Several factors must be considered prior to establishing an hourly rate as a freelance educational provider.

It can be challenging.

There is a range of contrasting elements to being self-employed as opposed to working on behalf of a company; for a company effectively dictates your monthly/annual salary, whereas going at it alone can create certain levels of complication.

Underselling or overselling yourself can be detrimental to business.

Multiple factors from personal experience, general competition, customer demand, and locational setting all play an important part in establishing a fair tutoring rate that will ensure that as a tutor, you are receiving regular requests from new students, whilst maintaining regular sessions with existing ones.

MIT Economics Professor Michael Greenstone had recently stated that high-income families across the United States are on average willing to pay over $9,000 per year on their children's tuition, explaining that preparation for SAT examinations has been a focal reason for the increase in average spend on private tutoring each year.

Naturally, the average price parents are willing to pay for additional educational support for their children will fluctuate considerably depending on several factors as aforementioned.

Some of the most revered colleges and universities in the country have maintained such a high level of competition for places amongst their applicants. This has lead to both students and parents/guardians on the lookout as to where they can gain such advantages over others through the adoption of external academic support in the form of private tuition.

With this in mind, tutors can effectively dictate their rates based on such considerations.

Here, we will explain how tutors can set their hourly prices through four separate stages.


Stage 1: Keeping an Eye on the Competition for Tutoring Jobs

The common facts of today are the products of yesterday's research
- Duncan Mcdonald

How could one possibly identify what is fair if comparisons have not been made?

When private companies are hiring, they will list a variance of necessary skills, qualifications, experience, and job responsibilities.

Depending on each of these, a salary that is considered fair between the employee and the business is then determined.

This should be no different as a self-employed tutor, and an effective method in identifying a fair price for your services is by establishing what tutors with equivalent experience are charging in your area and subject.

Similar to the tutoring profiles on the Superprof website, all private educational providers, regardless of what subject they specialize in, highlight their credentials.

Such credentials include, but are not limited to:

  1. Tutoring experience: usually identified through years, a tutor will highlight how long they have been working in the profession, as well as adding how many students they have taught over the years and how their influence has positively affected past and present students.
  2. Academic specializations: does your competition have unique learning areas that they advertise on their online profile? Emphasizing a niche may not alone attract more attention to your portfolio, but it may also act as a justification for an increase in your prices.
  3. Success stories/testimonials: do you have a proven track record? One of the most effective ways of enticing new custom is by presenting how your input will positively affect an individual's learning, and including real-life cases of this is another way of increasing your average rate.

Justifying your rates by location is also incredibly important.

Do you by chance happen to be living in Honolulu, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boston, or Oakland?

Every year, these cities are recognized as the most expensive places in the country to live in and home tutoring prices in the US vary hugely from one to another. With this in mind, the standard of living is therefore much higher, so accommodation, transport, and overall living costs make it significantly pricier than other parts of the United States.

According to a report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, teachers in New York State are paid the highest salary in their field within the United States, with annual salaries increasing by more than $19,000 (per annum) from 2002-2016.

Although this is in the reflection of state salaries for qualified teachers, a tutor's prices should also be influenced concerning a countries/state's annual, economical growth.

An example of a counteractive approach to setting tutoring rates would be to hike up your prices amid a financial crisis, for this will likely deter prospective students from using your services.

We recommend that you also begin by checking out the tuition rates in your subject area.

Stage 2: Finding Your Place in the Tutor Job Market

After scouring your competition, you must now have gained an insight into the average prices that tutors with similar skills, experience, and expertise are charging - stage 1 complete!

Now, it is a known fact that a high percentile of academic tutors have a background in, or are in-fact still working as teachers within some form of education.

Tutoring is the perfect side-job for teachers that are looking to earn a bit of extra cash in the evenings, weekends, and holidays (bearing in mind, the teaching profession is a known industry in which employees are gifted some of the most substantial holidays compared to other employment areas).

