“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” Japanese Proverb

If you are wondering “how to succeed in a part-time tutoring job”, read on. As the founder and CEO of My Engineering Buddy (MEB), I have closely monitored 100+ tutors doing part-time tutoring jobs for us in the last 15 years.

I had the chance to interact with many of them personally. Based on those interactions about their experiences and my own, I will address this question in the best way possible.

But before going further, let us examine if part-time tutoring jobs are worth it.

Yes, they are! Apart from the extra money you can make, you also get the benefits below:

  • You can keep in touch with the subject(s) you love.
  • The more you explain, the more you learn.
  • The satisfaction you get from passing on your knowledge is priceless.

Subject knowledge

You cannot succeed without in-depth Knowledge and skill in the subject you are tutoring. Those are non-negotiables.

Without any exception, all our top tutors are experts in what they teach. In the last 15 years, I don’t remember coming across any successful tutors with average subject knowledge. You may get short-term success, but it won’t last for long if you are not an expert in your craft.

Check my blogs How to learn Physics and How to learn Calculus. It will give you an idea how you can improve your subject knowledge. Although it is written for Physics and calculus respectively, the basic concepts explained are useful for learning any subject.

Teaching skills

Like subject knowledge, teaching skill is also a non-negotiable.

What exactly teaching skill mean by the way?

Teaching skill is the ability to transfer your knowledge to the learner to improve their learning experience.

  • Understand student’s requirements before delivering your tutoring session: What is the point of teaching them something they dont require? Ask them what they want and teach accordingly.
  • Be a good listener: Listening is also a part of communication. If you are the only person who is allowed to speak, student will lose interest in your sessions.
  • Involve the student: Be a collaborator! Allow them to ask questions. Allow them to speak. Here I would like to quote Benjamin Franklin who said, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.”
  • Connect with your students: No matter how knowledgeable you are, and how good your teaching skill is, if you can not connect with your students, it will be of no use.
  • Be honest:
  • Be patient:
  • Ask for feedback:
  • Motivate your students:

Loving your tutoring job

The eyes of our top tutors light up when I ask them how their students are doing. They love explaining how they teach a difficult concept to the student. When the student finally understands a difficult concept, they feel elated. However, if earning some extra money from part-time tutoring is your only motivation, you will soon get very tired and feel like quitting.

Flexibility with the timings

Flexibility with timing becomes even more important when you are doing a part-time job. As you are only putting in a small number of hours, you will have fewer opportunities. But when you get an opportunity and it is somewhat outside your preferred timing and you can accept it with minor adjustments to your routine, you should say yes.’

Let me give you two real-life example.

Few years ago, one of my close friend joined MEB for part-time tutoring. He was doing well, but right from the start, he was very rigid about the timing. He rejected the students’ requests, which were made late at night. Also, when he did not feel like working, he used to say no. He never tried to accommodate the requests. Day by day, even his regular students moved to other tutors. After 8 months, he quit, as there were hardly any students wanting to connect with him.

Another friend of friend joined as a tutor 2 years before. She was willing to compromise her sleep and accepted students even though it was late night for her. With time, her student base kept growing and currently she is one of our top tutors.

It is very clear from these examples, that flexibility is vital to succeed as a tutor.

Not letting your main job affect tutoring work

Just because you are doing part-time work, you cannot take it lightly. Students don’t know or care whether you are teaching as a full-time tutor or a part-timer. When you are tutoring them, they expect you to give your best and teach them passionately. You can’t tell them that you are tired due to your regular work and have little energy to teach them. If you say so, next time your student will connect to some other tutor.

When I asked the majority of our top tutors, all of them said that they enjoy tutoring and that their main job does not affect it.

Taking care of your health

Working extra hours wears you out physically and mentally. Physically by depriving you of sleep and rest, and mentally by depriving you of family and personal time. To succeed, you must learn to take care of your body and mind by following the tips given below. It ensures that your body and mind remain healthy.

  • Getting restful sleep
  • Eating healthy food
  • Avoiding late-night snacks or meals
  • Going for regular walks or playing your favourite sports
  • Spending quality time with your family, etc.

Acceptance of the wide fluctuations in the volume of tutoring work

Any part-time job has fluctuations built into it. On top of that, tutoring is very seasonal in nature. Some months are so busy that you will feel like quitting your main job and doing it full-time. However, there are many lean months where you will get almost no work. So I would suggest working for at least 1–2 years and observing the seasonal variations before you decide to take the plunge.

Keeping high standards

Providing high-quality tutoring sessions should be your priority. There should never be any compromise on the quality of the lessons delivered or student interaction. You should make your student’s academic life easier. If you maintain high standards, students will love you, and you will never be short of tutoring work.

For part-time tutoring, the students have to adjust to your lesser availability. You need to compensate for it by providing a service that exceeds their expectations.

If you are wondering what “High Standard” means in tutoring jobs, here is what my 15+ years of experience say:

  • Prepare well for the session so that you do not waste the students’ time. In the case of online lessons, test the internet connection and your laptop or tablet before beginning the class.
  • Study the materials if you are not very good at them or if they are from an unfamiliar educational background or system.
  • Check your solutions twice. There may be some errors. After all, we are humans, not machines.


We know it is hard to manage your time, especially when doing a regular job. If you are not punctual, you will lose students faster than you gain them. You may use technology (calendar apps, reminders, Google Sheets, etc.) to keep up with your commitments. In my experience, I have seen many good tutors not get enough work because they were not punctual.

Flexibility with the fees

Your regular job pays you more because of your skills and experience. You cannot expect the same from your part-time tutoring job. So, keep your expectations in check and charge reasonable fees that are in line with what others are charging for tutoring.

Also, you should be willing to negotiate your fee a bit. You must not be too rigid, or else you will lose many clients.

