Tutoring as a Side Hustle to Make Extra Money

This post is a guest post from Moriah Joy, who writes at Our Table for Two. Currently, Moriah Joy charges $30 an hour to help out students with their homework and studies. She is looking to increase her hourly rate to $75 an hour soon, and thinks this could be a fantastic boost to her financial situation! In this side hustle guest post series, I’m looking to inspire others with unique stories of how people are making some extra money. Starting a side hustle tutoring might be for you. Read on below to learn how to tutor to make more money.

If you follow my blog, you know I have debt. Not a lot of it, but enough that my partner and I are not able to live on two W2 incomes and thrive while paying off my student loans. We’d probably be able to scrape by, but not well.

Thankfully, I’ve been a tutor since high school, and have used 10 years of experience to my advantage.

After I get off work (which is around 4 PM), I head over to a local Starbucks, or a client’s house, and spend the next three to five hours (including travel time) explaining math, English, and science concepts to 5th-12th graders. During any given week, I’m tutoring 8-12 hours (not counting commuting time).

While tutoring definitely does not pay enough for me to quit my current job, or reach the illusive financial freedom, but it helps power my family’s Adventure Fund. 

I love tutoring, and this side hustle is helping me improve my financial situation.

In this post, I will be sharing with you what I do as a tutor, and talk about my recommendations for you to start tutoring to make more money.

What I Do as a Tutor for My Tutoring Clients

Tutoring is helping students learn and study their school material more effectively.

For my tutoring work, I offer three different services to my clients:

  • Homework help
  • Study prep and research skills
  • Testing prep

Let’s dive into each of these different tutoring services.

Homework Help Tutoring

Homework help is pretty self-explanatory.

My clients bring their homework, and we go through each problem together.

Going over the homework is also chance for learning how to learn to happen, as we talk about kinesthetic learning, auditory learning, and visual learning.

In college, I was a TA for a remedial math class, and I draw a lot on the experience I gained from my mentor who helped me through that position and pass that information along to my kiddos.

When going through homework, the goal isn’t for them to keep needing me. It’s for them to learn how they learn and to teach them how to teach themselves.

It sucks working myself out of a job, but it’s also super exciting to watch them “get it” and not need me anymore!

I love homework help, and always enjoy helping my clients understand the material better.

TUTOR TIP: Ask your kids a bunch of questions about the process of their project, instead of just showing them step by step what to do. This way they’re engaging multiple sections of their brain and will retain the information better.

Study and Research Preparation Tutoring

Another service I provide for my tutoring clients is study prep and research skills.

I designed the service of study prep and research skills for kids who are confident with their homework, but still aren’t getting the scores they need or want.

We comb through homework assignment to create study guides; I show them the magic of Google and how to use it to their benefit.

Generally, I work with these students a few times a month. Enough to increase their grades, but not so much that they over-rely on me.

It’s a tricky balance. And one I’ve really worked to maintain.

To help with the breaks in-between sessions, I have them send over their topics before we meet. This way I can brush up on the material (especially in subjects like chemistry and biology, where rote memorization is important to the class) and so I can look around the internet to find the pages I’ve flagged for these subjects.

The idea is to show them good websites, and bad websites, and talk about how to make sure their research is credible.

With these kids, maximizing time with techniques is more important than material.

TUTOR TIP: Have your students bring their own laptop and perform the study prep/research skills alongside you, that way they’re mirroring good scholarship, but they’re also practicing necessary life skills at the same time.

Test Prep Tutoring

Finally, test prep is the third service I offer.

Testing prep sounds similar to study prep, but with a grand exception. It’s generally SAT/ACT tests that we’re preparing for.

Also, for these tests, I run it as a class, as opposed to an ongoing tutoring relationship.

Each student gets three hours of specialized instruction on SAT tips and where they need to work to improve their own scores. This three hours of instruction is spread out over a month before they take their test.

I assign homework that I expect done before the next session. If the homework is not done, then we postpone our meeting.

Since I use the homework to compile their personalized SAT/ACT study plan, it’s a lot more time intensive for me. To compensate for my additional time, I charge $350 for the class.  

I run this SAT/ACT class in the summertime (when I have more time, and when most kids take the SAT), and these higher fees definitely compensate for the lost hours during the school year.

TUTOR TIP: Take a practice SAT yourself at the beginning of every summer to make sure you’re up to date on the latest changes and can accurately reflect them to the children you tutor.

With these three services, I have a wide variety of ways to make money and can help a diverse set of students.

Now, let’s talk about what the financial results of tutoring look like, and how you can become a tutor.

How Much Money Do You Make as a Tutor?

Being a tutor can be a fairly high paying side hustle.

Currently, I charge $30 an hour for my tutoring work. $30 an hour is more than I was paid when I worked at a tutoring company, and double what I charged when I was a college student.

Next year, I’m going to increase my rates, and then every semester subsequently to that until I’m making closer to $60-$75, which is the going rate in my area.

For specialized subjects (math above Algebra 2, and honors sciences, I charge $50 an hour, and those are going to be increased to $100).

Also, as mentioned above, I offer an SAT class every summer which costs $350 per student.

With these rates, I’m able to make a decent amount each month, and this helps with debt payoff and hitting my saving goals.

Nest, let’s talk about how you can start a private tutoring side hustle.

