The nature of most private tutoring jobs involves one-on-one tutoring as opposed to a typical classroom arrangement. For parents, a legitimate concern can be the safety of their child being in the company of a stranger without their supervision.

For this, you should consider obtaining a background check to certify your record as a responsible teacher. Though it is not a legal requirement for tutors to get background checks in the United States, Superprof would advise you to get one anyway.

A background check from the relevant authorities will give your clients peace of mind and make it easier for them to trust you. A tutor with an appropriate background check will undoubtedly stand from those without one.

Don't forget, you are a stranger to them, for all intents and purposes, especially in the initial phases of your tutoring job. A background check will help them put their guard down and do much for your reputation as a reliable tutor.

Some tutoring agencies will stipulate that you obtain the necessary background check before registering with them. Background checks do not expire, so once you have a suitable one, you can use it elsewhere when you move jobs.

Which checks are available for private tutors?
Some tutoring agencies require background checks for tutors working with children. Source: Visualhunt

The law varies by state on the set of conditions tutors must fulfill to be eligible for private tutoring jobs. Florida enacted the Ethics in Education Act in 2008, which levies restrictions on which individuals are ineligible to be teachers based on their past criminal record.

You will likely need a teaching certificate, depending on the nature of your tutoring job, to become a tutor. State boards require teachers teaching in private schools to be licensed. However, private tutors may not need to be registered, depending on your state's laws.

What Documents Are Required For A Background Check?

It is best to start with your education records. Clients or agencies will want to verify that you have the necessary qualification in the subject you wish to teach. You must have a copy of your degree or certification. If you have lost it, you must contact your university or institute and ask for a copy.

Previous employment records are also necessary for background checks. It is wise to attach a record of your last appointment letter, with the job title mentioned, and the duration of your job tenure. Also, you can add references from your past employer and their contact details for further verification.

If you worry that your past employer may divulge your details, you do not need to worry. Due to defamation laws, companies will be wary of disclosing too much information to avoid any libel or slander charges. Most companies have a policy of not divulging details about the job performances of their employees to third parties.

It is routine for employers to run social security trace checks. This is to verify if the social security number provided by employees is not fraudulent. It is unlikely you will need to provide your social security number in private tutoring jobs to individual clients. However, tutoring agencies may ask you for it.

A social security trace will find you all the aliases, dates of birth, and address history associated with that particular number. It is also a good idea to do an address history trace, so you know which jurisdictions you need to conduct a background check

When it comes to criminal background checks, the procedure and legislation might vary by state. You will need a teaching certificate to become a tutor, which we assume you already have. Almost all states like Washington and Oklahoma will take your fingerprints to tap into your records before granting you a teaching certificate.

Along with these preliminary background checks, you should obtain background checks regarding any felony charges and sexual offenses on your part for your client's satisfaction. These two background checks are what most clients require. They do not want themselves or their child in contact with a possible felon or sex offender.

Felony And Sex Offender Background Check

There is a distinction drawn between misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses, punishable by fines or community service. It is rare to be incarcerated for a misdemeanor.

Though the laws may vary by state, generally, a single misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanors older than a few years will not impede your teaching certifications. These do not include cases of violence or sexual misconduct.

Felony is generally a severe crime for which you are likely to be incarcerated. You will likely face hindrances in your tutoring jobs if you have a criminal record of a past felony.

Individuals found guilty of sexual offenses are listed in the National Sex Offender Public Registry. The website allows you to search an individual by name, ZIP code, address, county, and city. You will have your teaching license revoked if you are found guilty of sexual misconduct, especially with minors.

If you plan to become a tutor for minors, their guardians may ask for your criminal background check and check the national sex offender registry for your name. You cannot begrudge them that, as it is a valid concern. Cases of sex offenders posing as teachers have become common, and parents are concerned about their child's safety.

All checks may not always be necasary but they offer credibility and security to parents and students.
There are different types of checks available for private tutors. Source: StockSnap

Conducting A Criminal Check

Criminal checks are conducted through the respective law enforcement agencies. However, the nature of the crime determines which law enforcement agency will prosecute and record the crime.

Most criminal proceedings occur under state law. County sheriffs and local police officers prosecute state crimes. Crimes committed on the federal territory or of national significance are prosecuted under federal law.

The procedure and the charges to obtain your criminal history will vary by state. Click the links to find out how to get a certified record of your criminal history (or lack thereof) in Delaware and Iowa. You will find this information for your state from your local state police department or the department of criminal investigation.

Crimes prosecuted under state law will only be recorded under state records, such as through a county courthouse or state criminal records. If you conduct a federal criminal search through the FBI, state records will not show up.

To obtain your criminal records, you will need to request the federal or state authorities electronically or through the mail. You will need to make a payment and submit your fingerprints on the fingerprint form for verification. For more information, visit the FBI page.

How Long Is A Background Check Valid?

Background checks do not have official expiry dates. The information received at the time of a background check will be accurate, though it can change in the time after it has been obtained.

Your employers, such as tutoring agencies or individual clients, may ask you to provide recent up-to-date background checks. If you are registered with a tutoring agency, they might run a background check on you every year.

The life of background checks varies by their nature. Education or past employment records are updated only once and stay constant. Criminal records need to be updated regularly.

For more detailed background checks having to do with a criminal history, it is advisable to obtain or update them regularly for your client's satisfaction. They may demand one before signing you on as a tutor.

A criminal holding a gun at his back
Conduct a thorough background check to see if the potential tutor has a criminal record. Source: Pixabay

Do You Need A Background Check To Become A Private Tutor?

These days, it is advisable for every private tutor to obtain a background check for themselves. This is because of the sheer amount of people opting to become private tutors. It is a good idea to prove your dependability as a tutor.

It is not a legal requirement for private tutors to obtain a background check, but we at Superprof would highly recommend you to opt for one. If you are an in-home tutor, you most likely will not need it. Some parents may ask it, but most will not.

However,  if you are employed with a tutoring agency, they may require a background check from you to maintain their professional standards. Some tutoring agencies even make criminal history checks mandatory for employees.

Protecting Your Privacy During Background Checks

You must be aware of what anyone, as an employer, are rightfully entitled to check and what is an infringement on your privacy. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stipulates the procedures employees must follow for background checks.

Employers or third party background check agencies are not allowed to access your credit report without your written consent under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Some states place additional limits on whether an employer can access their employees' credit information at all.

Employers are even restricted from accessing the amount of information they can access about employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In conclusion, background checks are not a requirement for private tutors. But in today's competitive environment, it is highly advisable to obtain a background check for yourself before opting to become a tutor.

At Superprof, we ensure that our tutors don't get overshadowed by the fact that there are thousands of other private tutors available online. We also seek to ensure our students are connected with reputable, verifiable tutors.

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