- 01. Tutoring: General Thinking Points
- 02. Tutor Jobs are More Than Pure Academia
- 03. Personal Qualities Can Make or Break a Tutor!
- 04. Can a Lack of Qualifications Hinder Your Becoming a Tutor?
- 05. Do you Need Teaching Experience to Become a Tutor?
- 06. Steps to Protect and Grow Your Tutoring Business
- 07. On Being A Superprof Tutor
- 08. Tutoring for Specific exams
In the UK, there are no legal requirements to have any specific qualifications to become a private tutor: let's get that out in the open from the start...
Now, you might wonder what this article is about, seeing as that opening sentence seems to answer the question at hand.
Being a tutor involves so much more than passing on study skills and mining students' brains for recalcitrant information.
We've answered the question about official qualifications for tutoring, albeit with a couple of glaring omissions which we will discuss below, when we talk about the human and intellectual capabilities all of the best tutors evince.
Do you want to become a tutor? Are you a tutor who wants to grow your business?
In this article, Superprof endeavours to answer all of your questions about what it takes to be a tutor of merit - both from the perspectives of human capital and the human qualities, how you might fit the tutor's role and how your can make your living as a tutor.
Start to teach English online on Superprof.
Tutoring: General Thinking Points
In general, tutors of a specific academic subject will have a background or qualification in that area, usually to degree-level or equivalent.
It is not compulsory to have a degree, but it is naturally quite an important component for providing a great tutoring service and obtaining tutoring jobs London, Manchester, Glasgow and elsewhere.
After all, if you're going to help others improve, you need to be secure in the fundamental familiarity of your discipline; a confidence that can only come from knowing your subject material through and through.
The general rule of thumb is that a tutor must be at least one level more advanced than his/her tutees.
That means that any college undergraduate may help A-Level candidates prepare for their exam, A-Levelers may tutor GCSE test prep and those preparing to sit GCSEs may tutor lower Key Stage 3 students and below.
Keep in mind that 13 is the youngest age permitted by law for part-time work and, should your teen-aged scholar wish to tutor, s/he may do so.
Should you want to try tutoring as a career before launching your independent tutoring services, you may consider tutoring through an established agency.
This would be a good way to earn student testimonials, which will go a long way to promoting your tutoring business when you do launch!
Overwhelmingly, before accepting any applications to join their teaching team, tutoring agencies will require you to have at least a university degree, preferably in or connected to the subject you wish to tutor. This was one of the omissions mentioned earlier!
They also prefer that you have the first-hand experience in certain subjects that might be more exacting, such as languages and IT.
The demand for such high-level, specialised knowledge in certain fields, along with the preference for teaching experience in the tutoring industry overall makes tutoring a logical career move for former teachers.
Many concerned caregivers might prefer that you have some sort of academic qualification in the subject(s) you, tutor. For instance, if you're a Physics undergrad, your A-Level in Maths or English would be testament enough that you have the knowledge to teach students up to GCSE level.
As a college student, you may even enjoy greater success tutoring A-Level students simply because you have recent experience in the ordeal they will soon face!
Likewise, if you are tutoring maths at A-Level or university-level, it would benefit both you and your students for you to have a significant academic background in maths. This usually entails having a degree in the subject, ensuring that you have a solid understanding of the subject yourself.
Learning goes far beyond what is required by any course syllabus or national curriculum.
As a tutor, you should encourage your students to ask questions and gain a wider understanding of the subject they are studying, even if it's not strictly relevant to the syllabus they're following. You make this possible when you can offer a broader perspective of the subject matter that not only helps students to understand their work in a new way, but that motivates them to the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake.
Being able to teach beyond the curriculum is also about much more than the subject itself; it's about helping students develop critical thinking skills; to understand their own learning style and teaching them how to exploit it to achieve their academic goals.
So one would describe the innate talent of the natural teacher.
