If you want to become a tutor, you are probably wondering where to start. From the certifications necessary to your first steps, this guide will help you.
How To Become A Tutor
Becoming a tutor consists of deciding who your students will be and earning the proper education to teach those students. Then it is a matter of deciding if you want certification or if you want to specialize as a teaching assistant.
Figure out what kind of tutor you want to be.
If you want to be a tutor, it is important to decide what level of students you want to tutor. In general, you can be a tutor for a course or skill you have more knowledge or experience in than the student.
Figure out what kind of education you need.
Unless you are tutoring elementary or middle school children (in which case you can still be in high school), it is a good idea to have a high school diploma or general equivalency degree (G.E.D.). You should also develop good understanding of the subject matter you plan to teach. You may also need to develop teaching aids and a study plan.
Gain some tutoring experience.
Before you can be certified as a tutor, you need to gain some tutoring experience. Advertise yourself around local schools or to your family and friends to gain some initial experience.
Decide if you want certification.
Since private, independent tutors only need to convince students or their parents to hire them, they do not necessarily need any sort of certification. There are optional certifications out there to legitimize private tutors, though, such as the American Tutoring Association’s certification program (https://americantutoringassociation.org/) or the National Tutoring Association’s certification program (http://www.ntatutor.com/certify.html). Certification might help you get more work.
Decide if you want to be a teaching assistant, and get the necessary education if so.
Instead of being a private tutor, you can also be a teaching assistant hired by a school. If you do want to be a teaching assistant, you need an associate’s degree or two years of college credit in education.
Receive the proper certification to be a teaching assistant, if you choose to specialize.
Teaching assistants might have to receive certification depending on which state they are in (http://www.teacherassistantinfo.com/job-requirements/). New York and Texas require teaching assistants to undergo several certification programs which involve assessments, teaching experience and workshops such as abuse prevention. California only requires teaching assistants to have the above-mentioned education levels and pass a formal, state-approved assessment such as the ParaPro assessment.
Pass a background check (usually required for teaching assistants).
Since teaching assistants are to be employed by schools and spend time around students, they must pass a criminal background check.
Since private tutors only need a high school education which is usually subsidized by the state, the main costs for a tutor involve advertising, such as printing out and putting up posters. Private tutors also have to pay for certification, if they decide to go that route. Teaching assistants need to pay tuition for higher education, as well as certification costs.
Job Description / Responsibilities
Tutors serve an important role as they help students through classes. Since teachers cannot give enough individual attention to make sure every student understands every topic, tutors are necessary to fill in the gaps.
- Help students with homework assignments and general concepts so that they understand what is going on in class.
- Help students study for tests by making sure they understand the subject at hand and helping them know what they need to learn well and what they do not need to focus as much on.
- Completely understand the subject you are tutoring so that the student does not need any other resources.
- Encourage students about their abilities so that they do not think they are dumb or incapable of learning the subject.
- Help students develop strategies to retain information better the first time they hear it in class, such as note-taking or active listening strategies.
- Help students understand what they need to accomplish so they can earn a passing grade in the class, or raise their current grade if it is already a passing grade.
- Help students progress through their education so they do not need to repeat any classes or grades.
- Give students the tools necessary to succeed in the class they are being tutored in as well as in other classes.
- Meet with the tutored student on a consistent, pre-determined schedule without missing any appointments.
- Keep track of important in-class dates for the student, such as upcoming tests, so that your tutoring can be targeted towards their needs.
- Serve as an educational role model for the student, so they can see that success in the classroom is possible.
For Teaching Assistants:
- Supplement the main teacher’s lesson plan and give individual help that the teacher does not have time for.
- Keep track of which students need additional help and give them that additional help.
- Grade assignments and tests to ease the teacher’s workload.
- Understand the lesson plan and fill in for the teacher when necessary.
- Give students the option to reach out for help by holding office hours or providing your contact information.
Since private tutors are independently employed, it is hard to gauge the job outlook for tutors compared to a more conventional, centralized profession. There are a few ways to indirectly look at job outlook for private tutors, though.
For one, private tutors will always be in demand as long as there are students in need of teaching.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of children enrolled in primary and secondary schools has gradually risen over the last thirty years and shows no indication of decreasing (https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65). This means tutors can expect the pool of children who potentially need tutoring to continue rising, or to at least stay steady.
Because of the internet, tutors also have a larger pool of potential clients to draw from than just those they can physically meet with. This flexibility will be around as long as the internet is.
