How to Start a Tutoring Business

How to Start Your Own Tutoring Business

It’s almost springtime again, and you know what that means: hillsides of trees and flowers will bloom; grizzly bears will come out of hibernation; and freshling entrepreneurs will make their first foray into free market capitalism. 

As such, we’ll be kicking off a 5-part series exploring some popular springtime businesses that are sure to find some immediate customer demand and get a new business owner excited, starting with today’s topic: starting a tutoring business.

Starting a tutoring business could be a good business venture for any entrepreneur out there who’s got a passion for helping people learn and achieve more. The tutoring industry is growing rapidly, and there are many opportunities to create a successful business. With the right resources and commitment, a tutoring business could be a lucrative venture.

Additionally, if you have any specialty skills or training, know a foreign language, or are really good at mathematics, you’ll likely always be in demand as a tutor. People are doing tens of thousands of searches per month on Google for a tutor.

Do you hear that? Nope, that’s not a woodpecker. 

That’s opportunity knocking.

Key Takeaways:

  • The market for online tutoring services was valued at USD 6.57 billion in 2021, and it is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 14.7% from 2022 to 2030.
  • In comparison to other sectors, the education sector has one of the highest ROI percentages and lowest overhead to start and operate.
  • You can set your own schedule and hours working as a tutor, choosing to work on the weekends, afternoons, and in the evenings if you prefer– even from home, if you choose.
Starting an Online Tutoring Business Infographic

Eight out of ten students who receive tutoring achieve higher grades. Higher GPAs and college graduation rates are more likely for students who receive tutoring.

Tutoring is in demand during the school year and especially in the spring because parents don’t want their kids to have to go to summer school. And some parents want to find someone to help their kids over the summer so they don’t forget what they learned when school starts again in the fall. Additionally, when school is in session and people are thinking about their education, it’s much easier to find clients.

And of course, there are always two-parent homes where both parents work and just want an adult babysitter who can help their kid get better grades too. When school lets out, there’s still two to three hours for many parents to get off work and arrive home. After school tutoring is a great solution for parents until they can pick up their kids or arrive home to ensure they are studying diligently. 

And, you can do group tutoring as well to make the most of your time and earnings per session.

Starting Your Tutoring Business

Are you good at complex math or organic chemistry? Lots of people aren’t. But if you are, then that puts you in a minority. That also creates a supply-and-demand issue that you can personally solve and profit from, since tutors who know a lot about hard subjects can charge a lot per hour. 

Let’s take a look at how to succeed if you decide to start your own tutoring business.

You might not have to show proof of your own education in order to become a private tutor. However, most people would prefer someone who’s graduated high school and even gotten a bachelor’s degree from college.

If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree, then you may benefit from tutor certification. Formal tutoring certifications boost a tutor’s credibility and teach them more about important strategies and techniques, which helps you and your students succeed even more in the long run. The National Tutoring Association, American Tutoring Association, and other certifying bodies offer basic and advanced certifications that candidates can pursue.

These certifications provide not only useful training in the art and science of learning itself, but impressive accolades that you can use when reassuring clients that you’re capable of getting the job done.

Tutoring Subjects in High Demand

Before starting your tutoring business, you’ll need to decide which subjects you’ll be offering. It’ll almost certainly be something you’re good at or know a lot about.

Students will always need a little extra help with more challenging subjects. That’s why advanced math, science, foreign languages, and reading/writing at an expert level will likely always be the subjects that tutors target first.

  • Math – Algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, trigonometry
  • Science – Physics, biology, chemistry
  • Foreign Languages – French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Italian, German and English (for students who don’t speak English as a first language)
  • Entrance Testing – ACT, SAT, LSAT, GMAT   

All of these subjects take years to learn and master. As a result, they’ll be in demand indefinitely. Not all tutoring programs need the same approach, so you’ll have to be flexible until you find your niche and get comfortable with your workflow. This is why tutoring certification programs don’t just make you look good and qualify you for work by various tutoring agencies, they actually give you the tools to successfully tutor every student.

Key Marketing and Business Tips for Tutors

Business is marketing, and if people don’t know about you, they can’t buy your services.