Still, there are plenty of instances where qualifications and extensive experience can be very useful. Many subjects people seek out a tutor for do not involve academic knowledge at all: painting and dancing, yoga and cooking are examples of such.
Tutor Jobs are More Than Pure Academia
Perhaps you play a musical instrument - the guitar or the drums and wish to infect others with your passion for music. In order to give music lessons, it is not necessary to have any official training musical theory or how to play your instrument – just skill and great teaching strategies.
However, if you are preparing your student for grades and exams in music class, it’s important that you do know a bit about music theory and understand the grading and assessment systems so that you can help your student pass.
Thankfully, it's highly likely that, as a music tutor, you will have earned several ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall certificates, so you'll be more than familiar with the examination process.
You should keep in mind that syllabuses do change from time to time, so you'll need to keep abreast of these changes to ensure that your students are fully prepared for their assessments and nothing is missed.
Tutoring doesn’t just revolve around children, either. Many adults seek private tutoring to help them develop a particular skill or subject either for professional development or just for fun.
Many tutors specialise in music, art, languages, marketing, business, and computer skills such as software and coding, which can be incredibly useful in the professional world.
If you offer tuition in one of these more specialist subjects, such as IT-based or media-based skills, it is more likely that you will have extensive experience in this area, be it academic or professional.
Again we emphasise that it is not legally required to have any specific qualifications to tutor in any subject but, to point out the obvious, students will naturally prefer tutors who have the technical experience to teach in the area they're studying. For this type of tutoring, it is always preferable that have industry-specific experience and knowledge.
If you aim to tutor in non-academic subjects - say, you will teach cooking or photography, you will find your students are less interested in your formal credentials than they are in any reviews or testimonials of your capabilities as a chef or an artist.
The bottom line is: there are are all types of students, all types of subjects to teach and all types of tutors; each with their own skills set and pedagogy.
All you need to do to find your place among them - or stand out amongst them! is to start advertising, and students will choose you based on what suits their personal way of learning as well as their individual goals.
As a tutor of a non-academic subject, it may be difficult to know how to advertise your services.
Luckily, Superprof caters to the needs of all tutors and students, so whatever your subject, whether it's singing, coding, sewing or personal training, you can join a community of others just like you whilst building your online presence and attracting clients.
Personal Qualities Can Make or Break a Tutor!
Being a private tutor requires a certain level of skill and expertise, but it is up to you to advertise your credentials accordingly and decide whether you are competent to tutor in a certain subject.
Above all, it is important to remember that experience and human qualities are what really qualifies you to be a great tutor.
When considering a career in personal tutoring, ask yourself if you have the following qualities and skills:
- Perseverance, enthusiasm and flair
- Deep reserves of patience, empathy and intuition
- Creativity in lesson planning and implementing teaching strategies
- Passion and talent for your subject
- A love for teaching and helping people learn at various levels
We've no doubt all suffered through a semester or two engaged in coursework assigned by a teacher who could only generously be described as lackadaisical.
Whether those instructors doggedly remain at the blackboard for the tenure or the pension, such teachers nevertheless have a devastating effect on students' motivation to learn.
It is up to us tutors to rekindle our charges' thirst for knowledge by using our very best resources to ensure that their efforts at education are met with reinforcing positivity.
That is why some of tutors' greatest assets are patience, intuition and empathy.
You need intuition to sense that there are underlying causes of your tutees' need for supplemental instruction, patience to tease out what those causes are and empathy to connect with him/her, so that you can help overcome them.
Does your tutee suffer from a learning disability? Statistics show that more than 1.5 million people in our country live with a learning disability ranging from the 'invisible' dyscalculia, dyslexia and autism to the more severe and more noticeable.
Students who are disadvantaged - socially, through a learning disability or economically tend to suffer from peer bullying, which exacerbates the strain on them to succeed academically.
No student will ever greet you for a first tutoring session by saying 'Hi, I'm ___ and I get routinely bullied!'.
