Let's face it: Economics teacher jobs are simply not the most glamorous positions in academia.
Think about it: We all know who Stephen Hawking was and who Ruth Lawrence is, but does anyone know – without looking it up, who won the 2015 Nobel prize in Economics?
Annual science, peace and literary prize disbursements are well publicised; of less renown is the prize for Economics, perhaps because it was added some 70 years after the foundation of the award, as an afterthought to the already established categories.
To answer the above question: Angus Deaton, a British native, won the prize that year for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare – honourable work!
Yes, I had to look it up...
Interesting aside: since this prize's inception in 1968, only one woman has won it; a fact you might divulge to give incentive for more female students to study economics!
But first, you have to find students... never mind their gender.
Let us detail a few ways you, perhaps forlorn at the prospect of unwilling, unmotivated students, could attract and engage learners to the insightful world of economics.
Determining Your Audience
There is no law in the UK demanding one must be certified in one's field before becoming a tutor.
In theory, you could be preparing for A-Levels in Economics and earn pocket money by tutoring a student who has selected Economics as a GCSE test topic.
The rule of thumb is: you should be one year more advanced in your subject matter than your pupil.
For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to assume you have already earned some qualification in Economics, be it your A-Levels (Advanced Higher, in Scotland), all the way to a doctorate in the subject.
Should that be the case, your student body may comprise of an entire range of students from within a formal learning environment, from those just grasping the concepts of macroeconomics to those preparing their masters' thesis on International Economics.
Those are the easy guesses.
The student body you might not have considered is made up of:
- People hoping to work in civil service: shaping public policy, political economy or econometrics
- People preparing to work and live abroad: learning about their new home country's economy could be vital to their success there
- Continuing Education students – either learning more about economic models for people already employed in the sector, or people generally interested in learning new concepts
- Career retraining: people who have lost their job and seek to train into a less risky, less volatile career field.
- People approaching retirement might want to learn about interest rates, equity markets and economic indicators to plan for their golden years.
As you might have already intuited, teaching Economics to an undergraduate would entail ensuring textbook knowledge, with the prime directive being that s/he is grounded in elemental theories.
That would be substantially different than rendering such concepts understandable to anyone who has only a bare fundamental grasp on the subject, or one who has spent some years in the field.
The flipside of that coin is that you don't need to limit yourself to the desperate Economics major in order to find students to teach!
What Aspect of Economics?
Just as your student body may be wildly diverse, so are the types of Economics you could teach.
Development economics, experimental economics, behavioural economics, applied economics...
That begs the question: is there a particular facet of economics that you excel in? Or an aspect of the discipline – utility, scarcity, producers/consumers that you wish to place more emphasis on?
Do you have a pet economic theory that you wish to advance and expound on, perhaps to the exclusion of any less popular principle?
Just as economic markets operate in their own interests – all mutual benefit from trade aside, human nature dictates we promote our own interests, whether they accord with the day's ideals or diverge from them to whatever degree.
Would you be the rare scholar who could remain unbiased?
What Not to do When Teaching Economics
Far be it for anyone here to criticise your teaching methods, especially as we've never had the pleasure of experiencing your methods or delivery.
However, this general statement about teaching could be applied to Economics instruction:
A substantial portion of the teaching population suffers, at least to some extent, from academic tunnel vision.
Admittedly, the math and theories associated with economics can be tedious and mind-numbing.
That might explain why it is not everybody's favourite subject.
And then, there is the propensity for professors to expect students to instantly assimilate novel concepts that the teachers themselves took years to understand and apply.
Any teacher, intolerant or impatient at students' perceived inability to understand concepts, may well cause students to turn away from Economics altogether!
Perhaps modelling each economic concept on current events or activities the student enjoys would provide the needed context for true understanding.
It is of paramount importance to keep your teaching lively and fresh, always be compassionate of students' seeming reluctance, and answer every question in such a way that your pupil can absorb new knowledge relatively easily.
Testimonials and referrals are the most effective advertisement that freelance teachers could employ.
The phrase your reputation precedes you has never carried more weight than in the tutoring business.
Your demeanour and curriculum; how you incorporate mathematics into the framework of economics, your teaching strategies and even whether you yourself are an economist are all factors in determining your value as a teacher.
The more positive your reputation, the more you will be in demand. The more you are in demand, the more you stand to earn.
The more you earn, the better off you will be, economically... how is that for balancing supply and demand?
Discover the various online tutoring jobs for economists.
Finding Economics Students
Presumably, by this time, you have winnowed all potential economics students to your targeted demographic, outlined your teaching strategy, and perhaps even prepared a few Powerpoint presentations.
It is now time to fill your schedule!
Doing so might not be as hard as you first thought.
According to the University of Bristol, statistics show that students embracing Economics has been on a slow but steady increase, year to year.
Thus it would not be unreasonable to post a flyer on school dormitory billboards, or in campus teaching buildings.
In fact, as exam time approaches, you may consider canvassing campuses where the subject is taught, offering test preparation help or in-depth clarification of economic concepts and specific topics related to economics, such as investing.
You may also consider talking with the head of the Department of Economics. If your credentials are sufficiently impressive, those teachers may refer their struggling students to you!
As long as you are canvassing, why not visit your local library and Council office?
Your local library may already host workshops and homework help on various academic subjects. If Economics is not on their list, nothing says you can't propose becoming their instructor!
If your local Council has a continuous learning initiative, you may volunteer your services to teach basic principles of economy, or give lectures on economic development after Brexit – as an example.
Even a volunteering opportunity can generate glowing testimonials and add to your reputation!
Other ways of promoting your Economics tutoring would be to place an advert online, at sites such as Gumtree or your local Freeads.
While we maintain that any way to get your name out there is good, there are two major pitfalls to such advertising:
1. It would be difficult to attach any endorsements and references made by previous students
2. You may feel compelled to pay for premium placement of your advert, lest it gets lost in the shuffle.
The old saw: It takes money to make money is not a viable economic standard!
Besides, spending unnecessarily does not guarantee a more fruitful outcome of your teaching venture.
That is why we advocate creating a teaching profile, and Superprof is the platform that best supports teachers and students.
As a Superprof tutor, you set your price according to your experience – with space on your profile page to list said experience. You can choose whether to meet prospective students face to face or via webcam.
Your future students benefit from your detailed CV by being able to select the perfect tutor for their needs.
An additional incentive for them to choose you would be your offering the first hour of instruction for free!
Rather than being constrained by guidelines of any formal learning institution, or becoming a part of the traditional workforce by signing on with a tutoring agency – another way to find students, you have the option of sharing your expertise with students who seek you out.
With your detailed online profile – complete with raves by other students, those applying themselves to the rigours of economic philosophy will surely feel relieved at finding you!
We now outline the pros and cons of various means of finding students: what do you think of each?
|Posting an advert online or in your local paper||High visibility|
lots of traffic
|Possible cash outlay |
Potential to be overlooked
No room for details or testimonials
|Handbills or flyers||List all of your info|
opportunity for face time
|Definite time and money investment|
|Library or Council tutor||Gain exposure|
refine teaching methods
|generally volunteer work; no pay|
|Enlisting with a tutoring agency||Guaranteed a complement of students|
students are pre-screened
more or less steady work
|Less leeway to teach as you would like|
Possibility of teaching in groups
A portion of your earnings goes to the company
|Establishing a profile online with Superprof||Free set up|
List all qualifications and referrals
Different delivery methods
Set your own hours
|We can't think of any!|
What should you put in your lesson plans?