How Much To Charge For Tutoring

How Much To Charge For Tutoring

How Much To Charge For Tutoring

Factors that affect how much a tutor charges include location, education, and experience. A typical tutor will charge between $17 and $45 per hour, according to our tutor pricing calculator. An experienced, certified teacher might charge up to $76 per hour.

The three most important factors in determining how much to charge for tutoring are:

  1. Location
  2. Subjects offered
  3. Qualifications

To fairly compensate yourself, you also need to account for the following costs:

  1. Travel time and expenses
  2. Preparation time
  3. Materials
  4. Variable scheduling
  5. Marketing

Such a thing as “too low?”

Yes! Parents are not necessarily more likely to hire you at a lower rate. Here are two stories that explain why.

A teacher once told me about a student who came asking for help finding a tutor. The teacher referred the student to two tutors, one who was a professional educator with a rate of $30/hr and one who was not with a rate of $50/hr. You’d think the choice was obvious. But the parent chose the more expensive tutor! The teacher hypothesized that the parent didn’t trust a professional educator who wasn’t confident enough in her abilities to charge more than $30/hr.

I was told another story that’s relevant here, about baby aspirin. A low-price baby aspirin producer was a market leader for years until competitors began selling the same formula at a higher price. Parents flocked to the higher-priced product. Why? When parents shop for their kids, they are in protector mode; they want the best quality and don’t care what they have to do to get it. And price signals quality. How did that baby aspirin producer recover? They tripled their price and watched sales skyrocket.

So think twice before you undercut the competition on price. Better to match the going rate and focus on communicating how you deliver superior quality.

Determine the going rate

Use our Tutor Pricing Calculator above, or check out the competition using our tutor search tool to compare the rates of tutors in your area who offer the same subjects.

Our calculator is a predictive model for tutor pricing. We employed machine learning techniques to build the model, using pricing data from over 1000 tutors. We are excited to offer the model free to the public as a web app that will help you pick a fair market price for your tutoring. The web app even allows you to add the tutor pricing calculator to your own website, either through a WordPress plugin or an HTML code snippet.

To help determine the going tutoring rate, you might also consider doing a 10-minute pricing audit, following the instructions of our partner Coach. But our tutor pricing calculator will give you a similar result without having to collect your own data.

Effects of location on tutoring rates

The tutoring rates offered by private tutors can vary widely from one region or town to another. Much of this can be attributed to fluctuations in the cost of living (if you’re interested in comparing the cost of living in your city to that of other cities, use this cost of living calculator).

There are also supply and demand factors to consider. For example, the town of Exeter, NH, in which The Knowledge Roundtable was founded, happens to have an unusually high ratio of high school students to total population. There is a private boarding school in town (Philips Exeter Academy) and the local public high school is attended by students from 5 surrounding towns. The result is roughly 2700 high school students in a town of only 14,000 residents. Needless to say, tutors near Exeter often charge more than those elsewhere in the state.

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Effects of subjects offered on tutoring rates

In most locations, demand is consistently high in the following subjects:

  • SAT prep
  • Math (grades 7-12)
  • English
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Notice that these are subjects that nearly everyone studies at some point. This is why demand is high. But this also means that supply is high — nearly every tutor studied these subjects when they were students. However, the American cultural aversion to science, math, and standardized testing leaves a relative scarcity of tutors confident in those subjects.

If you are proficient in any of the above subjects, with the exception of English, you should consider setting your tutoring rate above the average for other tutors in your area with similar experience.

On a final note about subjects, you should keep in mind that it is exceedingly rare for a tutor to be proficient in both math and verbal (or technical and creative). If your subject expertise is diverse you should consider charging a bit more than average.

Effects of qualifications on tutoring rates

The highest paid tutors are seasoned, often charismatic individuals with prestigious degrees (as is the case for many professions). Certified teachers are a close second.

On the low end of the pay scale are college students, individuals with minimal teaching/tutoring experience, and individuals whose careers do not keep them fresh in academic subjects.

