Do you have aspirations of putting your knowledge to good use, and becoming a chemistry tutor?
If so, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article we’re going to be exploring all the factors that go into becoming a successful chemistry tutor, as well as how you can find students when you first start out.
Becoming a science tutor is a greatly rewarding way to make a living, and is perfect for anyone who has a passion for the sciences and a desire to inspire the same enthusiasm in others.
While it may seem like a daunting prospect in the beginning, with lots of confusion as to what experience, qualifications, and skills you’ll need, it doesn’t need to be that way.
We’re going to touch upon each area and give you the information you need to go forward and take your first steps into a career as a chemistry tutor, whether part-time or full-time.
We’ll also cover less obvious factors such as what level you should teach, how to adopt an effective teaching style based on the students’ needs, and how to advertise your classes to reach the largest number of people.
Are qualifications necessary?
An important question you’ll have encountered as soon as you consider the thought of becoming a chemistry tutor is whether or not qualifications are necessary.
The answer may surprise you.
Qualifications aren’t essential for becoming a chemistry tutor.
With that said, it’s a good idea to get some qualifications under your belt anyway, as they will bolster your credibility as a tutor, and help you secure more students and classes.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to have a qualification a level higher than that of the student that you are teaching.
What I mean by this is for example if you are teaching a GCSE student, you will want a solid set of A-level results - at least in the sciences. If you are going to teach an A-level student, you will probably need a university degree or equivalent qualification.
This is to show the student that you have mastered the level of chemistry they are studying, and give them confidence that you know the material well enough to guide them towards a good grade when the exam rolls around.
As for other qualifications, you might consider studying for a basic teaching qualification like a PGCE, since this will give you a solid foundation in teaching, and equip you with the tools you need to deliver the best lessons possible.
Going into tutoring, you might struggle initially with keeping a lesson structured and coherent, so a teaching qualification might prove necessary not only to reassure students, but also to get you up to speed on things like lesson planning, how to communicate effectively teacher to student, and evaluating progress.
After all, simply knowing a subject in-depth does not a good tutor make.
To deliver an educational, entertaining lesson, and the type of lesson that is most likely to get you referrals, you will want to be both well-versed in chemistry and in teaching.
What skills are useful?
A few qualifications under your belt is going to provide a serious boost to your prospects as a chemistry tutor, but what skills are useful to have in this profession?
You can’t expect to have a seamless lesson if you haven’t put any thought into the structure or taken into account the student’s goals and learning style.
This is where the skill of lesson planning comes in handy.
If you can set aside time each week to sit down and plan out your lessons for the upcoming work week, then you’ll set yourself up for success, and that will bring with it other benefits in the form of referrals and repeat business.
The most important thing to do when planning out lessons is to keep the individual you are teaching in mind.
Say you have your first class with a new student, reach out to them and ask what their goals, expectations, and main interests with chemistry are.
Then, plan your lesson accordingly, factoring in their interests, goals, and expectations.
After the first lesson, take notes on the student’s main weaknesses and their learning style, then use that information to create the second lesson.
Lesson planning is a powerful tool that you should use to your advantage as a tutor, and create lesson plans which are both exciting, informative, and leave the student wanting to learn more.
Going hand in hand with the skill of lesson planning is communication.
Figuring out the best way to communicate information to the individual in front of you will make things much easier on them, and help them digest the information more quickly.
If you can determine what their learning style is, either by asking them directly, or through observing how they engage with different mediums (video, articles etc), then you can better unlock their learning potential.
You can incorporate video in the classes if you think they are more of a visual learner, or more texts and articles if they digest information better through reading.
Willingness to learn
More of a mindset than a skill, it’s important that you maintain the willingness to learn and indulge your curiosity about the subject that got you interested in chemistry in the first place.
A good tutor is more often than not a good student.
You should be willing to keep abreast of the latest developments in the field, as well as willing to immerse yourself in the literature to ensure you can deliver the most up to date information to your students.
Your students will look to you for all information chemistry-related, so in order to gain their respect and satisfy their curiosity, you will want to display a great willingness to learn and constantly be studying the subject you love.
How important is experience?
How much experience you have teaching chemistry can definitely prove to be a deciding factor for some students when considering taking a class with you.
For that reason, you would definitely benefit from giving sample classes to friends, family, and anyone else who is interested in a free class.
These sample classes can yield highly valuable feedback and constructive criticism, which you can use to develop your teaching style, ability to communicate the key ideas well, and lesson planning skills.
You could also try offering a free group class, in which you pull out all the stops, and do your best to attract some students.
Experience is important from the perspective of the student, as it shows them whether or not you have been in the teacher-student environment before, and how comfortable you’re likely to be in that situation.
This is especially important given the fact that if you are comfortable, you will be better able to put the student at ease, and if they feel at ease, they will be in the best frame of mind to learn.
How to Market your services
Finally we come to the crucial issue of how you can market your tuition services, and reach the most potential students possible.
Marketing can be done either locally, or through the internet.
While there are still some effective forms of advertising your services locally, online marketing is rapidly emerging as the better option, especially considering how many people you can reach with relatively little effort.
The best options for marketing locally are the most obvious ones.
Putting up posters in social hubs with plenty of activity like libraries, town halls, and the local university campus is a surefire way to get the word of your tutoring services out there.
The other way to draw in students is through ever-reliable word of mouth. Tell your friends and family, and watch as the dominos fall until they eventually reach someone who is interested in taking up a class and reaches out to you.
Your options for marketing online are much more varied.
Firstly, you could consider signing up as a tutor with Superprof.
By working as a tutor on Superprof you won’t have to worry about marketing as the students will find you!
You will also get to work from the comfort of your own home, which is more than a little convenient.
Other options include posting your classes to general job listing websites like Craigslist, and establishing your online presence to get the word out there.
If you set up social media accounts focussing on your business, as well as starting your own blog can writing regular informative articles on chemistry, you will be able to build up a fanbase, however small.
Add a Youtube account into the mix if you’re especially charismatic, and you will really be able to impress prospective students with your knowledge of chemistry and they will see first-hand what your teaching style is like so they can make an informed decision.