So you want to become a private tutor?
According to a survey by EdPlace, parents spend on average £2758 on tutoring per child per year.
The private tuition sector, which boasts a flexible schedule, control over your rates, and the rewarding opportunity to work with people to achieve their goals, is growing in popularity for students and practitioners alike. So it's no surprise that an increasing number of individuals are joining the ranks of private educators on a part time or full time basis.
It's as simple as that?
There are a few stages between deciding to become a tutor and delivering your first lesson. Namely, making your online tutor profile.
We try to deny it but, when looking for supplemental instruction, our eyes are immediately drawn to the little pound sign on the right-hand-side of the screen. A teacher's price tag is their first impression, and must be justified by the information which follows. If your experience and qualifications aren't deemed to be worth the money, you will be overlooked by potential students.
It is tempting to offer irresistibly low prices to create a buzz among your target client-base. However by setting your rates too low you will undervalue your skills and come across as something that's fallen out of the bargain bucket in your local corner shop.
In brief setting the right rate is vital to your success as a tutor. It also involves treading the fine line between too much and too little.
You're probably about to open up an internet search engine and make a frantic search for a one-size-fits-all hourly rate for tutors. Unfortunately no such thing exists, believe us we've looked! Setting your hourly mentoring rate requires careful consideration and reflection about your own skills. Your rate should be tailored to your skills and circumstances.
We can't set your rates for you, but we can take you step-by-step through the process of setting an hourly rate.
Stage 1: Keeping an Eye on the Competition for Tutoring Jobs
The first step for any new business is to check out their competitors. Private tutors are no different.
Looking at other prices on the market gives you an idea of what students are willing to pay for your services.
Prices according to Subject
We recommend that you start by checking out the tuition rates in your subject area.
Tuition rates vary according to subject demand. For example if harp tutors were in short supply compared to the demand for harp lessons, these tutors would charge higher rates. Equally if there were an abundance of harp teachers and a deficit of harp students, harp tutors would have to lower their rates to compete with other prices on the market and to attract new students.
Some fields are more expensive due to the equipment required. A peripatetic fencing tutor may need far more equipment than a break-dancing instructor, so prices will reflect this.
Prices can also be defined by a subject's governing body, for example The Musician's Union advises an hourly rate of £32 for music tutors (or £38 in London).
Prices according to Location
The next stage is decide where your 'market' is and then get to know it.
For home tutors and peripatetic tutors, the market is your locality. Home tutoring prices in the UK vary hugely from one to another. They are affected by the following variables in the area:
- standard of living,
- schools and exams sat in the area,
- supply and demand of tutors in the area.
If you choose to offer face-to-face tuition, you should investigate what others in your field are charging in the local area.
Online tutors can reach a greater pool of potential students available to them, but they also have more competition. An online tutor's market is the entire internet, they should look at the average tuition rate for their subject across the whole of the UK and in other anglophone countries if they want to fill their online classroom. Online tutors can use applications such as Skype among other services to teach English online.
Stage 2: Find your place in the Tutor Job Market
Now that you've seen what else is out there, you must decide where you fit in.
A tutor's rate depends to a certain extent on their background in teaching and in the subject matter. Many professional educators are looking for tutoring jobs after teaching or in their evenings and the more experience you have, the more you can charge.
The best way to put a value on your knowledge is to define your experience level. You can then focus your market research to see what tutors with equivalent experience are charging in your area and subject. To give you an overview, here is a brief description of the three broad experience categories.
Experts and Professionals
Many students value tutors who have hands-on experience in the field. We'll call these tutors 'experts' or 'professionals', although in modern language study they're actually native speakers. These tutors are generally very specialised and share the most up-to-date and detailed knowledge with their students and are popular amongst advanced-level learners. They can charge higher rates for their services.
Certified teachers also appeal to students as their qualified teacher status demonstrates both their knowledge of the subject, national syllabus and tests, and their competence in tutelage. Students looking for a structured learning experience and academic support often favour qualified teachers as tutors. These tutors can also charge higher hourly rates.
