Most of the teachers I know have to work a secondary part-time job. Some work this job in the summer, along with taking classes and getting professional development. Some also work during the year. After school. Nights. Weekends. Other great teachers leave the classroom to go into administration just because they need the money. And many teachers I know have left the profession altogether…
I’m in this same boat. I’ve got a wife and two kids. A ton of student loans (undergrad and master’s program). Mortgage etc etc. My wife and I have also made the decision for her to stay home with our kids and not go back to work until they are in school. Would it be easier if she was working full-time? Maybe. But then there would be childcare costs, extra transportation costs, and the list goes on.
Still, teachers in all stages of their career and life, have to work to get extra money. It is the reality of our current economic situation. And we should not be afraid to talk about this reality.
Why Tutoring is a Great Job for Teachers
I’ve started side-businesses, done physical labor jobs, run camps, summer school, done consulting, speaking, and writing gigs. All of those pale in comparison to the money I earn tutoring. Using my teaching knowledge of content and instruction, I can easily make enough money on the side to help support my family.
Tutoring is consistently in high demand, and teachers are overwhelmingly the most qualified candidates to tutor. It is a perfect mesh of talent and demand. Interestingly, I’ve found that many teachers I know don’t tutor. Or they tutor for a company like Huntingdon or Kaplan. That is the wrong way to go about tutoring.
You need to tutor for yourself, not a company.
You need to set the right price for your services, create your own program, and provide your own resources. In doing so you will make more money, deal with less headaches, and have a sustainable income and demand for your tutoring.
When I ask my friends who are teachers why they aren’t tutoring I’ll usually get three responses:
1. I don’t have enough time, where do you find the time to do that?
2. I really don’t know where to start? How do you even get clients? What material do you use? How much do you charge?
3. I teach all day long. I don’t feel like teaching more after school and at night.
For the first teacher, I’ll usually tell them that you can make the tutoring time to whatever is most convenient for you. Want your nights free? Tutor after school hours. Coach already? Tutor at nights. Want your weekdays free? Tutor on the weekends. Want to not work extra during the school year? Tutor in the summer.
Teacher number two may be interested but they feel overwhelmed at the process. Often this person may have done some tutoring in the past, maybe working for a company and seen the potential, but does not know where to begin. They need direction on how to get started (which is easy).
Teacher number three needs to understand that tutoring is one of the best options they have to make extra money as an educator. If they choose to go another route hopefully they are passionate about it. I’m passionate about helping students and solving problems. Tutoring allows me to do both of those things while developing relationships with students and helping them grow as learners. Oh, and I also get paid a good amount of money.
That being said you need to make a decision: Are you ready to work for yourself?
Some people can’t handle working for themselves. They like being told what to do, and never being “responsible” if something goes wrong. If you become a self-employed tutor you’ll have to do a lot of things on your own, but you’ll also be making four times the amount you were working for a tutoring company.
You’ll have to:
- find your own clients
- create your own program
- set your own rate
- set your own hours
- handle scheduling (including cancellations etc)
- handle all communications
- handle all money involved
In return you’ll get to:
- make four times as much money
- set your own schedule (and change it when you need to)
- develop a solid reputation
- increase your rate and revenue over time
But the biggest reason you should become a tutor, in my opinion, is so you can help students and make money at the same time. That’s what we do as teachers, and it’s what tutors do as well. The difference is as teachers our school’s set the hours, curriculum, and going pay rate. Tutoring is teaching, but you are in charge.
So How to Get Started
Hopefully by now you’ve made the decision to tutor. It’s a great option for teachers to make extra money, doing what they love, and what they are good at. But maybe you are like teacher #2 and want some guidance on how to get started. I’m writing a short book and online course just for you. “The Teacher’s Guide to Tutoring” is a guide to starting and running your own tutoring business. It’s for teachers, but also applies to anyone with a specific content knowledge and instructional ability.
Before you read the book and take the course (and I hope you sign up below to be notified when I release it) there are three steps you need to take to get started.
1. Define your market. Who are you going to tutor?
Who will you be tutoring? The more specific the better. Will you be tutoring elementary students, middle school students, high school students, college students? Will you be tutoring a specific test (SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT etc)? Will you be tutoring a specific subject (math, reading, science etc)?
You want to come up with your potential student, and focus on their needs. When I began tutoring I focused on high school athletes who were taking the SAT or ACT. Their timelines for college are very different than other high school students, and often their classes have not prepared them early enough to take these tests.
Each college has a specific range of SAT or ACT scores they look for, and a high school athlete looking to play collegiate sports has an immediate goal.
This was also a good fit for me because as a coach I work with athletes a lot and understand the time constraints in their schedule. I love helping student athletes, and was actually excited about getting them into their college of choice. Still, many times student-athletes are too busy to focus as much as I’d like them to on our work…which presents difficulties.
When you decide who your market is, be sure to understand those students. Each has different schedule, time, and ability issues that need to be handled effectively.
2. What’s your availability? When are you going to tutor?
I’ll admit that this may be the most difficult part of sustainable tutoring. As I mentioned above, depending on who your students are, the schedule will vary. Because I was a coach, my schedule was usually open when the student-athletes schedule was open. It worked out well.
But I have other obligations to my family, and my own full-time job. I never want my side or part-time job to get in the way of what I do for full-time work, or with my family time. Make sure this choice is YOUR choice, and don’t let this part time job interfere with what is most important in your life.
3. What are you going to charge?
This is one of the biggest obstacles for teachers who are getting started tutoring. They have no problem working for Huntingdon or Kaplan and getting paid $25 an hour while those companies charge students upwards of $100 per hour.
Yet, when it is time for teachers to set a “rate”, they often undervalue their services. I cover a number of different pricing strategies (including when you should tutor for free) in this course and eBook. Short answer: You are going to be charging around $100 per hour…and it is going to be a deal for your students. I’ll explain more in the course.
So, if you’ve read this far I hope you are interested in this course and ebook.
In the meantime, sign up below and receive my free email course on Tutoring in the 21st Century. It has a ton of great information, tips, and strategies for tutoring in today’s digital and global world.
*Note: This is different from my normal email sign-up. This is specifically for those of you interested in learning more about tutoring. If you’d like to sign up for my regular newsletter, you can do so below. Thanks!