Become a successful tutor by leveraging these online tutoring tips

Online Tutoring Tips: How to be Successful as a Virtual Tutor

The online tutoring industry is booming! Between 2018 and 2020, the industry grew 33% from $4.2 to $5.6 billion globally, according to a recent study by Grandview Research, and is expected to reach almost $16 billion annually by 2027. Recent increases in tutor demand are due in large part to parents and schools looking for effective ways to overcome learning gaps created by the pandemic.

Combined with the proliferation of video conferencing apps and other communication and document sharing technologies, it has never been a better time to become a virtual tutor. Median wages for tutors in 2020 were $40,590 annually, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 15%+ between 2020 and 2030, a rate much faster than the national average. So, if you are considering a new career, or are looking for a well-paying side gig, read on for virtual tutor job information and online tutoring tips.

1. Choose a Specialty

The first and most important of these online tutoring tips is to research and decide what type of tutoring would suit you best. There are a variety of different types of tutoring jobs available to choose from based on your education and experience. Below are the main categories along with the education and experience requirements:

Undergraduate Tutor

These tutors are charged with helping undergraduate students enrolled in degree programs. Tutors will usually specialize in a subject area of expertise such as calculus, chemistry, or English composition. Tutors can either be subject matter specialists with a relevant college degree and associated work experience, or peer educators if they are also enrolled in a related and accredited degree program.

Test Prep Tutor

These tutors provide specialized instruction and support for high school and undergraduate students in passing an array of standardized tests required to get into university and college programs. Tests include the SAT/ACT for college entrance as well as the GMAT or LSAT for entrance into graduate programs. While there are no specialized requirements for credentials, experience and good test grades go a long way.

K-12 Tutor

Tutors frequently work with elementary, junior high, and high school students to increase grades, remediate missed work or trouble areas, and improve study habits. Tutors of younger students do not require subject area expertise, but specialized teaching education, tutor certifications, or a state license might be required. There are no college degrees in tutoring. In reality, paraprofessional programs such as a two-year degree in early childhood education or teacher education are good credentials for tutors of K-12 students.

Special Education Tutor

Special education tutors work with students that have learning disabilities or face other mental or physical challenges. Tutors in this field will need specialized education and experience in working with special needs children.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Tutor

ESL tutors instruct students in English as a second language. Online ESL instruction has grown significantly in recent years as technology improved. Today tutors can work with students located anywhere in the world thanks to video conferencing. Some English language tutors are not required to have specialized credentials, but many positions will ask for TEFL/TESOL certification.

Foreign Language Tutor

There is also growing demand for private language tutors. Online positions in this area are popular because you can work with young or older students around the world. The main qualification is native, or near-native fluency in the language of instruction.

2. Join a Tutoring Association

Another important to-do in any list of online tutoring tips is to join a tutoring association. These associations can provide a wide variety of educational and job-related resources to enhance professional opportunities. You can frequently find networking events, conferences, mentor programs, and job boards. In addition, several offer tutor certification programs. The association that you join depends on the type of tutoring and the support that you want. A few examples include:

National Tutoring Association (NTA)

The NTA bills itself as the oldest and largest membership association of professional tutors representing thousands of tutors in the U.S. and 13 other countries. Membership is open to both individuals including peer, paraprofessional, professional, volunteer, and private practice tutors of all types. The NTA also offers comprehensive training and certification programs. The NTA delivers training via Certified Master Trainers both on-site as well as online with live and recorded webinars.

Association for the Coaching and Tutoring Profession (ACTP)

This organization provides training, networking, and educational opportunities for academic coaches, tutors, peer coaches, and tutor trainers as well as professionals on the program side. ACTP also develops relationships with other organizations, schools, and businesses committed to the tutoring profession. There are three levels of certification available via ACTP; Associate, Advanced, and Master Tutor.

The College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA)

While more of an institutional membership association, tutors specializing in teaching undergraduate students may want to obtain a professional credential by undertaking a certification program accredited by the CRLA. Their International Tutor Training Program Certification (ITTPC) certifies tutor training programs provided by post-secondary educational institutions.

3. Get Practical Experience

While joining an association and undertaking tutor training are important, in order to obtain certification, you need practical experience. If you’re not coming from a teaching background already, tutoring experience can be gained in a variety of ways. Some tutoring jobs will hire without certification, and on-the-job experience can count toward obtaining certification. However, if paid tutoring experience is difficult to find, try volunteering for a community or faith-based program to gain some initial experience.

4. Structure Online Tutoring Sessions Effectively

According to California Community Colleges, effective tutoring sessions need to be well structured.  Research indicates that online tutoring sessions should be divided into three phases.

  • The first phase should focus on social interactions, such as introducing yourself and making your tutee feel welcome and comfortable by providing positive thoughts on the student’s motivation and the progress that can be made with effort.
  • The second phase is to focus on teaching. Working on the assignment and study materials, providing instructional support and explaining links between learning activities and objectives.
  • The final phase of an online tutorial session is for reflection. Guiding students to reflect on the session, on their thinking, practice, and potential for improvement.

5. Incorporate Data Gathering

In addition to effectively structuring the online session, another important item in the list of online tutoring tips is to record and monitor a student’s progress. For example, conduct assessments to identify initial knowledge levels and areas of difficulty. Then, conduct follow-up assessments to highlight the progression of learning. In addition to showing the effectiveness of your tutoring sessions, it will serve to further motivate the student and encourage student retention and ultimate success.

6. Other Elements of Success for Online Tutors

Beyond effective structuring and reporting, below are several online tutoring tips to ensure your success as an online tutor.  

  • Study Teaching. The best tutors are those with an understanding of teaching techniques, such as knowing how to diagnose problem areas and create lesson plans with strategies to address and remediate areas of difficulty.
  • Encourage Collaborative Problem Solving. One of the unique aspects of online tutoring is the ability to work one-on-one with students. However, it’s important that the tutor encourages and facilitates problem-solving. Providing feedback without providing the answer.
  • Maintain Student Engagement. Good tutors know how to detect signs of disinterest or frustration and implement strategies to re-engage students. Even with video chat software offering face-to-face opportunities, subtle facial cues can be easy to miss.
  • Promote Mastery of the Material. Returning to material previously learned over time will promote deeper understanding. Going beyond memorization to ensure internalization of the knowledge.

With a recent explosion of online tutoring jobs, this is a great option for jobseekers looking for flexible remote work. Check out the recent virtual tutor job postings on Virtual Vocations hand-vetted database and find your perfect remote job today!

Are you an online tutor? Which of these tips do you use? What do you think makes a successful tutor? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

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