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Need to know: start a tutoring business

Need to know: start a tutoring business

Tutoring can be rewarding – and not just financially. If you want a business that provides you with a sense of achievement and the satisfaction of helping others, then tutoring could be for you

There’s an increasing demand for private tutors. Many parents are keen to give their kids as much of an advantage as possible for their GCSEs, A Levels or sitting entrance exams for grammar schools.

And it’s not just the prospect of regular business that makes tutoring an attractive proposition – there are few overheads to consider and the flexibility of the work means it’s relatively easy to fit around your daily life or even another job. Most private tutoring is done between 3pm and 10pm, leaving the rest of the day free for other commitments.

So what do you need to start a tutoring business? There’s no official qualification for private tutors and no recognised regulatory body. So tutors trade mostly on their reputation and results. The job is especially suited to people educated to degree level and higher, but it’s by no means essential, especially for certain subjects like music or the arts. However, a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject, the curriculum and the exam system is a must.

But of course it’s not just about having the knowledge – you need the teaching skills to impart it. Tutoring requires confidence and patience and some personality types are better disposed to it than others. It also helps if you have a real enthusiasm for the subject area as this will transmit to pupils and make the learning process more enjoyable.

You also need to be highly organised – preparation, planning and managing multiple clients are all important aspects of a successful tutoring business.

A Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) certificate isn’t a legal requirement to work as a private tutor. You might like one to show parents to offer them reassurance but unfortunately it’s not possible for self-employed people to apply for one. However, if you register with an agency it should make it easier to obtain one.

When you’re starting out, the first thing you need to decide is what you’re going to teach. Your decision will obviously depend on your own knowledge and expertise. But you should also consider the competition in your immediate vicinity – if you set yourself up as a tutor in a subject that is already being covered by several reputable tutors in your area, you’ll be limiting your business opportunities.

There’s also the question of whether you’ll teach from your own residence or travel to the homes of your students. You might need to be flexible, since parents of young children will probably prefer you to do the tutoring wherever they’re based.

What you charge will depend on the going rate in your area, so find out what the competition are getting paid. Researching agencies could also give you an idea of what to charge. Don’t feel too limited, though; there’s no reason why you shouldn’t charge a bit extra if you think you offer more in experience and expertise. Just don’t price yourself out of the market.

You’ll need to market yourself to get business, so advertise in the local media and use the internet. But word of mouth and a good track record will be most effective in building your business – so ask for recommendations from satisfied parents and encourage them to spread the word.

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