Becoming a science tutor can be a very rewarding and exciting career move, allowing you the independence to teach the subject you love within a schedule that suits you.
There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to take the leap and become a science tutor though.
Qualifications, skills, and experience are all equally important for finding students and kickstarting your science tutoring career, but you will also need to learn how to market your services and how much to charge students.
In this sense, becoming a tutor requires a degree of entrepreneurship, but if you are determined to make a career of it, then you shouldn’t let this deter you from doing what you love.
In this article you’ll discover what it takes to become a science tutor, how you can improve your chances, and even how to market your services once you do make it.
Job requirements to teach
Let’s start with the good news, when it comes to becoming a science tutor, you’re in luck, since teachers of this subject are very sought after - particularly so at GCSE level and above.
With that said, to access the large pool of eager students looking for private science tutoring, you’ll need to jump through a few hoops first to prove that for the students, taking a class with you will be worth it.
With regards to qualifications, I have more good news - there are no specific qualifications necessary to become a science tutor.
However, this could also mean that you will likely have plenty of competition.
Also, while qualifications might not be absolutely essential for a science tutor, they are certainly looked upon favourably by prospective students.
The more qualifications you have, the more likely you will be able to attract students and the higher you’ll be able to set your hourly rate.
With that in mind, some serious studying before becoming a tutor can go a long way if you’re planning on getting into the position full-time.
An A-level qualification in the sciences will put a gold star next to your name as far as prospective students are concerned, and will help kickstart your tutoring career.
Aside from that, any extracurricular activities you feel are relevant to your ability to teach or your knowledge of science will also help.
One way to set yourself apart from other science tutors is by taking on a teaching course or two, since this will show that not only do you have an in-depth knowledge of the subject, you also know how to teach it.
This is especially important, since just knowing the subject doesn't necessarily make you a great tutor.
Useful skills for tutors
Qualifications look great on paper, but an even more reliable indicator of whether or not someone will become a good tutor is the skills they possess.
First and foremost, a science tutor has to be extremely comfortable with the subject, to the extent that any question concerning the material can be answered without much hesitation.
The moment a student doubts your knowledge on the subject can signify the beginning of the end of their classes with you, especially if they are an adult learner.
For that reason, make sure that if you are going to teach students to pass the GCSE exam for example, that you have looked over all past exams and can confidently answer everything on the papers.
You could also practise your ability to teach this material on willing friends or family, and they can provide feedback so that you can perfect your teaching style before throwing yourself in the deep end.
It’s also a big plus if you are genuinely interested in the subject, and regularly immerse yourself in the literature and latest developments in the field, since this way you can entertain your student’s ponderings should they develop a curiosity for a specific scientific issue.
Plus your enthusiasm will really come through in your teaching if you truly connect with the material, that’s partially why TV personalities like Brian Cox have had so much success.
The other side to becoming a science tutor is of course the teaching element.
Teaching a subject isn’t as easy as giving explanations, asking questions, and assessing the student based on their responses.
To be the kind of tutor who students want to refer their friends to, you’ll need to put the effort in when it comes to planning classes, implementing your teaching style, and catering to the individual in front of you.
Turning up on the day of your class with nothing prepared is a recipe for disaster, so try to carve out some time each week to plan ahead and structure your lessons according to the individuals’ learning goals and ability level.
If you take the extra time to plan each student’s class, considering what you studied with them in the previous class, or what they have told you regarding their interests in science, then they will surely appreciate it and will be far more likely to speak highly of your tutoring services.
Enthusiasm is a key ingredient for a lot of successful science tutors, as it goes to show that you are passionate about the subject.
It can also be infectious, and will that positive energy can transfer to the student, so that they too get excited about studying.
Nothing guarantees a contented student more than a tutor capable of sparking their curiosity, rather than numbing it.
Different learning styles
Different students will respond to different communication methods and teaching styles.
As a result, take the time to get to know your student, and learn to appreciate what their learning style is to optimise your classes with them.
If they show a preference for visual learning, you can find an entertaining way to incorporate video and image into your classes, or if they prefer studying text, then find interesting articles for them to grapple with.
Other important factors
Aside from the job requirements, there are a couple of other important factors which you should bear in mind if you want to become a science tutor.
The level of students you take on
An important decision you will have to make early on is the level of science, or the level of students, you wish to teach as a science tutor.
While there’s nothing stopping you taking on students of all levels, younger learners to adult learners, GCSE students to university students, it’s probably in your best interest to pick a lane from the outset and focus all your energy on one level of science.
Teaching GCSE science requires a very different approach than teaching university level science, so this is something you should think long and hard about before you move into tutoring.
While teaching younger students might seem more straightforward, there is a possibility that you will become bored of the material and seek more complex subject matter.
You will also notice different teaching styles work better with different age groups and levels. If you aren’t the most charismatic person in the world, it’s quite likely that wrestling for the attention of young students as their minds wander would prove quite challenging for you.
So it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of each level, and making the best decision for you early on, so you can zero in on one niche and then market your services accordingly.
Marketing your tutoring services
- Figure out a good marketing strategy for you.
The other important factor to consider if you’re looking to make it as a science tutor, is how you are going to market your services.
You might be the best tutor around, with great qualifications and skills, but if you don’t know how to get the word out there then you might struggle to attract students.
You should try your best to spread the word both locally - through newspaper ads, posters, and the like - and also through online methods like creating your own blog, maintaining a social media presence, or even creating your own educational YouTube channel!
Setting your rate
The last thing you will want to think about when it comes to marketing your tutoring services is how much you are going to charge students for an hour of your time.
The going hourly rate for a science tutor in the UK is anything between £25-50.
To calculate your own rate, you should factor in the qualifications you have and what they add to your credibility as a science tutor, your experience (if any), and your relevant skills.
A great way to kick off your career as a science tutor, whether part-time or full-time, is to register with Superprof and teach students from the comfort of your own home!
You will also benefit from having students coming to you, rather than needing to focus your energy on marketing your tutoring services.