KEEP News • June 29, 2016
So you’ve decided to become a tutor. So much to think about, and where do you start to look for for help? The purpose of this blog post is to help you decide how to choose your hourly rate.
When it comes to tutoring, there are many reasons why you might start. Some people want to help out students with their work, others might want to earn a little money – often you’ll find it’s a mix between the two, which is of course no bad thing.
However, one of the trickier areas to consider is that money issue – how much are you going to charge for your time?
You will hear stories about super tutors earning 5000 PKR per hour, or someone earning 30 lakh per month for Pak Studies group tuition. This is real but far from the norm, and unless you are extremely well connected, it’s unlikely that you will achieve anything like this rate.
So what should you expect? A survey by First Tutors in the UK in 2013 found that families across the UK paid an average of £22.31 per hour for private tuition, with families in rural areas are paying on average slightly more than those in major cities (the city average stands at £21.55 while the rural average is £23.07). It also found that tuition costs reflect educational level, with the national average ranging from £20.10 for primary and secondary school tuition, to £26.56 for university level tuition. Clearly there will be wide variation in individual tutor rates, but at least there is some market information to hang your hat on.
Now, I’m not going to dictate to you how much you should or shouldn’t charge – it’s entirely up to you. You need to strike a balance – you don’t really want to undervalue yourself and what you want to do… but then again you don’t want to turn people away!
Yikes, this is a tough balance. What’s more, there’s no real set formula for how to set a price on an hour’s tuition. However, allow me to offer a little guidance as to what you should consider when you decide on a price…
Your skills and education
Clearly it seems reasonable that the more you have work to get to where you are, the higher the reward should be, so to speak. Teachers tend to earn the most, particularly those with experience as an examiner. Seasoned tutors with a good University degree can also charge top rates. Students on the other hand tend to earn less money. But their skills tend to be much more up to date, and exams fresh in their mind.
Your level of experience
A tutor with many years of experience is going to have built a reputation locally, have their own network of customers and maybe a waiting list. In these circumstances, they will be able to add a premium their hourly rate.
Don’t fear if you are new, however. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people are going to view you as less competent or worth less money to them. If you are highly qualified in a certain area then perhaps a lack of experience may be overlooked when people consider the price you want to charge.
It’s all about supply and demand. The shorter the supply or higher the level of demand, the more you should be able to charge.
If you tutor face-to-face, then the region you’re in will make a difference as to what to expect. In areas where private schools are present or there is a real demand for tutoring, the price you will be able to charge will be higher. In London and the South East, for instance, you can expect to be paying a much higher rate for one-to-one tuition than many other places up and down the nation.
If you happen to be an online tutor, this is perhaps less important to you but nonetheless you should consider it. If you live in a different time zone to your target audience, then you may have late nights or perhaps a very early start – this is something that you may consider when you come to setting a price.
If you are required to go to the student’s house, it’s not unreasonable to charge the student for travel time and costs incurred. This is common practice.
Level of tuition required
There are likely to be more people available to teach secondary-level mathematics than those who can teach a master’s degree in physics. However, be careful – if you want to focus on the student market then you should consider any financial strains that come with a certain level – undergraduates might not have masses of money to spend on extra tuition so you might be pricing yourself out of the market.
Availability of other tutors
How many tutors are teaching the same subject as you, in your area? How much do they charge? How do you fit in compared to them – should you be charging a premium of at a discount? These are important considerations, as you need to decide how your services and price fit in with the local tutoring market.
If you’re a teacher or lecturer, you have a unique skill set. Not only do you have a high standard of education, but you also have practical experience of providing support to students. If you have a good relationship with parents and students, you might find your value to them is somewhat higher, so it is something to consider.
Ultimately your participation in tutoring may depend on the policy that your school / college may have – just make sure that they are generally okay with what you are doing and the idea of charging a fee for your services out of work hours.
It is a fine balance to keep, isn’t it? Ultimately you want to bring in a reasonable amount of money to justify the hours that you but you don’t want to make yourself too expensive that people choose to go somewhere else – especially if you are less experienced or are teaching at a level where the price is unjustified in some parent’s eyes. Also, consider the potential issue of undervaluing yourself and the perception that gives off to parents – why are you charging so little? Are they short of business and are desperate?
My advice, simply, is to do your research. Start looking at what others in a similar category are doing. Whether or not you choose to undercut them or offer a more bespoke service is up to you.