The ability to sense your students' struggles, gain their confidence so that they might confide in you and help them through those challenges - these are not skills you can learn in any classroom, yet they are absolutely vital to your growing tutoring business.
Your enthusiasm and positive attitude, coupled with your very human qualities of empathy and understanding is the one-two punch that will kick your tutoring business into high gear.
On Teaching and Learning Styles
Students learn in all sorts of ways: by, seeing, by hearing, by touching and by reasoning. A great tutor has the ability to create individualised methods of teaching that are tailored specifically to the student in front of him/her.
Here, we would advise establishing a rapport with each student you tutor. Your first session with any new client should consist mostly of an intake interview: find out what s/he likes/dislikes - about the subject material as well as personally.
Jumping straight into the books without hardly exchanging ideas virtually guarantees you a standoffish attitude and poor feedback of your teaching abilities!
You should avoid any action that could lead to poor feedback such as negative reviews that could bring about the death of your business!
In order to successfully achieve this, you'll have to pay attention to small details during your sessions, which give clues as to their preferred learning strategies.
You can also talk about learning styles during your first meeting. However, while knowing that a student is a visual learner is useful, don't let that be the end of your focus in the matter as there may be some undiscovered preferences.
Tutoring is all about trying new things and seeing what works best.
In fact, chatting for a few minutes before each session begins will allow you to take your student's emotional temperature - is s/he nervous? Upset? Eager to learn? You can then mould your teaching methodology to suit the circumstances.
As a tutor, you should appreciate that you will have to employ many methods of imparting information that might not suit your own learning style.
The most talented tutors will not only know how to identify the best teaching methods for each student, but they will also be able to find creative ways of implementing them so that the student can learn as efficiently as possible.
Having these qualities and the ability to help boost students’ grades and cultivate skills in an easy, positive environment truly qualifies you to be an in-home tutor!
Can a Lack of Qualifications Hinder Your Becoming a Tutor?
There are no legal requirements for one to one tutors to hold any professional qualifications, as we've already mentioned, but having them does help.
No requirements for qualifications means that tutoring can be simple and easy to get started with. But it can also present certain problems.
With no official qualifications or training it can be more difficult to prove you can deliver a standard of teaching that students and caregivers will expect.
With no teacher training, it will be a bit harder to assert that you’re right for the job and that you can deliver an outstanding supplemental instruction service.
Of course, deciding whether you're fit to teach any subject(s) you are passionate about comes down to common sense.
You wouldn't attempt to teach the guitar if you know nothing about chord progression, but if you can demonstrate through personal experience that you have mastery of the guitar, your ability to provide help in that subject may be more than enough.
Ask yourself these questions that clients may ask you:
- What makes you suitable to be a private educator?
- What experience do you have - with the subject in question and in teaching it?
- What is the highest level you feel comfortable teaching?
Understanding your own level of expertise and being able to explain your suitability for tutoring will help you to better market your skills.
Whether you're creating leaflets to distribute in your community, creating an online tutor profile on Superprof (see below for how to) or discussing your tutoring services in person, being aware of the concerns that prospective clients may have and preparing answers for them will help you persuade people to give your services a try.
With fewer or no formal qualifications, it's likely that you'll be under the microscope far longer than other, more credentialled tutors, even after you've been hired.
Do you Need Teaching Experience to Become a Tutor?
Many full-time teachers provide private tutoring services on nights and weekends, and they are highly sought-after by school students, especially over tutors who do not have experience as a certified teacher.
That does not automatically disqualify you from running your own successful tutoring business!
Many students find that their way of learning is better supported by someone with different experience and skills to offer than traditional teachers, so teaching qualifications might not be unnecessary and, sometimes are undesired.
In fact, where some parents feel that only qualified teachers will have the knowledge and skills to be able to boost their child's grades, sometimes, viewing subjects and tasks from a non-teaching perspective can help students see things in a different light, which ultimately benefits them.
One reason that so many students struggle to keep up with their peers in the classroom is the one-size-fits-all teaching approach used in schools today.
