If You Teach Them They Will Come: How to Become a Tutor

Are you an expert on one or more subjects? If you know how to share that information, you could start your own private tutoring business.

Private tutors can set their own rates based on their tutoring structure. On average, a tutor can make $25 per hour, but this can differ depending on where you live.

If this sounds like just the opportunity you’re looking for, the next step is figuring out how to become a tutor. You have some decisions you need to make before you jump in.

What is a Tutor?

A tutor coaches someone through the learning process. As a tutor, it’s your job to teach study skills, such as note-taking. You might also find yourself required to help with test prep or offering homework assistance for struggling learners.

The trick is, you’re teaching the student how to find the answers for themselves. You’re also teaching them the methods they need to retain information. It’s your job to make sure they can improve their academic skills.

Tutoring can take many forms. You can tutor in-person or online. You can work in individual or group settings. This depends on the clients you work with and the methods that work best for you.

How to Become a Tutor

To get started as a tutor, you first need to answer some questions. These questions will help you determine the type of clients you want to work with and the business model you want to use.

What’s Your Area of Expertise?

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The first question helps you determine the subjects you can help students learn. This comes down to the subjects you know well.

You want to choose subjects you excelled in, or subjects related to your degree or career. You also want to pick subjects you have a good grasp on. In order to help your clients, you need to understand the material yourself.

You need to pick subjects you know well enough to explain to someone else. For instance, if you have a degree in history, you can pick a history niche or grade level to tutor students. If you live and breathe math, choose an area of math you can explain to others well.

A Note on Educational Requirements

It’s not required to have a degree to get started as a tutor. If you have a degree in a subject, more power to you. If not, you’ll just need to work a little harder to prove your expertise in the subject.

For a tutoring agency, this means taking a test to show you know the material. If you’re striking out on your own, you can share content that proves your expertise.

What Type of Clients Do You Want to Work With?

Next, you need to decide what makes for your ideal client. This comes down to your teaching style and the type of client you feel comfortable working with. You want to find clients you can help.

First, what age do you want to work with? If teenagers make you crazy, you might want to stick with elementary age, and vice versa. What grade level do you think you can work with?

This comes down to your teaching methods. For instance, elementary age students do well with games for learning. Teenagers need more direct approaches to teach the skills they need.

Do You Want to Work for Yourself or an Agency?

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No matter how you choose to find work, you’ll come up against pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide where the one outweighs the other.


If you want to work for yourself, you’re responsible for marketing your talents. You’ll have to get out there and find clients all by yourself. You’ll have to put the legwork and money in to make a go at private tutoring.

On the upside, you get to set your rates when you’re on your own. You get to set the curriculum and methods you use. You also have the option to forego certification if you want.

If you feel comfortable with the idea of selling yourself to others, and you want to set your own schedule, then skip the agency. Just remember, you’re letting go of a steady flow of clients going it alone.

Work for an Agency

If you want to make sure you have access to clients immediately, you should start with an agency. This means you’ll have to work on their schedule. You’ll also have to follow their teaching policies.

Some agencies require at least tutoring certification to work for them. That’s an investment you should keep in mind with this route. You’ll also need to pass a test to show your proficiency in your subject with this route.

An agency does take out the legwork though. You get assigned to students by the agency, so you don’t need to do all the marketing to find people to work with. Also, many agencies offer training to ensure you have the skills you need to succeed.

Where do you Want to Offer Your Services?

If you decide to work for an agency, you still need to make this decision. That decision comes down to whether you want to work for an agency that offers in-person or online services. You need to decide which option works best for your abilities.

You can also offer online services if you strike out on your own. If you don’t like the idea of online tutoring, you still need to decide how you’ll meet your clients.

Will you meet them at your house or their house? Or, would you prefer to meet them on neutral ground? This decision hangs on what’s most comfortable for you and your clients.

How to be a Good Tutor

If you want to tutor, you need people skills. You’ll work with different types of people, trying to share your expertise. To do this effectively, you must like working with people.

You also need good problem-solving skills. Everyone learns differently, so you need to meet them where they are. This means you’ll have to change your approach with each student you work with.

