Have you ever wondered how to become an online tutor? If so, you’re in the right place, as we’re going to cover everything you need to learn to make money tutoring.
Tutoring online can make a great side hustle—even a full-time job potentially. You have the freedom to work from wherever you want and you get to be your own boss.
But how exactly do you become an online tutor in 2023? Read on to learn more!
Why become an online tutor?
First off, let’s cover the reasons why you might consider becoming an online tutor.
This is an industry projected to grow 15% annually for the next two years, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the growing importance placed on STEM education, and more and more retirees who want to learn despite no longer being students.
So, in other words, there is plenty of work out there for people who would like to become online tutors.
Now, before we get into how to become a private tutor, let’s take a look at some of the major pros and cons of tutoring online.
Trend on the Rise
More people than ever are wondering how to become a private tutor, especially with the increase in remote learning since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes as no surprise, given that both students and tutors appreciate the flexibility and comfort that teaching or learning from home brings them.
How hard is it to become an online tutor?
Is it difficult to become a private tutor online? So long as you have the qualifications, not really!
But is it hard to become a successful online tutor? Yes, that’s a bit trickier.
Not to fear, though, because this article will provide you with a thorough guide for becoming a successful tutor over time!
As for qualifications, clients will typically expect you to have a college degree, generally a bachelor’s degree at the very least, making this an ideal way to make money while in law school or a profitable side gig while in medical school.
That said, if you are tutoring small children and you are young yourself—for example, an excellent high school or undergraduate student—that should be fine.
This is one of the many ways to make money as a teen.
Online platforms make it easier than ever to start tutoring online, but you need to be careful!
They are not all created equal, with many of them not allowing you to set your own rate or taking hefty commissions. Keep reading to learn more!
How do I get paid to tutor online?
So, the question everyone wants to know—how do I get paid to tutor online? The tricky part isn’t so much how to get paid, but how to get paid well.
To help you maximize your earning potential, we’re going to cover the various options available to you.
As a tutor myself, I have largely gained clients locally through sites such as Craigslist.
Although it used to be free, this is still a quite affordable advertising option as it will only cost you $5 to post your tutoring ad. Of course, $5 will pay itself back quite quickly with just one tutoring session.
But wait? Why would you look locally when tutoring online allows you to have students from all over the world?
I’ve found that many people prefer to work with someone in their community and in their time zone.
Plus, if you work at a local university, for example, that name recognition can be compelling (especially for parents of high schoolers).
The same could be said if you are looking to tutor as a side job for an accountant and you work for a well-known firm in the area.
While some people may prefer in-person tutoring, it is quite possible that even people local to your area may prefer online tutoring.
I generally charge the same rate either way, with perhaps a higher charge depending on how far I have to drive for the lessons.
Tactic for Success
Don’t forget to look locally! Being a tutor online really opens up your possibilities, but you may find many clients locally, and they may be more willing to both work with someone local as well as recommend you to their friends and family. Sites such as Craigslist and Nextdoor can provide an affordable and easy way to market yourself locally.
Tutor Online with an Online Tutoring Platform
While I strongly recommend looking locally, it’s true that online tutoring platforms can really open up your possibilities in terms of exposure to a much larger clientele base.
That said, there are all kinds of pros and cons with online tutoring platforms.
You may face a lot of competition, have trouble getting clients at first, see a lot of your wage lost due to commissions, and/or be unable to set your own rate.
Despite some obstacles, this is still a great option if you want a job that doesn’t require standing.
Let’s gloss over a few major online tutoring platforms that you can consider trying out.
Online Tutoring Platforms:
- Tutoring on Wyzant – Wyzant has a large student base and lets you set your own rates. They take a 25% commission, however, which is something you’ll need to keep in mind.
- Tutoring on Chegg – Chegg is a large educational company that hires tutors. It can help you find many students, but the pay is capped at $20/hour.
- Tutoring on Tutor.com – Tutor.com is run by The Princeton Review and gives you access to many possible students. The pay was under $20 an hour, however, which was too low for me.
- Tutoring on Tutors.com – Not to be confused with Tutor.com, Tutors.com one lets you set your own rates, but you have to spend money in order to pursue prospective clients.
Trend on the Rise
Online tutoring has become increasingly popular, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. Online tutoring platforms may provide you with lots of access to students, but you’ll have to consider whether or not they are worth it for you—for example, depending on the commissions they may take or the fixed hourly rate they may offer.
What do I need to tutor online?
What do you need to start tutoring online? Not that much, to be honest!
Apart from your qualifications (e.g. a college degree and ideally some teaching experience), you will need a device with a webcam and an internet connection.
Beyond that, you may need or want to use certain software or hardware, including the following.
- Graphics Tablets – Depending on the subject you are tutoring and your own preferences, you may want a device that lets you write by hand and projects it to your screen.
- Headset and Microphone – You may have good audio with just your computer, but a headset and microphone setup is an easy way to add a layer of professionalism.
- Webcam – Most students expect to see their tutor, so a webcam is essential. You may need to purchase one if you have a desktop computer set-up.
- Video-Chat Software – Pretty much everyone has Zoom nowadays, and there are entirely free options such as Google Meet or Skype.
Tactic for Success
Becoming an online tutor may require a bit of start-up capital to market yourself and ensure you have the proper equipment. If you are serious about pursuing this, even as a side hustle, don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money to get more clients and have a professional set-up.
How to Market Your Online Tutoring
Okay, so you have what it takes to be a tutor. Maybe you even have a few clients now! But how do you get more clients?
After all, you may need 5-10 steady clients or more to turn this into a legitimate side hustle or even main job.
As covered above, you have two main options. First, you can market yourself locally (through a site such as Craigslist or NextDoor).
This is an affordable and, in my experience, effective way to gain clients. Second, you can use an online marketplace, though they have drawbacks (covered above).
One way to gain more clients is through word-of-mouth, which you can encourage by kindly asking your satisfied clients to recommend you to anyone else who might be interested in tutoring.
You can also use Facebook ads, though you will have to ensure that you do so in an effective way and don’t end up wasting your money.
Another simple, old-school way is to post flyers in your area, particularly around schools, churches, etc. (wherever people gather).
As mentioned, you can also try the neighborhood focused app NextDoor (or Craigslist), which is essentially the digital equivalent of this.
What to Avoid When Online Tutoring
There are certain pitfalls to avoid when tutoring online.
First off, be sure to set a competitive rate for your area and stick to it.
You can get a sense for the rate in your area by asking around and also looking at other tutoring ads on Craigslist and online tutoring platforms in your area.
Second, recognize that you may have ups and downs. You may have flaky students who abandon tutoring after one or two sessions. Don’t take it personally and keep going.
Third, you may see a fluctuation in your clients and sessions depending on the time of year.
Around winter holidays and over summer, for example, you may have much less business. You’ll need to plan on this, especially if you’re looking to become a tutor full-time.
Finally, recognize that finding clients in your area is your best bet to being your own boss and not giving up a lot of your earning potential.
If you use online tutoring platforms, proceed carefully and be sure to understand their limitations.
Online tutoring has exploded in recent times, no doubt in part due to the pandemic and the continued “online-ification” of everything.
If you’re knowledgeable and have solid people skills, you can turn your expertise into a legitimate side gig—or even full-time job—by becoming an online tutor.
Jack is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in a wide variety of niches: the environment, mental health, personal finance, and the gig economy. He's also a graduate student currently completing his PhD in Literature.