Advice for would-be private tutors

Private tuition in the UK is a booming industry. It’s well-paid, rewarding and extremely flexible. What’s not to like? Here are some key areas to consider before getting involved.

Specialist or generalist?

There are no specific qualifications for becoming a private tutor in the UK, which means that your academic background becomes your selling point. Can you pass on to others what you’ve been successful in? There’s demand for private tuition in a surprising range of subjects ranging from the specialized (e.g. accountancy exams or statistics for social sciences) to help in school subjects such as English, maths and grammar school entry exams. Recent graduates are often favoured by parents as tutors because they still remember the difficulties of school work, and because they can become inspiring role models.

Tuition agency or independent?

The vast majority of private tutors are self-employed. There are both rewards and challenges associated with this employment status, but statistics reveal that it is becoming an increasingly popular way of working.  Those who have never tutored before will often seek out tuition agencies not only to obtain work, but also to receive support or training on entering the industry for the first time. Every so often, the British press runs a story on a top end tuition agency providing so-called ‘super tutors’ to work for celebrity clients. On the other hand, with a flair for marketing and a willingness to research the market and relevant curricula, many tutors have carved out a career for themselves independently of tuition agencies.

A third option is to take on a tuition centre franchise. Tuition centres often take the form of an after-school club where children will have private tuition in small groups. Key industry names are Kumon , Kip McGrath or Magikats.

Part-time or full-time?

Private tuition has the advantages of being both well-paid (£30/hour+) and flexible. For graduates who are trying to break into (or are currently working in) the creative industries, private tutoring has become a valuable source of income. For others, it can become a rewarding full-time career option in itself. This has recently been recognized by The Tutors’ Association, a fledgling industry body for the UK private tuition industry, which offers membership to both tuition companies and individual ‘career tutors’.

One recent development which has helped tutors work full-time is the rise in online tuition because it means that tutors’ working hours are no longer restricted to after school or holidays. Instead, graduates can take advantage of the cachet of their UK degree, and use conferencing and whiteboard technologies to deliver lessons to students worldwide at any time of day or night.

Further information

Before deciding to tutor, it is worth spending some time to research the industry, for example on relevant Linkedin forums. Understanding the issues surrounding child protection – including what the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) means for tutors – is also important. Two further sources of information are listed below:

The Tutors’ Association – thetutorsassociation.org.uk

Tutoring: The Complete Guide – www.thetutorpages.com/free-tutoring-ebook

With thanks to guest blogger, Henry Fagg, Director of thetutorpages.com, an award-winning resource and listings site for the UK private tuition industry.