If you do have experience within a teaching environment, this is a huge advantage that can effectively influence how much you charge. Let's take a look at this in a little more detail.

Tutoring as a Qualified Teacher

An increasing numbers of teachers are tutoring online and at home
More and more qualified teachers are turning to tutoring as a fulfilling way to earn an extra income. (Source: Visualhunt)

There are multiple advantages to this, with the first being TRUST, especially when tutoring amongst a younger audience.

Parents feel a stronger sense of confidence when their child's tutor has a background in formal education.


Well, it proves they have a proven record of working with students of a similar age, and through their experiences, they have developed educational strategies to effectively engage with a younger audience, therefore making the learning more invigorating for the student.

You can be the smartest person around, having accomplished top marks at undergraduate, postgraduate and having recently received academic accolades for the insightful contributions your doctorate thesis has made. Yet, the truth is, this doesn't make you a good tutor.

Of course, the subject knowledge is there, but this is usually only half of it.

Especially when working with a younger audience, you must develop strategies to effectively bond with your students, whilst using various approaches to promote positive motivations toward students' learning.

Student Tutors

A college/university student will often find themselves at varying levels of part-time employment throughout their studies.

As opposed to working at the local café, many instead opt to support younger, more inexperienced students in alignment with the subject areas in which they specialize.

Even if you are studying full-time, undergraduate and postgraduates often find themselves with additional time within their schedules to make some money.

Students make motivated, passionate, and enthusiastic tutors and role models
Students are not always the most qualified tutors, but they sure are enthusiastic! (Source: Visualhunt)

Tutoring has always been a popular vocation for those still in the midst of higher education, as they are currently learning about areas at a more advanced stage compared to children/teenagers that are still at either elementary or high school level.

However, whilst at University, your formidable professional career has yet to commence, and it is likely that students at this level have a lack of experience teaching/tutoring, and this can reflect on how realistically you can set your prices.

Stage 3: Factor in your Costs to Become a Tutor

Online tutors have access to the global marketplace, however they still need to set competitive rates
Online tutors have access to a global market place. (Source: Visualhunt)

Before taking on your role as a private tutor, ensure you make necessary projections in alignment with the overall incurrence of costs it will require to:

  1. Travel to and from a student's home
  2. Set up a learning space that is both professional and attainable for your students (via location)
  3. Overall time in lesson preparations - if you are new to the world of tutoring, will your lesson prep take too long to justify your hourly rate?
  4. Equipment & resources - this is certainly dependent on what subject area and student age range you teach. For example, in the earlier years, teaching mathematics requires a plethora of resources that parents would expect you to possess. From numicon sets, dean's cubes to general math resources; if you don't already have these, it can become pricy to invest in before you even receive your first student.

Taking into account each of these four factors, along with your intended hourly rate will help you to understand if a profession in tutoring will be economically viable.

Stage 4: Deciding Upon Variations in Your Tutoring Rates

New to the business?

To engage prospective students straight away, you must experiment with your rates to see what works best for you.

Again, selling yourself cheap may result in a high volume of interested participants, but will you have enough time in the day to accommodate so much work, whilst taking into consideration the time you spend preparing for each lesson?

If you are looking to build up your profile within a limited time frame, consider reducing your hourly rate in alignment with less experienced tutors, and once you start to gain more experience, you can update your profile accordingly, as well as citing positive testimonials from existing students; once your profile starts to look more attractive and you are receiving more offers, increase your average rate until you find the right balance.

An important takeaway: Don't undersell your expertise. If you are skilled in a particular niche, use this to your advantage!

Your experiences and educational background may well be more attractive to more skilled academics, and with this, you can increase your prices in accordance with your breadth of knowledge in a particular area.

Finally, don't play down your experiences, advertise them with confidence. There may well be hundreds of tutors specializing in the teaching of Elementary School English, but if your experience surpasses most, use this as a reason to justify an increase in your rate.

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