A step-by-step guide on how to become an online tutor

A step-by-step guide on how to become an online tutor
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The world of online tutoring has opened up teaching opportunities for people everywhere. Now, you don’t necessarily have to work for a public or private school to share your passion for educating and giving students the tools they need to succeed in adolescence and their careers.

But how to become a tutor online? Let’s answer that question with a step-by-step breakdown of how to offer your tutoring services online.


What do tutors do?

Tutors – both online and in-person – are professional teachers who lecture students individually or in very small groups. These professionals provide tutoring services to students for a variety of different subjects, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Languages
  • And more

Lots of tutors advertise their online tutoring services on dedicated websites, which connect remote tutoring professionals with students or their parents. Depending on the online tutoring platform used, the tutor might guide the student through interactive lessons, lecture them in a virtual classroom, and more.

To work as an online tutor, every teacher needs to have professional teaching experience or some kind of educational background. There’s a wide range of opportunities available for tutors of all types, especially those who cultivate good reputations and who interact with students regularly.

Tutoring can be a very rewarding experience as well. For many teachers, there’s nothing better than teaching online since it’s often more flexible compared to a traditional classroom teaching environment.

But to work as an online tutor, you need to accomplish several limited steps. For example, you’ll need learning experiences in the educational field, plus you have to complete a background check for your employing company or teaching platform. Many online tutoring websites have very strict requirements for remote tutoring professionals.

Let’s take a closer look at how to tutor online.

How to become an online tutor

To become an online tutor, you have to have relevant educational credentials, knowledge of different teaching styles, pick a specialty, and decide how you will offer your tutoring services.

Earn a degree or diploma

First, you need a high school diploma, GED, or a relevant degree. Technically, you don’t need a degree in teaching or a related subject to work as a tutor or get a tutor job. You can tutor anyone you like for free or for money if they agree to accept your services. However, you won’t be able to work for tutoring companies or official organizations without a bachelor’s degree in education or a similar subject.

Furthermore, it’s unlikely that parents or educators will accept you as a tutor for their children or students if you don’t have a degree highlighting your skills or specialization. Tutoring experience is valuable, but some sort of certification and degree will go a long way.

Generally, if you want tutoring to be your profession in the long run, it pays to earn a bachelor’s degree in teaching or whatever subject you wish to teach.

how to start freelance tutoring

Earn certification

No matter your career path, tutors must pursue certification through different accredited tutoring associations. Examples include:

  • The American Tutoring Association
  • The Association for Tutoring Professionals
  • The College Reading and Learning Association
  • The National Tutoring Association

The more certifications you have, the more likely you’ll be hired by an official tutoring organization like an agency or private school system.

Certifications can also benefit you if you choose to work part-time as a freelance tutor. And they’ll help you learn the important tutoring methods. You can post these on your tutoring profile or business website. Certifications demonstrate your expertise in the area of tutoring and make parents more comfortable hiring you for their kids.

Most tutoring certifications require you to take one or more exams. They may also require you to have a bachelor’s degree in teaching (see more above). Again, this highlights the importance of getting a bachelor’s degree if you want to tutor seriously and for significant money.

Choose your tutoring specialty

Next, you need to decide what to teach or what your tutoring specialty will be. Unlike many public school teachers, most tutors teach one or two subjects maximum. They may teach students to help them master specific subjects or areas of expertise rather than teaching students everything they need to learn from the school system.

For instance, you can be an English tutor, a math tutor, a tutor of music, or something else entirely. English tutors, or American tutoring, are some of the most common as many non-Americans seek English tutors for their children. That’s because American English is an important business language.

However, Chinese is also a common tutoring specialty. Chinese is becoming an important trade language like English, so if you know how to speak it, you could make a lot of money teaching Chinese to current English-only speakers.
Regardless, you should try to teach subjects you have professional training in or enjoy teaching.

how to start a career as a tutor

Choose where you’ll teach

You can offer tutoring sessions in public areas like coffee shops. Or you can tutor at your own home, which provides greater privacy and control over the environment. Alternatively, you might go to your pupils’ homes, especially if your students tend to be on the younger side or high school students and parents are worried about protecting their children from identity theft and online security.

