How much should I charge for tutoring?

Aug. 20, 2020

Recent shifts in education, such as distance and hybrid learning, has given way to a tutoring boom. And as demand for private instruction skyrockets, prospective and established tutors are considering what to charge for their services. 

“There aren't any institutions that regulate these private jobs, so rates can vary depending on so many factors,” notes Megan Casilla-Mwaura of AllDigitalSchool.com and a private tutor based in New Jersey. 

That said, the average tutoring rate in the U.S. is $17.62 per hour, according to PayScale.com, and the average tutoring rate on Care.com is $16.75. But according to Casilla-Mwaura and other experts we talked to, rates can range from $15 to $70 per hour, and up to $100 (or more!) per hour, depending on certain qualifications and experience. Here, the specific factors that can help you land on a price that is fair for you and your tutoring clients.

What to consider when determining your rate

1. Average tutoring rates for your area — or if you’re online

Knowing your market is essential when determining your rates, says Caitlin Meister, founder of the Greer Meister Group, a practice of private educators who tutor kids throughout the New York City area. For instance, in terms of in-person tutoring, a market like New York City or Los Angeles, where the cost of living is higher, will support higher rates than a smaller market, she notes.

For instance, according to current Care.com data, if you’re a Los Angeles tutor, rates start off at about $20 per hour, while tutors in Peoria, Illinois make about $15 per hour on average. It could be beneficial to look into what tutors in your area are charging. 

Casilla-Mwaura has found that working in New York City could mean earning $10-$20 over her typical $30 rate. “My friend who also works as a tutor passed two students to me, so I was working at her tutoring rate of $40-$50,” she explains. “Meanwhile, my cousin who works as a part-time tutor in Mississippi has a $20 rate.” 

That said, the increased popularity and necessity of online tutoring has leveled the playing field. Arash Fayz, co-founder and executive director of LA Tutors 123, a private tutoring company based in Los Angeles, explains, “If you're an independent tutor working solely online, your location shouldn't necessarily factor into your rate.” On the other hand, your student’s location is something to consider, as you could set a rate competitive with their area, especially if you’ll be moving to in-person tutoring at some point, notes Fayz. 

Average cost comparison for tutors by city/state

CITY/STATE 

HOURLY RATE

Seattle, Washington

$20.00/hr

Hartford, Connecticut

$18.75/hr

Dallas, Texas

$17.25/hr

Sacramento, California 

$16.25/hr

Colorado Springs, Colorado

$15.00/hr

Akron, Ohio

$14.75/hr

Kansas City, Kansas

$13.50/hr

Source: Care.com (August 2020)

2. Your level of education 

In general, the more education you have, the higher you can set your hourly rate. “If you have a bachelor's degree, you're usually up to $20, and higher degrees can really hike your rate for up to $50 to $70,” explains Casilla-Mwaura.

However, the school you went to or are currently attending is a factor too, notes Casilla-Mwaura. “The New Jersey-based undergrad who studies at a lesser known community college gets $5 an hour, but one who is the same age but attends school at NYU has a rate of $15 per hour,” she notes. And if you have completed your education at a preferred school, your rate can reach up to $100 an hour, particularly when location — specifically working in affluent suburbs — factors in, as well, she notes.

That said, the area of study you focused on matters, too. “A tutor with a Masters in creative writing could warrant a higher writing hourly rate but not necessarily a higher math rate,” notes Fayz. More on that later. 

3. Your experience 

Just as in most industries, the more experience you have under your belt, the higher a rate you should be able to command. Casilla-Mwaura says she started with an hourly rate of $10, and as the years went by, she raised it gradually to $35, which she felt empowered to do as a result of her experience.

A couple points to consider, according to Fayz: 

  • Evaluate if you have personal experience (tutoring friends and family) or professional experience (teaching in a school, private clients, tutoring center, etc.). 

  • Take note of your experience with the subjects you offer. “For example, someone with an advanced degree in mathematics, a math teaching credential and test prep math training should charge more hourly than someone who's perhaps passionate/talented in math but lacks this experience,” says Fayz.

