It’s thought that roughly one-million people in the UK work as tutors, either professionally, or as a way to supplement their income.[1] The job holds many appeals, such as determining your own hours and taking advantage of a pre-existing skill-set – plus, there’s a huge demand for tutoring services across the country. In fact, figures in 2018 indicated that more than a quarter of secondary school pupils in England and Wales were using private tuition.[2]

As a [3], becoming a tutor might seem straightforward. But if you’re wondering how to start tutoring, then there’s still a lot of considerations you should take into account first. Done properly, tutoring could be an emotionally and financially rewarding source of income, so it would be good for you to start your journey off on the right foot.

How to become a private tutor 

  1. Learn your syllabus

  2. Get your legal paperwork in order

  3. Create a teaching plan

  4. Network with schools and parents

  5. Insure your business

Teacher with young pupil


You do not need a license to be a tutor , but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you need to have in order before you start tutoring. This is not just to safeguard your pupils, provide a solid foundation for building your professional reputation, and retain regular clientele – it is also to protect your own financial interests.

  1. Take the time to learn your chosen subject’s syllabus

Although you may be an expert in the field you’ve chosen to tutor, if your full-time job isn’t coaching children through their exams, you may not know what your students need to focus on. Subject syllabi change year by year and vary between different examination boards, so take the time to find out which exams your pupils will be working towards and research the syllabus well.

  1. Get all of your legal paperwork in order

There are no standard qualifications that you need to be a tutor, however, [5], having certain formal documents in place can help protect you against any potential drama. Before you start tutoring, you should

  • Register with the HRMC: As with any other form of self-employment, as a freelance tutor – even if only part-time – you’re legally obliged to declare your income to HMRC in order to pay the appropriate tax . You can find more information on this in our freelancing guide.
  • Get an up-to-date DBS check: A DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certificate will confirm that there are no known reasons why you cannot work with children or vulnerable adults . Although not necessary to become a tutor, this will help to put prospective parents’ minds at ease.
  1. Have a teaching plan

As most full-time teachers will attest, teaching resources are not cheap, so if you need to provide course materials and stationery for your pupils you will have to budget this in. Even the price of printing out worksheets can build-up very quickly, so make sure you’ve either accounted for this in your pricing strategy or have considered an alternative way of teaching your students.

  1. Reach out to schools and parents to grow your network

Becoming a private tutor is often a natural step for those already in the teaching professions or academia, and as such, you may already have one or two pupils. But whether you’re starting from nothing, or looking to grow your tutoring business, the same principle applies: networking is everything. To find new students you could:

  • Ask your students (and their parents) to recommend you: Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of growing your student base.
  • Sign up to a tutoring directory: These online platforms will help connect you with pupils looking for tutors in your area and specialty.
  • Market yourself: From advertisements on a bulletin board, to social media, to a well-crafted personal website – make yourself easy to find and contact. The more information people can easily discover about you, the happier they will be to enlist your services.
  1. Consider insuring your business

Whether you’re tutoring at home or in your clients’ homes you’ll need protection against accidents, such as a pupil hurting themselves on your property, or you damaging an item in their home. Public liability insurance can help to cover costs associated with this nature of risk.

Equally, tailored tutoring insurance will cover you for professional mistakes, such as teaching a curriculum incorrectly (professional indemnity cover). It can also cover you for loss of income suffered if an injury were to leave you unable to work (personal accident cover).

How much should I charge for tutoring? 

As mentioned above, all earnings must be declared to HMRC, even if you are only working as a tutor on a freelance basis. To calculate an appropriate figure for your hourly rate:

  • Calculate your costs for travel and lesson materials: These should be covered by your hourly rate and not included as an add-on expense to your clients. In exceptional circumstances (such as commuting long distances to visit a pupil) you may charge for travel as an extra expense, but this should be communicated clearly to your student.
  • Check what other tutors in your area are charging: As with most industries, hourly rates for tutoring can vary from location to location, with the highest price usually demanded in the capital. Browse online for tutors in your area to get a feel for what others are charging – keep in mind that this will also vary depending on your subject and the level of study
  • Balance your expectations against your experience: Highly experienced and well-recommended tutors will charge a premium for their services, so while it might be tempting to opt for the higher end of the hourly rate, be sure to evaluate how your tutoring experience and academic qualifications measure up against other tutors available. Remember, you can always advertise for higher rates once you’ve got some experience and raised your profile.

tutoring young pupils

How to become an online tutor

If you’re interested in becoming an online tutor, you’ll have a couple of different considerations to take into account. Unlike traditional tutoring your pupils could be connecting with you from all over the world, but just because you aren’t connecting face-to-face doesn’t mean that your virtual classroom should be any less professional.

Here are some tips on getting started in online tutoring:

  1. Remember: your internet connection is your most important teaching resource: If you want to become an online tutor it may be worthwhile to invest in a good internet connectionYour webcam, headset and computer software should all be top notch, too.
  2. Dress to impress: Although it might be tempting to conduct an online lesson wearing nothing but your pyjamas, remember that your students are hiring you as a professional – so act like it! Dress as you would for any face-to-face tutoring job and remember to communicate through the webcam in an engaging and interactive fashion. That means making eye-contact, asking questions and keeping your body animated.
  3. Make yourself available to your students:
    Online tutoring doesn’t start and end with webcam tutorials. Make the most of digital resources to provide homework for your pupils and allow them to contact you outside of your lessons with any questions they may have. This will save time during class as you won’t have to go back over content they have struggled with.
  1. Keep your schedule adaptable: As you’re marketing yourself to pupils across the globe, you may need to accommodate for different time zones and acknowledge that your students will have more crucial periods of the academic year than others, so be as flexible as you can.

Whether you’re looking to become a tutor in your local area, or begin tutoring online, it’s key to prepare yourself for the realities of the job. Pursued as a side project to your fulltime career, or as your primary source of income, it’s a job that involves a lot of responsibility; so do your research, be professional and above all, make sure you always work with your students’ goals and wellbeing in mind.