How to become an online tutor
So, you want to become an online tutor?
But, you’re not sure the best way to go about it. Should you use a free service like Skype, or use an online agency that promotes your services and takes a commission? Do you need to have certain qualifications and experience or can you just open up your laptop and get started?
And not to mention how are you students going to find you?
Well, there’s good news. Becoming an online tutor doesn’t have to be that daunting. With the right advice and tools at your disposal you could easily become an online tutor without any fancy equipment or expensive training.
Here we’ve answered 8 key questions about what you need to become a successful online tutor…
1. What qualifications and background do I need?
There are no formal qualifications required to tutor online. However, most tutors hold degree level qualifications in the subjects they teach. This is usually supported by formal teaching qualifications and/or teaching or tutoring experience. Tutors may also hold professional qualifications such as TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.
It is common practice to have obtained an Enhanced DBS (disclosure and barring service) check with barred list check and this is legal requirement when teaching children and/or vulnerable adults.
It is recommended that tutors sign up to become members of The Tutors’ Association (TTA). Joining TTA ensures that as a tutor you have met a minimum standard set by the TTA and allows you to use the TTA logo on any marketing materials you might use to promote yourself.
TTA members also get access to a number of useful benefits including teaching and assessment resources, accounting and legal services. Also tutors who do not have an Enhanced DBS can obtain one, at a discount, through the TTA.
2. What training can I do to become or improve my online tutoring?
Online tutoring is a relatively new way of teaching so at the moment there are a limited number of formal options for studying to become an online tutor. There are, however, a selection of online courses which provide skills and tools for improving your tutoring skills. Here are just a handful of courses that you may find helpful:
- The University of Oxford delivers an online course called “Effective Online Tutoring (online)” and is delivered by their Department for Continuing Education. This is course is delivered online over six weeks and charges a fee.
- Oxford Brookes University offer access (for free) to their Teaching Online Open Course. This is a modular course with videos and interactions. The course is now closed but you can work your way through the units from inducting to assessing and good practice. This may be more appropriate to those creating courses or teaching at a university but it is a interesting and helpful resource.
- International House – IH Certificate in Online Tutoring also requires payment. It is delivered online over 5 weeks and covers techniques and approaches to online tutoring.
- You could also search for free courses written and delivered by top universities around the world on EdX and Coursera.
- Udemy has a number of paid short courses in online tutoring and related topics.
3. What equipment do I need?
Before you start tutoring you should make sure you have the right equipment. You’ll need a computer or laptop, a webcam and a headset (microphone/speakers). To get the best quality audio, without any feedback from the microphone, you might want to try using headphones plugged in to the computer. You’ll also need a good broadband internet connection to avoid any delayed or broken conversations which will make effective tutoring hard to achieve.
4. Where do I teach?
The great thing about online tutoring is you can teach wherever suits you. Online tutors use online, ‘virtual’ classrooms to deliver lessons. Each lesson is delivered in real time and allows the tutor and tutee to speak via webcam and headphones.
There are a range of online classrooms available each varying in cost depending on the level of functionality. Two easy to use and free online classrooms are Skype and Google Hangouts. If you only need to be able to see and speak with your tutee then these will do the job.
However, to tutor effectively you should consider using additional teaching resources that support and enhance learning.
Like teaching in a classroom, visual communication can be a really important tool for effective teaching, so you may want to look at options that include interactive online whiteboards, which will let you draw diagrams and annotate charts and graphs, as well as share files, record and playback lessons, share your screen and instant message your tutees.
- Idroo, Scribblar, Tutorsbox, Eduweaver, Ziteboard, offer an online whiteboard that can be used to draw diagrams and annotate graphs and charts.
- Tutors can share documents and files with tutees using Google Docs or Drop Box.
- If you are willing to spend some money then you can access video conferencing services such as Wiziq, Webex and Gotomeeting, LearnCube, eLectaLive and BrainCert. These services integrate video, audio, file sharing and even screen recording in some cases.
5. How much can I earn?
Online tutoring is an excellent way of earning additional income and can be fitted around your existing commitments from anywhere you have access to a computer and the internet. You can work from home, the office or even a library.
Tutors can charge as much or as little as they like however, most online tutors charge rates commensurate with the level of study of the student, the subject they are teaching as well as their own level of experience. This can range from £5 to as much as £100 an hour.
Online tutors may need to be registered as self employed and will be liable for tax on their earnings.
6. How do my students pay?
Paypal offers a convenient method of online money transfer that is recognised around the globe. Some countries do not accept PayPal and as such you may need to offer some alternative means for accepting payment.
Payment alternatives include:
Remember these services (including PayPal) charge a commission on transactions/transfers.
7. How do I advertise my services?
Getting noticed can be the hardest part of online tutoring. Setting up a website and hoping for the best is likely to lead to very few customers but it is a good start. You can create a website to advertise your services quickly and cheaply using companies such as Moonfruit, WordPress or Wix and 1and1.
Once you have a website to sell your services you’ll need to attract customers to visit it. There are many different ways in which you can target your customers including paid online adverts such as Google Adwords, Twitter and Facebook Ads. Writing content such as a blog can also help to drive traffic to your website as well as Twitter and Facebook posts.
Local classified listing services in newspapers and websites such as Gumtree offer free alternatives but will only target your local area and with online tutoring you could tutor all over the world.
8. What about working for an online tutoring agency?
Online tutoring agencies provide a platform to market your services and deliver your lessons. This means that you don’t need to do as much advertising and you won’t have to pay (directly) for any third party services like online classrooms and teaching aids.
Each tutoring agency has a minimum requirement to become registered. This often varies depending upon the target market of the agency. For example, if you are teaching maths to school children you would need to have appropriate teaching experience and an Enhanced DBS check.
At Tuittio we expect tutors to have a minimum of two years tutoring experience, be qualified to degree level in the subject they teach, and be bilingual (English and at least one other language). Tutors should also hold a background check (CRB/DBS). We also conduct an online interview as well as observe a mock tutorial to assess your teaching proficiency.
Registration for a tutor account is free and you can create your profile as soon as you have signed up. Once we have verified your documents and conducted your interview you can start tutoring.
Tuittio specialises in connecting bilingual subject qualified tutors with international students studying away from home. We recognise that as an international student studying in another country life can be tough. Not only are the students studying at a high level but quite often English is their second language.
This can lead to many difficulties during their study and may impact upon their studies and ultimately their grades. Our tutors are there to bridge the gap. We can offer advice on how to structure an essay, prepare for exams, give guidance on reference styles, provide support to improve their English language and most importantly provide tutorial advice on their subject. This helps to clarify any problems the student may encounter due to language barriers or social and cultural differences in learning and teaching styles.