Choosing where you’ll teach can impact your schedule, how often you can tutor, and how much you should charge for your work. Keep all of this in mind when choosing your primary teaching locations.

Decide to work independently or for an agency

After choosing your specialty, you need to decide whether you’ll work as an independent freelance tutor or if you want to work for a tutoring agency. It’s easier to find work when working for an agency in many cases.

A tutoring agency is an organization that hires you as a contractor for private tutoring jobs. The tutoring agency handles marketing, outreach to parents or schools, and many other business elements. In exchange, you tutor for the agency and give them a cut of your profits or accept a salary from them.

In essence, working for an agency means working as a tutor in a traditional employee context. It’s not the same thing as being an independent tutor, where you get to choose all of your clients, set your rates, and have more freedom.

Both types of tutoring have their advantages. For instance, tutors working for an agency don’t have to worry about advertising their services. But they might earn less money working for an agency than they would as a freelancer with their own client base.

Start seeking students

Whether you choose to work for an agency or independently, you’ll need to find students to teach. There are many ways you can do this, though if you work for an agency, you’ll have to advertise your services much less, if ever.

how to become an online tutor

How to start freelance tutoring

Freelance tutoring can be advantageous and beneficial economically, professionally, and personally. When you tutor as a freelancer, you are 100% in control of your:

  • Rates
  • Schedule
  • Who you teach (i.e., high school students vs. college kids, their age range, etc.)
  • What you teach
  • The learning styles you’ll offer your students, etc.

However, running a freelance tutoring business is like running any other online business, whether you teach students in person or over the internet. You need to come up with a business idea, make a quality website, and decide how you’ll present your class materials to your pupils.

You can use online platforms like Teachable to provide educational content to your pupils. Alternatively, you can video conference with your students, especially if your teaching methods require you to converse with them “face-to-face.”

Regardless, to start freelance tutoring:

  • Decide how you will run your tutoring business. Will you advertise locally and meet students at coffee shops? Or will you have a big online tutoring business where you videoconference to teach students throughout the day?
  • Set your rates. The key to succeeding as a freelance tutor is setting your rates to be competitive without going overboard. Look at what other tutors in your area or niche are charging and try to rate yourself competitively. Most students won’t want to take out student loans for a private tutor unless they sign up for a long-term program under your tutelage.
  • Start advertising your freelance tutoring services. Note that it may take you some time to build up a reputation as a great tutor. But over time, getting students to come to you for education will become easier. You can post advertisements, make blog posts about your experiences, and much more.
  • Ask for positive reviews from the parents of your current pupils. This is the best way to build a strong reputation and a client base from scratch.

How to get students to tutor

Now that you know how to become a tutor, it might be wise to start looking for students to teach. After all, you won’t make any money despite your skills if you can’t advertise your tutoring services one way or another!

Fortunately, there are multiple ways in which you can get students to tutor, including:

  • Registering for an online tutoring directory. These are essentially public listings where you can advertise your services. Examples of tutoring directories include Care.com, Wyzant, and more.
  • Asking for referrals. If you know people, ask them to refer you to teachers or parents so you can educate their students/kids.
  • Running online advertisements for your tutoring service, especially if you work as a freelancer. Online PPC or pay-per-click ads could be the best way to advertise in this manner. Alternatively, you could advertise on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

If you get a tutor job with a tutoring agency or organization, you’ll be assigned students to tutor almost immediately. If you decide to go freelance or opt for another business pathway, you’ll need to pursue new students to tutor by yourself.


How do I start a career as a tutor?

To start a career as a tutor, you must first figure out what you want to teach, get a degree, and decide whether you’ll tutor for an agency or by yourself. Above all else, you need to be skilled in one area or another so you can teach applicable skills to students.

Can I be a tutor and make money?

Yes! Good tutors earn enough to make a living from teaching just a handful of students each year. However, most tutors make money privately or while working for an agency.

Do I need a degree to become a tutor?

You don’t need a degree if you wish to tutor students as a freelancer. However, working for tutoring businesses requires a degree either in the subject you wish to teach or in education.

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Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies, Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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