Important costs to consider

Let me preface this section by stating that new tutors are far more likely to undervalue themselves than to overvalue. I believe the reason is the underestimation of the true costs of tutoring. There are good reasons why a person earning $20/hr at their full time job will charge $50/hr for tutoring. Here are those reasons.

Travel time and expenses

Depending on your location, you should expect to drive on average anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour, round trip, for each 1-hour tutoring session. Personally, my average is about 30 minutes round trip. This means a 1-hour session actually requires 1.5 hours of your time. So if you want to make $20/hr of your actual time spent, you better charge $30 for that 1-hour session.

You also need to account for fuel and mileage costs. Depending on your car, you might average 1 gallon per round trip. Let’s keep building from our example above and add another $4 to that $30. It’s interesting to note that mileage is tax-deductible at about 55 cents per mile, a number which is meant to be an estimate of the true cost per mile. If you drive a newer car you should seriously consider the depreciating effect of the miles you log.

Let’s be conservative and say $35/hr will cover your travel expenses and yield $20 per actual hour spent.

Preparation time

When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that you’ll need to do some prep work before certain sessions. You might find yourself a bit rusty in some subjects. You also might find that test formats have changed or that teaching methods are different.

It’s also very important with your first few students that you make a good impression. You may decide to go the extra mile.

If you expect to need 10 or 15 minutes of preparation time for each session, be sure to factor this extra time into your hourly rate.

Materials

Most tutoring sessions require no more than the student’s school textbook and/or homework worksheets. But there are occasions, in particular when working with test prep students, in which additional materials will be required. It is perfectly acceptable to ask the parent to purchase these materials on their own.

However, it may be necessary for you to have your own copy of whatever material is purchased. Since you may end up reusing this material with future students, it may not always be appropriate to ask the parent to pay for your copy. I have personally accumulated a diverse stockpile of SAT books and other texts that I use over and over. I have defrayed the cost of these materials to students over time by maintaining a slightly higher rate.

Variable scheduling

Having an unpredictable schedule is not a direct cost, but it does take its toll. Some families insist on arranging sessions on an as-needed basis. Other families struggle to keep their appointments. This kind of volatility requires additional compensation. Volatility is a real component in the valuation of all financial assets, and your tutoring services are no exception.

It’s also prudent to establish a cancellation policy. You don’t have to enforce it for every infraction, but you’ll be glad you have it when you come across a habitual offender. A good policy is charging the equivalent of 30 minutes for a no-show and the equivalent of 15 minutes for less than 24 hours notice. I personally let the 24 hour ones go but let my discontent be known for no-shows.

Marketing

Marketing is probably the largest added cost. Marketing costs as a tutor come in two forms.

Direct marketing
If you actively advertise your tutoring services on your own, it takes time, energy, and possibly money. There are free options like Craigslist and calling to put your name on the local school’s tutoring list. There are other options that may cost a small amount such as posting flyers (printing costs). But no matter how you slice it, advertising is still time consuming.

Agency fees
By working with an agency, you’re letting them take care of marketing. In some sense you are still paying for that marketing through the commissions taken by the agency. But remember, they (indeed, we) are professionals, so the marketing we do is in general much more cost effective than any marketing you would do. My advice is to do your own advertising to the extent you are comfortable with, then leave it to one or more agencies to provide the remainder of your tutoring leads.

Whether you work with an agency or not, you must account for marketing costs in your hourly rate. You should expect at least 25% of your gross earnings to cover marketing costs/time or agency commissions.

Set your tutoring rate

Now it’s time to decide how much to charge for tutoring. If you haven’t done so yet, use our tutor search tool to scope out the competition. Then decide how much you want to earn per actual hour of effort. Multiply by a factor of about 2.5 in order to account for travel time, marketing fees, and all other anticipated costs. Make sure the number you arrive at is comparable to what other tutors with similar credentials charge in your area.

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About Jared R

Jared, founder of The Knowledge Roundtable, is passionate about the advancement of knowledge. He has a B.S. in astronomy and physics from UMass and an MBA in Advanced Financial Analytics, also from UMass. He has a day job as a Big Data Analyst in Boston. He has over 500 hours of tutoring experience in everything from algebra to writing. He taught our SAT prep group courses for two years in NH, and before that developed educational content for math, stats, and finance textbooks for two years. His teaching style is hands-on with a focus on problem-solving and critical thinking.

