Life, especially after the pandemic, has become digital. Whether it’s “the” life partner or new clothes, we look for options online. And now, schooling has also shifted to the digital medium.
Estimates project that there’ll be more than 57 million online learners by 2027. This figure is excellent news for virtual tutors or professionals wishing to explore a career shift into teaching. While tutors may have once been limited to working with local students, they can now branch out, gaining access to a broader pool of potential clients. The administrative support doesn’t hurt, either. In fact, a wealth of tutoring platforms now take the work out of matching students with mentors and handling payment.
So here’s everything you need to know about how to become an online tutor and the skills you’ll need to succeed.
What are the base requirements to be an online tutor?
Technically, no mandatory requirements exist for becoming an online tutor, but qualifications determine where you can work and how much you can charge.
For example, a high school student who’s a math prodigy could tutor others online but wouldn’t be able to work on platforms that require a general education development (GED) test. Other agencies might even ask for a college degree.
In the absence of consistent requirements across the industry, determining qualifications are those that allow tutors to perform their work well. For example, an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor is a more attractive candidate if they hold a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. A college-level chemistry tutor should minimally hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject, have taught it before, or have worked as a chemist.
Whether or not you work on a platform, students want to study with qualified tutors, so your credentials and experience speak volumes.
Essential skills for online tutors
Online tutoring combines the challenges of in-person learning with those of technology, and virtual tutors must have the skill set to match. Here are some must-have abilities:
- Patience: Online tutors need patience for two reasons. First, since tutors often help struggling students (both online and offline) who may not grasp concepts quickly, they must be calm. They should be able to approach a problem from several angles before a student catches on. Secondly, online tutoring is subject to technical glitches, less-than-ideal audio, and home distractions (on both ends of the call). Online tutors must keep students engaged, even amid background noise or a spotty connection.
- Active listening: Before reacting to a situation, such as a student failing an exam or getting antsy sitting in a virtual classroom, tutors must understand the pupil’s side of the story. And understanding implies active listening and empathetic communication. Tutors should maintain strong eye contact and repeat students' words to ensure the message is clear.
- Problem-solving: Unlike teachers who write group lesson plans, tutors tailor content to individuals. As such, tutors must determine why a student grapples with a particular subject matter and create a solutions-oriented approach to help. For example, a tutor may discover that a pupil isn’t a verbal learner and can use audio-visual teaching materials instead.
- Basic tech skills: Online tutors must be tech-savvy enough to schedule sessions, use video conferencing apps to project lessons, converse with students, and navigate virtual payments. And while not exactly a skill, tutors must also have the right equipment: a headset, a reliable computer, and a stable internet connection.
5 steps to becoming an online tutor
You’re an exceptional listener, a subject-matter expert, and eager to start earning by helping others. You’re ready to become an online tutor. The following steps will help you to establish a tutoring presence and find your first students:
- Determine your audience: Decide which subject matter or standardized test you want to emphasize. Doing so will help you figure out your audience’s critical aspects, such as the target age range for your services. For example, if you want to give SAT classes, you’ll be working with high schoolers, but if your passion is helping struggling early learners, you’ll teach basic math or language skills to younger students.
- Choose your methodology: Determine how you’ll work with students. Some tutors may walk students through worksheets over a Zoom call, while others use interactive platforms. Tutors working with younger students could even choose to gamify online lessons. Your methodology can shift based on the pupil, but before offering your services, ensure you have the tools to execute your work and a strong idea of your preferred methodologies to explain them to new students.
- Polish your tutor profile: Create a resume that lists relevant experience in your subject matter or teaching and write a cover letter to match. You can pull from these documents when creating professional profiles for tutoring platforms or social media bios, like your LinkedIn description.
- Get teaching or video calling software: Many tutors use tools like Google Classroom to host classes, score assignments, and track progress. They also leverage software, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, to video call, screen share, and chat with students.
- Market yourself: Tutors can seek clients or collaborate with a tutoring platform that matches mentors and students. Whichever path you choose, establish a professional website that hosts your resume, explains your offering, and includes statistics on how you’ve helped students before (e.g., add your average boost in test scores). Create professional social media profiles for your tutoring business, and link to your site or platforms where students can find you in your bios.
Online platforms for remote teaching jobs
Tutoring platforms take some of the stress out of finding students and managing payment, and using them is an excellent tip for tutors struggling to bring in pupils. But platforms aren’t perfect, either, as they may set lower hourly rates than an independent tutor would. Try a hybrid approach to your career for the best of both worlds –– register with one of the best tutoring platforms and continue to market yourself:
- TakeLessons: This site offers private lessons in everything from ukulele to French to chemistry. There’s a class for every student and a need for all types of tutors. The app also allows busy professionals to prerecord class content.
- Preply: Preply boasts that it gathers the world’s best language tutors, making the platform an excellent choice if Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic is your area of expertise.
- Cambly: Calling all ESL pros looking for online tutoring jobs. This platform specializes in online English classes, has no geographic restrictions, and pays weekly.
- TutorMe: This one-on-one tutoring platform markets to students in any stage of their education, from kindergarten to college. Tutors set their schedules and gain access to the platform’s tech tools, like streaming video and virtual whiteboards.
Keep students’ data safe with Practice
In addition to a strong internet connection and virtual lesson plans, tutors need a space to securely store student information, set up tutoring sessions, and receive payment. And that's where a customer relationship management (CRM) tool comes in.
Practice’s Client Management Software, made with small business owners and coaches in mind, is the perfect fit. With this, you can safely save contact information, send messages and documents like your tutoring contract, and receive payment –– all in one place. Plus, the platform’s scheduler makes coordinating your next class easy. Try it today.