How to Start a Home-Based Tutoring Business

Steps to Opening a Tutoring Service in Your Home

Start a Home Based Tutoring Business
•••  Credit: Steve Debenport | Getty Images

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable home business you can start quickly, tutoring is worth considering. Tutors provide additional instruction beyond regular classroom work, often for students who need extra assistance in a particular subject area. Tutoring is needed at all levels of education, from elementary to college, and on a variety of topics. Tutors also are needed to assist students in test prep, such as for the SAT or GRE.

Requirements and Pay

You don’t need a teaching degree or any specialized training to be a tutor. What you do need is knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to explain it in a way that others can learn.

Tutors typically can earn anywhere from $10 to $75 per hour depending on the topic and the education level of their students. Tutors with expertise in specialized topics like foreign languages, advanced physics, or postsecondary material generally can charge more. 

Tutoring can be done at the client's home, at the tutor's home, or in another location, such as a school or library. The internet has made it possible to tutor online using video conferencing tools, so you can tutor clients who live outside your location from the comfort of your home.

It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of becoming a tutor before embarking on this new career.

Pros

  • Helping students achieve a goal can be gratifying

  • Upfront costs are small

  • Hours are flexible

  • It can help teachers supplement their incomes

  • There are opportunities for growth and expansion

Cons

  • Working around students' schedules can mean nights and weekends

  • Reluctant students can try any tutor's patience

  • Success can mean losing a client

  • One-on-one lessons can require different teaching skills

Pros

Tutoring allows educators to connect with students one-on-one in ways that teachers in classrooms cannot always do. Some of the reasons to pursue this goal and start a home-based tutoring business include:

  • It’s quick and affordable to start. You don’t need any specialized training or equipment, so you can start as soon as you find your first client.
  • It’s extremely flexible, so you can tutor in addition to holding another job, or you can commit to it full time if you have enough clients. 
  • You can expand from being a one-person business to organizing other tutors to work in your operation.
  • It can be a way for educators to supplement their income.

Cons

Teaching is not easy, nor is running a home-based business. Some of the specific challenges that come with a home-based tutoring business include:

  • It's necessary to work around students’ schedules, which usually means tutoring in the late afternoon, evenings, or on weekends.
  • Not all students are eager to learn.
  • Tutoring services often are short-term. Once your students have mastered or completed a course, your services are no longer needed.
  • Having subject knowledge is no guarantee that you can teach it. Passing along knowledge is a separate skill.

Starting a Home-Based Tutoring Business

There are several ways to get started tutoring from home. One is to buy a tutoring franchise or business opportunity. Another is to sign up to work as a contractor at one of the many online tutoring companies such as Brainfuse, Chegg, or Tutor.com. Or, you can start from scratch on your own.

If you’re ready to start helping students succeed in school, consider some of these steps:

  1. Determine the subjects and educational level where you can help: Common topics where students need help include math, English, and science from elementary school through high school. Many college students need help in these areas and in subjects specific to their majors.
  2. Make a list of potential students: Based on the subject and level you want to tutor, who are the people that are most likely to hire you, and where will you find them?
  3. Decide how you’re going to provide tutoring services. Do you want to tutor only with local students or only online? Maybe you want to do both. If you’re going to tutor local students, where will you conduct the sessions? Note, you want to check with your local city/county zoning department if you plan to tutor in your home. Also make sure you have good liability insurance, in case your student gets hurt on your premises.
  4. Gather the tools you’ll need to provide tutoring services. There are many teacher stores (online and off) where you can get workbooks and other materials to assist in tutoring. If you plan to tutor online, make sure you have a good webcam with clear audio. You might consider using a service that allows for digital whiteboard writing.
  5. Decide on your pricing and policies. Some things to consider on pricing are the topic and grade level you’re instructing. Remember, the more advanced the topic and grade, the more you can usually charge.
  6. Decide on your business structure. You can get started tutoring right away as a sole proprietor. To protect your personal assets, you might consider creating a limited liability company (LLC).
  7. Create a business name. You can operate your business under your given name or you can create a business name or a combination of both.
  8. Obtain needed permits and licenses as required by your city or county.
  9. Write a business plan, outlining all aspects of your business, and how you plan to grow it.
  10. Map out a marketing plan. A good tutoring marketing plan will include a website where people can learn about you, a networking strategy, such as through schools, and a referral system.
Article Table of Contents Skip to section