Science subjects are amongst the most tutored in the UK, alongside Maths and English, so becoming a Physics tutor means that demand for your services will always be high.
With learning having moved online this year due to COVID-19, and with many school students seeing their studies interrupted, there has never been a better time to start your career as an online Physics tutor.
The online sector of the tuition industry has seen rapid growth over the last few years, which has coincided with the development of excellent online learning platforms and tools, allowing for easy and effective online tuition. This being said, it can often be difficult to know where to begin when starting your online tutoring business, so we’ve put together a how-to guide full of tips to help you get started.
The qualifications you need to become a Physics tutor
There are no formal qualifications needed in order to become an online Physics tutor in the UK – just a passion for, and in-depth knowledge of, your subject! As a tutor, you’re likely to be self-employed (even if you work through an agency), so it will be entirely down to your potential clients to decide whether you are qualified enough to teach them.
Nevertheless, the more qualified you are, the more valuable you’ll appear in the eyes of potential students. Having a Physics degree, whether a Bachelors or Masters, is likely to set you apart from other tutors, and position you as a well-qualified tutor.
Finally, it’s worth considering obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate, particularly if you intend on tutoring students under the age of 18, although this is not a legal requirement.
The skills you need to become a Physics tutor
As a Physics tutor, it’s important that you have in-depth knowledge of key concepts likely to be studied by students of various ages. This will allow you to tutor students of a wide range of levels and abilities. Some of the subject areas you’ll need to have a good grasp of are:
- Atomic and particle physics
Beyond your Physics knowledge, you’ll also need the following skills:
Adaptable teaching style – As a tutor, you’ll likely be teaching students of all ages and abilities, so you’ll need to be able to adapt your teaching style for each individual student’s needs. This means having good communication skills, and being aware that every student has their own learning style – be that visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic – so that you can adapt your lessons accordingly.
One-to-One teaching skills – When you’re tutoring online, it’s important that you’re able to dedicate your full attention to your student for the entire duration of the lesson. This will now only allow for your lessons to be effective, but will also mean your students are more likely to stay engaged. In terms of your teaching style, you should be friendly but firm – be personable, but be sure not to over-praise your student.
Technical knowledge – In order to teach effectively online, you’ll need to be able to set up and use your online teaching equipment, and be able to navigate your way around your chosen online teaching platform. Whilst you by no means need to be a tech whizz, a firm grasp of skills such as file and screen sharing is vital.
Business Knowledge – When you become an online Physics tutor, you will be self-employed, and will therefore automatically become a business owner. Whether you conduct your business as a sole trader or limited company, you’ll need to get to grips with business matters such as tax and marketing. There are many resources, such as accountants and local council business advisors, who are able to provide support in these areas.
Choosing your target market
If you feel confident that you possess all the necessary skills to become an online Physics tutor, you can start to consider who exactly you want to teach. As a Physics tutor, most of the demand for your services is likely to come from GCSE and A-Level students, but you may also have the opportunity to tutor students across other school years, or those at university.
It’s up to you whether you decide to carve out a niche amongst a particular set of students, such as those doing their GCSEs, or whether you wish to teach a wide range of tutees. One of the benefits of teaching a broader selection of students is that you’ll gain valuable experience teaching students of varying ages and abilities.
Choosing your online teaching platform
Once you’ve decided who you’re going to teach, it’s time to start thinking about your online teaching set-up. The most important aspect to consider is which online platform you’ll use for your lessons, and there are two main options you can choose from:
- Online video platforms such as Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams – These video-calling platforms are free to use, and are great for online lessons as they allow you to share documents, chat, and screen-share. It’s best to choose the one that you are most familiar with, as this will make for the most effective lessons.
- Tutoring platforms – The other option is to sign up to a tutoring site that has its own online teaching platform, such as Tutorful or Teach9. These sites come with the added benefit of allowing you to access your clients and teaching tools from the same website, but it’s important to be aware that some sites may charge you commission as a tutor. It’s important to do your research before you decide to use one of these sites.
As a Physics tutor, it’s important that you have the ability to draw and share graphs, diagrams and equations, so make sure that any platform you choose has a whiteboard, or similar drawing tool, so that you can teach and demonstrate all the necessary skills in your Physics lessons.
Now that you’ve chosen your online teaching platform, you’ll need to finalise your teaching set-up; the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of your online tuition business. Some of the things you’ll need to consider are:
- Your teaching environment – it’s best to choose a quiet, well-lit area where you can conduct your lessons without being disturbed.
- Your audio and visual set-up – you’ll want to make sure that the sound and picture quality on your computer are of a good standard, so that you can be seen and heard clearly. You might also want to consider buying a microphone or headset, but these are definitely not necessary in order to tutor well online.
- Getting to know your online platform – it’s important to familiarise yourself with your chosen online platform before you begin tutoring, and to make sure you are able to carry out tasks such screen or document sharing or using online whiteboards.
For more practical advice on how to teach physics online, check out this video from physics teacher Lewis Matheson:
Set your online Physics teaching rates
Once your teaching set-up is finalised, you’ll need to start thinking about how much you’ll charge for your tuition services. There are no industry-wide set rates for Physics tuition, so it’s important to do some research before you set your prices, as they can vary widely.
If you’re just starting out as a tutor, it might be a good idea to do a Google search, and find out how much tutors with a similar educational background, and similar experience to yourself, are charging for Physics tuition. You can also browse one of the many tutoring sites that offer online tuition in order to gain a clearer idea as to how much you should be charging.
Whilst it can be tempting to start out by setting your online tuition rates low in the hopes of attracting more clients, it’s important not to undervalue your time and skills. You need to factor in aspects such as the time you take lesson-planning and creating educational resources, as well as the marking of any work you set your students, into your hourly rate, and not just the hour or so you spend online with your student.
Last but not least, you’ll need to decide how you’ll receive payments for your online lessons. If you’re going to be working through an online tutoring site or agency payment will usually be handled through the site, so you won’t have to organise payment methods with your students. If, however, you are not using one of these websites, you can choose if you’d prefer to receive payments through bank transfer or PayPal. In both cases, make sure that you keep invoices and receipts so that you can easily keep track of payments received from students.
How To find online Physics tutoring jobs
The last step in setting up your online Maths tuition business is to market your services. This can often be the hardest part of setting up your business, so you might want to take a look at our post, 7 Steps to Effectively Market Your Tutoring Business Online, which has some great, effective marketing tips.
Ideally once you’ve established your online tuition business, tutees will find you, but until that happens it might be a good idea to take a look at tutoring jobs boards like the one we have at The Tutor Website in order to find potential students. Finally, in order to maximise your chances of being found by tutees through online searches, you should think about signing up to our private tutor directory.
Here at The Tutor Website, we provide advertising to both in-person and online tutors through our tutor directory – so feel free to sign up and create your profile.