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Working as a Tutor

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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Tutors > Working as a Tutor



College instructor looking to tutor high school students

May 2008

Hi everyone. I am a Spanish college instructor working on a contract basis. There are extremely few, rare full time positions for which hundreds of people compete. Until now I have had enough classes to pay my bills. The problem is that due to the budget cuts on education, my class load has been reduced to less than 50% of what it is now. I am a divorced mom of a beautiful little boy with very little child support money and a mortgage to pay. I would love to find work as a high school Spanish teacher but I don't have the necessary credentials (different from college teaching). A full time teaching job would also give me medical insurance, which I need. Anyway, I am thinking that I could offer my services as a tutor for high-school (or other ages as well) students in afluent areas, like Lamorinda, for instance. I thought of posting signs on school boards but I don't really know how to advertise my services in the most efficient and productive manner. I will appreciate any ideas that would help me get the most possible work. Thanks in advance. Worried about money mom


As a teacher in the Lamorinda area, I can tell you that our district office provides parents who ask with a list of tutors that are available. You can list specific subjects, grade levels, etc. It is a tough market to crack as there are many well loved teachers in the area who tutor, but I am not sure about the number of spanish tutors specifically. I would contact the district offices and get your name on their tutor lists for sure. Get one or two clients over there and they will tell others and you can easily make a lot of money! It is so lucrative over there that I have a friend with a teaching credential who has chosen to tutor instead because she makes more money! Good luck fellow teacher
Call the Student & Family Services dept at OUSD, they hire tutors.
I don't have suggestions for tutoring, but I wanted to mention an avenue that you might not have considered. Cal State East Bay has a teaching credential program that allows you to work as a teacher while you complete the coursework for your credential. Most of these placements are in under-served schools under an emergency permit, but they are paid positions. (I don't have info about the competition for these paid spots though.) The program is five quarters long (an academic year with a summer on either side) and coursework is structured around a working adult's schedule.

http://edschool.csueastbay.edu/departments/ted/TED/main-cred.html

Don't know if this might be a workable avenue for you but I thought you might want to know about it. I looked into this program a few years ago (as a language teacher contemplating the grim prospect of lecturer positions), but ended up as a private school administrator, which is an option you might look into as well.
Best of luck! Jennifer


How to start out as a foreign language tutor

Feb 2008

I am wondering how I can start out as a private German language tutor. My native language is German but I don't have an educational background in teaching German. I heard it's well paid and a great part time job. I am a stay at home mom and I am thinking to do this job a few hours a week when my daughter is in school. Is there a book which can teach me how to start the whole thing up ? What is the going rate for a private language teacher and how much should I charge since I will be just starting ? anon


I was a Spanish tutor years ago. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had...the flexibility and working with motivated parents and students was a refreshing change from teaching in the high school setting because it was very low stress, very rewarding and the pay is good for part-time work. I still keep in touch with some students I tutored 6 years ago.

The going rate in 2002 was anywhere from $65-$125/hr. Although I saw a recent post on BPN not too long ago for someone advertising their services for much less than that, but I am not sure of their experience. I was able to find clientelle through the previous school I had taught at and then it branched out via word of mouth. Off hand, I can't think of any schools with a German curriculum, but search the schools and write a letter to the Foreign Language Department head introducing yourself. Also, there are other things you can do with your language skills-interpreting and translating, etc. Good luck! anon


Teacher wants to work as a tutor

March 2007

Hi, I'm a CA credentialed teacher and staying home with my infant daughter for the next 18 months. To supplement our income, I'm considering working as a tutor with a local tutoring business/es. I'm not thinking about doing it on my own given my short time frame and the fact I've just moved to the Bay Area. Does anybody have any contacts in this field that I can talk/write to so that I can explore this possibility further? I'd really appreciate any help you may offer. Ana


As a former private tutor, I found it difficult to find clients. My best source of business was Parents Press where I ran ads. If you have skills and experience with learning disabilities, you can run ads in the local CHADD publication. You can even go to their meetings and carry business cards for when you talk to parents. Of course, you can also look on Craigslist and work for one of the many local tutoring companies. However, my experience has been that they favor college and graduate students. However, if you can tutor very specialized subjects like statistics or AP chemistry, they will make an exception. Former Private Tutor

Considering being a Spanish tutor

Nov 2002

I'm seriously considering quitting my day job, and becoming a spanish tutor, because I need time for my son, but I also need to earn an income. I'm willing to go to the student's house or teach at my own home. I have not done it before, but Spanish is my first language,and if I tauht my son how to speak English while living in Puerto Rico (my homeland), I think I can teach kids how to speak spanish. My problem is that I don't know how much I should charge or if I need specific qualifications to do it. Any suggestions, comments or advices are welcome. Julia


I was a self-employed French tutor in the East Bay for 2 years pretty much full time, and still do a little tutoring on the side. To find out current rates, call other language tutors you see advertising, pretend you are a prospective client and ask them their rates. Also call centers which offer tutoring and inquire. Last time I checked like this the going rate seemed to be $35/hour but it may be more now. If you are getting into the business you may want to charge a bit less.