On the lower end of the subject price range are student tutors. Often tutoring to support their studies and gain experience relevant to their field, student tutors are often highly motivated, passionate, and enthusiastic. Although lacking in teaching experience and qualifications, this does not have a detrimental effect on the academic success of their pupils. Student tutors have current experience of the education system and may be more relatable for younger learners. This means that they make ideal homework help tutors as well as role models. They tend to charge the lowest hourly rate.
Your tutoring experience and mastery of the subject matter can be evidenced by testimonials and feedback on your tutoring profile.
Stage 3: Factor in your Costs to Become a Tutor
By this point you may have a price in mind which correlates with your subject, location, and experience. It's time to assess whether this rate is substantial enough to cover your tutoring jobs costs and preparation time.
On SuperProf you don't pay commission. This means that if you charge £25 an hour, you'll receive £25 an hour. So there's no need to factor commission into your costs.
A good tutor prepares every lesson to cater for the individual needs of each individual student by creating study plans, providing feedback on assignments, and advising improvements.
As a rule of thumb, tutors should spend one hour preparing for each hour of class. To work out your hourly rate you must therefore half your advertised rate.
For example, a tutor charging £25 per hour for a class which requires one hour of preparation will actually be earning £12.50 per hour.
Face-to-face tuition requires a commute for either the student or the tutor. If you are tutoring peripatetically, you must factor in your travel time and costs when setting your rate.
Some tutors ask that their students pay for their commute, whereas others encompass any possible charges in their tutoring rate. Either way, consider commuting when setting your rate to be sure that your earnings will cover your expenses.
Equipment and resources
All the gear but no idea!
Some tutors provide equipment and resources for their students. This helps to attracts beginners looking to discover a new skill before they fully invest in all the kit. For example a fencing instructor is likely to provide equipment for new students to use during classes, students can then decide whether or not they like fencing before buying all the gear.
The hitch is that this equipment is expensive, which often accounts for the higher rates of tutors providing it. If you supply additional resources or equipment for your students, you may wish to consider either charging more for your lessons or charging a small fee for use of the equipment. If you do charge for equipment use, your equipment should be in good condition.
Self-employed private tutors pay their own income tax and National Insurance Contributions at the end of each tax year. This means that your contributions and taxes are paid as a lump sum after you've earned them as opposed to on a monthly basis. Factor in taxes when determining your rate.
Self-employed tutors can deduct business expenses from their taxable profit in order to reduce how much tax they pay. This is called setting expenses 'off-tax' and a full list of items that qualify as business expenses can be found on the HMRC website. Don't forget to keep your receipts!
Stage 4: Decide on Variations in your Tutor Rates
Tutoring is competitive, so why not make an offer that no one can refuse?
You've looked at the competition, considered your experience, set a rate, and made sure the figures add up. Now it's time to advertise. Offering special rates will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Be careful not to over-complicate when setting alternative prices. There's something to be said for keeping things simple and consistent, especially if you're just starting out.
Group tuition is what we call a win-win. Each student pays less to learn but the tutor earns more. Some tutors charge around 25% less per head for group sessions than for one on one tutoring, however this depends on the size of the group. General consensus is that very large groups should pay considerably less as you are giving each student less of your attention.
Rates by Levels
It's not only your experience that affects your price. The student's own level affects how much they expect to pay.
Advanced students are looking for a teacher to help perfect their already high level in a subject. They expect to pay more and require more detail, research, and expertise from the tutor. In contrast, beginners are looking for an introduction to the subject, and would therefore expect to pay less for their tuition.
This diversity in rates transfers over to academic tutoring with less consistency. A level tuition tends to carry a higher price than GCSE mentoring, however this can change according to demand.
On SuperProf some tutors offer the first lesson free of charge to encourage students to try out the subject.
A principal worry when you're self-employed is earning a stable income.
Tutors overcome this obstacle by encouraging block bookings and payments. Students aren't likely to part with lump sums of their hard-earned money without an incentive, so many tutors offer an attractive discount to promote block bookings. For example, a student may get their tenth session free when they pay for nine sessions in advance.
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