If you have sound knowledge of educational subjects, curricula and tests, as well as excellent patience and communication skills, working as a private tutor can offer a flexible career choice

Private tutors work with students to enhance their learning across different subjects and prepare them for educational qualifications and tests. You'll provide tailored tuition and may offer specialist skills, methods or approaches to support individual learning needs.

You don't have to be a qualified teacher, but should provide a service that helps students progress in their study and learning, apply effective methods of understanding and problem solving, and prepare effectively for exams or tests.

A private tuition session lasts around an hour and normally takes place in either the student or tutor's home. You could also provide online tutoring.

There are a wide number of private tutor agencies or you could promote yourself independently to attract students, develop your network and receive recommendations.

Areas of private tuition

Private tuition is often used to support:

  • primary school age core curriculum subjects (key stages 1 and 2)
  • secondary school age core curriculum subjects (key stage 3, GCSE and A-level)
  • preparation for primary-age SATS tests
  • preparation for 11+ grammar school admission tests
  • preparation for independent school admission tests
  • literacy and numeracy foundation skills
  • special educational needs (SEN) and specialist learning needs
  • qualifications and subjects studied outside the core curriculum
  • international curriculum qualifications (including the International Baccalaureate)
  • language tuition for education or professional needs
  • preparation for higher education course entrance requirements.

Responsibilities

As a private tutor, you'll need to:

  • schedule and plan individual tutoring sessions for your students
  • provide tuition that is appropriate for the individual's needs and study level
  • prepare students for exams or tests required for acceptance to education or training opportunities
  • assess any barriers to students' study progress
  • maintain up-to-date knowledge of the curriculum content and qualification frameworks you're providing subject tuition in
  • use relevant tutoring methods and materials
  • deliver video tutorials and facilitate online forums (if working as a distance learning tutor)
  • keep student records, produce progress reports and make sure all individual student information is safely filed away
  • deliver a professional service
  • manage financial arrangements yourself or through an agency
  • promote your services and skills to gain students and recommendations
  • work to tutoring agency standards if you receive tutoring requests through them
  • ensure you meet health, safety and relevant insurance requirements and work in line with child protection regulations
  • operate your own private tutoring business, either full time or as an additional source of income around other employment.

Salary

  • The average rate for a private tutor session is between £30 and £42 per hour. This rate depends on a range of factors, including the subject you're tutoring in, the level you're tutoring at, your relevant experience or qualifications, the cost of materials used such as practice papers, the preparation required, travel costs and travel time.
  • Your rate could increase to between £50 and £60 per hour, depending on your track record of success, availability at preferred times and locations you're able to travel to.
  • If you receive tutoring requests through an agency, you would typically add on a commission of between £5 and £6 per hour in addition to the hourly rate per student.

Tutoring is usually charged at the same rate for face-to-face sessions held in either yours or your student's home. You could charge a slightly lower rate for online tutoring or a package of sessions.

You might accept more than one student per session, which could enable you to set a further 10% per session in addition to the individual student rate.

Private tutoring for 11+, independent school entrance tests and higher education exams in professional areas such as medicine or law may require additional materials, which can cost on average between £200 and £1,000.

Whether you work independently or through an agency, remember to cover the overhead costs of running a private tuition service when setting your rates.

Income data from Superprof - The Price of Home Tutoring: Your Guide to Costing your Classes. Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Flexible working is one of the main advantages of private tutor work. You can schedule private tuition sessions around a main job and other commitments such as study, parenting, travelling, healthcare or volunteering.

Popular days and times of sessions for school-age children are typically after school, evenings and weekends. Individual sessions usually last an hour, but you may be asked to tutor for longer per student, as exam and entrance test dates get closer.

Be realistic about locations you can travel to between sessions, or how many students could visit your home in one evening or weekend, especially if there are other people in your household to consider. Don't forget to factor in preparation time before each student.

What to expect

  • You'll tutor a wide variety of students with different requirements, so being able to adapt and provide an approach that suits each learner is essential when providing an individual, tailored service. Students will expect to receive your expertise and support to help them achieve qualifications and prepare for tests.
  • Most tutors are self-employed, gaining students through their own promotion or requests through an agency. You can accept as many students as you want and can manage.
  • Travelling to students' homes will add on time between sessions, so plan your routes in advance.
  • Sessions in the evenings and at weekends are the most popular, which could affect your social life or time for other interests.
  • You'll be responsible for the administration aspects of your business, deciding what forms of payment to accept and promoting yourself independently or through an agency.

Qualifications

Although there are no formal entry requirements to become a private tutor, most have a degree. If you want to register for an agency, many will require this level of qualification before accepting your registration. 

You don't necessarily need a degree in the subject you want to teach, but a degree in core educational subjects, including maths, English, science and modern languages, may be useful when tutoring in these subjects.

