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 are experienced professionals and educators who provide private instruction to help students improve their educational performance, develop study skills, prepare for academic examinations or gain occupational skills. They offer feedback, assess students’ academic needs and craft individualized plans that support learning success. They should have expertise and experience in the fields they tutor in, and they should also be comfortable with dealing with students in difference age groups and learning capabilities. Tutoring categories include math, science, social studies, English and foreign languages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
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 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 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.
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.
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 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/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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Tutors should be good listeners. That means considering students’ thoughts and ideas, especially when they pertain to individual learning.
Tutors must be able to assess student performance to determine if current methods are working. If not, they must be willing to devise a new approach.
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.
Today’s tutors rely on a long list of technology when educating students. Here are just a few of them.
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.
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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Graduates of teacher’s assistant degree programs go on to careers as classroom teachers, childcare workers, and library technicians.
The American Tutoring Association is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that has certified more than 6,000 tutors.
The Association for the Tutoring Profession offers professional certifications at the associate, advanced and master level.
The College Reading and Learning Association focuses on learning assistance, mentoring and tutoring college and adult learners.
The Global Professional Tutors Association is a worldwide body for educational tutors.
The National Tutoring Association is a membership organization for tutoring professionals in the United States and thirteen other countries.
What separates tutoring from many other education professions is its flexible entry options: prospective tutors can pursue tutor certifications, earn education degrees or use their work experience to land a position. Clients and tutoring centers may prefer to hire tutors with some formal education. Use the search tool below to explore tutor training programs.