Studies have shown time and again that that educational philosophy fails a large segment of the student body because it neglects the needs of each individual. Of course, it would be incredibly difficult and expensive for schools to implement an individualised teaching approach, and doing so may even require restructuring the curriculum or the education system itself.
This modern education conundrum paves the way for tutors of all stripes to make their mark on tomorrow's movers and shakers.
As a tutor, it's your job to help students understand what they've been taught at school - but this doesn't mean that you should regurgitate what their teachers instructed. Your task is to identify any issues in the understanding and application of newly-gained knowledge and to use your initiative to build a bridge to that understanding.
Students and their caregivers often find that tutors who are not qualified teachers can offer a different approach to learning.
It is often preferred to have an instructor with industry-specific experience and work-based knowledge that is more practical in its nature, rather than theoretical. For example, students looking to find a tutor to provide one on one math tutoring may be drawn to those who have had experience in accounting or economics.
However, because a theoretical understanding of academic subjects is vital to academic success, it is common for undergraduates to tutor in conjunction with their studies.
It is not necessary to have finished one's degree program before starting a tutoring business and many students – particularly of secondary school age – tend to appreciate a tutor closer to their age group and interests; one who might better suit their way of learning and understanding.
In addition, undergraduate tutors can offer expertise in exam technique and test prep, as they will be more than familiar with demands of the education system when it comes to sitting GCSE and A Level exams.
Many students have difficulty putting what they know on paper and this proves to be a hindrance to answering test and assignment questions.
Someone who is constantly writing, such as an undergraduate, can act as a writing tutor to help students organise their ideas and communicate their knowledge to the exam boards as effectively as possible - even if they're not tutoring a humanities subject. Many science subjects such as chemistry, physics and biology require students to provide long, detailed written answers; improved writing skills can make all the difference.
So, although concrete teaching experience can be helpful for many students in academia, there are also many advantages to hiring a tutor who has never taught in a classroom.
Teaching Non-Academic Subjects
Much of the focus of this article has been on tutoring school subjects for a reason: academic tutoring is the bread and butter of the tutoring industry.
It is often said that man cannot live by bread alone, even if it is buttered.
That is why, these days, there is a demand for instruction in fields not remotely related to academics. Music lessons, cooking classes and learning a second language; personal fitness, wellness and mindfulness and the craving of other such life-enriching experiences all drive learners to tutoring websites for instructors in those disciplines.
Here again we point out that no diplomas or extended education is necessary to establish yourself as a tutor in most of these fields; the lone exception being if you were to work as a personal trainer - this is the second omission mentioned in the opening paragraph.
In their eagerness to satisfy the growing demand for in-home personal training, some tutors are dismayed to find they are required by law to obtain at least Level 3 certification before they can bill themselves as in-home personal trainers.
By contrast, yogis may teach yoga in a studio, in clients' homes and teach yoga online with no certification requirements whatsoever.
Personal training's requirement for formal training and other certifications aside, what really sells your ability to teach your subject matter is testimonials from former students.
You may then use those reviews to improve your teaching methods if so indicated, and to advertise your tutoring business.
Steps to Protect and Grow Your Tutoring Business
Because of the intense scrutiny that independent tutors are generally subjected to when first starting out, it is important to protect yourself against personal and professional liability, especially if you enter the market with minimal to no credentials.
One way you can build legitimacy as a tutor is to take these official steps:
- Submit to a background check: although not required by law, it is an excellent idea to prove there is nothing illicit in your past, especially if you intend to work with minor children or vulnerable adults.
- Register as self-employed: although (probably) none of your clients will ever ask about your taxpayer status, it would be very bad indeed if your fledgeling business were to be shut down by a HM Royal Customs audit
- consider buying insurance for you and your business – particularly professional indemnity insurance – which is a form of protection against any legal liability as a result of alleged professional malpractice or misconduct.
- In the event that a client might want to sue you for misleading or incorrect teaching, you will be covered for any legal fees or compensation.
