Tutor: Education, Salary, and Outlook
Tutors have the unique opportunity to see first-hand how a little extra instruction and work can pay off in a big way. They can experience the true satisfaction of giving a struggling child the gift of confidence. As a tutor, you may teach students singly or in groups, and cover a variety of subjects or specialize in a discipline, such as math or reading skills.
Learn what it takes to make a great tutor, what education is required, and what the average salary is. This guide also includes information on organizations specifically for tutors along with web resources, such as blogs and twitter feeds.
At a glance: a career as a tutor
Tutors exist for every segment of education from kindergarten all the way through college, and they can provide instruction in person and via online classes. A tutor’s goal is not to help students finish homework, but rather to become self-motivated, independent learners. To that end, these educators can often significantly alter a student’s path through the education system.
Tutors have a varied career track, with some choosing the flexibility of freelance work, while others are employed directly by the school system. Salaries also vary greatly, with advanced degrees and certifications often leading to a higher hourly rate.
Job duties of a tutor
Also, called private teachers, teaching assistants, or reading coaches, these individuals spend their days or evenings providing extra instruction to students who may need a little help developing age-appropriate skills and understanding required subject matter. The responsibilities of a tutor will vary depending on the age of their students, method of instruction, and type of school. But regardless most tutors will need to:
- Create separate lesson plans for each student or groups of students
- Review class assignments from the regular teacher
- Identify their students’ strong and weak points
- Adapt their teaching style to each student’s unique personality
- Keep accurate records of each student
- Schedule and oversee meetings that may include parents, teachers, and school administrative staff
- Perform regular touch bases with students to keep them on track
Tutors need to have a working knowledge of classroom technology. Each school system may favor a different software platform for accessing grades and assignments, and tutors must be prepared to help their students successfully use each one. Additionally, tutors need a comprehensive knowledge of Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets along with Microsoft Office products. Some schools supply students with tablets and laptops, and tutors should be up to speed with all the latest equipment.
What qualities make a great tutor?
It takes a special person to work with a student that may be reluctant, lacking in confidence, fearful, or frustrated. Tutors that can coax the best from their students have the following traits:
- The ability to listen and identify each students’ needs, both intellectually and emotionally
- Empathy and a caring heart
- Off-the-wall thinking and instructional methods
- Communication skills that range from meeting a student on their level to interacting with parents and teachers
- Enthusiasm about the subject and their students
Education requirements for a tutor
Most tutors employed by schools will need at least a bachelor’s degree in education, although there may also be a need for tutors with degrees in technical fields at higher age levels. Tutors looking for full-time employment in a large school system can improve their prospects with a master’s degree.
Certification requirements for a tutor
Certification requirements for a tutor can vary depending on the type of subject matter taught, grade level, and job locale. Here are a few common certifications that may help you advance in your tutoring career.
- Teaching certificate that matches grade level (usually state-specific)
- ATA Tutor Certification
- Associate through Master Tutor Trainer from the ACTP: Each designation is based on hours of experience, and hours of training received/conducted
- Basic Tutor through Master Tutor from the NTA: May add discipline-specific endorsements, like math or reading.
Tutors can work freelance, part-time, or full-time, and, as such, salary ranges vary greatly. Hours of experience, certifications earned, degrees finished, and size of the employer all go into the per hour rate. Glassdoor sets an average base pay for tutors at $23,867 for full-time work with the lowest figure reaching into the teens and the highest topping out at $49,000. Other job-site companies posted much higher annual salaries. Since many tutors work on an hourly basis, we’ve also included that figure.
- Glassdoor: $23,867 annually / $11.41 hourly
- Payscale: $36,958 annually/ $17.52 hourly
- ZipRecruiter: $43,914/ $21.00 hourly
Future employment opportunities for a tutor
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a separate category for tutors. It does, however, provide job forecasts for teacher assistants, showing a 4% growth through 2028. These positions are often at the mercy of school board budget cuts. Some boards may employ more assistants to reduce teacher numbers while others may eliminate assistants, placing more responsibilities on the shoulders of the teachers.
Since tutors are also employed by individuals, their employment prospects may rest more on the number of teachable children. Enrollment shows a steady increase since 1985, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which may help improve the employment prospects for tutors.
The advent of online learning offers tutors ways to connect with and teach students from around the world. This larger pool of students may also increase the career prospects for tutors.
Challenges and opportunities for a tutor
The benefits and drawbacks of a tutor may depend on the point of view of the individual. While one person may enjoy the flexibility of working from home, another may mourn the lack of consistency in weekly pays or unpaid holiday time. For tutors who work in the school system, job security is a trade-off for having to follow strict protocols and curricula guidelines.
- The ability to set your own schedule
- Freedom to work online or from home
- A chance to see firsthand how your influence changes the life of a student
- Weekly pays may vary, or you may only receive short-term contracts
- You may have to visit students’ homes and work nights and weekends
- Dealing with unmanageable students, offensive parents, and opinionated teaching staff
Advance your tutoring career with continuing education and/or online learning classes in professional development, educational technology, online teaching, or bilingual education. As a tutor, the more you bring to the table, the better your chances of receiving a full-time contract within an innovative and growing school system or in growing your client list of students.
Professional associations for a tutor
There are many organizations that can help improve your tutoring skills, provide support resources, including yearly conferences, and encourage community spirit within the tutoring industry.
- American Tutoring Association
- Association for the Coaching and Tutoring Profession
- National Tutoring Association
Best of the web
Tutors interested in connecting with fellow tutors or studying methods used by other teachers may find the following blog and Twitter posts instructional.
Blog posts for tutors
Twitter handles of interest to a tutor
- Teacher2Teacher: @teacher2teacher
- National Center on Improving Literacy: @NCILiteracy
- Educators Rising: @EducatorsRising
- Educations Week: @educationweek
- Reading Recovery Council of North America: @rrcna_org