Although you don't need a postgraduate qualification, some tutors have a Masters and/or PhD.

Tutors have a wide variety of qualifications, skills and experience. For example, some have previously taught in schools, colleges or higher education institutions, while others may come from a broader education or a business background. You can also start tutoring during your undergraduate degree or when studying for a Masters or PhD.

You'll need to promote your qualifications in order to show your expertise, subject knowledge and ability to provide a good standard of tutoring. Students, parents and carers will expect your qualifications to be sufficient for the subjects you can offer.

You'll also need to show examples of effective tutoring, such as student or parent/carer feedback, to help students and their families decide whether you're the right tutor for them.

Having an up-to-date disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (England and Wales), Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme (Scotland) or AccessNI is a requirement with most tutoring agencies and professional associations, and is strongly recommended for all tutors. It promotes safe working with children, young people and vulnerable adults and helps students, parents or carers to make decisions about using a tutor.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • a sound understanding of the subject(s) and tests you tutor in
  • knowledge of revision and exam techniques
  • planning skills to prepare for each individual tutoring session
  • organisational skills to keep track of session dates and times
  • oral communication skills to explain subjects and test information effectively
  • writing skills to provide comments and feedback on students' work
  • IT skills to help students access other relevant materials and support and to provide online tutoring
  • patience and understanding of individual learning needs
  • a friendly manner to help students feel at ease
  • the confidence to encourage, praise and challenge students' progress
  • some financial skills to manage your costs and payments
  • social media skills to promote yourself and your services on popular platforms.

Work experience

Lots of private tutors draw on other professional and personal experiences to help them operate their own service. It's a very individual role, allowing you to develop your own approach, assess your strengths and identify where you already have relevant experience to help you get started.

You don't need formal experience of teaching, but helping children or older students with their learning and development in different ways will use some of the same skills.

Think of examples where you've supported someone to achieve a goal or helped them prepare for something important like a speech or presentation. Experience in helping others to understand instructions or solve a problem, or guiding them through a task clearly, is useful.

Work experience opportunities aren't routinely available. If a tutor's working for an agency, having someone else present during a tutoring session might conflict with the tutor's or agency's privacy policy. Independent tutors will make their own decisions about offering any work experience. If you can't sit in on a session, ask whether you can have an informal discussion and get advice on how to plan and start offering your own private tuition service.

Employers

Most private tutors are self-employed. Opportunities come from a wide variety of customers, including:

  • parents or carers of students in independent, mainstream and SEN schools
  • students in higher education (HE)
  • international students preparing for UK education entrance tests or qualifications.
  • adults resitting qualifications, for example GCSEs, for career development.

You could be tutoring several students per day, ranging from primary school children preparing for SATS tests to undergraduate students sitting HE exams.

There are local and UK-wide agencies and professional networks that will promote the subjects, tests and specialist skills or approaches you can offer.

Look for vacancies at:

You can decide how much tutoring to take on, independently or through an agency. It's a good idea to become part of a local private tutor network, join appropriate social media groups where people recommend tutors or use your own contacts to promote yourself.

Professional development

You'll need to take responsibility for your own professional development throughout your tutoring career. This includes making sure you keep up to date with changes to education curricula, tests, qualifications and regulations around working with children and young people.

Although you'll usually work alone, there's lots of advice and support online through UK-wide private tutor communities and private tutor professional bodies, such as The Tutors' Association. By becoming a member, you can:

  • share good practice and pick up tips and guidance on improving your own business
  • gain a clear understanding of the professional code of practice
  • learn how curriculum and exam regulations affect tutors' work
  • access webinars and conferences to help promote the value of private tutors for educational and professional requirements.

You may also choose to take courses in areas relating to running a business, such as:

  • book-keeping
  • insurance
  • personal safety
  • risk assessment for working at home
  • self-employed tax
  • self-promotion.

Guidance on effective tutoring is provided through Superprof.

Career prospects

As you gain more experience in helping students prepare for qualifications and tests or improve their learning, your reputation will grow. Tutoring can be a competitive arena, but by developing effective approaches and building up a proven track record of success, you can increase your tuition fees and your customer base, and earn more money.

Good subject knowledge, clear session fee information and the ability to promote yourself effectively are key to building your business. You'll need to showcase positive feedback you receive from students, parents and carers, and highlight the exam successes your students have achieved with your help.

You may choose to boost your profile and value as a tutor by highlighting your specialist skills and approaches. These can include supporting students with learning difficulties or with specific individual needs, having knowledge of an applied learning method or having experience of specific professional tests.

By working as a private tutor, you'll gain relevant experience for career progression and wider employment opportunities, including:

  • community adult education
  • creating education and learning resources
  • qualified teaching
  • running a recognised tutoring franchise, such as Kumon
  • specific roles providing support to children and adults
  • training and development
  • vocational assessing.