Guest blog by Joe Hytner, Founding Director of Titanium Tutors, a tutoring company which introduces home tutors in London, other UK cities and online.
Tutoring has become increasingly popular amongst the student population. Many undergrads and postgrads see it as a relatively pain-free way of making money to help with funding their studies, but that of course isn’t the only attractive feature of the role.
There are many excellent reasons to consider private tuition, and perhaps the most significant is the array of cross-transferable skills to be gained that will continue to be beneficial well beyond university. Let’s take a look at just a few of these:
- Gain experience of running a business
The vast majority of private tutors (including most of those who use tutoring agencies) are self-employed. Tutoring is therefore a fantastic chance to gain an insight — albeit on a small scale — into running a business.
You will need to register with HMRC as self-employed, keep track of your earnings and expenses, and submit an annual tax return. If you are on a tight budget and are happy to handle that yourself, you’ll learn a lot of basic accounting skills. On the other hand, if you want the peace of mind of using an accountant, you will still learn lots of useful information from them.
Some tutors may choose to set up a limited company at Companies House and to deliver their services through that company: this can provide more legal protection as well as other benefits, and will be a useful process for anyone thinking of setting up their own business later.
- Improve your marketing skills
If you plan to carry out some or all of your private tutoring work independently (i.e. without the help of tuition agencies), it will be essential to learn how to market your services. This is likely to involve setting up your own website, learning some SEO skills (i.e. how to drive traffic to your website), advertising your tutoring services on social media, designing and printing flyers, and more!
These skills are useful not just for future business owners, but also for anyone considering a career in marketing. In today’s digital age a lot of these skills are highly sought after.
- Learn about client relations
Anyone who has tutored children knows that there is no type of customer more demanding than a parent! Understandably, parents are eager to ensure that their children get the very best teaching to set them up for their future lives. Tutors therefore quickly learn how to handle demanding customers, from showcasing themselves in the best light in order to win new work, through to reassuring parents when they have concerns, structuring their expectations about results, and much else besides.
So many roles in the job market will require excellent customer-facing skills, and even those which don’t will still require the same skills of confidence, diplomacy and excellent self-presentation when dealing with your line manager or boss.
- Hone your communication skills
There is no job like tutoring to turn out masterful communicators. During your degree you inevitably spend time in the company of like-minded enthusiasts who are passionate about the same subject matter and have a natural aptitude for it. Whilst that is of course a wonderful thing, it becomes easy to lose sight of how the content may appear to those who are less enthused by the subject, or to those who are less naturally gifted at it.
In the majority of cases, children will be receiving tuition in a subject in which they have (prior to your involvement!) lost interest or which they find difficult. Seeing your subject through this different lens will force you to find inventive ways to make it more accessible and interesting, and the process of doing that will teach you valuable communication skills.
Such skills are obviously essential for anyone considering going into school teaching, but being able to communicate your ideas effectively and to distil complicated information into an accessible form is a ‘must’ in practically every sector, whether it’s advertising, law, academia, management consultancy, or anything else!
- Develop the art of patience
No private tutor will pretend that every moment in a tutoring session will be a doddle (not even a tutor such as myself who adores the job!). Students can be challenging. By that I don’t really mean behaviour (this is rarely an issue in one-to-one sessions), but it can be frustrating when someone doesn’t understand something despite your best efforts, or when they pick something up readily in Session 1 but have entirely forgotten it by Session 2. You will inevitably find yourself having to go ‘back to the drawing board’, whether that means going over something in detail again, or finding a completely different approach to achieve the same outcome when you felt that your original approach should have worked fine.
This is a good thing: no matter what job or what industry you find yourself in later down the line, you will work with colleagues or customers who will challenge you and who don’t understand things as clearly or as quickly as you do. There will be bosses who ask you to redo your work in a different way. You will have to deal with all these people, and to do so with a smile, for the sake of both your employer and your own sanity. It is a well-known fact that teachers and tutors have to exercise the ‘patience muscle’ more extensively than most, and they are therefore well-equipped to deal with most of life’s stresses and strains!
Interested in becoming a tutor? Titanium Tutors accepts tutoring applications from both undergraduates and graduates. Previous experience is not required. Find more information about opportunities with Titanium Tutors on CareerHub.
NB: Tier 4 visas, and some others, prohibit self-employed work, such as tutoring at Titanium Tutors.
If you have any questions regarding your right to work and visa restrictions, please contact the International Student Visa Advice Team (ISVAT) at LSE.