Learn About Being a Tutor

Updated June 24, 2022

What does a tutor do?

A tutor’s role is to improve the learning of a student outside of the traditional classroom. A tutor will dedicate one-on-one time to work with students who may need extra attention to succeed in their education. Tutoring keeps students motivated and on course to excel academically. Typically, a tutor will help a student focus on one specific subject, such as math or history. Additional responsibilities of tutors include:

  • Helping students become more active and engaged learners

  • Personalizing a lesson to apply to a student’s particular areas of interest or understanding

  • Helping students advance their knowledge-retention skills and study habits

  • Answering a student’s academic questions and concerns clearly and honestly

  • Assisting students in reviewing class assignments and materials after class hours

  • Identifying and adapting to a student’s learning habits

Average salary

Tutors are usually part-time employees, working most of their working hours in the evenings and on weekends when students are out of school. Because of this, tutors almost always receive hourly wages. The salary of a tutor can range widely depending on the subject and whether they tutor privately or through an agency. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $25.14 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.25 to $43.75 per hour.

Tutoring requirements

There are several ways to become a tutor, and the exact requirements depend on your current qualifications and experience. Most tutors usually have a combination of the following: 


A tutor typically needs at least a high school diploma and extensive knowledge in the subjects they intend to teach. If a tutor plans to focus on teaching elementary or middle school students, then they need at minimum a high school diploma. To teach high school and university students, tutors should have at least an undergraduate degree with a major in the subject they intend to teach. In some cases, candidates pursuing a master’s degree will tutor undergraduate students at the same university.


There is no specific training required to be a tutor, though tutoring organizations may have their own internal training programs. Tutors who work for agencies may receive specialized training that helps them develop effective teaching skills and lesson plans. These agencies may also help tutors learn how to work with a variety of students at different age levels. 


While earning a tutoring certification is not necessary, many educational institutions offer certificates for tutors who wish to specialize in a topic or increase their earning potential, including:

National Tutoring Association

The NTA provides comprehensive training workshops for tutors of all subjects online and on-site at university campuses around the U.S. NTA certifications can help a tutor become more well-respected in their field. To earn an NTA certification, you will need to be a member of the NTA, complete a training course and submit an application with proof of your training and relevant education.

International Tutor Training Program Certification

The College Reading and Learning Association’s ITTPC program certifies college-level tutor training programs around the world. Tutors who receive certification from an ITTPC-approved program usually earn more and can more easily demonstrate their value to potential employers. The ITTPC offers three levels of certification that you should earn in order. A Level-1 certification shows you have foundational knowledge and experience in tutoring, while Level 2 and Level 3 show you have gained advanced skills and experience.

Association for the Coaching and Tutoring Profession

The ACTP offers a tutoring certification designed to help tutors specialize in the subjects in which they instruct. The ACTP also provides a network of professional support to help certified tutors find work in their field throughout the U.S. To earn a certification from the ACTP, you must have an active membership and provide proof of tutoring education and experience.


Tutors often require similar attributes as teachers. However, tutors use their ability to teach primarily in a one-on-one environment, which requires them to have a slightly different set of skills, including:


Being able to convey information to your students and help others learn is one of the most important tutoring skills. To be an effective tutor, you should be capable of explaining complicated information from a subject to people with very little prior knowledge.


You should be willing to work around the schedules and learning styles of your students. Being able to adapt your hours and teaching techniques to match those of your students means that you can help them learn the subjects quickly. 


As a tutor, you need to be able to interact with your students as individuals to discover why they’re encountering learning challenges and where they’re able to succeed on their own. Because of this, strong communication and interpersonal skills will help you thrive.

Emotional intelligence

The ability to understand students’ needs through their actions and words requires emotional intelligence. Interpreting others’ verbal and nonverbal cues can help you develop more effective lesson plans adapted to students’ needs.


Students in search of tutoring can often find conventional teaching methods challenging. Because of this, effective tutors are often creative and capable problem-solvers. Strong problem-solving skills enable you to separate a student’s course material in unique ways to find the methods of teaching that are best suited for each student you work with.

Tutoring work environment

Your working environment as a tutor will depend on what type of tutor you are. If you work for a tutoring agency, you will usually work in a tutoring center where your students will meet with you on-site. If you work as a private tutor, you will meet with your students independently. These private tutoring sessions can take place in a home, local library, school or any other number of public places. In general, you will hold tutoring sessions in quiet environments free of distractions. Tutors typically work part-time in the evenings and over the weekends to accommodate the needs of their students. Tutors typically have fewer active students during the summer months.

The length of sessions depends on the subject and student, though most last about an hour. During this time, you can expect to sit down for the duration of the lesson, or you may stand while providing instruction from a whiteboard. 

How to become a tutor

Tutoring is a career path with many distinct options. To become a tutor, you can follow these steps:

1. Determine your tutoring subjects.

Tutors usually specialize in one or two subjects that they’re experienced in and passionate about. During this phase, you should also decide what grade range you’d like to tutor. Depending on your education level, you may choose to work with students of varying education levels. 

2. Educate yourself.

As a tutor, you must be well-educated in your intended subjects. Ensure you have extensive knowledge in your studies and that you can create effective lesson plans according to that knowledge. You may want to take additional courses on the subjects to ensure you can effectively teach them. 

3. Determine your work setting.

Private tutors tend to have higher wages and more dedicated students. Additionally, private tutoring generally doesn’t require certification. Working with an agency or tutoring organization allows for constant contact with new potential students and often provides you with stronger work security than tutoring privately.

5. Seek students.

If you decide to work with a tutoring agency, your agency will pair you with students seeking help in your subject of expertise. If you decide to tutor privately, you can post advertisements for your services online or create flyers to add to college services boards. Some families seeking tutors might post advertisements online where you can contact them directly. 

Tutor job description example

SmartStart Tutoring is seeking passionate tutors specialized in core high school subjects like math, science and language arts. You will work with students who need additional assistance with their schoolwork and help them better understand the course material that they find challenging. Detailed knowledge of the state curriculum for your subject is required. 

A high school diploma is required at a minimum for the position, but the ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree or experience in the education field. Candidates should be comfortable working with students in need of additional time with course material. Candidates must be available to work primarily in the evening hours and over the weekend.

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