How to Become a Tutor

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Become Team
September 9, 2021

Tutoring is a vital and quickly growing field, particularly with regard to private tutoring services. According to 2014 market research from Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the global private tutoring market is expected to reach nearly $103 billion by 2018. What’s driving this demand? Challenges within the US education system and pressure on today’s students to score well on entrance examinations for at top colleges and universities. Not all tutors are educators, but they can benefit from education degrees and training. The following guide outlines the steps one takes to become a tutor, reviews tutoring certifications and provides insight into the field’s outlook.

What Does a Tutor Do?

Tutoring Career Basics

Tutors provide academic instruction to individuals or small groups outside of the classroom. They help students to improve their grades, understand difficult concepts, receive extra help to catch up with classroom lessons, prepare for college, and get ready for formal standardized examinations, such as the SAT. In order to serve students effectively, tutors must be able to tap into what motivates each individual student and adjust their approach accordingly.Tutors provide academic instruction to individuals or small groups outside of the classroom. They help students to improve their grades, understand difficult concepts, receive extra help to catch up with classroom lessons, prepare for college, and get ready for formal standardized examinations, such as the SAT. In order to serve students effectively, tutors must be able to tap into what motivates each individual student and adjust their approach accordingly.

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Tutor Salaries & Job Growth

Tutor Salaries Across the US

Most tutors or teaching assistants work only part-time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2015, these professionals earned an average national salary of nearly $25,000. Experience, specialties, training, and location can influence pay. Learn more about the earning potential for tutors using the map below.

State

Tutor Job Growth

There are more than 1.2 million teaching assistants and tutors employed throughout the United States, and the BLS expects that number to surpass 1.3 million by 2024. Use the tool below to review state-specific career projections.

Steps to Becoming a Tutor

Step 1
Graduate from High School
Tutors need at least a high school diploma to work with students. Diplomas also allow tutors to continue their education at community colleges or four-year universities should they choose to study teaching or become subject matter experts.
Step 2
Complete Tutoring Training & Education
There are multiple training pathways for tutors. For individuals with a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a high demand field, such as English, mathematics or science, tutoring certification programs are sufficient (See Step 4). For those who’d like to work in the classroom, formal training in education is the next step. These options include teacher aide certificates, and teacher’s aide or teacher preparation associate degrees. Some tutoring companies may also require additional training of their methodologies for any tutors they employ.
Step 3
Join a Tutoring Association
National tutoring associations can be a tremendous resource for current and future tutors: benefits include mentorship opportunities, industry newsletters, attendance at annual conferences, networking events and tutoring certifications. Prospective tutors can join groups such as the National Tutoring Association, the American Tutoring Association, and the Association for Tutoring Professionals.
Step 4
Earn Tutoring Certification
Some employers may require certification. Formal tutoring certifications provide advanced instruction in key tutoring strategies and techniques while enhancing professional credibility. Candidates may pursue basic and advanced certifications from the National Tutoring Association, American Tutoring Association and other certifying bodies.
Step 5
Get Licensed, Advertise Services and Set Rates
State boards of education often require tutors working in school settings to be licensed. Private tutors may set their own rates and advertise their services. These professionals are not regulated or licensed, which means private tutors do not have to complete any additional training requirements beyond their chosen credential.

Choosing the Right Tutor Certification

Tutoring is not regulated at the state or national level. Instead, both entry-level and seasoned tutors can select from a range of tutoring certification programs to develop new competencies and become certified. There are three major certifying bodies for tutors: the American Tutoring Association, Association for Tutoring Professionals, the College Reading and Learning Association, and the National Tutoring Association. The table below offers a snapshot of several tutoring certifications and their requirements.