  • Create a simple website that showcases and explains your services, prices, and contact information; then later provide visible testimonials from happy clients. 
  • Next, use social media to promote your services and connect with potential clients. Utilizing social media platforms to promote tutoring services is a great way to reach a larger audience. Facebook ads would likely be a winner. Using broad audience targeting for a physical tutoring business would enable you to target potential customers by their zip codes and neighborhoods, which means the ability to quickly hone in on high-achieving, upper and middle-class families who care about their kids’ grades.
  • Networking with other tutors in the same field can help generate more business, especially when some students’ parents may be looking for tutoring in more than just one subject. This could also mean showing up to some PTA meetings, passing out some business cards and putting up fliers on bulletin boards and other opportune spots, or going to school fairs and events and setting up a professional booth where you can meet people and shake hands with prospective clients.
  • Add an online Zoom call feature to your services, whether you are tutoring in-person or not. Once you get your core business up and running, have some positive reviews, and feel comfortable, you can start taking payments online and setting up video calls on your laptop or phone for tutoring sessions. With screen-sharing capability, online tutoring is another great way to leverage your success further for people who live beyond your ability to visit them in person. It can also help everyone make the tutoring session, even in the event of extenuating circumstances.
  • Add a referral program for existing customers and offer existing customers a discount or rewards program. For instance, you can give 10 – 20% to existing customers for a new tutoring customer referral and 10% off the new customer’s first session. Small Incentives will be appreciated, which is why you can leave a nice business card with a simple, easy-to-understand offer and a brief explanation when you hand it out to parents. No hard-selling is required.

As a tutor, you’ll likely be dealing with a lot of billable hours, working as a freelancer, and trying not to get ripped off at the end of the year on taxes. You’ll be entitled to tax deductions, no doubt. But you’ll never know until you do a little research. That’s why it’s often a great idea to form your business as an LLC, and you can keep track of all your client payments and expenses with accounting software like FreshBooks.

Show Clients Case Studies to Get More Business as a Tutor

Aside from a winning personality, confidence, and charm, there’s no more convincing argument than amazing results and real-life proof. Your focus should be delivering stellar results. That’s really the only way to consistently get business, referrals, and positive reviews and build a sustainable tutoring enterprise.

You can track your initial students’ progress and how much they improve from semester to semester to be able to document that your tutoring gets results. If you’re having trouble getting clients, offer one free session on your flyers. Consumers often need marketers to make them an offer to entice them to buy. Making your tutoring program risk-free to try never hurts, and it’ll make sure you are on your A game.

With just a few positive case studies and examples of how you’ve helped other students, future potential clients may just close the deal and end your sales pitch for you by handing you a check.

Become an Online Tutor and Leverage Tech Trends That Are Already Here to Stay

2020 turned the world on its head. I won’t get into all the reasons in this post. One of the already emerging trends that blasted off during this time period was the online tutoring business, as well as practically forcing millions of people around the world to learn how to conduct Zoom calls and meetings.

Because the world tends to grow with useful technology and adopt it when it’s got a strong use case, you can be assured that, just as the internet went from pictures of people’s cats to five trillion in sales just 30 years later, online tutoring services will remain in high demand.

Online lessons demand a little more preparation than face-to-face tutoring. Reminders at the appropriate times can be very helpful because it might be more difficult to find a student if they don’t show up. Make sure your student is aware of and has acknowledged their attendance for the lesson.

How to Gain Experience as a Tutor Before Embarking on Your New Private Tutoring Business

Before you get overwhelmed or bogged down with stuff like building your website and finding your first client, you also have the option of signing up as a freelance tutor with an existing tutoring service to get a little bit of experience.      

Some tutoring services that hire freelancers are:

  • Cambly – There is no requirement for a teaching license, a bachelor’s degree, or prior teaching experience. You can get paid for each minute you spend chatting. On Cambly, you can earn $0.17/min ($10.20/hour), and on Cambly Kids, you can earn $0.20/min ($12.00/hour). Every Monday, receive payment via PayPal.
  • Chegg – Chegg offers weekly or monthly plans that give students (or parents) access to tutors who are knowledgeable in a variety of subject areas. The business promotes an interactive tutoring environment that gives students the freedom to learn how they prefer.
  • Kumon – Kumon centers offer both franchise opportunities as a center owner and operator, but you may also be able to work there as an assistant as well. Toru Kumon was a Japanese math teacher who created a learning process that helps kids get a grasp on self-learning early on in math and reading, giving students the “just-right” level of study and challenge to stimulate growth.
  • Skooli – If you’re online, students can request immediate assistance or set up appointments in advance. Use your computer to tutor students one-on-one from any location with an internet connection.
  • Mathnasium – With more than 1,000 learning facilities across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Mathnasium is an American education brand and franchise that offers extra math instruction to students in pre-kindergarten through high school. For entrepreneurs, it could be the opportunity to own a franchise, and for educators, a potential career choice for employment.

