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How much to charge for tutoring: Experts share how to set and increase your rate

Learn how to set a fair tutoring rate when you’re first starting out and how to increase your rate as you gain more experience.

How much to charge for tutoring: Experts share how to set and increase your rate

Figuring out how much to charge for tutoring takes some research, but if you’re new at the game, your best bet is to go low. “When first starting out, I would recommend charging the bare minimum, maybe $20 or $30 per hour,” says Greg Freebury, owner of Think and Evolve Tutoring in Los Angeles. “If you have an advanced degree in a technical field or special education, or you have many years of experience teaching kids successfully, then you might be able to charge a little more.”

From factors that can impact your rate to averages that will help you set a benchmark, here’s what to keep in mind when determining how much to charge for tutoring.

How much should I charge for tutoring?

According to recent Care.com data, the average rate for tutoring is $19 per hour. That said, there are also a number of factors that can justify setting a higher rate to start.

When setting your tutoring prices, keep the following in mind:

  • Your experience.
  • Location.
  • Subject. 
  • Grade level.
  • Online vs. in-person.

Experience

In the early stages of tutoring, set your rate around $20-$30 an hour, recommends Freebury. The reason, he explains, is that “you have no reputation, no ratings and no recommendations …   

Because you lack this kind of social proof, you will need to compete based on price.”. 

“In the very beginning, you will focus on building your brand. If you have a great lesson with a student, ask the family for a testimonial. You can even offer free lessons to families if they will leave you a good review. At first, just focus on doing excellent work and building great relationships with your students and their families, and soon word will start to spread about your abilities and skills as a tutor.”

Of course, if you have an advanced degree in a technical or more specialized field, it’s possible you can start out at a higher rate. 

Location

Like practically everything else, tutoring usually costs more in bigger cities with a higher cost of living. For reference, here are the average tutoring rates per hour in several U.S. cities. Notice that the hourly average in Des Moines is $16 an hour while Freebury recommended charging $20-30 an hour for new tutors. The reason? Freebury is located in Los Angeles, where the hourly tutoring average is $20.25 per hour. 

Average tutoring rates in U.S. cities*

CITY, STATEHOURLY TUTORING RATE
Brooklyn, New York$24.00/hr
Seattle, Washington$23.00/hr
Portland, Oregon$21.00/hr
Denver, Colorado$21.00/hr
Chicago, Illinois$20.00/hr
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$20.00/hr
Atlanta, Georgia$20.00/hr
Minneapolis, Minnesota$19.00/hr
Charlotte, North Carolina$19.00/hr
Richmond, Virginia$18.00/hr
Orlando, Florida$18.00/hr
Salt Lake City, Utah$18.00/hr
Kansas City, Missouri$18.00/hr
San Antonio, Texas$17.00/hr
Des Moines, Iowa$17.00/hr
* Rate information, based on Care data, as of July 2023.

Subject

According to Freebury, math and science tutors are generally the most expensive since they’re so technical and objective. For reference, math tutors in Los Angeles have an average hourly rate of $26 an hour, compared to the general $20.25 hourly rate.

Knowing the general baseline in your area is important, but so is knowing the baseline for the subject you’re tutoring, according to Lindsey Wander, founder and CEO at WorldWise Tutoring. “Search the average rate for a tutor in your region and your area of expertise,” Wander says, as certain subjects can call for a higher rate than others. 

Grade level

Depending on the grade level you’re tutoring, your rate can also be affected. Using Los Angeles as an example again, Care data shows that, on average, elementary school tutors charge $27 an hour, while high school tutors charge $28 an hour.

According to Freebury, there typically isn’t a huge difference in the hourly tutoring rate for elementary school to high school in his market; but there’s a big jump to college and test prep tutors, which Freebury notes is the “most expensive” type of tutoring. In the Los Angeles area, college tutors, Freebury notes, can start off charging between $60-70 an hour while tutors who specialize in test prep tend to charge “at least $100 an hour,” he says.

For broader reference, here are some examples of average rate for tutoring, based on grade level, according to recent Care.com data.

Average tutoring rates by grade level

GRADE LEVEL/TYPERATES FROM*
Elementary school tutors$22/hr
Middle school tutors$22/hr
High school tutors$22/hr
College tutors$21/hr
* Rate information, based on Care data, as of July 2023.

Online or in-person

Considering expanding your reach by doing some virtual tutoring? This can also affect the price you charge. For instance, Amy Stringer, a test prep tutor in Brooklyn, charges $100 an hour for her in-person services while Karl of Brilliant Brains Tutoring charges $70 an hour for virtual SAT tutoring.

Wander notes that, on average, virtual tutors charge about “$10 less” per hour than those tutoring in-person. However, when you’re a private tutor, you can decide if that’s something you want to do.

“Personally, I charge the same for online and in-person tutoring, but it is not uncommon for in-person tutoring to be more expensive given the additional drive time required for in-person lessons,” Freebury says. “If a student lives particularly far away, more than a 30-minute drive, then I will ask them to pay for my drivetime, as well as my tutoring rate.”

How can I increase my tutoring rates over time?

Once you build experience (and the results and recommendations to prove it), it may be time to raise your rate as a tutor, which, according to Freebury, can be done in the following ways: 

  • New clients. “If your schedule fills up in the middle of the school year, and you do not have much availability, then that is a good time to raise your rates for all new clients,” says Freebury. “It is also a good way to test to see if you can find clients that will pay your higher rate.”
  • New school year. “If you have established clients that return to you year after year, you can simply tell them at the beginning of the school year what your new rate is, and they will likely pay it.”

“It’s scary to raise your rates as a tutor,” Freebury says. “Every time I raised my rates, I thought I would lose all of my clients and everyone would quit on me, but fortunately this never happened. If you have a great relationship with your student, then families will stick with you even through a cost increase because it is often difficult for families to find tutors that have good relationships with their kids.”