It is crucial that all the information you give, and skills or qualifications that you advertise, are accurate and honest. You must be able to verify and provide proof of any qualifications that you claim to have.
More than that, you are legally bound to advertise honestly!
Once you have all of the legalities sorted, it is time to advertise your business. Here, a multi-pronged approach to gaining the maximum exposure is key, and should be tailored to your subject material.
If you tutor in academic subjects, you should frequent venues where you are likely to meet students and their caregivers such as libraries, school gates, university student centres and cafeterias.
If your subject matter is more geared to artistic pursuits such as music or dancing, you might post your adverts in pubs, restaurants and cafés - locations that work well for academic tutoring adverts, too!
In all cases, you should check in with your local community centre, newsagent, supermarkets and even petrol stations. Having fliers printed out to post on bulletin boards and to hand out is a direct advertising method that, more often than not, brings results!
You may also want to post an advert in your local paper. Even in these digital times, there are plenty of people who comb the want ads, looking for that unique combination of value and quality - doesn't that describe your tutoring business to a tee?
Leave no stone unturned! As long as you're placing ads, take one out in your local Gumtree and Freeads, too!
Finally, talk yourself up: to friends, family, neighbours and acquaintances old and new. Tell them that you are launching a tutoring business and ask them to help you get the word out: they should tell everyone in their circles about you and the great service you provide.
Tools to Make You an Effective Tutor
Poor indeed is the tutor who relies solely on students' textbooks and workbooks, session after session.
The Internet is a vast repository of videos, podcasts and other teaching tools that the best tutors incorporate into their lessons.
- Youtube's LanguagePod series hosts short video lessons in several tongues
- You will also find plenty of music instruction online, whether you teach the guitar, the piano, the drums or the saxophone!
- Khan Academy has banks of instructional videos on core academic subjects as well as university-level material
- Quizlet has flashcards and games for study sets in just about any subject you can imagine!
- If they don't have what you're looking for, create your free account and build your own study sets!
There’s a huge array of teaching resources and ideas available to help you start teaching at home. From books to downloadable worksheets, online blogs and videos, you can find inspiration to provide attentive and informative home tutoring sessions.
The best tutors keep detailed notes on each student you tutor: learning strengths and weaknesses, learning preferences, his/her goals and progress - and what supplemental materials online that you use in each lesson.
You may find sample templates of such teaching journals online, available for free, or you may keep detailed notes on your own.
These journals are a great way to keep track of when you get paid, too!
Tips to Grow Your Business
You are now absolutely on top of things: you have an array of supplemental teaching materials bookmarked online and/or printed out, ready to use. You have compiled detailed records of each of your charges and are tracking their progress.
You have a handy planner to keep on top of your schedule so that you don't double-book your lessons!
Now that you've tested the tutoring waters and found them agreeable, there is nothing wrong with filling up your calendar by branching out into tutoring small groups; offering clinics, workshops and seminars in your subject.
The most obvious benefit of such ventures is introducing your teaching style and expertise to a wider audience. Of course, tutoring is not all about enriching yourself...
Let's say that science is your subject matter of choice... By hosting a workshop or seminar in the weeks leading up to exam time, you will have the opportunity to target a specific facet of knowledge to a limited group of participants who, hopefully, will go on to perform better on their exam than they otherwise would have.
Or, you could host a weekly clinic in your area of expertise, be it guitar playing or creative writing. In these events, you would welcome participants, give them a condensed version of an entire lesson and invite their questions and comments.
Clinics are especially effective for hands-on learning: musical instruments, sciences; even maths topics can be reviewed in clinics!
You may consider hosting such events at your local community centre or library; and possibly charge no fee... at least, for the first few that you lead.
Volunteering your time and skills has an amazing goodwill effect on others which may compel them to investigate your for-fee programmes.