Selecting the right tutoring platform

A tutoring platform that does not pay enough or does not meet your goals is not worth your consideration. No matter how good you are as a tutor and how happy your students are with you, you will make very little money out of it and likely end up with an aversion towards the part-time gig.

Apart from My Engineering Buddy, some tutoring platforms where you can set your own rates and communicate freely with the students are Teacheron, Wyzant, Prestoexperts, etc. From 2010 to 2014, I worked for Presto Experts. I loved their work culture and business model so much that I have made my company’s culture and working style very similar to theirs.

Better still, do your own marketing

You will make the most of your passion for tutoring if you deal directly with the students. You will save on the commission that the agencies charge and develop a stronger bond with the student. Additionally, you will get the benefit of referrals. The referrals, although not zero, are very low on tutoring platforms, as the clients generally recognize the platform and not the tutor.

Getting students on your own requires marketing. If you do free marketing via social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc., you will have to spend lots of time! If you advertise on these channels, you will spend money. For the majority of tutors, it is not a good deal in the short run. However, if you are able to do it on your own and succeed in reaping the benefits in the long term, you will reap the benefits. In my experience, the benefits are a lot greater than you could imagine.

When I started My Engineering Buddy (previously My Physics Buddy), I was on the verge of quitting. I could not get any traction. Only after I started Google Ads did I get enough students to keep it viable for me. In fact, I got so many students that I had to stop the ads after 8 months. After that, I kept getting more students by referral, hence never needing to run the ads again.

Set up your own website

If you are starting on your own, I highly recommend setting up your own website. It may just be a simple one-page website that you can create in WordPress within a few hours. Put all the information about you and your fees, availability, subjects, terms and conditions, etc. It will save you loads of time explaining basic things to prospective clients. It also builds trust in you and provides the basic information they may be seeking, like your charges, working hours, etc. You can use this website to drive traffic from marketing campaigns.

In today’s connected world, basic website design using templates can be crucial for your success. I won’t advise you to hire a freelancer to build your website because you’ll be dependent on them for any fees or updates that come up in the future. You not only lose money, but you also lose time. If you know how to make changes to the website and its content, you will be able to do it quickly without losing sleep over it.

Not offering your tutoring services almost free of charge

When you start, you want to build your clientele, even by offering extremely low fees. Although this is the right strategy in the beginning, many tutors get stuck with these low fees and are not able to charge more in the future.

Charging low is bad for your reputation and initial impression, too. If everyone else is charging $30 per hour for AP Physics tutoring (say), and you offer it at $15 per hour, students will invariably assume that you are a below-average tutor.

You shouldn’t be asking for insanely high fees, either. Make it reasonable for the students and in line with the market prices, but enough to keep you happy. This way, you will be in the fray and get good traction with prospective clients.

To learn about the factors that determine tutoring charges as well as the exact fees that you should be charging, read my blog, How much should I charge as a tutor.

Learning the art of negotiation

I must admit that I hated negotiating with the student when I started. For me, keeping a fixed price was the right strategy. Although it is an ideal situation to have a non-negotiable rate list, it immensely helps in client acquisition if there is some room for negotiation. It improves conversion rates significantly.

Negotiation is not only about the price, though. Students may ask questions about your tutoring experience, qualifications, mode of teaching, availability, and so on. What if the student is unsure because of your low experience, a degree from an average university, or your availability not matching theirs? You still need to convince them of these things.

If you have limited experience, you can offer a trial session to showcase your capabilities. If the timing does not match, you must be willing to offer a lower price to convert the student. Negotiations are much more than just pricing adjustments. There are several videos by negotiation gurus available for free on YouTube. I watched plenty of them, and I would suggest you do the same.

Specializing only in a few subjects

The “jack of all trades and master of none” strategy doesn’t work for teaching professionals. Students want instant and precise answers. You will not be able to answer their difficult questions if you spread yourself too thin by teaching too many subjects. This is especially true if tutoring is not your full-time job and is only a side hustle.

Select the subject that you love and care about, not the subject that is trending. Otherwise, you will likely lose interest very soon, and students won’t like it either.

Wowing your students

Go above and beyond fulfilling their basic expectations. Your job is not only to explain the subject based on the contents of a textbook. You can motivate them and arouse their curiosity about the subject. Once they get interested in the subject, they will invariably start learning at a much higher level.

Make the sessions interesting by occasionally discussing things that interest them. For example, if a student likes soccer, you can ask them about the latest tournaments and the results. That will establish a human connection with the student.

You should always focus on their benefit instead of your own. For example, if you can explain a concept or solve an extra problem by giving some extra time, you should occasionally do that. Your target should be to make them understand. It is okay to give 5–10 minutes extra time. Your students will appreciate it, and it will build their loyalty towards you.

Not ignoring the legalities

When you start, your income from the business will be low, and you are likely outside the purview of taxation, business registration, separating your personal and business accounts, etc. As you grow, however, if you ignore these, your years of hard work may go to waste in a day. Once you reach a certain size in terms of earnings, you need to register the business, timely pay taxes, abide by all the rules and regulations, etc.

Build a meaningful relationship with the student and their parents

Tutoring is much more than sharing subject knowledge. If you want to succeed as a tutor, you must strive to build meaningful relationships with students. Therein lies the key to a successful, long-term tutoring association. The tutor and the tutee must feel comfortable and safe with each other. The student should not hesitate to ask questions of the tutor.

Always learning

Nobody is perfect. You can improve your knowledge of the subject with advancements in tutoring tools. You should strive to make your sessions more productive. The students should feel that your sessions provide value for money. Hence, you should always be learning.
From my 15+ years of experience working with 100+ tutors, I can say that those who are complacent underperform. Those who remain humble and behave as if they know very little outperform.