 
 
  1. Annie 02/24/2015, 10:52 am Reply

    Thank you for the great article, Jared! I know you wrote that tutors should factor in the cost of preparation, but should a tutor charge a student for doing preparation work that is specific to a particular assignment?

    I have a student with whom I meet on a fairly regular basis. Recently, she asked me to read some scholarly articles her instructors have assigned for her classes so that I could be better prepared for our upcoming tutoring sessions. English is not her first language, and so I often explain terminology that she does not understand. I told her that I was willing to do this, but that I would need to charge her $15 per hour, which is what I normally charge for doing work (such as proofreading) from home. She thinks that I should charge her less since I will not be doing any proofreading, which she believes is more work than reading. However, she does not realize that reading scholarly articles closely enough that I can explain them to her is time consuming. This is something that I know since I have done it for another ESL student.

    Am I being fair by charging her my base rate for what I consider to be extra, albeit it possibly necessary, work? Or is this kind of preparation just part of the job and something for which I should not demand compensation?

    I’m not sure whether this matters, but I am a junior tutor who is still getting used to the job. Although I have good reviews, I currently charge a very low rate compared to other tutors, including those who also specialize in English or writing. So whenever a student asks me to reduce my rate even further, I get a little frustrated.

    Thank you!

    • Jared R 02/24/2015, 11:55 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment and question, Annie. In my opinion, charging for substantial amounts of time spent outside of your normal sessions is perfectly reasonable. And anyone complaining about $15/hr is, in my opinion, being quite unreasonable. Besides, reading for comprehension can require far more effort per hour than proofreading for grammatical errors, so the student’s argument does not seem well founded.

      I should add that having a very low rate (like $15/hr) can have unexpected side effects. Yes, you may attract more students, but the types of students you attract are far more likely to be overly price sensitive, inclined to bargain, and may perceive you to be a low quality tutor. Personally, I feel that a price floor for any tutor, regardless of experience level, should be $30/hr. The costs of travel, preparation, scheduling variability, and marketing are just too high to charge anything less!

  2. Anna 07/30/2016, 1:11 pm Reply

    I am now wondering whether to start charging $30 instead of $25, but I find I can gain so many more clients when I go lower. it pays the bills, sometimes, to go a little bit lower. Also, I’ve had people order 2 – 3 hours at a time because the price was lower, so I’d effectively make $50 – 60 in a few hours.

    • Anna 07/30/2016, 1:13 pm Reply

      Just to add,

      It highly depends on the area you’re working with. As a private tutor with no school board experience, I feel uncomfortable charging $50 an hour.
      Also, I find people in the wealthy demographic tend to look for tutoring companies, because these companies hire ‘legitimate’ screened out people. It’s not necessarily true that these companies screen out the best candidates. I was part of such a company once, and then I went private. I’d say I am a lot more ‘legitimate’ now with more experience.

      • Jared R 07/30/2016, 3:08 pm Reply

        These are great thoughts. I’m of the belief that the price a tutor advertises signals the level of quality they expect to deliver. Of course, their credentials have to be consistent with that signal or it won’t be believable (like your example of $50 per hour without teaching experience). In my experience, pricing too far below what similar tutors charge near you may backfire because it can be interpreted as a signal of low quality.

        Plus, once the first student pays say $30 per hour instead of $25, others will accept that that’s your going rate. After several more students pay at that higher rate, going to $35 might be acceptable. For me personally, my rate spiraled upward from $20 per hour for my first gig to $60 per hour within a year and a half. The market healthily supported my incremental increases up to $50 per hour (I kept going up to $60 because I wanted to decrease my volume and spend more time on other things). By the end of that year and a half, I was legitimately delivering as much value in an hour as I was in 2 or more hours at the beginning. And charging more pressured me to up my game so I could continue to deliver the same value per dollar spent.

        I like your thoughts about tutoring companies and their screening processes, too. I believe parents should be prepared to do their own vetting of tutors. A simple phone screen goes a long way in verifying credentials and assessing goodness of fit with the student. Plus, that way parents can avoid paying a middleman.

