For students these days, the pressure is on.
From elementary school kids to college kids to adult learners at trade schools, all are feeling the push to succeed in their respective learning institutions. You have to get good grades to get into a good college, after all. And how well you do at technical school could mean the difference between getting a job after you complete the course or not.
Bottom line is that students want to excel, for those and many other reasons, as well as their personal satisfaction.
But the thing is… some of these students need a little extra help. The answer is tutoring; after-school help, in other words, to reinforce what they learned in the classroom. And with so many schools of all different types out there, that means a tremendous opportunity for tutors… like you. Yes, you.
Before you get scared off by the prospect of being a tutor – “I don’t have a teacher’s certificate!” you might say. Or, “But I’m not really an expert at anything!” – Just realize that by the very dint of your experience and whatever education you have, you do have the necessary tools to be an exceptional tutor. After all, a tutor doesn’t strictly have to be a specialized teacher. A tutor can be more of a mentor, a life coach.
In fact, if you’re reading this right now, guess what? You already have the skills needed to become an English tutor, as we discussed in this previous issue.
Students around the globe – from India and China, Brazil and France – learn English because it’s the main language of business and technology. Some of these students are looking for a conversational partner, someone they can chat with over the internet for a couple of hours a week and will correct their basic grammar mistakes. So if you still think you don’t have the necessary skills to be a tutor, think again.
But English is far from the only subject you can tutor in. Take a look at some of your other skills. You no doubt possess some specialized knowledge in some subject, be it grammar, algebra, geography, Spanish, etc, that would be a perfect match for a lucrative tutoring gig.
As a tutor, you can specialize in a certain subject matter or a group of subjects. Do that and you’ll become known as the go-to tutor in that area. That’s ideal for your marketing efforts. And you can charge more. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you don’t have a special skill. You are definitely qualified to teach basic subjects like math and English, at least to younger students.
A few years ago, if you wanted to be a successful tutor, you had to live near a university or high school and spend a weekend putting up fliers. These days, however, thanks to the rapid proliferation of high-speed Internet connections and computer cameras, you can tutor anyone in the world at anytime. This has opened up the market for tutoring immensely.
The best part is that you can tutor from the comfort of your own home… and work on your own schedule, taking as many or as few students as you want at one time. It all depends on how much money you want to make.
Here’s a list of some of the best websites, programs and technologies available to online tutors. First the technical side, the tools you’ll use to interact with your clients/students:
Skype: A free program that lets you video-chat with someone. Communication, after all, is 90% nonverbal. Skype lets you and your pupil tap into that. All you need is a web camera and Internet access.
GoToMeeting: Like Skype, this program allows you to video-chat as well as to see the other person’s desktop. Great for working through complex math or science problems.
Keep in mind you’ll also be communicating by email and instant message – if the student has a question in between tutoring sessions, for example.
Now let’s check out some resources that’ll help you find jobs, hook you up with students in need of tutors, and even manage the tutoring process.
Tutor.com: When you sign up to be a tutor on Tutor.com, half the work is done for you. It’s one of the largest tutoring websites online, so thousands of students flock there every day to find a tutor for the subject they need help with.
WizIQ.com: This education portal allows students and instructors to access and record lessons.
4Teachers.org: This website is a great resource if you need help creating quizzes and lesson plans. Available in both English and Spanish.
I also suggest advertising yourself as a tutor on CraigsList. It’s completely free and you can advertise in multiple locations at the same time. Looking to tutor college students? Advertise in cities with a lot of colleges, like Boston or New York. Tutoring English? Try immigrant heavy areas like Miami or Los Angeles.
Tutoring Rates and Charges
Tutors typically charge by the hour, anywhere from $20 to $50. The more specialized and complicated the subject, the more you can charge.
Once you find your clients, work out how often you’ll meet: weekly, twice a week, whatever. Remember it’s online, so each of your schedules is pretty flexible. But in general, for students usually in school during the day, your sessions will be at night. For adult learners in “night school,” you’ll have to schedule tutoring on their off nights.
Whatever the schedule, work with your clients and reach an agreement that works for both parties concerning meeting times and fees. Consider you probably have to talk to the parents when it comes to younger students.
One last thing, the more educated the tutor is, the more that tutor can charge. So educate yourself and research the area and subject you are teaching and price accordingly in the future. By the same token, once you start racking up some success stories, you can start charging more as well. And be sure to include those details in your marketing as well.Expected Job Growth for Tutors
One more reason why tutoring is such an exciting field to enter is that demand for tutors will only go up. Every year, students are expected to score higher on standardized tests, to excel at scholarship applications, and to prepare for a path in higher education.
A few years ago, you could get a good job as long as you had a high school diploma. But these days most employers require at least a Bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.
A good tutor can be the difference between passing and failure for many students. After all, a full-time teacher usually has hundreds of students and just doesn’t have the time for the one-on-one instruction many students need to bridge those gaps in their comprehension. And as students are expected to attain higher and higher academic goals, and their access to a real person with knowledge decreases, the role of tutoring will expand significantly.
In Japan, for instance, most high school students go to class during the day and then attend “cram” schools in the evenings. These are smaller classrooms that focus on one subject. Just like a good tutor. And as American pupils will require more instruction to be competitive in the global marketplace, more tutors will be required to bridge that gap. The future awaits.
I wish you the best of luck!
P.S. I’ve just given you all the tips you need to become a successful online tutor. But here are a few more resources to help you excel and grow as a tutor.
Tutoring Job Networks and Platforms