Tutoring is an integral part of education and academia. Tutors provide academic instruction outside of the classroom, making them supplemental to teachers, instructors, and professors. Tutors use their skills and expertise to help students improve their grades by explaining difficult concepts and helping them gain confidence in academic environments.
Tutors can teach any subject in a variety of ways, depending on their discipline and expertise. Most tutors specialize in niche subjects or teach specific age groups and education levels. The extent to which tutors help their students varies and depends on several factors, including the level of education and the subject. Some tutors mainly provide homework help and exam preparation, while others may design their curriculum to teach a student.
If you are interested in becoming a tutor, you must know the necessary steps, understand how to get certified as a tutor, and know the resources available to you.
Steps to Becoming a Tutor
Before learning the steps to becoming a tutor, be sure that you want to pursue tutoring, whether as a main career or supplemental job. A career as a tutor can be beneficial in numerous ways.
Why Become a Tutor?
There are many reasons that people choose to become a tutor. Some of those reasons include:
- Flexibility: Tutors are usually self-employed, meaning that they can set their own schedule and choose their workload and work hours. You can even become an online tutor, an option that provides even more flexibility. This flexibility makes tutoring an attractive career choice for those who want to pursue multiple interests or for those who are looking to supplement another job.
- Extra Income: The flexibility that tutoring provides makes it a great way to supplement your income. Tutoring is a great option for many people, including university students who want to make extra money, for teachers who want to expand their teaching outside the classroom, or for anyone who has a different job and wants to tutor based on the skills and knowledge they already have.
- Fulfillment: As opposed to teachers or instructors, tutors usually interact with students one-on-one and can form a more personal relationship with them, which helps determine the difficulties with the subject. Tutors get to see their students improve slowly and on a more personal level, which is a rewarding experience for those who choose this career path.
Although it is not necessarily required to have a background in education to become a tutor, most tutors do have some educational training. The path towards a tutor can be different for every individual, but there are many standard steps that you can take to help ensure that your path towards tutoring is successful.
How to Become a Tutor
Step 1: Determine Your Field of Interest
Tutors are required to have extensive knowledge in the subject that they are tutoring. Therefore, before embarking on the journey to become a tutor, it is necessary to determine your field of expertise.
Think about which subjects you are most interested in. Maybe they are those that you excelled at in the past or the subjects you have the most skills and knowledge in. If you do not have extensive knowledge of the subject or lack some knowledge in your field, you may have to seek out additional formal education to cover the gaps in your knowledge.
It’s a good idea to try and determine what level you would be interested in tutoring at this point to help determine the extent to which you must be knowledgeable in your chosen field. However, it is not necessary to have this decision made right away.
Step 2: Become an Expert in Your Field
Once you determine what subject you would be interested in tutoring, you must make sure that you are an expert in that subject. Students depend on their tutors to explain and answer any question they may have related to the subject; therefore, it is important to know to best aid your students. A good tutor will have knowledge beyond their student’s education level to have more context to explain complex concepts.
There are several different ways to gain knowledge and become an expert in your field before becoming a tutor.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Tutors should demonstrate that they have a well-rounded education, and having a Bachelor’s degree is great evidence of that. Having a college degree in education or a specialized degree such as mathematics or chemistry will help prove to clients that you have the expertise to tutor in your discipline.
A degree in education will provide you with valuable teaching skills that you can apply to your tutoring career. Education programs often require specialization in a subject, making this option overall beneficial. If you decide to get a degree in the subject that you want to specialize in, consider also taking education courses to provide you with the fundamentals of teaching to apply to tutoring.
You don’t necessarily have to complete your bachelor’s degree to begin tutoring. Many people begin tutoring part-time while still in school to gain experience or earn some extra money (i.e., peer tutoring). Many schools provide resources for student tutors and tutoring, and they may provide you with references to speak to your tutoring abilities.
Earn an Advanced Degree
Some tutoring jobs may only require you to have a bachelor’s degree, but others may request that you have a more advanced degree, such as a master’s. The higher the education level you want to tutor, the more advanced your education has to be.
For tutoring of more advanced programs, you will often have to have completed that degree to become a tutor in the discipline. For example, to be qualified to tutor medical students, you will have to either be enrolled in medical school or have completed medical school. Be aware of the potential requirements based on who you want to tutor and the subject you plan on tutoring.
Although you will most likely always need some level of formal education to become a tutor, adequate work experience may provide you with the knowledge needed for tutoring if you lack certain education qualifications.
For example, if you are an IT professional, you may have enough knowledge in your field to help tutor a university student who is taking IT courses. Teachers are also often already equipped with the skills and experience to become tutors they may not have the specific educational background in. Be aware that you will still need a tutor certification to become a certified tutor, no matter your level of education and work experience.
Step 3: Choose the Age Group You Want to Tutor
If you haven’t done so already, choose the age group or grade level that you would like to tutor. You will want to determine what age group you are most comfortable tutoring, whether it be school children or adult learners. The group you choose determines the level of expertise you will require and the type of tutor training you need.
The Bureau of Labor provides data on tutors of every industry and academic level that may help you decide what types of tutors are currently in demand, and what group may be best suited for you.
