How to Become a Tutor
The Perfect Stay-at-Home Career

by Daa (pronounced day) Mahowald

Are you looking for a career that allows you to work out of your home and set your own hours? One that will cost you almost nothing to start? Tutoring may be that career for you.

When I became pregnant almost six years ago, my spouse and I decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom. However, we also realized that I would still have to make an economic contribution to our family. My solution: I run a successful tutoring business from my home, earning between ten and fifteen thousand dollars a year.


Becoming a tutor is as simple as saying: I'm a tutor. There are no state or licensing requirements. Of course, parents usually won't pay much for a tutor who has less than a four-year degree. And the more qualified you are to teach your target group, the more successful you will be.

Consequently, if you are interested in making tutoring your at-home occupation, begin by creating a list of your one-on-one, small group, or other teaching experience. You should include any: volunteer teaching you did at your child's school or in a local GED or ESL program; extra income you picked up in college by tutoring; peer-tutor or peer-helper programs you participated in during high school; on-the-job training seminars you presented; etc.

If you've spent years at the kitchen table helping your kids or the neighbors' kids with their homework, you've already begun to establish yourself as a tutor. I grew up helping my siblings do their homework. When I was in high school, my friends would schedule their study periods to match mine so that I could help them.

In addition, before I became pregnant I was a classroom teacher. Because I'm certified (through the State of Nebraska) as a Grades 7 - 12 Math Teacher, many of my tutees come to me for math help. However, you do NOT need to have a bachelor's degree in education to become a tutor. Any BA or BS will do, as long as you also have a knack for presenting material in ways that your target students can understand.


After developing a list of teaching experiences, you will use it to decide what age group you want to teach as well as what subjects you can teach. I tutor Kindergarten through Junior College, all subjects, but this is not the norm. Most tutors niche themselves: one of my friends does strictly Elementary School reading/writing while another colleague only does High School science.

A common error for many beginning tutors is assuming that they must be versatile. If you know you can't teach math higher than PreAlgebra, define your tutor offerings in terms of arithmetic assistance. If you simply don't have the patience for the pace of elementary students, define yourself as a Junior High/Middle School or High School tutor.

After you have established yourself, you can expand your repertoire. When I began tutoring, I targeted: high school math students who needed homework-assistance. Within a few months, some of these kids' parents asked me if I could help them prepare for the math portion of college entrance exams. This in turn led to my helping them with the verbal portions of the exam.

Eventually, my math students began asking for help on their English homework. As the students continued to do well in their schools, their parents began asking me to help their younger siblings. It was because of my success with each topic and type of student that I was asked to take on a greater variety of subjects and kids.


Success for a tutor is usually defined by the increase in their tutees' school grades. One of my first students was getting a D in Eighth Grade Algebra. I worked with her twice a week for three weeks. Then, she brought home an A on a test. Her parents were pleased and I've been working with the family ever since. She's in college now but I tutor both of her younger sisters.

It only takes one satisfied parent to begin building your tutoring business. When parents are pleased with their child's progress, they are eager to pass along the name of their tutor. Thus, success is also measured in the number of queries a tutor gets from potential clients.

Promoting Your Business

Word-of-mouth is the biggest marketing tool a tutor has. Most of your clients will come to you because somebody who has already hired you to tutor their child recommends you. But getting those first few clients is almost as easy even if you haven't got any friends or neighbors who've alread

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