When this was my full time work I found that I had to devote quite a bit of time and attention to marketing myself through flyers, ads in newspapers, following up on contacts, etc. This in addition to the prep time and driving time for each hour I spent tutoring meant that I was making far less than $35/hour when all was said and done. It is more flexible time-wise, but I found the stress of not knowing what my income would be in any given month to be difficult after a while.

The most reliable customers were school-age children whose parents would deliver them and pay their fee, followed by graduate students preparing for required exams. College students were extremely flaky, and people learning just for fun were lots of fun, but quick to drop their studies if their circumstances changed. I also found certain seasons to be more lucrative. Sept-Nov and late Jan-May were the best months. The holiday season and summer were really low earning months. I supplemented my tutoring with a part time job because otherwise I wouldn't be able to be sure of covering my bills. I also had to pay self-employment taxes and keep track of all my expenses and mileage so I could deduct it.

I found it much easier to base myself in my home and have students come to me whenever possible. This eliminates travel time and having to wait in cafes for students who don't show up. You also get to deduct a percentage of your rent/utilities etc for an office in your home if you tutor at home even part of the time.

One of my ground rules was that if a student needed to miss a session they could if they gave me 24 hours notice. If less or if they stood me up, they had to pay the full amount for the missed session. The most often missed session is the very first one, so I had to inform people of this rule before the first meeting, and get their phone/address/full name over the phone. Believe me, this rule reduces a lot of stress and makes relationships more pleasant!

Making a variety of nice flyers and brochures is a good thing to do to start. Doing this helps you to define yourself and what makes you special, what you have to offer, so that you can talk about it with confidence. The flyers can be posted by you wherever you go.

You don't have to just quit your job and become a tutor, in fact this could be stressful as it takes time to get a group of students going. Rather, begin tutoring and then scale back on work.

Get creative thinking of all the possible people who may be able to use your services and how you can let them know you exist. For example, I did some substitute teaching at the East Bay French American School. Many public schools still have bilingual programs and are always seeking substitutes, and if you are qualified, this is a good way to get experience teaching, and get access to some Spanish language materials as well. (and a good way to get some money when tutoring is not going so well) Another group I tapped into was homeschoolers, whose parents are looking for enrichment activities for their kids. Since you are bilingual, you could also consider tutoring Spanish speaking children who need help with English studies. There is need in afterschool programs at public schools for this kind of thing too.

Basically when you are self-employed you have to decide when you are working and when not because if you don't set those boundaries, someone will inevitably want to be tutored right when you wanted to be at home....and you have to decide what to do....stand firm on your special time!

Tutoring usually happens in after school or evening/weekend times because that is when people are free. This is also something to consider. Also, taking care of a child and tutoring at the same time is tough. I tutored a couple of sessions when my baby was a few months old and this convinced me it wasn't very workable!

Students want and deserve 100% of your competence and attention for that hour. I tried hard to be reliable, punctual, positive minded, etc. It can be energizing but also is stressful because I felt I couldn't have a really down day, I always felt I had to be ''great'', in order to keep business coming.

You don't have any colleagues to talk with about the joys and trials of this business unless you happen to get to know tutors of other languages (anyone in Spanish is basically your competition!)It can get lonely. All the people you get to know are all your employers/clients! At one time I did try to develop friendships (platonic) with a couple of my tutees. Although it seemed to be a mutual desire, it never really worked out. It is a teacher/student or professional/client relationship, and moving it to friendship turf opens all kind of difficult boundary issues, which compromise all the good work you have done with them as a professional.

I hope this helps you in your discerning.

I found the Women's Initiative for Self Employment (WISE) to be a great program to help me consider all aspects of running my own business. They go into a business plan and all that, which may be more than you really need for a tutoring business, but the initial class really helped me think it all over. In fact, I eventually decided to move into employment by an employer and I have to say, that works well for me. However, I really learned a lot from my self-employment times and am glad I did it. Hope this helps you and good luck! I hope that you will get to spend more time with your son!

A colleague in the trade!


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this page was last updated: Nov 20, 2008


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