How to become a tutor

Private tutoring can be a great career or side hustle. In this short guide, we’ll go over the basic steps for how to become a tutor. Sharpen those pencils, and let’s get started!

tutor working with student

If you’re a biology whiz or a talented wordsmith, you might want to monetize your skills by teaching others how to master a particular subject or skill. From grade school students in need of extra support to post-grads studying for admissions exams, people of all ages need tutors to help them understand new concepts, develop new abilities, and achieve success.

Private tutoring can be a lucrative and rewarding career or side hustle… as long as you start with a solid business plan.

In this short guide, we’ll go over the basic steps for how to become a tutor. Sharpen those pencils, and let’s get started!

Assess the market & pick a specialization

First things first: consider your strengths. While some people can both ace quantum physics and write a Pulitzer-worthy essay, most of us probably have a more limited range of skill and expertise.

What’s your tutoring niche?

  1. Make a list of subjects you’re well-qualified to tutor. This should include any standardized tests that you knocked out of the park (PSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, etc.). What’s the highest education level you can teach? Can you meet your students’ needs based on your experience?
  2. Make sure your previous studies, grades, and standardized test scores support and demonstrate your qualifications. Be ready to share these with potential clients if asked.
  3. If you have previous teaching or tutoring experience in a given subject, it can give you an edge over the competition.

Now that you know what subject(s) you want to tutor, figure out how you’ll fit into the current market and competition. Consider:

  1. What kinds of schools are in your area? (K-12 only, or community colleges and universities?) Which age range are you most qualified to teach?
  2. Which group invests the most in a tutoring service? High school kids studying for the SATs, college students, or graduate students studying for licensing exams?
  3. What tutoring services are already available in your area? Does the local college have a peer tutoring center, for example? How can you differentiate your tutoring business from theirs?
  4. Is your area of expertise something that can be taught remotely using the internet or video calls? This could expand your reach beyond the local community.
  5. What are the average tutoring rates? Can you offer a competitive rate or a promotion?

Maybe you’ve decided to focus specifically on SAT math, or perhaps you’ll pitch to anxious pre-med students looking for a leg up in their course material. Either way, it’s time to get the word out

Promote your services

Once you have a few tutoring clients, you’ll start to find additional students through word of mouth. But to find those first few learners, cast a wide net.

Spread the word by:

  • Posting tear-away flyers on community boards and at coffee shops frequented by your target students (or their parents).
  • Getting in touch with your former teachers if you went to school in the area. Let them know you’re available for private tutoring.
  • Creating a website with your resume, list of services, and rates. Make potential clients aware of your teaching experience to gain their trust. And don’t forget to use key terms related to your specific subject and location, such as “SAT tutors in Boston”, to show up on Google and other search engines.
  • Registering on tutoring websites such as Wyzant and Tutors.com. You’ll get leads for local (and virtual) clients looking for online tutoring. The only downside? You’ll have to bid against other tutors’ rates, and the platform will take a percentage of your rate for each tutoring session.

You could even have a tutoring position as a freelancer for a larger local tutoring company. However, if you want to take on private clients, avoid signing a contract with a noncompete clause.

Once you’ve done some promotion, it probably won’t be long before you land your first tutoring job!

Get insured

Before you head out or log on to meet your first student, make sure you and your business are protected by business insurance.

Why do tutors need insurance? Imagine the following scenarios:

  • You have a tutoring session in your client’s home. While on the job, you’re craving a cup of coffee, so you try out their expensive espresso maker. Should you break the machine, your client could claim you’re responsible for their financial loss. 
  • Your student needs a specific SAT score to keep their athletic scholarship. But they’re doing fine on practice tests, so you cancel their last few appointments. Should they fail the test, their parents could sue you for their financial loss (claiming that you were negligent in your services).

You may not think anyone would sue a well-meaning tutor, but when things like college and job applications are on the line, parents and students can quickly turn litigious.

Without insurance, you may be responsible for your own legal fees, as well as any damages.

That’s why tutors need:

General liability insurance – Also called commercial general liability, this insurance can provide coverage for client and third-party claims of property damage, personal and advertising injury, or bodily injury.

Professional liability insurance – Clients can sue you for negligence alleging that your errors led to their financial loss. Professional liability insurance can help protect you.

If you work for a larger tutoring company, you’re probably wondering whether you need your own insurance.

Keep in mind that independent contractors may not be covered by the professional liability insurance covering the company that they work with. Even if you are covered, you could still be named as a third party in a lawsuit, in which case you’d have to pay for your own attorney.

That’s why having your own insurance policy is still a great safeguard.

Ok, so you agree business insurance is a good idea. But when you’re just starting out as a tutor, you may work just a few hours a month, do you really need insurance? And can you even afford it?

The answer is yes, and yes! Fast, flexible Tutor Insurance through Thimble is designed for professionals like you. Choose from hourly, daily, or monthly policies so that you’re only paying for insurance when you’re working and actually need it.

Better yet, it’s lightning-fast to get insured via Thimble. Just enter your ZIP code, along with your desired policy length and coverage limits, and you’ll receive an instant quote. Purchase with a click and show up to your next tutoring job prepared for almost anything – except for a student who keeps dozing off.

Tutoring 101

As a tutor, we know you appreciate a good lesson summary.

Here’s what it takes to become a tutor:

  • First, assess the market and figure out your tutoring niche.
  • Promote your tutoring business online and in-person. Sign up with tutoring websites, and wait until the clients start to flow in!
  • Get insurance. A single lawsuit could be a failing grade for your business! Tutors usually need general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

Ready to become a successful tutor? We won’t give you a test, but we know you’d pass with flying colors. So get out there and start helping students shine!

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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