        • Anna 10/08/2016, 2:15 pm Reply

          That’s a great thought.
          Well, right now I started my own tutoring agency, with very little commission taken from the tutor. I am trying to work on a better model than most traditional companies, which take a lot. I understand tutoring is ‘special’ but at the same time to me it feels like education is an essential service. I am looking to mainly cater to low – middle class families who just need a little extra help for their kids. I expect to have regular meetings with the tutors and provide them with resources (not physical, but online, as that too would cost too much for the commission I plan to make).

          I like your observations about quality… I should charge a bit more but I have noticed people really appreciate the affordable rate and what I do for them. As I charge $25 / hr, I plan to contract out tutors (who I already have on board) and pay them between $22 – $23 an hour (teachers make $23) while charging the client a mere $7 more. The way I’ve structured it means I make $7 no matter how many hours the client does, and the client can have 1.5 – 2 hrs for a very affordable rate.

          I am still ironing out the details and have yet to hire out my first tutor. Thanks for all of your advice!

  3. Stephen T 09/25/2016, 8:49 pm Reply

    Jared R, this was an insightful article and very clearly written, leaving me with few questions.
    But I find myself in an odd position personally. I work at a Tutoring center in a fairly affluent area, but I have never been an official private tutor, who is paid for their services before.
    I have routinely taught and aided fellow students in Math, English, Science and foreign languages however for the past 7 years since High School and throughout my College career thus far.
    I was told many times by those I helped over the years to become a tutor and finally did early this year. Now, I have an Associate’s degree in Mathematics and Science and am heading to University soon. So I know I could charge somewhat more than a tutor with no degree at all. I also deliver very high quality teaching if the feedback of students I have taught are any barometer. I believe you should always give your best to another in need.
    A student at my center has spoken highly of me to his father, enough that he has approached me to act as his son’s private tutor for all subjects in high school and SAT prep.
    I feel myself well able to handle this request but I was unsure of how much I could reasonably charge per hour. I chose 25/hr because I lack professional experience in private tutoring and this would be my first student as a private business. Having read your article fully, I wonder now if perhaps I should have asked for more given that when I tutor someone I put my all into it and endeavor to provide the highest quality service I am capable of regardless of payment and this will be a good deal effort on my part.
    I would greatly appreciate your input with the given facts.
    Thank you very much for your time.

    • Jared R 09/25/2016, 9:30 pm Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the article. Given your background, I think $25/hr is fair. I suspect you could go as high as $30 or maybe $35 without much problem, but I don’t recommend changing your rate for existing clients. I’ve only ever changed my rate with an existing client once, and that was after 1 full year with them (as a sort of raise). Best of luck to you.

      • Stephen T 09/27/2016, 4:47 pm Reply

        Thank you very much for the input, Jared. I’m glad I made a decent choice to start.
        It puts my mind at ease.

      • Anna 10/08/2016, 2:17 pm Reply

        Good point — I will probably increase to $30 for my future students!

        – Anna

  4. Joanna Palle 10/08/2016, 1:01 pm Reply

    Hi
    I’m Joanna From India, Having 13 years professional experience in teaching Math, Physics and Chemistry.
    I’m interested in tutoring for upper primary and above.
    Can you guide please.

  5. William B 12/26/2016, 1:12 pm Reply

    Thank you for your comments on pricing and for your blog in general.

    I am a recently retired academic who taught astronomy, physics, and EE courses. I have good credentials with degrees in Astronomy (PhD, Caltech), Electrical Engineering (MS, Illinois), and Physics (AB, UChicago). I taught a variety of courses for 15 years, and was better with individual instruction than big lectures. (My office door was open to students.)

    I’m wondering how to break into this field.
    1) I’ve got to confront the age issue: The standard tutor companies want young people. I have studied the recent SATs because of my daughter, and have a knack for this type of test, but will I get clients?
    2) How to advertise. Should I directly contact the heads of schools and ask to post an ad?
    3) Should I have an introductoru rste?

    Any help would be appreciated!

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