Organization Certification Requirements
American Tutoring Association ATA Tutor Bachelor's degree and one year of teaching or tutoring experience; a clear background check and two letters of recommendation
Association for the Tutoring Profession Associate Tutor Ten hours of training; at least 25 hours of tutoring experience; an ATP membership and two letters of recommendation
Association for the Tutoring Profession Advanced Tutor At least 20 hours of tutor training; at 50 hours of tutoring experience; ATP membership and two letters of recommendation
Association for the Tutoring Profession Master Tutor At least 30 hours of tutor training; 75 hours of tutoring experience; ATP membership and two letters of recommendation
College Reading and Learning Association Level I Tutor At least 12 hours of training, 25 hours of tutoring experience and a GPA of 3.25 or above.
College Reading and Learning Association Level II Tutor Level 1 certification, plus; 12 hours of formal training and an additional 20 hours of tutoring experience.
College Reading and Learning Association Level III Tutor Level I and Level II certification requirements, plus: complete 25 additional hours of tutoring and two hours of real-time supervised learning sessions
National Tutoring Association Basic Level Tutor A high school diploma; a current NTA membership; 10 hours of tutoring experience; basic tutoring training and assessment
National Tutoring Association Academic Coach Basic Level Tutor certification; an associate degree; an NTA membership; at least 10 hours of academic coaching experience and complete basic coaching assessment training.
National Tutoring Association Intermediate Level Tutor Basic Level Tutor certification; a current NTA membership; 30 hours of college credit; 30 hours of tutoring experience; and competency training and assessment
National Tutoring Association Advanced Level Tutor Intermediate Level Tutor certification; a current NTA membership; an associate degree or higher; 50 hours of tutoring experience; and competency training and assessment
National Tutoring Association Master Level Tutor Advanced Level Tutor certification; Basic Academic Coaching certification; Advanced Academic Coaching certification; a current NTA membership; a bachelor's degree (master's preferred); five years of experience accrued after initial certification; and advanced tutoring competency training and assessment

Preparing for Tutor Careers: Tutor Certification & Related Degrees

There are no official tutoring degree programs at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Instead, most tutors come to the profession after completing one in a related field, such as education, business or mathematics. The following institutions offer appropriate training programs.

Tutoring Facilities and Providers

Tutoring organizations and private tutoring companies (e.g. Test Masters, Varsity Tutors) offer tutoring preparation training programs. These programs are entirely focused around the organization’s tutoring specialty (e.g. GMAT) or focus (elementary school tutoring). Students learn teaching methods, how to conduct one-on-one tutoring and student assessment techniques.

Community College

Community colleges provide both formal academic degrees and continuing education certificates. Although there are no official tutoring programs, education programs are an ideal alternative. Two-year programs in early childhood education or teacher preparation teach the fundamentals of working with students.

4-Year Schools

Universities and colleges provide degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Again, there are no recognized bachelor’s or graduate degrees in tutoring. Education is a related major that degrees can be a stepping stone to teaching or tutoring in K-12 educational settings. A bachelor’s degree in education also provides students with a fundamental understanding of teaching pedagogy, classroom management and effective teaching strategies.

Tutoring Certification & Related Programs

The best preparation for becoming a tutor is becoming a subject-matter expert. Whether one studies business as a banking professional, English as a middle school teacher or foreign languages as a translator, there are numerous ways to prepare to be a tutor. Not all tutors have education degrees, but education is a central pathway to tutoring careers. Learn more about the different training and educational programs available to current and future tutors.

Certificate in Tutoring

Certificate programs offer short-term training to and specialization to professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Colleges and universities do not offer graduate certificates in tutoring, but some formal tutoring organizations, such as Pearson or Sylvan, offer internal programs. Note that academic graduate certificates are distinct from the professional certifications listed previously.

Teacher Aide Certificate

Teacher aide/assistant certificates are typically one-year career-oriented training programs designed for entry-level employment in early learning facilities and K-12 institutions. These programs teach students how to work with a diverse learner population, how to manage and organize a classroom, and how to interact with students, their families and administrators. Students also study how to assist students with assignments, administer examinations, set up instructional materials and use educational technology.

Associate of Arts in Teacher Education

The Associate of Arts (AA) in teacher education is a two-year program of study for paraprofessionals who assist licensed teachers in the K-12 classroom. Tasks range from grading papers to organizing small group learning activities, and from classroom supervision to creating assignments. Associate degree programs prepare students for entry-level aide and tutor positions, or to transition to four-year degree programs.

Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education

The Associate of Arts (AA) in early childhood education is for educators who want to work with infants and children through the third grade. Courses typically align with Child Development Associate (CDA) credentialing requirements. Graduates can advance to bachelor’s degree programs; enter the workforce as early childhood assistant teachers, teachers or tutors; or advance their current careers.

Bachelor’s Degree in Education

Bachelor’s degrees in education are available at the elementary and secondary level, which includes both middle and high school. These four-year programs prepare individuals to become certified and state-licensed teachers. Learners study the latest educational strategies and pedagogies, instructional methods and effective classroom management techniques. Students also complete a teaching practicum where they apply their knowledge in real-world classroom settings.

Tutor Career Concentrations

Tutors can work throughout the K-12 educational system, in private settings and with tutoring companies. Some tutors focus on multiple subjects, such as those working in an elementary classroom. Others choose to specialize in an area where they have experience and advanced knowledge, such as standardized testing. Learn more about different professional avenues for prospective tutors.

