How to make money as a private tutor
High flyer in your uni subject? Why not try your hand at offering private tuition! It can be a great little money earner, and will do wonders for your job prospects.
Credit: Pete C – Flickr
Private tutoring is something that loads of students get into whilst studying in order to make some cash on the side.
Not only is tutoring flexible work that you can fit around your studies, but it also looks great on your CV if you can show that you're so amazingly capable in your subject area that you're even trusted to teach it to others!
Despite needing a PGCE qualification to teach in schools in the UK, there's nothing stopping you from offering your services on a private basis.
Sound good to you? We've got everything you need to know to get started!
What’s on this page?
First thing's first! In case you need a bit of convincing, here are four reasons to get into doing some private tutoring whilst you're at uni:
It pays well
You can earn some pretty decent cash as a private tutor. The exact amounts will vary depending on where you're based, what your subject specialism is and how much of an expert you can really claim to be, but you can expect to earn between £25 and £35 per hour.
That definitely beats working for minimum wage in a bar, anyway!
It's great experience
Tutoring privately will also look amazing on your CV, especially if you're able to get enough work that you can make it into a sort of mini business with your own website and everything. Learn how to start a website!
By taking the initiative to tutor, you're also demonstrating that you're comparable to a young Alan Sugar – entrepreneurial, and showing you're business-minded by capitalising on the fact you know you're ace at what you do – so it's a double win!
Credit: CreativeTools – FlickrIt can be tough managing to balance work with studies, but when you're self-employed, you can pretty much pick and choose the hours you work (within reason, obviously).
You can decide your own working hours, and if a deadline pops up, you can normally reschedule with your student without too much hassle (although we probably wouldn't recommend making a habit of this, unless you enjoy being horribly irritating).
It's actually good for your studies
How amazing would it be to get paid to study? By offering tuition in your specialist subject, this is essentially what you're doing!
There's no better way to solidify something entirely in your memory than in teaching it to others. Therefore, every hour you spend explaining something related to your degree to another person can even be considered as a form of revision!
Credit: Ethan Lofton – Flickr
As is the case with any job, private tutoring isn't for everyone. If you're going to make this work for you, there are a few things worth bearing in mind before taking the plunge!
In order to be a great tutor (and therefore really rake in the cash!), you'll need to have the following:
- Serious subject-specific knowledge – this one is a bit of a no-brainer (how ironic), but there's really no point in offering your services as a tutor in your subject unless you really know your stuff. Unfortunately, just thinking you're great at it doesn't count – you need to have hard proof (good grades, great references, etc.) to prove yourself in this area.
- Great communication and interpersonal skills – you need to be able to engage well with your students and make things easier for them. If you're a bad communicator, you're likely to just baffle the person you're teaching, or even worse – stress them out. If you're working with younger people, you'll also need to communicate efficiently with parents and inform them of their child's progress. If you can't do that well, it's unlikely they'll feel confident enough to keep you on.
- Good knowledge of revision and exam techniques – even if you struggle applying these techniques in your own studying, who's to say the same applies to everyone? Doing some research into the latest revision techniques is vital! Just because mind mapping doesn't work for you, doesn't mean your pupils will be the same type of learner (another thing you should be researching into).
- Time management skills – time management is paramount when being a tutor. It's all fine and well when you're stumbling into lectures 20 minutes late with breakfast all down your front, but as a tutor you have to show you're a responsible adult, and the least professional thing you could possibly do is be late – so don't be!
- The patience of a saint! – this might sound silly, but this is actually one of the most important qualities needed in a tutor. If you feel like crying with frustration every time you try to show your parents how to do their weekly shop online, you better start looking into that bar job…
As mentioned above, private tutors would normally charge between £25-£35 per hour. Normally tuition slots will last an hour (let's be honest, not even your own attention span can stretch much further than that), so really even if you only manage two sessions per week, you're still making a decent amount of money on the side.
You could also increase your earnings by teaching more than one person at a time, but note that if you do this, you'll be expected to offer a discounted rate, and can't expect to just charge the same price for each additional person.
Some sites advise that you should only really charge a further 10% of your hourly rate per extra person, so depending on what you agree upon, this might not be worth your time.
However, as you'll be working self-employed, it's your responsibility to register with the HMRC and start (grudgingly) putting 20% of what you make aside to pay to the taxman at the end of the tax year in April.
The upside is, however, that if this is your sole income during uni and you only work a couple of hours per week, it's unlikely you'll exceed the £11,000 personal allowance bracket (the amount you're allowed to earn before you have to start paying income tax). Don't worry – we have it all explained in detail for you here!
If you're ready to give tutoring a go, there a few things you need to get started with before you're likely to start seeing the work flow in.
You might be keen to just dive straight into it so you can start making money as soon as possible, but taking the time to get this initial stuff right will set you up well for things going your way in the long-term scale of things.
Make sure your CV is glowing
For any potential new students who don't already know you, your CV is the only thing they've got to give them an accurate picture of you and your abilities.
Therefore, make sure you don't skimp on this bit one iota – use our guide to writing the perfect CV to make sure you ace it!
It's also a good idea to source a couple of great character references (from an old boss, one of your uni lecturers, or a family friend with an important job title, perhaps) as this will really sell you.
Get a DBS check
If you'll be working with anyone under the age of 18, your legally obliged to get a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.
Parents will often ask to see this before they'll consider taking you on, and even if they don't, you'll score some serious professionalism brownie points if you can stick one of these under their noses!
Put a pitch together
If you're serious about getting this tutoring stuff off to a good start, we'd recommend putting a written pitch together that you can present to potential new students.
This is where you get your advertising hat on, and write something similar to a covering letter, where you confidently state what makes you an ideal tutor for someone looking to brush up on your specialist subject.
Include good grades, major relevant achievements and even throw in a quote or two from uni staff or testimonials from previous students (if you have any).
You can then use this pitch as material to convert into an advert for your services! Which brings us on to our next point…
Using the pitch you've already created (see above), you can now edit or cut it down to suit your audience or advertising space, and start getting the word out there.
The best places to start advertising your tutoring services would be:
- Online forums (uni forums, expat forums, etc.)
- Notice boards (at uni, in shop windows, at your local library or community centre)
- In Facebook groups (search using Facebook's search bar to see what sort of relevant groups pop up – there are loads! You could also make your own business page)
- On ad sites like Gumtree or Superprof.
There are also several websites out there that work like tutoring agencies where you can sign up to be matched with potential students. However, it's worth knowing that these sites will either charge a one-off fee or take an ongoing cut of your wages, so you might be worth trying to source the work yourself first, and use these sites as a last resort if you're struggling to recruit.
When it comes to making cash on your own terms, private tutoring could be just the ticket.
Not convinced? Check out these 4 fool-proof business venture ideas to start at uni instead.
Have you ever taken on an unusual line of work to earn some extra money? We'd love to hear your experiences, and if you have any ideas to share!
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