4. The subjects you tutor

The fact is that certain subjects — like SAT prep, math, English, chemistry, biology and physics — are in higher demand, which means you could garner a higher rate for tutoring them. You might also garner more for teaching a foreign language. “I ended up making $60 an hour for being a multilingual tutor and tutoring Korean and Japanese,” says Casilla-Mwaura. 

And the subjects that students are most looking for support with could shift with the season, as well, which is a case for bumping your rate. “For example, you may increase your AP tutoring rates in March/April, considering that is when students begin cramming for their test in May,” says Fayz.

5. The time slot your client books

Certain times of the day are especially popular (think right after school gets out) and could be priced at a premium. 

For Casilla-Mwaura, the most in-demand times for learning during the pandemic are 10 a.m. and 2-5 p.m. “These are probably the peak hours where many working parents are busy and need to have their kids, who have shifted to online learning, do their own thing while they work,” she notes. Before the pandemic, she explains, weekends were popular. “But now that kids are stuck at home, most students and parents want weekdays,” she says.

6. The number and regularity of sessions you’re offering

A consistent client is certainly an asset, as you’ll be able to rely on that income regularly. In order to make an ongoing arrangement more financially appealing to your client, you might offer a lower rate. “If a student has expressed interest in continuing with you for a set period of time — for example, weekly for the entire semester — you can consider lowering your rate to lock in that schedule,” says Fayz.  

One way to do this is by selling packages. “For instance, a client might pay for 10 classes now, and I'll give them one class free or a discount up to 10%,” says Casilla-Mwaura.

7. The number of students you’re tutoring at once and their ages

Taking on more than one student at a time for a group session should affect your hourly rate, says Casilla-Mwaura. “For group students of five, I would charge for $20 per student, and $15 per student for a group of 10,” she explains. “I save more time and earn more money this way than teaching one student at a time.” 

Plus, by offering a competitive rate that’s about a third less than she charges for individual sessions, she has gained more students, Casilla-Mwaura explains.

You might also adjust your rate — not to mention the number of students you’re willing to tutor at once — based on their ages, given their educational and behavioral needs. “If I have kids under 5, I limit it to five students at a time,” says Casilla-Mwuara. “For older kids, I handle a maximum of 10 kids per session.” 

8. Results you’ve brought in

“Take a look at past students' progress overall,” advises Fayz. “If your students tend to achieve their tutoring goals and beyond, a higher hourly rate is warranted.” 

Bear in mind that the number of clients you’ve been working with will come into play here, as well, given that if you don't have enough students to calculate an average score growth or improvement, your hourly rates will likely be less than someone who has a larger sample size, says Fayz.

9. Expenses you incur

 Whether you’re starting a tutoring business or tutoring as a side hustle, being an entrepreneur requires that you spend in order to earn. But you can also take your expenses into consideration when setting your rate. 

“You should always factor in drive time and mileage when commuting to an in-person session,” advises Fayz. “If you're needing to frequently print out material or require specific equipment for tutoring, like high-speed internet, microphone setup, software or a writing tablet for online sessions, you should increase your hourly rate accordingly.”

Casilla-Mwaura says the cost of equipment required to tutor online factors into her rate. “I increased my online rates because I decided to get more apps and tools to improve the quality of my lessons,” she says. 

10. Other responsibilities, such as caregiving

Depending on a family’s needs, you might negotiate an arrangement that involves a lower rate but benefits that go beyond cash. For instance, Casilla-Mwaura has students who are a two-hour drive away, and their parents would prefer they get two hours of instruction on Friday nights and two hours on Saturday mornings, so she took it as an overnight tutoring/babysitting gig. The family pays for her gas, food and also offers her tickets to New York parks or galleries, and she reduced her tutoring rate by $10/hour.

When to raise your rates

Whether you’re reassessing your rate with established clients or giving yourself an annual pay bump you’ll share with prospective students, it’s standard practice to raise your rates, based on your results and experience. 

“Independent tutors should take a look at their rates at least annually to confirm they're competitive for their area, as well as commensurate with their experience and student results,” says Fayz. “Bumping up your rates before your ‘busy season,’ which would be August/September for back to school or summer months for younger students, is also wise.” 

Ultimately, dedicated tutors who get results for their students and continually book their schedules will only be able to set a competitive rate but continue to raise their prices over time — and enjoy continued professional tutoring success.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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