How to Become an Online Tutor

by Cynthia Measom; Updated September 26, 2017
You can be an online tutor from the comfort of your home.

Online tutors help students bridge the gap between confusion and understanding by using the Internet to communicate. Because the tutoring takes place online, and not in person, you won't have as much money or time invested as a tutor who arranges for transportation to meet with a client. As with any professional position, you need to have background knowledge of the subjects you wish to tutor as well as an aptitude for helping others learn. Taking the time to properly set up your tutoring business will help align your endeavor for success.

Items you will need

  • Computer
  • Monitor
  • Broadband connection with at least 128 kB per second
  • Headset
  • Microphone
  • Web camera
  • Online whiteboard
  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Subject specific learning materials
Step 1

Make a decision about which subjects you will offer tutoring services. For instance, if you have a formal teaching certificate in a subject, you have proof of credentials to tutor in that subject. If you don't have a teaching certificate, you can gain tutoring certification from the National Tutor Association. If you are a college student with a high grade point average in a subject you wish to tutor, you can also become an online tutor. If you possess a wide range of subject knowledge, but specialize in two or three, choose to function as a general online tutor, specializing in those specific subjects. If you only want to tutor a certain grade level or a certain subject, decide on that specialization.

Step 2

Write down the cost of your services and policies you will need to supply to people who are interested in your services. Research the hourly rates for tutors in your area. A certified teacher can charge more per hour for tutoring services -- $50, for example -- than a college student who may not be able to realistically charge more than $15 per hour. Require advance payment for your services so you receive payment even if the client must cancel or cannot complete the tutoring session. Draft a policy that addresses make-up sessions if the client has to cancel or misses the session, such as offering one or two specific days each month. Stipulate the hours you will be available for tutoring and stress that those are the only times you will be available.

Step 3

Gather your tutoring supplies, according to the needs of your clientele. You will need at least a computer with Internet access, instant messaging and an email account. You may need a headset with a microphone, possibly a web camera and an online whiteboard so that you can communicate with students. Create tutoring lessons based on the subjects that you plan to tutor. Old textbooks may prove helpful resources. Avoid purchasing a large amount of equipment or supplies unless you know you need it and you will use it to conserve money.

Step 4

Apply for professional liability insurance to protect your assets from lawsuit judgments that may arise as a result of a dissatisfied client or student's parent. Set up an online payment account, through a service such as Paypal, so that clients can pay online for your tutoring services.

Step 5

Create an application for online tutoring services so that you can learn about prospective students and what services they require. Include personal information about the client, such as name, age, email address and contact numbers. State what type of computer hardware or software clients must have in order to participate in online tutoring.

Step 6

Advertise your services in parent publications or contact local school districts and ask personnel if they will recommend you to parents of students who need extra help. List your services on an online classifieds board that serves different cities or in various city newspapers. Create some fliers, business cards or brochures about your online tutoring business and pass them out in different neighborhoods and kid-friendly businesses. Include your name, contact information and the services you offer in the advertisements. Networking locally can help you obtain clients and receive word of mouth referral that will help you build your business.

Step 7

Request that all prospective students fill out your online tutoring application. Discuss the students' goals to ensure that you understand what they expect from the tutoring sessions. Agree on a scheduled time for online tutoring sessions and be available for the scheduled sessions.

Tips

  • Make sure clients know up front that you will only tutor during agreed upon hours. This can help you avoid clients who try to contact you at any hour of the day or night.

    Don't hesitate to tweak your policies and procedures in between accepting tutoring clients. Just make sure that everything is in writing and you give a copy of the policies and procedures to each client.

Warnings

  • Be aware that the narrower your tutoring areas of expertise, the fewer clients you will potentially have.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images