Post updated 02/06/2015.
Editors note: This post has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy as of 02/06/2015. For more insights into the UK tutoring industry, or for media enquiries, contact email@example.com.
Did you know that 1 in 4 UK school children now use private tutors?
Working as a tutor can be a hugely rewarding job, not to mention a great way to earn a living being your own boss. The private tuition industry in the UK is said to be worth £6 billion and is continually growing. If you have a passion for teaching others then there's never been a better time to consider working as a self-employed private tutor.
What Qualifications do you Need to Become a Private Tutor?
There are no standard qualifications for private tutors in the UK so anyone who has good knowledge in a specialist subject can become a tutor. To advertise as a private tutor, it's recommended that you are at least a university student. Private tutoring isn't just limited to teaching school kids either, there are losts of tutors out there who specialise in music, arts, business, marketing, computer coding and professional services.
Generally speaking, private tutors are likely to be seen as valuable in the eyes of a student or parent if they have first-hand experience in the subject they're tutoring. As far as academia goes, qualified teachers often decide to become tutors and offer their services to supplement their full-time teaching job. Newly qualified or retired teachers also offer their services as tutors and are sometimes the preferred choice of educator as their previous experience clearly shows their expertise.
On the other hand, many students and parents consciously decide to choose a tutor who isn't a teacher, who may have a slightly different approach to learning. Outwith educational establishments, those who tutor in more specialist subjects like online marketing, web development, html coding etc. tend to have experience of working in those specific industries. How qualified these tutors need to be is at the discretion of the student using their services.
Obtaining a DBS Check as a Private Tutor
Note: As of the 17th June 2013, The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) have merged into the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). As a result of this merge, CRB checks are now called DBS checks.
DBS checks are required for certain jobs or voluntary work. For example, someone may need to undergo a DBS check in order to work with children, work in healthcare or to apply to foster or adopt a child. For people wishing to obtain a criminal record check in Scotland, the application process is different and is administered by Disclosure Scotland. In Northern Ireland, applications are overseen by Access Northern Ireland as part of the Department of Justice (NI).
If your students are primarliy adults over 18 years old, you don’t necessarily need to have a CRB certificate although having one will give your tutees piece of mind.
What Qualities Make a Good Private Tutor?
If you're considering becoming a private tutor, it's important to ask yourself if you have the personal qualities needed to work with students. Generally, tutors should be friendly and approachable yet maintain a professionalism that reassures students and parents that they're good at what they do.
It's important to have patience and to have a genuine interest in working with younger people or those looking to learn a new skill. If you have the ability to motivate people and approach new challenges with enthusiasm, then working as a private tutor can give you great job satisfaction.
Will You Tutor in Your Own Home or Travel?
Tutors usually offer their services directly from their own homes or they travel to student’s houses. In some cases, you might teach from a student's workplace or from a public place like a coffee shop or library. Working as a travelling tutor opens up your options in terms of the areas you can cover and it often pays to have the flexibility of working this way.
However, you should also consider your travel costs if you decide to be a travelling tutor. Make sure that you’re prepared for those extra overheads such as petrol or public transport costs and consider whether they'll be reflected in how much you charge for your services.
Have a think about where will lessons take place. Is there enough space in your home to provide a stimulating learning environment? You should also consider your utility bills and whether the cost of your utilities will increase as a result of your business. If you're a private tenant, you should check if you're permitted to run a small business from your home. Some tenancy agreements have clauses in place that restrict the type of business you can operate.
Consider what you'll do about students who cancel at the last minute. Will you decide to use a cancellation policy?
The Legalities of Working as a Private Tutor
Most tutors start out as sole traders and keep their own financial records. A simple income and expenditure spreadsheet should be fine to help you keep track of your earnings. As a sole trader, you'll need to complete a self-assessment tax return every year after the 5th April and the easiest way to do so is online. You have 3 months from when you begin your self employment to inform HMRC and obtain your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number.
As your business expands, you may wish to consider hiring other people to work for you or you may want to set up your own tuition agency, in which case you'll need to change your legal structure and become a Limited Company. You'll also need to adhere to employment agency law and should seek appropriate advice from relevant qualified bodies.
Insurance for Private Tutors
Public liability insurance is generally recommended for anyone who offers tuition outwith or within their own home as a means of protecting themselves against legal liability following an injury to a student or damage to third party property. However, public insurance isn’t a legal obligation. Professional Insurance is also considered by some tutors as a means of protection against any legal proceedings as a result of advice or guidance given as a professional service.
For more information on how to become a private tutor in the UK, check out our post on How to Start a Private Tutoring Business. And to find out about the best ways to market yourself as a private tutor, take a look at our two posts How to Market your Private Tutoring Business Online and How Can I Market Myself as a Private Tutor in my Local Area?
Post written by Jamie Thomson