra details that will be of interest to potential clients. If you are offering private tutoring in maths, mention specific fields like algebra, calculus or geometry. Find out what schools are focusing on and mention these topics specifically.
If you specialise in a writing-based subject, such as humanities, your skills as a researcher or writer could be exactly what parents are looking for to help their child with assignments.
If you're a university student, your knowledge of study skills, time management, and test preparation is valuable. Market these skills and promote your familiarity with current curriculum and testing requirements.
Many students know the content but don't know how to effectively apply it. This is where you could come in as a recent graduate with first-hand experience of exam preparation and test-taking techniques. You can specifically target this type of advertising to Year 12 students, or university students in their first year.
Advertise widely to reach as many clients as you can. Keep your ads consistent in style and format — whether they're online or hardcopy. This will help build your brand and develop your reputation as trustworthy and reliable. Seek testimonials and Google ratings — the more you get, the more people will seriously consider hiring you.
The Attributes of an Effective Tutor
'Can you tutor me in Japanese?'
'Of course, I can do that.'
What could be easier? A student wants to learn a language that you speak — of course, you can tutor them! Right?
Well, yes, but will your tutoring be effective?
Did you ask the student about his motivation for learning Japanese? Does she love Japanese food, or have a fascination with Anime — or is she going to need Japanese in her business career?
Is he off to Tokyo for a holiday with some mates, or is he doing a month-long internship with a bizen-yaki pottery master in the remote country towns of Okayama Prefecture?
Will she need to be using formal Japanese? Will he need to understand a particular dialect?
Having skill or expertise in your subject does not always mean you are equipped to teach it.
But, have heart, this can be learned. First and foremost, ask yourself if you have these essential traits to be an effective teacher:
- Empathy and tolerance
- Clarity (in what you say and how you present)
- Diligence and attention to detail
- Skills relevant to teaching
An effective teacher has exemplary organisational skills. You will need to create individualised learning programs for all of your students, maintain notes and records, and be flexible enough to make changes and adapt your plans in response to your students' changing circumstances and needs.
Your lesson plans should reflect discussions you've had with your students (and their carers) and should respond to their needs and goals. You also need to consider specific time-frames for exams or other assessments.
Teaching methodology and your pedagogical beliefs may change slightly over time but are generally the solid foundations which underpin the way you respond to your students' needs. Over time, your bank of teaching strategies will become second nature, and you'll be able to select the best ones to create individualised lessons for each student.
However, to do this well, with all of your tutoring students, you have to ask open and in-depth questions.
Perhaps you are tutoring a student in math and the parents have employed you because their child has gaps in their knowledge. Do you know why they have gaps? Does every student you teach present with the same challenges or areas of difficulty? You will need to ask questions to drill down a bit more.
Do you need, for example, to take a learning disability into consideration?
Some students find it challenging to recognise and manipulate numbers. This difficulty could point to dyscalculia which affects a person's ability to read, relate to and compare numbers.
Traditional worksheets and verbal questioning can be frustrating, however number games and visual manipulatives might achieve more success.
Math anxiety (or any subject anxiety) is classed as a disability and affects a large number of students, particularly those with ADD or ADHD, rendering them physically incapable of learning.
Activities to remove the pressure of performance, including physical movements, singing, dancing and music, can be of assistance.
Often, you may identify that your student is missing basic number sense or number facts, which ultimately slows them down and prevents further learning. It is worth investigating whether an underlying learning disability is affecting your student's retention.
Perhaps your student simply needs more practice with number facts and operational processes. If their basic knowledge is incomplete, you'll need to work on rectifying this before you can move on.
Or, even if your student possesses quick number fact recall, s/he may still have computational or process weaknesses in certain areas. They may not have a sound understanding of place value, or they may neglect to carry and add numbers when multiplying or they may not place the decimal point in the correct location. All of these 'minor issues' need attention before you can move on to more complex concepts successfully.
A quick resource search, or a bit of creative thought, will help you find strategies, manipulatives, and activities to help you fill your student's gaps and reinforce their basic, fundamental knowledge and skills.
However, what will you do if your student has no interest in maths?
Your job is to inject that interest, find the spark, and make the topic real and relevant!
A successful tutor also possesses an arsenal of psychological approaches. You will have the ability to switch places with your student and work out what you can do differently to promote engagement and motivation.
This is where empathy comes into play.
Bullying, particularly cyber-bullying, has been in the news a lot and there is a (slowly) growing awareness of its signs and the devastating effects it can have on our young people. Sadly, it affects students who are at their most vulnerable and who often suffer in silence while teachers and parents are unaware.
Any form of bullying is not only painful and debilitating, but it can also have ongoing negative effects on the student's study habits and results. Students find it hard to focus but can not confide in anyone in authority, for fear of the bullying becoming worse.
As a tutor, you are in a unique position of trust and inside knowledge. It is your responsibility to understand why the student needs your help.
If your student's focus is exam preparation, there may not be any underlying issues. However, if you have been employed to provide longer-term academic support and assistance with assessment tasks or weekly revision, it may be useful to find out a bit more about the reasons behind these needs.
If you don't build a solid, trust-based relationship with your student, you won't be able to find out this information.
Earning the trust of your students will not only allow you to understand their needs, but it will also help in other ways. A trust-based relationship helps promote a more pleasant study environment and allows your student to feel safe asking you for clarification or bringing up other areas of difficulty.
It's important to document student progress over time, so having regular tutoring sessions is a must. If students know you're keeping tabs on their progress, they'll feel you care about them and will work harder to please you. You'll also benefit from gaining a greater personal insight into your student's lives.
- Make a decision about the work environment that suits you the best — self-employment or agency work.
- Advertise widely to attract clients. Use your networks — family, friends, community, social media, local contacts.
- Less is more! Only provide essential details in your ads — contact details, subject specialisations, relevant qualifications.
- Online tutoring, with up-to-date equipment, allows you to work with anyone and anywhere for the same rates as face-to-face tutoring.
- Get out of the classroom or home environment. Use your imagination — go to a gallery, a bookshop or a park for your sessions.
- Effective tutors are patient, clear and pay close attention to details and skills. They are flexible and can adapt to change, but still provide consistency.
- Make sure you involve the parents. Keep them informed about your student's progress, and use their knowledge of their child to inform your teaching.
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