Working as a tutor can be a highly rewarding role, particularly when you can see your clients’ improvement. However, tutoring is a competitive area and you’ll frequently be up against people with more experience and larger networks.
It’s therefore imperative to do your homework before you begin; read up on the industry to ensure you’re best in class.
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What is it and who is it suited to?
A tutor is a person employed to educate others, either individually or in groups.
To set up a tutoring business, you don’t need to be a fully qualified teacher. Although many professional teachers do tutor in their spare time or in the school holidays, the tutoring business is not reserved for them alone.
Obviously, you need to have a good understanding of your chosen subject, and qualifications are always looked upon favourably.
Enthusiasm, positivity and patience are key attributes for someone starting a tutoring business. Students who require tutoring typically need extra help in a particular area and could therefore be suffering from low self-confidence, so it’s important to provide plenty of encouragement.
You also need to be passionate about the subject you’re teaching. Finally, planning and preparation will play a pivotal role in the success of the business, so organisational skills are a must.
Rules and regulations
Members of the Australian Tutoring Association are bound by a Code of Conduct, which is designed to:
- Ensure clients are provided with the best possible service by ethical tutoring organisations and practitioners.
- Create and maintain a national benchmark for educational tutoring services.
- Provide guidance for the implementation of best practice.
Member obligations include the following:
- Tutoring organisations will use their resources for the best education outcomes for students.
- Individual members will use their educational skills to the best of their ability to teach students so that they improve in the subject/s in which they are being tutored.
- Members will use their teaching practices and resources to enhance students’ self-esteem and confidence to learn.
- All ATA members must ensure that a copy of the ATA Code of Conduct is available for client to peruse as requested.
Research and competition
Prior to starting up, you need to decide which subjects you’re going to tutor. Obviously, the higher your own qualification is, the higher the level you will be able to teach and the more you will be able to charge.
It’s worth looking at the competition in your local area to see what subjects are not covered as this could give you an advantage over other tutors.
You then need to decide whether you will conduct sessions from your own home, your students’ homes or in a classroom setting.
Parents with young children may prefer the tuition to take place in their home so that their child feels safe and comfortable in a familiar environment.
You need to bear in mind the cost and time it will take for you to get to and from your lessons, which means making sure you have access to a car or public transport.
Conducting lessons from your own home will save money, time and energy, which means being able to fit more sessions into one day.
To run a reputable business, you also need to have the right resources on hand. You will need to get hold of the relevant curriculum and any exam papers in addition to other materials such as paper and pens, calculators and textbooks.
Keep an eye out for students selling their secondhand text books as they will be a lot cheaper than purchasing them brand new. You do, however, need to ensure you have the most recent version of every publication.
As stated earlier, careful planning will be a huge help, particularly when first starting out. This means having a detailed plan for each lesson and keeping track of all your lessons.
Costs and earnings
Apart from the relevant teaching materials and a bit of advertising, starting up shouldn’t cost you much at all.
In order to determine how much to charge, try calling other tutors or agencies to get an idea of the going rate. Tutors in Australia typically charge between $17 and $60 an hour.
As you start to develop a positive reputation among clients, you can start to charge higher rates for new clients.
One way to earn more money per hour is to double up your students. If you have two students who need tuition in the same subject area and are of a similar standard, you could tutor them at the same time, offering them a discounted rate.
As with any business, save all your receipts from business-related purchases and take time to organise them properly.
An average day
Tutors typically work around normal school hours, so be prepared to work evenings and even weekends. It’s up to you how many clients you take on, but a lot of tutors work part-time.
You need to prepare for each lesson in advance and be open to taking on more work around certain times of the year, such as exam time.
Australian Tutoring Association
02 9704 5724
Australian Government Small Business Support Line
1800 777 275
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
02 6273 2311
03 9668 9950