The discipline of science which deals with the study of life and all things living, biology is an exciting subject to teach as a tutor.
While passion for the subject is a big plus, and arguably essential for becoming a respected biology tutor, there are also many other factors which contribute to the success of a tutor.
To become a biology tutor, it’s essential that you consider qualifications, experience, and marketing, as these elements are crucial for finding students.
That aside, you will also want to take a look at how you can improve your teaching skills to deliver the best lessons possible and increase the probability that students will keep coming back, and perhaps even provide you with new business via referrals.
A career as a biology tutor, whether part-time or full-time, can be richly rewarding and provide not only an opportunity to work doing something you enjoy, but also to give value to others in a meaningful way and help them achieve their academic goals.
Without further ado, let’s dive into what it takes to become a biology tutor so you can start to take the first steps.
Brush up on your biology
While it may seem obvious, the first step towards becoming a biology tutor is brushing up on your biology knowledge, and ensuring you have what it takes to teach this complex subject.
To be a tutor requires an in-depth knowledge of the subject, which needs to cover all of the essential material that the student will need to know for their exam.
What exactly you need to be well-versed in will depend on the level of students you decide to teach - GCSE students will focus on different areas than university students for example - so you’ll have to make this decision before you start tutoring.
If you have a really solid grasp of the basics, and an impressive breadth of knowledge in the subject, you might find teaching younger students and GCSE/A-level is a good fit for you.
On the other hand, if you have a deep knowledge of a few specific areas of biology, then you will probably want to seek out university-level students who are trying to go deeper in this area with their studies.
It’s also worth considering whether you will get bored of teaching the basics after a while, in which case you’d likely prefer to teach at a higher level, even if that means more work on your part.
Whatever the case, it’s a good idea to be immersed in the field of biology as much as possible if your plan is to teach the subject on a regular basis.
What does that mean?
It means filling gaps in your knowledge (if there are any), keeping abreast of the latest developments related to the level you are teaching, and maintaining your curiosity and passion for the subject to be the best possible tutor you can.
Hone your teaching skills
What might seem less obvious to you embarking on a career as a biology tutor might be the need to hone your teaching skills.
Yes, having an extensive knowledge of biology will go a long way to making you a good tutor, but it’s only half the story.
If you have an impressive knowledge, but are unable to apply that knowledge and condense it so that it’s easy for a student to follow, then you are going to run into some issues.
While biology might seem straightforward to you, you will have to develop a sense of empathy for the student, and realise that they might not have the same understanding of the subject.
This requires you to work on your teaching style, and how you communicate with the student to get the best out of them.
One way you can develop your teaching skills is to take a basic teaching course like the PEGC, just to become familiar with some common strategies and tools a teacher has at their disposal.
Another way is to gain experience, through giving unpaid classes to friends and family, for valuable feedback and constructive criticism.
Until you try to teach the subject, you might not know in what areas you could improve as a tutor, and what your strengths are.
Teaching friends and family can provide you with valuable insight about what you do well, and what you need to work on, so that you can perfect your teaching style before you take on your first real student.
It’s also important that you feel at ease in the role of the tutor, since the student is coming from a place of vulnerability in the sense that they are coming to you with gaps in their knowledge, which they want you to help with.
If you can put the student at ease, then you have a much greater chance of working with them on a long-term basis, and securing those important referrals to boost business.
It’s also much easier for someone to take in new information and learn when they feel comfortable.
As a result, experience can prove highly valuable, and is something you should seek even before you start advertising your services as a tutor.
Get qualified to tutor
You might be relieved to know that it’s not necessary to have any specific qualifications to become a biology tutor.
However, if you want to establish a reputation as a great tutor and lend weight to your credibility, you’ll want to get some qualifications under your belt.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to qualifications is to aim one level higher than that of your students.
That is to say, if you want to teach A-level students, make sure you have a university degree or equivalent. If you want to teach GCSE students, make sure you have solid A-level grades in the sciences, and so on.
Like I mentioned earlier, you could also try to get hold of a teaching qualification to not only help you do a better job at tutoring, but also to give students that extra reason to go with you over the competition.
The bottom line then is that qualification are not compulsory if you have aspirations of becoming a science tutor specialising in biology, but they can act as gold stars to your name in the eyes of prospective students, making them more likely to contract your services.
There’s a good reason why you should market yourself, as opposed to your business.
As a tutor, you are the face of your business, and the more you do to boost your image as a likeable, confident, assured character, the more likely you will be able to secure students.
Familiarity plays a significant role in whether or not a student decides to take classes with you, so getting your name and face out there can prove very effective in converting interest into cash.
The question is, how do you market yourself?
Marketing online vs locally
While it isn’t as simple as saying one form of marketing is better than the other, it’s certainly true that more people are moving towards online forms of communications these days, making online marketing a very effective way to attract students.
With that said, there are still some very good ways to attract students using local marketing techniques too.
As you might imagine, local marketing consists of all the ways you can spread the message of your tuition services in your local community.
Be it putting up posters in social hubs like universities, libraries, and town halls, or handing out business cards to anyone who will take one, you can get the word out quite efficiently without the need for operating solely online.
One thing with local marketing is you’ll want to make your poster/flyer stand out, so that people don’t just pass by without even checking it out.
This doesn’t mean garish colours and aggressive fonts, but rather an eye-catching design, which focuses on what you believe students of biology would be interested in.
Asking questions that biology students might be curious about is a great way to hook them, and potentially get their business.
Then of course you have word of mouth.
Telling friends and family about your classes is a great way to start, as they might know people interested, but you can also spread the word at universities and other places where you’re likely to find biology students.
Online marketing is much more versatile, and provides you with a wealth of opportunities to get your name out there.
One of the best of which has to be signing up as a tutor on Superprof.
Now of course I’m biased when I say this, but Superprof is one of the best online teaching platforms for anyone interested in giving classes and having practically everything else done for them!
With Superprof you won’t need to search high and low for students as they will find you, so all the marketing is done already.
Aside from online teaching platforms, you should look to establish an online presence through creating your own informative blog, interacting through social media, and perhaps even creating a value-providing biology-based YouTube channel!