Private tutors work with students to enhance their learning across different subjects and prepare them for educational qualifications and tests

As a private tutor, you'll provide students with 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 the student's home. You could also provide online tutoring.

There is a large 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 six form and higher education course entrance requirements
  • students in higher education
  • international students preparing for UK education entrance tests or qualifications
  • adults resitting qualifications, for example GCSEs, for career development
  • home schooling (when children are off school recovering from illness, for example).

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 an online 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.
  • Your rate could increase to upwards of £50 per hour as you gain experience and build your reputation.
  • If you receive tutoring requests through an agency, they will add on VAT and commission, which makes average hourly rates £45 plus.

Hourly rates can vary significantly depending on a range of factors, including the subject you're tutoring in, the level you're tutoring at, your experience and qualifications, where you live (rates are typically higher in London and other cities where the cost of living is higher), the frequency of lessons, the preparation required, travel costs and travel time.

You might provide a bit of a discount for online tutoring as you don't need to factor in travel costs.

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 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. The role can be very rewarding when you see students achieve their education goals.
  • Private tutors usually give lessons in their students' homes or online. Travelling to students' homes will add on time between sessions, so plan your routes in advance.
  • Most tutors are self-employed, gaining students through an agency or their own promotion. You can accept as many students as you want and can manage.
  • 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 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 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 for membership of The Tutors' Association, 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
  • interpersonal skills for building a rapport with students and their families
  • 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
  • a level of professionalism when entering people's homes
  • some business 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.

If possible, speak to a private tutor to get advice on how to plan and start offering your own private tuition service.

Employers

Most private tutors are self-employed. You can get work through tutoring agencies, which can be either local or UK-wide. You can register with more than one agency, and many private tutors register with several. Do your research when looking for agencies and check that they're members of The Tutors' Association.

It's possible for some experienced agency tutors to get employment contracts when families are looking for a tutor for a long period of time.

Private tutors also work independently, rather than through an agency, and do their own promotion and marketing. You could join appropriate social media groups where people recommend tutors or use your own contacts to promote yourself. Personal recommendation is key to finding work. It's important to become a member of The Tutors' Association. Members must sign up to a Code of Ethics and pass a criminal record check if tutoring children or vulnerable adults.

There are also opportunities to reach a wider audience, throughout the UK and internationally, via online tutoring.

It may also be possible to get work as a tutor for a tuition centre working with small groups of students.

You can decide how much tutoring to take on, independently or through an agency.

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 online hubs and The Tutors' Association, the professional membership body for tutoring and the wider supplementary education sector. 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 events, 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 and self-promotion.

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.

There are also opportunities to get involved in pro bono work.

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
  • specific roles providing support to children and adults
  • training and development
  • vocational assessing.

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