Online tutoring offers students and tutors flexibility that you often don't get with in-person tutoring. In this post, we explore the qualifications you need to tutor online, which free platforms to use, how to price your services and how to market your online tutoring business.
The demand for in-person private tutoring has always been high. Now, as we continue to lead increasingly busy lives, the demand for flexible tuition, that can take place anywhere, is growing too. Online tuition is a burgeoning market, making it easy for students to learn when and where they want. And tutors are able to work in much the same way, working from home with no travel time. Nevertheless, it can seem daunting to know where to start with online tutoring, so we’ve created a guide with our top tips on how to become an online tutor.
Deciding Which Subjects and Levels to Teach
Whether you’re already an in-person tutor, or you’re completely new to private tutoring (in which case check out this article), the first step is to decide which subjects and levels to tutor. In the UK, you don’t need any specific qualifications to become a tutor, no matter the subject. Although the more qualified you are, the more valuable you’ll appear to potential tutees.
First of all, consider what subject you hold as your highest qualification. The subject that you are most qualified in is probably the most obvious one to tutor. For example, if you have a Master’s Degree in German, then this would be the most obvious subject to specialise in. Having studied the subject at length, you’ll already have a good understanding of the discipline and will be familiar with most of the content that you’d need to tutor students.
In theory, you should be able to tutor up to the level of your highest qualification. However, most academic tutoring takes place at GCSE, A-Level, and business level.
And although it isn’t a legal requirement, you should also consider obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate, particularly if you intend on tutoring students under the age of 18.
The Skills You Need to Become An Online Tutor
The skills you need to become an online tutor are similar to the skills you need for in-person tutoring. You’ll need to be knowledgeable in your subject area, have an adaptable teaching style, and good one-to-one teaching skills. Beyond these, you’ll also need:
IT Skills - Although you don’t need to be an IT expert to teach online, it’s important that you’re able to navigate your way around online teaching platforms, share documents and share your screen with students. Most of the skills you’ll need can be learned easily, and there are lots of guides online to help you, should you need it.
Business Knowledge – As an online tutor, you’ll be self-employed and will automatically become a business owner – whether as a sole trader or limited company. It’s therefore important that you familiarize yourself with business aspects such as tax and marketing. There are many resources, such as accountants and local council business advisors, who can help you with the legal side of things.
Choosing Your Teaching Platform and Equipment
Once you’ve decided on the subjects you’re going to tutor, you’ll need to choose the platform that you’ll use for your online lessons. There are lots of free services available, the most popular include:
- Google Hangouts
All of the above offer similar video conferencing services, so it might be a good idea to test a few different platforms out with a friend or an existing student before deciding which one works best for you. Make sure you know how to navigate your way around the platform, and carry out tasks such as file and screen sharing.
Having chosen your preferred teaching platform, you can then consider if you want to invest in additional equipment, such as headsets or microphones. You can easily teach with just a computer and a reliable internet connection, but there is a wide range of additional tech, at varying prices, available should you need it.
Set Your Online Tutoring Rates
With your online teaching set-up finalised, you can start to think about how much you’ll charge for your online lessons. If you have never tutored before, or are planning to tutor exclusively online, you may want to search Google for what other online tutors are charging in your subject area and experience level.
In general, online lessons tend to be cheaper than in-person tuition because there are less overheads for the tutor (mainly travel). For example if a tutor charges £35 per hour for face-to-face lessons, online lessons may cost around £25 per hour.
However, there’s no industry standard across subjects and levels for online tuition costs, so taking the time to do some research will help you decide on your rates.
How to Find Online Tutoring Jobs
Marketing your services as an online tutor can be one of the most challenging aspects of tutoring. It might be helpful to have a read of our post, 7 Steps to Effectively Market Your Tutoring Business Online, which will give you some useful tips on how to spread awareness of your online business.
Ideally, once you’ve established your online tuition service, students will find you, but until then, you may want to keep an eye on tutoring jobs boards like the one we have at The Tutor Website. Finally, in order to maximise your chances of being found in your local area through online searches, you should think about signing up to our private tutor directory.
Before Your First Lesson
As with any type of tuition, it’s a good idea to plan your online lessons, and how you will approach them beforehand. Before lessons begin, you’ll need to ensure that your student is set up on your chosen platform and that they know their way around it. You first online lesson with a new student, can be a case of trial and error in the beginning, so having a consultation lesson (which you may want to offer for free) is often a good idea. It’s important that you both have a good grasp of the platform’s functions.
As additional preparation, you may want to email over worksheets, or learning materials, so your student can familiarise themselves with the lesson structure and content. Even though you can screen share on your online platforms, enabling students to print a hard copy of learning materials can help with written work, note-taking and future revision. You can also decide if, and how, you will use other multimedia tools such as videos, or online worksheets, to enhance your lessons.
Some tutees may find that they work best with face-to-face lessons, but overall online tuition can be a very flexible, interactive and an effective way to learn, which works well for tutor and student alike.
For a demonstration of how online tutoring works, check out this video from UK tutoring agency TutorTutor:
At The Tutor Website, we provide advertising to both in-person and online tutors through our tutor directory – so feel free to sign up and create your profile.