By Adam Pritchard
Why Become a Tutor?
Private tutoring is becoming an increasingly popular option for many teachers both in the UK and abroad. The attraction is obvious — besides the money, which in some cases can be extremely lucrative, and the feel-good factor of being able to help students, being a private tutor allows you to work with a high degree of flexibility and independence. Many teachers have taken up tutoring in order to subsidise their primary source of income, as they are able to structure their private lessons to fit around their school classes.
It is also relatively easy to become a private tutor. In addition to there being a range of opportunities for teachers wishing to work independently, there are also many agencies which will pay well for a teacher’s services. Tutoring, then, is definitely a viable option for teachers.
What Do You Need to be a Private Tutor?
As it stands, there are no set qualifications or experience requirements for becoming a private tutor at home or on foreign soil. There is also no governing body for private tutors, so literally anyone can teach in a private capacity provided that someone is interested in their services. Bearing this in mind, having relevant qualifications and a background of solid experience will help you to stand out and be taken seriously by potential employers, whether they are individual clients or agencies. A lot of agencies also list their own requirements for tutors wishing to work with them. Having a degree in a relevant subject is a big positive, as are any additional teaching qualifications that you may have.
A strong background of formal classroom experience will also stand you in good stead, and many agencies make this a basic requirement for new recruits. Tutor House, for example, asks for three years of teaching experience in addition to a degree in order for applicants to be considered. Again, there are often no strict requirements in terms of your amount of experience, especially if you are working independently. However, the more experience that you can demonstrate, the more successful you will be in attracting students and potential employers.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check
Something else to take into account is the need for an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service check (previously a CRB certificate). This is especially useful when working with children and is usually a basic requirement when working with an agency. If you have not already done a DBS check, it is fairly straightforward. All the information that you will need to go through the process can be found here.
Knowledge of the Syllabus
For teachers working on particular courses, it is vital that you have a firm understanding of the syllabus for your chosen subject. Students — and their parents — are paying to brush up on their knowledge and will not appreciate any gaps. Bear in mind that the syllabus may well change from year to year, so it is important to stay on top of any alterations. This is relatively straightforward for those teachers who are working in mainstream schools. For those that are not, it is well worth investing some time in familiarising yourself with the content of relevant courses.
Another consideration is that you will have to provide materials for the students yourself, especially if you are working independently. Having a good resource base consisting of a stock of textbooks or links to useful websites that you can draw upon is vital for a good tutor. Also, do not forget to take into account both the time and cost associated with any preparation. This not only applies to printed worksheets and information, but also audio, visual or online resources. It may be a good idea to invest in a good laptop if you don’t already have one and you think this might be useful in your lessons.
Where Can I Find Work?
Teachers who wish to take up private tuition are faced with two options: either working for themselves or seeking employment with a tutoring agency. Whichever one is chosen, the teaching itself could take place literally anywhere, both at home or abroad. There is also a growing industry for online tutoring using Skype or a similar communications platform.
Working independently has several obvious advantages. As you are essentially self-employed, you will benefit from being able to structure your time as you wish. This is especially useful if you are using tutoring to supplement another source of income. It also gives you a bit more control over things like who you teach and the prices that you charge.
On the other hand, being more autonomous also means you have more responsibilities, such as syllabus creation and the preparation of materials (although many would consider this as another advantage). For those teachers who wish to strike out on their own, the next step is to advertise your services. There are many websites now where you can advertise, and sites such as Gumtree are particularly useful in that they can reach a lot of people, and posting an advert is inexpensive.
Working for an Agency
The other alternative is to work for one of the many tutoring agencies that exist. These have the advantage of often being a more reliable source of work. Typically, tutors are employed on a short term contract, which still gives you a degree of flexibility. As with tutoring by yourself, the opportunities available are extremely varied. Agencies often specialise in a particular niche, which can be very useful for teachers looking for something in particular, whether it is working with secondary school students in London or becoming a live-in tutor abroad. At The Educator, we also have a list of tutoring jobs.