What is life like as an online tutor?

Posted on the 31st March

Starting a new career or having a change of pace in your daily routine is incredibly exciting. They commonly involve new challenges and things to do before you even get to the stage you intended which is teaching students. But alas, this blog will outline the positives and negatives of becoming an online tutor as well as what you can expect from a typical day.


Before getting started, there are a few things you should consider. What you will use to conduct your lessons and how you are going to accept payment. These can be daunting tasks, making the wrong decision can hinder your chances for quick scalable growth.


Alongside these are some more trivial but equally important decisions such as the computer you are going to use, your internet connection, microphone and headphones plus where you are going to locate yourself for lessons.



The Pros


Putting skills and knowledge to use


The PGCE programme is tough and you don't want to see the skills you acquired and the time invested be wasted if you aren't convinced by working in a classroom and the possible crowd control aspect that comes with it. Tutoring can be a great alternative to being in the classroom, as it allows you to do what you set out to when you first wanted to become a teacher: teach.


Be your own boss


As a tutor, the likelihood is you are self-employed, meaning you have complete control over when and where you work. Tutoring can also allow exceptional teachers to flourish and become an authority in their chosen subject through additional research that you can claim back from the reduction in the admin. Creating resources for students and finding a good platform on which to share these and showcase your expertise can be all the marketing you need. 


Earn more, work fewer hours


Tutors will typically work two or three hours on a weekday evening, and as many hours as they wish to at the weekend, not to mention some sporadic hours in the day for students that may be homeschooled. With an hourly rate that reflects your skills and expertise (on Sherpa Online, you get to choose your own hourly rate), tutoring for around 20 hours per week can generate an income that matches or even exceeds what you were earning while working 5 full days at school each week. The more experience you gain and the better your reputation as a tutor, the more people will be willing to pay for your time and you can even look to increase your rate.  


The education landscape is changing


There is no shortage of parents looking to employ the services of a tutor for their child, and with mounting competition for school places, tutors are increasingly being called upon to prepare students for school entrance exams, including 7 Plus and 11 Plus. Additionally, the growth of online tuition means that you can reach a growing pool of students, wherever they are in the world. The EdTech industry has grown exponentially over the last few years and is expected to grow further at an incredible rate as the world transitions from in-person education to online across multiple education establishments.


Qualified Teacher status is highly valued


The tuition industry is saturated with graduates and undergraduates who feel qualified to teach. In this context, your experience will set you apart and means you are already equipped to be a great tutor. You know the syllabus and you were trained to teach it! At Sherpa, we think only those who are qualified to teach should be at the top of the list for potential students as they have been there, seen it and done it with qualifications and experience unrivalled.  


The Cons


Antisocial working hours


Given that tuition takes place when most people have clocked off (after school and at weekends), tuition can be seen as an anti-social profession. A number of full-time tutors work two or three hours after school on Monday-Thursday and Sunday afternoons. They find these working hours plus taking Fridays and Saturdays off can create a good work-life balance. Additionally, for tutors working with younger students, tuition will start and finish early and therefore not be too out of whack with the more conventional working hours of family and friends.


Can be a slog to get up and running


Growing a client base and filling your timetable can take time, patience is important in the early stages. It is vital that you plan for this, and line up work to begin once you have left the classroom. You could otherwise face an empty diary and an empty bank account, neither of which are particularly enjoyable and induce serious stress. Once you have made the decision to leave the classroom, we advise getting your name “out there” right away, so potential clients know that you will be available in the coming weeks or months.  


Lack of peers


It can be lonely, you are going about it solo so the camaraderie between colleagues in the staff room is no longer present. Working closely with a platform or agency can help to relieve some of these feelings but obviously not live up to the same standard.


Admin work


You will need to devote some time outside of lessons to admin, not as much paperwork as you may find in a school but still some. As a self-employed tutor, this will be inescapable, unfortunately. However, Sherpa can help shoulder much of the admin burden and manages payments, branding and introducing you to new prospective students. We will also make sure you are paid on time each month and are not in the awkward position of having to chase clients for payment.



Typical Daily Routine


You can commonly break down a typical tutoring day into 4 phases, but remember this can vary depending upon your hours and other commitments.


7 am to 10 am


In an ideal world, you naturally wake up at 7 am with the birds softly chirping outside your window. You ease yourself into the day with a light breakfast, checking emails and getting ahead of tomorrow’s to-do list. This peaceful time also affords you the opportunity to catch up on some personal reading or watch a few episodes of your favourite Netflix series before your first student lesson at 10 am.


10 am to 1 pm


The morning flies by prepping for one student after another with lesson plans galore You take brief breaks in between planning and possible lessons, but they are always kept short as you don’t want to lose momentum. Midday arrives quicker than you thought and you head to the kitchen to make yourself a sandwich or salad for lunch. Most of the students you have at these times are being homeschooled or require additional help whilst in school and are commonly overseen by an adult.


1 pm to 8 pm


In the afternoon, you have a couple of students back to back and a break in between. This break is usually spent preparing for your next student, replying to emails or completing any necessary admin work. The last few hours of the day are usually composed of meeting with 2-3 students one after the other. After your final student leaves, it’s finally time to wind down and reflect on the day. Maybe you watch a movie, read a book or spend some time with loved ones but the workday is finally done.


To Summarise


Overall, the pros of being an online tutor heavily outweigh the cons. With experience and qualifications under your belt, you are in a great position to start offering tuition services. Qualified Teacher status is highly sought-after by parents, so you will have no trouble finding students who need help. With the growth of online education, there has never been a more lucrative time to be an online tutor.

Becoming a Tutor
Become an Online Tutor
Career Advice
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James Gurnett

31st March

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