We can also examine the job outlook for teaching assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of teaching assistant jobs is expected to grow 6 percent from 2014-2024, which is about the same as the national average (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm#tab-6).
The BLS also points out that growing classroom size may call for more teaching assistants, although budget cuts in education are more likely to target teaching assistants than main teachers.
For private tutors, work environment can vary greatly. Some tutors meet students in the student’s home, some tutors meet the student in the tutor’s home, and some tutors meet students in a separate location, such as a coffee shop or library. Tutors can even “meet” with students online.
While the environment can vary, tutors can generally expect to spend most of their time either meeting with students or preparing instructional aids for students.
Since the environment can vary, tutors should know exactly what they need for tutoring sessions and be prepared to easily transport their materials. This way, a tutor will have all the resources they need at their disposal regardless of where a student chooses to meet.
According to the BLS, about 77% percent of teaching assistants work in elementary, middle and high schools while 9% work in day care centers (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm#tab-3).
Some teaching assistants work full-time during normal school hours, while about 40% work part-time, according to the BLS. This means most teaching assistants will spend their time on the job in a school and around children, so they should be comfortable around children.
Since many tutors are independently employed, it can help to have some guiding resources at your disposal.
- The American Tutoring Association: The ATA is an organization which offers tutor certification, and they also offer training modules and courses. It costs money, but some tutors might find them helpful resources to get started.
- The National Tutoring Association: The NTA is another certification organization which offers paid training that some tutors might find helpful.
- Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning: This is an academic journal dedicated to mentoring and tutoring, which is published in association with the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA).
- Become A Private Tutor: How To Start and Build A Profitable and Successful Tutoring Business: This is a book meant to help tutors get started with tutoring and turning their practice into a business.
- com: This is an online platform dedicated to connecting tutors with students. Tutors have to apply for placement on the site, and once accepted they can take tests in different subjects to prove their aptitude.
- TutorMatch: TutorMatch is another online platform that connects tutors with students. Tutors can make a profile and offer either local or online tutoring. Tutors can pay for their listings to be “preferred”, though there is a free listing service as well.
- Tutors Nirvana: Tutors Nirvana is a software solution for tutors that assists with scheduling, invoicing and marketing. It can serve as a useful tool for tutors with many clients to keep track of. Tutors Nirvana also offers a forum for tutors to discuss the business with other tutors.
- Haiku Learning: Haiku Learning is a tool for teachers to create and administer lesson plans. Private tutors can use it to give students homework, and teaching assistants can use it for entire classrooms. Haiku Learning is free for individual tutors and teachers.
While tutors work with a range of students and subjects, there are a few skills that all tutors need to have in order to succeed.
- Intelligence: Since tutors are expected to help students with school, they need to be intelligent enough to completely understand subjects on their own. Tutors only need to be particularly intelligent in the subject they are helping students with.
- Communication: Tutors have to describe complicated subjects in understandable ways, and have to be able to explain subjects in different ways rather than just rehashing the way a subject was originally taught.
- Patience: Tutors need to be patient enough to work with students until they understand the subject. Tutors cannot move on from issues until students completely understand.
- Guidance: Tutors need the ability to guide students to the correct answers, rather than just provide correct answers.
- Positivity: It is ideal for tutors to have positive, encouraging personalities, so that students feel that they can succeed while working with the tutor rather than get discouraged.
- Time Management: Since tutors usually meet with students for fixed amounts of time, it is important that they can keep track of time. This way they can accomplish a lot during meetings rather than losing track of time.
- Dedication: Tutors need to commit to their students, as they need to consistently meet with them as well as ensure that they succeed in school. This means that tutors need to be able to dedicate themselves to the success of any students they take on.
- Productivity: Tutors need to be productive and able to consistently get work done without losing focus. This is especially true since tutors need to teach their students how to be productive as well.
- Marketing: Since private tutors are independently employed, they need to convince students (or a student’s parents) to hire them. This makes the ability to market oneself crucial for a tutor’s success.
- Outgoing: No matter what subject a tutor focuses on, they should have an outgoing personality. This is because a tutor’s job is made up of meeting with potential clients and spending time with students. This will come more naturally to someone who is extroverted.
For Teaching Assistants:
- Versatility: Since teaching assistants cannot choose their students like tutors do, they might have to teach students with varying levels of classroom ability, and some might struggle with attention-deficit disorder, hearing problems, or other issues.