Becoming a private tutor is something that can appeal to a range of people of different ages and stages of their lives. Undergraduate students may earn extra income by tutoring children in their specialist subject(s) and professionals with a wealth of experience in a particular area may decide they wish to pass this knowledge on to others without formally becoming a teacher. Some former teachers, particularly those who are retired or who are taking a break from full-time teaching to focus on family or other things, may also take a side step into a tutoring role.
Private tutoring allows you to choose the age you teach, the subjects, when you teach, how you deliver your lessons (online or in-person) and tailor your approach to one that suits your teaching style and/or that of the pupils. Being able to do all this makes private tutoring a flexible career path, hence why it often suits those who are retired or have other responsibilities that make full-time standard working hours a difficult option. Aside from this, there is also money to be make as a private tutor. According to talent.com, private tutors in the UK expect to make an average of £48,750 in 2023 with an average hourly wage of £25.
Although private tutors can earn above average wages, this of course does not take into account the expenses incurred in running your own business. Nor does it consider the time you will spend working on your business because you may have to find your own clients. You will also have to take care of a number of compliance and legal requirements.
Almost all of those starting any business will need to do the following:
Register Your Business Or Set Up As A Sole Trader
Register Your Domain Name
Ensure You're Set Up To Comply With Data Protection
Draft Terms and Conditions for your clients (in your case your students)
Open A Business Bank Account
Before you do any of this though, it’s worth looking at the options available for becoming a private tutor:
How To Launch A Career As A Private Tutor
If you would like to become a self-employed tutor you don’t necessarily have to do it all by yourself. However, with all the following options you will still likely need to do all of the above and ensure you file your self-assessment for each tax year.
Setting Up Your Own Private Tutor Business
You will need to register as a sole trader with the HMRC or set up a limited company with Companies House. For more about the pros and cons of setting up a limited company vs. operating as a sole trader, visit my Checklist for Launching A Start-Up In The UK.
As an independent, you will have to find your own clients so you’ll need to put together a marketing plan. This will likely include a website, perhaps flyers, social media business accounts and other forms of marketing. To keep business coming in you’ll need to keep these updated and build a reputation strong enough to compete with larger tutoring businesses and agencies. There are often more overheads involved in going it alone and most of these will likely be marketing costs. However, many people choose this option because it gives them more autonomy, more independence and often more ability to scale up and build a bigger business. One that might even employ other tutors or extend into other service offerings.
Joining A Private Tutoring Agency
An option available to many who wish to become a private tutor is to join an agency. There are many private tutoring agencies and the qualifications and experience they seek in their tutors varies. You may find your hourly rate is less than you might charge usually but you won’t have to find your own clients, the agency should be delivering them to you. When selecting an agency, ensure you do lots of research and try to speak to tutors who have formally worked or currently work through the agencies you’re considering. You’ll need to know they will be able to provide you will the amount of work you need and are reliable.
Tutoring agencies usually specialise either in a particular age group, school/exam level or by subject. As well as private tutors for school children there are also private tutors for adults and for those wanting to learn another language.
Running A Tutoring Franchise
The third option available to private tutors is to open a franchise. Franchises offer the ability to run a business on a license basis. The original business provides branding, marketing and other materials, as well as support and guidance on running the business. Often a franchisee is restricted to a particular location but for private tutors delivering classes online this may not be the case. There are a number of tutoring franchises in the UK and each one will have its own terms and approach. Most will require you to follow their set programme for delivering your classes in order to ensure brand continuity. Running a franchise does mean purchasing a licence to run the business and you will usually have to pay a monthly fee to continue doing so. However, it can offer support and guidance for those who find the idea of completely going it alone daunting, whilst giving you reasonable opportunity to work the hours you choose and to grow at your own pace.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Private Tutor?
Technically, you don’t need any qualifications to become a private tutor. However, to attract clients you will probably need some winning credentials.
You should have experience in the subject you’re teaching, whether that be academic or professional experience. Formal qualifications will also help. Most tutors are graduates or undergraduates who are tutoring alongside their studies.
Teaching experience is not required, though those who’ve worked with children before can usually expect to attract more business and set a higher hourly rate.
Planning lessons can be challenging if you have not had any teaching experience so it may be an idea to take an online course or else elicit someone with teaching experience to help you formalise how you will deliver classes.
Although anyone can become a private tutor, clients and parents of children receiving private tutoring will expect to see results. So, even if private tutoring is a part-time extra source of income, you must ensure you know the subject(s) you’re teaching on a deep level and be able to deliver lessons, set work and guide your clients (whether they be adults or children) through the course materials.
If you're working with children it would also be wise to get a DBS check. Having a DBS certificate is not a legal requirement but it may be a requirement for parents and would almost certainly be necessary when working with tutoring agencies or running a tutoring franchise.
Insurance For Private Tutors
Insurance is not a legal requirement unless you’re employing others. However, almost everyone running a business is insured because it protects your business. The kind of insurance you need will depend on how you operate.
Professional indemnity insurance is designed to protect you if your service is accused of being inadequate. For instance, if a client is dissatisfied and feels you have not delivered on what you committed to in your business terms or by means of your marketing communications, they may make a claim against you. In theory, private indemnity insurance should cover financial losses or damages should the claimant be found to be entitled to them.
Public liability insurance protects you against injury to a client or damage to their property during your time with them. This will usually only apply if you are delivering classes in person, whether at their home or your location. If you are teaching online and not providing products, you may find public liability insurance is not necessary.
Legal Guidance For Private Tutors Working With Children
Many private tutors will be working with minors. As mentioned above, holding a DBS certificate is highly recommended. However, you may also want to consider taking a safeguarding course as it is a moral duty to protect children in your care, particularly in a teaching role where you may become a confidant. Again, this is not a legal requirement but may enhance your credentials and also provide you with expertise should any issues or causes for concern arise. The NSPCC offer child protection training for private tutors for £25.
You may also consider a first-aid course if you're delivering in-person classes. St John Ambulance offer first aid training in various locations.
In regards to data protection for children, the rules are a little more complex. So, if you’re providing private tutoring for children, please refer to my guide on Children And Data Protection.
Terms And Conditions For Private Tutors
Every business needs terms and conditions or a service agreement. This will set out what you commit to delivering, how you will deliver it, your rates (and how these should be paid), your cancellation policy and what you require from the client to provide your services.
This contract acts as an agreement between you and the client and is essential for establishing a transparent and mutually beneficial working relationship. Moreover, it protects you should the client break this agreement.
As a private tutor, you may run into problems with clients cancelling sessions or suspending your services at short notice, or you may find yourself struggling with late payments. Your terms and conditions should protect you from this by providing set terms in a formal agreement.
Although some business owners opt to create their own terms and conditions or use online templates, having a commercial lawyer draw up a bespoke agreement for your business can be a more reliable way of protecting yourself and ensuring your contract will stand up to scrutiny should it need to. For terms and conditions for a private tutoring business please get in touch and I’d be happy to advise and assist you.