Step 4: Complete Tutor Training
If you are interested in pursuing tutoring as a career, we recommend that you pursue training beyond what you received while completing college and university degrees. A tutor certification will provide you with recognition of your qualifications that looks good to clients looking for the best tutors.
If you choose to work for a tutoring business, many employers require their tutors to have completed tutor-specific training and hold a tutoring certificate. Tutors who want to be part of associations, such as the National Tutoring Association (NTA), must be certified. Additional certificates may be required to tutor groups of students, specific subjects, or in a classroom setting. To pursue tutor training, there are a few options that may be available to you.
Step 5: Join a Tutor Association
Once you become a certified tutor, it is not necessary to join a tutoring association. However, joining one may provide several benefits, including access to resources, scholarships, grants, and insurance plans exclusive to members of the tutor association. Some tutor associations also provide certification programs and guide you in your journey to becoming a certified tutor.
Not all of these steps to becoming a tutor may be necessary; your circumstances and past experience largely dictate the path you may take to become a tutor. There are multiple ways to become a successful tutor. It all depends on what type of tutor you want to be, and who you want to tutor.
How to Get Certified as a Tutor
Becoming a certified tutor not only allows you membership to associations such as the National Tutoring Association (NTA), but it also sets you apart from other tutors who may not be certified, giving you a competitive advantage. Being a certified tutor may also prove to be advantageous if you are looking to start your own tutoring business.
Different Types of Tutors
Before pursuing the path towards becoming a certified tutor, you must know that there are different types of tutors, depending on your time commitment to the job and where you want to take your career. There are many career paths tutors can take, and that path may determine what type of certification they might pursue.
Different types of tutors include:
- General Education Tutors: These tutors don’t necessarily specialize in one subject. Instead, they provide coaching and assistance to help enhance a student’s overall learning experience. These tutors usually help students who struggle with school overall, not only in one subject.
- Subject Tutors: Subject tutors specialize in one discipline and primarily tutor their students in that discipline. Subject tutors must be experts in their field, often having been formally educated in the subject that they tutor.
- Test Prep Tutors: Test prep tutors help students prepare for their exams. These types of tutors may help grade school students with standardized tests, such as the SATs, but they also specialize in helping students prepare for higher education exams such as the MCATs or LSATs.
- Language Tutors: Language tutors focus on teaching students languages, primarily teaching grammar, vocabulary, and other language-related topics. English as a Second Language (ESL) tutors work with non-native English speakers to assist them with learning English, but they may also help them comprehend other subjects instructed in English as well. ESL tutors do not necessarily need to speak the student’s native language.
- Learning Disability Tutors: Learning disability tutors help students with special needs and know how to help students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism.
- Group Tutors: Group tutors tutor multiple students at once (as opposed to the more common private tutor), and usually students who are learning the same subject or are even in the same class. Group tutors generally charge lower hourly rates as they are teaching several students at once, and they tutor in public settings such as a public library.
- Peer Tutors: Peer tutors are students themselves. They are usually in the same grade or education level or higher as the student that they are tutoring. A peer tutor is great because they are often more familiar with the syllabus, but they also charge a lower hourly rate due to their inexperience.
Each of these types of tutors may tutor in person or online.
Certifications Available for Tutors
Getting a tutoring certification usually requires a certain number of hours of training and tutoring experience, depending on the certificate you are pursuing. To determine which tutor certificate may be best for you, you must not only have an idea of what type of tutor you want to be, but you must also know the reasons why you want a tutoring certificate in the first place.
Benefits of Becoming a Certified Tutor
Being a certified tutor allows you to become a member of the National Tutoring Association (NTA) or other associations. Not only may the NTA help interested tutors to become certified, but they also help members in many other ways by providing valuable resources. The NTA provides its members with several benefits, including:
- The ability to serve on committees
- Access to certain research grants and scholarships
- The choice to apply for professional liability or medical insurance
- Attendance at an annual conference that provides up-to-date information on tutoring methods and best practices
- Discounts for other services
There are also many other benefits to becoming a tutor.
- Pay: According to Payscale, the average pay for a tutor is $17.89 hourly, with tutors on the higher end of the payscale making $39.89 hourly. This rate is significantly higher than the current federal minimum wage ($7.25), however, there isn’t necessarily a cap on how much tutors can make or charge an hour. For example Law School Admission Test (LSAT) tutors charge anywhere from $25 hourly to upwards of $150 hourly.
- Reinforce Your Knowledge: Tutors provide education support to their students to learn and understand different concepts, but they also reinforce their knowledge. Tutors must continuously learn and keep up with their knowledge of their discipline to always be equipped with the skills to best help their students. However, tutoring also gives some tutors the incentive to challenge themselves and continue to grow their expertise. Tutoring also helps individuals retain knowledge as they are always using it.
- Flexibility: As previously mentioned, tutoring can be an extremely flexible career. With the option of tutoring online, tutors can help students anywhere in the world, meaning they don’t have to be restricted in terms of time.
Tutoring Certification and Related Programs
There is not one standard tutor certification program that all tutors are required to take. Some many schools and programs offer a variety of tutor certifications at various levels.