A good tutor also needs good communication skills. It’s your job to present the information they need to succeed. This means you need to know how to explain your subject so they can understand.

You’ll need teamwork and leadership skills as well. It’s not your job to do the work for them. Tutoring is a collaboration with you leading and encouraging them to find the answers for themselves.

How to Get Started as a Tutor

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If you plan to start a tutoring service, you need to treat it like a business. Plan ahead, defining your services and setting goals for your tutoring business.

Once you have a business plan in place, it’s time to market your services. You won’t get any students if no one knows your business exists.

Create a Tutoring Website

Your best marketing tool is a website. This is where you want to direct leads for more information.

Make sure people can find your contact information so they can contact you for tutoring services. Consider providing a way to contact you directly from your site so they’re motivated to continue. If nothing else, you need to provide an email address.

You should also dedicate space for testimonials and proof of authority. If you have a tutoring certification, provide proof of this on your website. If you have reviews from previous clients, you should share these as well. Also, any examples of your success can get a little snippet on your testimonial page.

Another important aspect of your website is a services page. This page outlines all the tutoring services you offer and the price. Clearly state your areas of expertise and an idea of your methods to share this expertise.

You should also consider a blog as part of your website. This will allow you to create shareable content about your services or areas of expertise. Get creative with this content. You can share content about

  • How to know you need a tutor
  • What does a tutor do?
  • X number of things you didn’t know about (subject)
  • Why is (subject) important to learn

Do some research to determine what content will attract your preferred clients.

Use Social Media

Social media sites offer an easy way to share advertising content with your clients and leads. Do your research to determine where likely leads hang out and create business accounts on each of these sites.

Your best option for a tutoring service is Facebook, but you can find leads in other places as well. Look into forums like Quora where you can share your expertise.

You can use social media to share your blog content or share the services you provide. You can also share current deals and offers for services.

You should also use social media to answer questions and create relationships. Show people why they should trust you.

Other Advertising Options

Search engines and business listings offer other ways to let people know about your tutoring services. Create a local business account on Google and other business listing sites. This offers another place for people to leave reviews. It also helps you rank in local searches.

If your marketing budget allows, you can also run PPC ads on search engines. Research keywords that will attract new leads and bid on them to place your ads at the top of search results.

Traditional Marketing Ideas

With tutoring services, you have an opportunity to market your services in your community. There are many traditional marketing opportunities available.

Consider joining your chamber of commerce. You can get ads placed in monthly newsletters as a member, and often you can get your business listed on their website. You can also run ads in your local newspaper for more exposure.

You can also talk to your local library, schools, and daycares about placing ads in their newsletters or leaving flyers and business cards. Not everyone will let you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Check out other businesses in your community that attract likely leads. Talk to local bookstore owners or other like businesses about leaving business cards or flyers. Think about who your clients are when determining which businesses to approach.

Getting Started in Your Own Business

If you like the idea of working for yourself, or just like the idea of working from home, you have many options. Whether you want to become a tutor, or you think your talents lay elsewhere, you can find an industry looking for freelancers, private businesses, and work-from-home employees.

Do you need more help determining your business options? Or do you know what you want to do but need help getting your business started? Check out more entrepreneur and freelance tips to discover your next steps.


8 thoughts on “If You Teach Them They Will Come: How to Become a Tutor

  1. Thank you! Though I myself am not planning to become a tutor, I love the idea behind this article and the instruction you deliver along with it. This could be a serious leg-up for people, and that’s very empowering!

  2. That’s a great intro to setting up as a tutor! (I’m absolutely sharing this in our group where these questions are asked daily!).

    I am a huge supporter of all tutors having a teaching qualification, just to set a bar for us as a profession. So, although having a degree isn’t a legal requirement, having an education qualification does make a massive difference because you are given the time to think deeply about the pedagogy of your particular learning environment.

    I’m a few years in as a tutor & nearly a year in as a full time company and I really wouldn’t go back. Tuition has been mentally & financially demanding, but exceptionally liberating.

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