Unless you are independently wealthy, you are in the tutoring business to make a living. In that light, it seems counterintuitive to give away lessons but doing so is an effective marketing strategy that does wonders to promote your business!
Just ask any Superprof tutor; most of them give their first hour of lessons for free!
On Being A Superprof Tutor
Looking over all of these legalities, tips and best practices, it seems like jumping headlong into tutoring could be a daunting affair.
That is why Superprof makes becoming a tutor as effortless as possible!
Superprof is an online platform that connects students to the tutors they need by providing each tutor with their own profile page.
On your page, you would have room to discuss your teaching methodology and experience, if any. You may indicate how much you charge per hour of instruction in the subject you cover, and to what grade level.
You may also inform potential clients whether you would tutor in their home, in yours, online or some other mutually-agreed location.
If you have any qualifications, you can upload them to Superprof to be verified by our team. Once they have been checked, you can advertise your qualifications on your tutor page to help attract prospective students.
You may even choose to offer your first hour on instruction for free!
Some tutors build web pages to promote their business - something you could do, too. Others rely on adverts to find clients but Superprof gives you both, along with room for your students to post testimonials right on your tutor page, for all to see!
Now you have been inspired to start tutoring and sharing your knowledge with others, why not look into getting started as a tutor? Read up on the legalities of giving 1 to 1 tuition, how to report your income as a home-tutor and whether you should obtain a DBS check for your tutoring business.
If you are just getting started in tutoring, you may consider limiting your tutoring practice to preparing students for specific academic events...
Tutoring for Specific exams
When tutoring exam-specific course subjects, such as GCSE, A-Level or International Baccalaureate courses, it is important to have a good knowledge of how they work. Familiarising yourself with the course structure, content and assessment will help you prepare your student to get great results and achieve academic success.
It might be a good idea to have the main course texts or textbooks for your subject, particularly if you tend to tutor a specific academic level such as GCSE or A-Level. Having these resources means that you can learn the syllabus and assessment structure and plan your lessons with these in mind. By doing this, you increase your student's chances of improvement in your subject, which means tangible results and positive tutor reviews for you!
You should also familiarise yourself with the different courses available to certain age groups. For example, the difference between A-Level and International Baccalaureate courses can be huge, and the syllabus and exams can focus on completely different aspects of the same subjects. Knowing how to target your lessons to suit the assessment criteria of various curriculums will minimise the risk of teaching anything your student doesn't need to know and therefore prevent confusion for the student.
As a science tutor, you might teach students who are taking a BTEC course or similar, which can also be completely different to standard sixth-form studies. Although you don’t need to know these courses inside out, you should be able to learn quickly and adjust your teaching to suit certain courses.
You might also find past papers and mark schemes for exams that your student is preparing for. Not only will this help you get familiar with the structure of your students' assessments, but it will also enable you to give exam-focused help and guidance to your student which is specific to their syllabus and exam assessment board.
Having the extra knowledge and resources that are available to school teachers means that you can understand how your students learn in the classroom and what is required of them, and in turn you can learn what is required of you as a home tutor to help them succeed.
As a tutor, you can use this knowledge alongside any work or industry experience you might have, so your student can get the best from your skill set and expertise - something they do not necessarily have access to with school teaching alone.
You might also create your own resources to help your student learn in a different way to how they might at school, with a less rigid structure. You don’t need any qualifications to show some initiative and creativity with your tutoring sessions, and often having no standard teacher training can help you approach teaching differently and better suit how your students learn.
There are many reasons students opt to take private lessons outside of school. Maybe they're falling behind their peers, perhaps they understand the course content but struggle with applying their knowledge, or maybe they feel that they're not realising their full academic potential.
Regardless of the motivation behind seeking the help of a tutor, it's your job to put yourself in the shoes of a struggling student and ask yourself what the best course of action is. Speak with your students and their parents, find out about what motivates them, and once you're familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, be sure to provide feedback on their progress.
Helping students to improve isn't just a victory for them, it's also a great feeling for their tutor, too.
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