ACT/SAT Tutoring

The ACT and SAT are standardized tests used by university admissions committees to assess students’ knowledge and college readiness. ACT/SAT tutors teach students how to approach each examination and develop strategies for each section: math, science, reading and English. Tutor-administered practice tests and individual learning plans may also improve scores.

GMAT Tutoring

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a challenging standardized examination used to assess business school applicants. GMAT tutors develop customized test preparation plans, teach computerized test-taking strategies and familiarize students with the different sections of the test (quantitative, analytical writing and verbal).

Writing Tutoring

Writing tutors teach key writing processes and strategies. By identifying individual student needs, writing tutors can craft customized learning programs. They offer instruction in grammar and language use, essay writing, writing mechanics, creative writing and proofreading.

Special Needs Tutoring

Special needs tutors develop individualized learning plans for students with learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. Whether the student as autism or dyslexia, visual disorders or non-verbal learning challenges, special needs tutors find the right tools to provide personalized support. They work with all age groups and in all subject areas.

Study Skills Tutoring

Study skills tutors help students develop the organizational methods and practices they need to succeed in different academic settings—from elementary school to college. They teach students how to define and strategically plan their approach to learning. Techniques include active listening skills, note-taking strategies, test anxiety management, research systems and effective writing methods.

COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL TUTOR CAREER: SKILLS, CREDENTIALS, TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY

Tutors must work and communication well with others, and instruct students in an encouraging and supportive manner. Learn more about the skills good tutors should possess.

Skills

Tutors should be good listeners. That means considering students’ thoughts and ideas, especially when they pertain to individual learning. Tutors should be good listeners. That means considering students’ thoughts and ideas, especially when they pertain to individual learning. Tutors need to support and encourage students during the instructional process. A positive attitude can also improve student attention and behavior. Students may struggle with certain concepts no matter how they are taught. Tutors need to be patient and adjust learning materials to meet student learning speeds and needs. No two people learn alike. Tutors should recognize learning styles and differentiate instruction in ways that make learning accessible and fun.

Tools

Today’s tutors rely on a long list of technology when educating students. Here are just a few of them.

Virtual Classrooms TutorClass; 4Teachers Online Communication Google Hangouts; Skype; Email Online Tutoring Platforms BuddySchool.com; Tutor.com; TutorVista.com Online File Sharing Google Docs; OneDrive; Dropbox Computers and Software Laptop Computers; Desktop Computers; Microsoft Office

Credentials

While there are currently no licensing or professional certification requirements for tutors, they may complete voluntary certification programs to sharpen their skills, move into new subject areas or start their own private tutoring businesses. Here is a snapshot of common options.

Related Careers at a Glance

Individuals not quite ready to explore the world of tutoring can consider a wide array of career alternatives. The table below outlines just some of their options.

Adult Literacy Teachers
7.1%
Median Salary (2015):

$50,280

Education/Training Required:

Bachelor's degree, teaching certificate and a state license

Instructional Coordinators
7.0%
Median Salary (2015):

$62,270

Education/Training Required:

Master's degree, teaching experience and state license

Preschool Teachers
6.7%
Median Salary (2015):

$28,570

Education/Training Required:

Associate's degree, professional certification and a license

Librarians
1.9%
Median Salary (2015):

$56,880

Education/Training Required:

Master's degree and certification

High School Career Education Teachers
0.4%
Median Salary (2015):

$56,130

Education/Training Required:

Bachelor's degree and professional training

High School Teachers
5.8%
Median Salary (2015):

$57,200

Postsecondary non-degree award

Bachelor's degree, a teaching certificate and a state license

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What do related occupations make?

Graduates of teacher’s assistant degree programs go on to careers as classroom teachers, childcare workers, and library technicians.

Tutor and Related Job Salaries

Tutor Certification & Career Resources

American Tutoring Association

The American Tutoring Association is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that has certified more than 6,000 tutors.

Association for the Tutoring Profession

The Association for the Tutoring Profession offers professional certifications at the associate, advanced and master level.

College Reading and Learning Association

The College Reading and Learning Association focuses on learning assistance, mentoring and tutoring college and adult learners.

Global Professional Tutors Association

The Global Professional Tutors Association is a worldwide body for educational tutors.

National Tutoring Association

The National Tutoring Association is a membership organization for tutoring professionals in the United States and thirteen other countries.

Related Careers at a Glance

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