How to Start Tutoring for Extra Income

The hardest part of tutoring, in my opinion, is finding clients.

If your community has a job board, you can look there to find people looking for tutors, or post on a social media app like Nextdoor.

For finding clients, I used Canva to create tutoring fliers and business cards which I left at local coffee shops and grocery store bulletin boards.

People you know (from the gym or church) might also be willing to pay you to tutor your kids, so ask around.

After you have clients, and have set up a good rapport with them, I generally tell the families I have openings in my schedule, and if they know anyone that needs a tutor, to please give them my name.

Of the six families I’m tutoring right now, four of them have been referrals from other families. Referrals are amazing for growth!

TUTOR TIP: I used connections at my local university to get my first two clients, and have grown my business since then. Asking around for clients makes a HUGE difference, and referrals go a long way!

What Items Do You Need to Get for Tutoring?

Tutoring requires some tools and equipment to get started. You want to make sure you have all the necessary tools for the job.

For my tutoring side hustle, I have a canvas bag which I stow in my car with everything I need:

  • a Chromebook laptop
  • a Ti-83 graphing calculator
  • graphing paper
  • lined paper
  • blank paper,
  • writing utensils
  • and any books the kids are reading (I need to have these on hand for their papers.)

I also carry around a scheduling book, so I never accidentally overbook myself. I prefer paper schedulers to my phone, but obviously, your phone could do the trick just as well.

Basically, make sure you have the tools for the subject you’re tutoring.

If you’re working on math, a calculator is a must.

Chemistry, a periodic table of elements.

You know the subject matter and what you need to be successful.

Having all those things in one place makes your job easier. (Especially if you’re like me and constantly running around between my full-time job, my side hustle, and any other crazy activity I’ve got going on).

TUTOR TIP: Make sure that everything you’ve collected is in your car the night before, and have a physical checklist you go through. That way, you’re never awkwardly caught off guard missing materials.

What are the Skills Necessary to Be a Successful Tutor?

To be a successful tutor, communication is very important (just like in life!)

Client interaction is very important for keeping clients long term. If your current families aren’t happy, then they won’t pass your name and number on.

For you, the key part to this gig is to show up on time, follow up well, and make sure your clients are happy with the services you are providing.

I check in with my parents after every session and make sure I know where exactly (letter grades and percents, not just a general “we’re doing okay”) the kids stand on their classwork. I have a few parents text me throughout the week when their kid has a big test coming up and how the child did on the big test.

One tip I can give is don’t expect all of your clients to magically become straight A students. Some don’t, and that’s okay.

The goal is to get them to pass their classes, get a good SAT score, and ultimately feel successful.

Some kids define that success differently than others, so make sure you’re in tune with what the children’s expectations are and the parents’ expectations. Find the middle ground and shoot for that.

I have some kids who are B students really, desperately trying to get a few As on their transcripts for the college they’re interested in.

I have others who have failed the same math class twice and just want to get a C and be done with it.

Knowing which is which and catering to the difference is crucial to job performance.

TUTOR TIP: Kids act like they hate it when you jokingly make fun of yourself but do it anyway because they’re more likely to be honest about how school’s going if you’re honest with how dorky you are.

How to Communicate Effectively as a Tutor

When trying to understand where a student is in their understanding of a subject, I ask a lot of questions.

I ask a lot of “does this make sense?”, “are you understanding the concept?”, “can you repeat it back to me?” for every kid to make sure that

  • we don’t stay too long on one subject if they ARE understanding it, and
  • if I’m not making sense, I can immediately correct the way I’m explaining something and use a different strategy on the spot.

If things aren’t making sense, then we can fix it now, instead of after the test and a bad grade.

This part of the job takes time to hone, but it’s arguably the most important part of being a tutor and the part that you should work to cultivate if this is something you want to pursue.

With the skills of communication, asking good and thoughtful questions, and seeking to be a friend and helpful teacher to your clients, you can become a successful tutor.

Are You Interested in Tutoring to Make More Money?

I love tutoring.

It’s definitely not a passive income stream, it’s hard and frustrating at points, but it’s very rewarding.

I’m not huge into the side hustle culture because it’s exhausting.

However, this is one place where I feel my long days (some days I’m not home until 10, ESPECIALLY during midterms and finals) will pay off. My tutoring will pay off not just for us as a family, but for the kids I work with.

This is very cliche, and I’m gagging at how sappy I am, but it’s probably more true of tutoring than of others I’ve tried.

It also makes me feel personally accomplished.

My day job is very entry level “hey Moriah, here are these 12 random things – please do them”.

On the other hand, tutoring is something that I’ve done in some capacity since I was 10, and more professionally since I was 16. 

Ifeel like I know what I’m doing, and it’s in my wheelhouse.

After we’re debt-free, I plan to take a break. I will relish in the “wow, that was intensely hard, but we’re done”, before I decide to pick it back up again. Life is about balance, and hustling doesn’t have to be a secondary full-time gig if you don’t want it to be.

In the meantime though, I’m off to tutor another kid, and I’m going to have a ton of fun while doing it.

There are so many amazing side hustles out there in the world. I’ve found a side hustle I love, and hope you can too!

Readers: what do you think about this side hustle idea? Would you want to become a tutor to earn some extra income? What do you think about starting a tutoring side hustle?