Each tutoring service will have its own requirements that you’ll have to meet in order to be a tutor. One of the benefits of going through them is that some online tutoring services won’t require lengthy certification.

But while the clear benefit of doing freelance tutoring through someone else’s service is getting to use their infrastructure, client leads, and format for free, you’ll be limiting your true earning potential by working for someone else in the long run. Remember, it could be a great experience and help you get comfortable tutoring, but it should only be for the experience if you’re serious about running your own business and making good money. 

By remaining independent in your tutoring business, imagine what your company might look like 10 years from now. You might not even be tutoring yourself. You might be managing your own team of tutors. At least, that’s a great goal to have. Remember one of the reasons businesses fail: the business remains dependent upon the owner or founder until that person can no longer work.

Remember: success does not happen overnight. And ideally, you want to be able to make money someday even when you’re not capable of working, or just flat out retire and sell your business as an asset because you can’t sell your freelance position.

And all of that takes long-term planning.

Overcoming the Challenges of Being a Tutor

Like any business, there will be challenges. Some of those may come in the form of seasonal lulls in demand for tutors, like in the summer. This is where having your own online tutoring setup comes in, hopefully giving you some extra business.

Another issue that you must be prepared to deal with is child behavior.

How to Handle Student Behavior When Tutoring

When you consider that certification is more or less 25 to 30 hours of training, you’re probably going to get some good information to help you deal with the behavioral aspects of tutoring. The challenges can vary from individual tutoring to group tutoring.

Group tutoring can be tough if one student wants to constantly speak out and interrupt, make jokes, or otherwise distract from the lesson. Great ways to deal with this are to be an engaged tutor by standing up and walking around the room. Changing up your physical position, speech patterns, and emotions while tutoring shows confidence, but it also requires students to adapt and put more attention on you. Engaging their spatial awareness is one more way to do that.

You should always do your best to not take it personally, not lose your cool, and find a situational point from which to bring the subject of the tutoring session back into focus for your students, especially when they are deviating from the task at hand. Use positive reinforcement for good behavior. When the group gets rowdy or wants to play games, just announce, “Okay, let’s get back to <the subject>.” 

Often, making eye contact with a misbehaving student is enough to send a message. If that doesn’t work, you can single them out and ask them directly to get on task, or pop a question on them to get their mind working and use the fear of answering incorrectly in front of their peers as a motivator, which works in your favor.

You can ask the student to stay for a minute or two after the tutoring session and casually remind them that their parents are paying for the tutoring sessions and they’re very concerned that they will succeed. 

Finally, if the student continues to misbehave, just contact the parents and say that you’re sorry, but they’ll have to find another tutor since the behavior is negatively affecting other students as well or is just not conducive to the overall goal and what they were hoping to get out of your tutoring services.

Conclusion: Opening Your New Successful Tutoring Business

Tutors teach students outside of school, either one-on-one or in small groups. They help students improve their grades, understand difficult ideas, get extra help to catch up on classroom lessons, get ready for college, and prepare for standardized tests. 

Because learning is vital to everyone’s success, tutors need to be able to figure out what drives each student and adjust their approach to get the best results. Tutoring is a good way to make money, especially since the public school system isn’t producing results that meet what used to be first-world standards.

And on that note, I think I hear that woodpecker again.

Frequently Asked Questions – Starting a Tutoring Business

What is required to become a tutor?

A high school diploma or GED is required in most cases to be a tutor, but to really expand your earning ability, you’ll want to get your bachelor’s degree and one year of tutor experience to be certified as an American Tutoring Association ATA tutor.

How much can tutors expect to make?

A tutor can expect to make as little as $10 per hour for online English chat all the way up to $80 for professors of STEM and advanced subjects. The average price of a private home tutor usually falls between $25 and $50 per hour, depending on the tutor, their qualifications, and their tutoring certifications. Starting a Private Home Tutoring Business Infographic

Is tutoring an in-demand career or good business to start?

Online tutoring alone is experiencing over 15% year-over-year growth, and is expected to grow from $7 billion to over $23 billion by 2030.