Here are some popular certification programs that are available to tutors:
National Tutoring Association (NTA)
The NTA has a program that allows you to become an NTA-certified tutor, a membership that comes with a variety of perks for tutors. To attain membership into the NTA, you must complete their certification application. The NTA is an internationally respected association that provides professional training in professional tutoring, academic coaching, and professional mentoring.
Association for the Coaching and Tutoring Profession (ACTP)
ACTP aims to link tutoring professionals, academic coaches, and administrators committed to the development of learners. They provide tutor certification and tutor trainer certification at the apprentice, associate, and master levels. ACTP certifications are good for three years, and tutors may continue to acquire more advanced certifications, which restart the three-year period each time.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
TEFL (also known as TESOL and ESL) certification shows that you are professionally trained to meet international English-language teaching criteria. TEFL certification holders are qualified to teach English language classes overseas. Tutors interested in tutoring non-native English speakers or English as a second language may benefit from pursuing a TEFL certificate.
College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA)
CRLA is made up of members from diverse professional backgrounds in the fields of learning assistance, peer educating, developmental education, and tutoring. The association’s mission focuses on coming up with innovative strategies to enhance student learning. CRLA does not specifically certify tutors, but it certifies tutor training programs and enables these programs to recognize their tutors.
For tutor training program certifications, they offer an International TUTOR Training Program Certification (ITTPC) and an International PEER EDUCATOR Training Program Certification (IPTPC). The tutor training certification provides tutors with recognition as certified tutors, certified advanced tutors, or certified masters tutors. The peer educator certification is a peer educator training program that prepares individuals for peer tutoring.
Other Tutor Training Programs
Many high schools, colleges, and universities offer peer tutoring programs, where students tutor their fellow students. In these programs, the academic institution often offers to train peer tutors to equip them with the skills and knowledge to effectively tutor their peers.
Although most peer tutoring programs are free for those who want to be tutored, peer tutor positions can be either paid or volunteer positions, depending on the school. In universities, these peer tutors are often paid for part-time work. Harvard, for example, pays their part-time peer tutors $19 hourly.
Becoming a peer tutor is often mostly dependent on academic standing, grades, and recommendations from professors. This experience often gives peer tutors a better opportunity to move on to other private tutoring or tutoring opportunities with other companies, therefore, if you are a current undergraduate student, it may be worth looking into whether your school offers peer tutoring.
Tutor Career Resources
For those who want more information on becoming a tutor, many valuable resources can provide additional information that may help you plan your career as a tutor. The resources you require will depend on what direction that you want to take your tutoring career.
Colleges or Universities
If you are currently enrolled at an accredited academic institution, they may already have resources available for tutors, whether it be learning, coaching, or leadership programs. Many academic institutions have peer tutoring programs that allow students to tutor fellow students and gain experience. Colleges and universities provide the best resources if you want to tutor at that level.
Starting a Tutoring Business
If you are interested in starting a tutoring side businessdo your research to learn how to become a tutor and to understand how a tutoring business works. There are resources available to help you kick off your tutoring business. For example, The Tutor Coach helps tutors set up and navigate the business side of tutoring.
Work for a Tutoring Company
If you want to work for a tutoring business, there are many companies to choose from. Kumon Math and Reading Centre is one of the most popular tutoring services, but the company only focuses on two primary subjects: math and reading. Tutor Doctor is another popular tutoring service that sends their tutors to the homes of students. Both of these companies provide their tutors with resources to be successful tutors and continue in their career development.
Online tutoring has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the flexibility and broader options it provides. Online tutoring allows you to tutor from anywhere and to tutor students no matter where in the world they are. Many online tutoring companies continuously employ tutors. Some online tutoring companies include:
- Tutor.com: This is a site that is open to most types of tutors. The tutoring jobs available range from typical subjects such as math and science to more specialized subjects, such as managerial accounting and epidemiology. This is a great option for new tutors looking to ease their way into the field and acquire further experience.
- Brainfuse: Brainfuse provides online tutoring from kindergarten to college level and expects their tutors to provide the most personalized experience to each student. They prefer their tutors to have bachelor’s degrees and prior teaching experience.
- TutorMe: TutorMe focuses primarily on test prep, whether it be preparing high school students for the SATs or graduate students for entrance exams such as the LSATs and MCATS. They prefer their tutors to have completed bachelor’s degrees and have some previous teaching or tutoring experience.
If you are interested in exclusively teaching or tutoring online, there are numerous other online teaching jobs available as options to education professionals.
Most tutoring companies allow tutors to apply for positions online, but you will most likely be required to meet their criteria before applying. Be sure to do your research to understand what tutoring company is right for you, and understand which requirements you need to join your chosen tutoring company.
Tutoring is a fulfilling and rewarding career and worth exploring if you love teaching, learning, and want to help students to become the best versions of themselves. Becoming a tutor may not be as difficult as you think–many people are already equipped with the knowledge and education in a certain discipline to become tutors. If you choose to become a tutor, we recommend getting certified to give you a competitive edge. Consider joining an association, too, to provide you with support in your tutoring career.