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:
- Subjects offered
To fairly compensate yourself, you also need to account for the following costs:
- Travel time and expenses
- Preparation time
- Variable scheduling
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)
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.
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.
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.
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 is probably the largest added cost. Marketing costs as a tutor come in two forms.
If you actively advertise your tutoring services on your own, it takes time, energy, and possibly money. There are free options like Craigslist, calling to put your name on the local school’s tutoring list, and creating a free tutoring ad on websites like ours. 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.
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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