From Teacher to private tutor – How can it be done?

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Lawrence

CEO of Owl Tutors

February 24th, 2017

From Teacher to private tutor – How can it be done?

In this blog, Lawrence sets out a few key ways that qualified teachers can make a smooth transition into the realm of professional tutoring. Efficiency, using your time wisely and finding a niche are all key.


If you take on an online tuition job that needs little preparation, the £50 an hour that you will be paid is roughly equal to your adjusted hourly rate (£50). If you need to travel 45 minutes each way and perform 30 minutes of preparation for a home tuition job, the £50 an hour that you will be paid actually equates to an adjusted hourly rate of £14.29.

This comparison highlights one of the potential pitfalls of private tuition. If you manage your business well, being a private tutor can generate a fantastic financial return on the time that you invest. If you do not, you may find yourself earning little more than minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet. In this article I will highlight the main areas on which teachers should focus their attention if they are to make a career in the private tutoring industry.

 

Efficiency

One of the main issues that teachers wishing to become tutors will experience is a lack of efficiency. Private tutors can earn a relatively large amount per hour when compared with other professions paid by the hour (Owl Tutors currently pay home tutors in London a minimum of £45 an hour). Although the hourly rates of pay can be high, tutors typically only teach two to three hours per day on a weekday evening and so their total earning potential can be limited by the relatively short window of time between students getting home from school and heading off to bed. It is vitally important that tutors make the most of the short working window that they have. Listed below are a few tips to improve your efficiency.

  1. Become an online expert – The greatest advantage of online tuition over home tuition is that you do not need to travel. This means no transport costs and even more importantly no time spent travelling. Although online tuition is one of the fastest growing areas within the tuition business, making it a core part of your business can be challenging. Many of your potential clients will still feel that face-to-face is a better product and becoming an online expert will require ninja-like IT skills. We have already noticed a significant shift in attitudes towards online tuition as clients are realising that online tuition gives them access to a much larger pool of talent than home tuition does. If we assume that this trend will continue, the challenge for you will be to turn yourself into a technical wizard in order to provide the best online tuition possible. We have a whole section of our website dedicated to online tuition if you would like to find out how to be an online tuition ninja.
  2. Minimise travel time – This will be essential if you are to become efficient. You will need to be ruthless with your diary management and to group your tuition jobs by vicinity. When you take on a new job in a certain area, you should then only take on other jobs in that area on the same day. This can sometimes mean turning down new work that you are capable of doing. I cannot guarantee that you will definitely find other jobs in the same area but I can tell you that rushing all over town every night to reach distant parts of the city is a recipe for a stressed and unhappy tutor.
  3. Find your niche – They say that you can tell a business is a good one if it acts like a hedgehog rather than a fox. Hedgehogs are successful as they do one thing well: when threatened they curl into a ball. Foxes on the other hand tend to be cunning and adopt lots of different strategies to get by. I am not saying that foxes are not successful, what I am saying is that businesses tend to be successful if they focus on one thing. The tuition industry can be broken down into hundreds, if not thousands, of different products. If we consider IGCSE Maths to be a completely different product to International Baccalaureate Standard Level Psychology, you can quickly see how many different products there are. You should start your career by focusing on a particular niche that you know is popular around your neighbourhood so that you can minimise the amount of time that you will have to dedicate to preparation. 

Be confident on price

The tuition industry is vast. Given the colossal size of the industry there are all manner of different people and companies providing all manner of different products at different prices. If you have spent part of your career as a teacher you may not have much experience in price negotiations and finances. The fortunate (and unfortunate) reality of the tuition industry is that the vast majority of tutors do not have any teaching qualifications. The fact that you are already a qualified teacher gives you a big advantage as you have validation that you know what you are doing and therefore should be able to command a price significantly above the market price. Don’t expect your clients to just volunteer to pay you more, however, as they probably won’t. You need to set out your price early and be confident about why you are worth what you are charging.

 

Build a peer group

Being a private tutor can be a lonely existence if you do not reach out to others in the industry to build a peer group. They say that a key component of happiness is to be “like a leaf on a tree”; part of something bigger that is growing. Here at Owl Tutors we work with our tutors on an individual basis to put professional development plans in place and to help tutors invest in their careers. I would recommend that any private tutor does the same and finds a peer group in order to make the career more rewarding.

 

Making it work as a private tutor can be tough but the rewards can be great. Be efficient, invest in yourself and be confident in your business to make it work!


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More about Lawrence

Lawrence is CEO of Owl. Previously, he worked in the City and trained to teach through Teach First. When he isn't running Owl, he loves triathlons.