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Trevor Klee, a tutor with his own tutoring business

How we chose the best online tutoring sites to work for in 2018

As a full-time, self-employed professional tutor, I have strong opinions about tutoring sites. Tutoring sites, ideally, should imitate the advantages of working on your own as a tutor: flexibility in hours, good pay per hour, and low barrier to entry. At the same time, they should shield their tutors from the disadvantages of working on your own: the difficulty in getting clients, the stress of getting people to pay you, and the rare client who wants to bully an independent tutor.

So, when we were choosing the best online tutoring sites to work for, we kept that criteria in mind. The best tutoring site should offer good pay, flexible hours, and be easy to join and start tutoring.

For instance, there are many tutoring sites which offer $12/hr (or even less) for the difficult task of tutoring. That is a poor tutoring site (no pun intended). Tutoring is skilled labor and not just anybody can do it. Pay should be at least $20/hr, and that’s for the most basic of tutoring tasks. Harder tasks, like prepping people for difficult exams, should be rewarded accordingly.

Hours also should be flexible. If a site isn’t guaranteeing full-time hours, it should not require full-time availability. There are clients who need tutoring at all hours of the day, from morning til night. If a site has enough clients, then it should be able to provide hours for any tutor’s needs.

It should also be easy to join and start tutoring on the site. We understand the need for basic quality control: tutors should know the subject they’re tutoring. But expensive background checks and licensing are antithetical to the ethos of tutoring. Let tutors tutor, and let the clients make an informed decision about who they’d like to work with.

On the flip side, we did not like sites that had very few clients. Unless there are zero clients to be had, that’s a simple supply-and-demand problem. Sites need to have fewer tutors and more clients. Too many sites promise tutors the moon, then end up with the exact opposite result: they get so many tutors that the tutors don’t even get a pile of dirt.

Similarly, payment should be easy with a tutoring site. Respectable sums of money should be regularly flowing into the tutors’ bank accounts. One of the worst parts of tutoring is chasing after people for money (which is why I advise you to get people to pay in advance). A tutoring site is supposed to allay that concern, not make it worse by delaying or halting the flow of money from clients to tutors.

Last, a tutoring site needs good support for its tutors. Most clients are good, but there are always the occasional client who doesn’t want to pay. They just want to bully you and force you to work for free. A tutoring site should be able to back up their tutors when this happens, not cave to crocodile tears.

Wyzant review: should I tutor for Wyzant?

Wyzant seems to have come out of nowhere in the past 5 years to dominate online tutoring. They are incredibly good at getting to the top of Google Search results, which is a major way that tutors get clients. From there, they promise clients that Wyzant can hook them up with the best tutors in town for whatever they need work on. So, that’s what it’s like from the clients’ side. But what’s it like from the tutors’ side? Short answer: pretty good. Wyzant is reasonably straightforward. They require certifications to tutor various subjects, which are basically short tests for any subject. These tests range from good approximations of your ability to utterly inane. From there, you just fill out your profile and wait for tutoring inquiries to roll in. What we like about Wyzant is that there’s a lot of flexibility. You can tutor anything you want, and charge anything you want. Plus, they are actually good at getting clients for their top tutors, because they do have a well-trafficked website. What we dislike about Wyzant is that there’s not a lot of support for the amount of money that they take. Tutors on the website complain that Wyzant kicks them off the website without notice, and that they’re so afraid of getting a bad review that they will often tutor clients for free. It is, needless to say, hard to make money as a tutor when you’re tutoring for free. Still, Wyzant’s skill at getting new clients and their flexibility means that they’re the Best Tutoring Site for Setting Your Own Rate.


Varsity Tutors review: should I tutor for Varsity Tutors?

Varsity Tutors works differently than Wyzant. It’s an agency model, which means that clients don’t come directly to the tutors. Instead, Varsity Tutors employees directs clients to individual tutors, taking away some amount of choice. What we like about Varsity Tutors is that they pay reasonably well (generally around $40/hour), and are pretty flexible. Even though tutors are just handed clients, there’s still room for flexibility in the tutors’ schedules. Also, Varsity Tutors, like Wyzant, gets a fair number of clients, which means it’s possible to make a nice side income from them. What we dislike about Varsity Tutors is that their model comes perilously close to just being a part-time job. Most aspects of the job are out of the tutors’ hands, including what students they work with and how much they’ll charge. So, it might be easier to just work directly with a tutoring agency (rather than Varsity Tutors), who can pay you like an actual employee (and give you health benefits, etc.). Still, Varsity Tutors pays pretty well, is reasonably flexible, and has a fair amount of work to do. Because of that, Varsity Tutors is the Best Tutoring Site That Uses an Agency Model.


Cambly review: should I tutor for Cambly?

Cambly is a different beast than either Wyzant or Varsity Tutors. It’s still a tutoring site, but it’s not a site for anyone who identifies themselves as tutors. Instead, it’s essentially a site where English speakers can get paid to have conversations with people who are interested in learning English. What we like about Cambly is that it’s incredibly low commitment and low barrier to entry. Tutors basically sign up, put in their bank account information, and chat to interested students. That’s it. The downside is pretty much as you’d expect. There’s a low ceiling to Cambly, both in terms of pay and in terms of skill level. Cambly pays very little because students ask for very little, not even a lesson plan. It’d be very, very difficult to turn Cambly into anything resembling a livable income. Still, Cambly is just too darn easy. That’s why Cambly is the Best Tutoring Site for Low Commitment.

Guide for choosing the best tutoring site to work for

When you’re choosing a tutoring site to work for, the first question is how much effort are you willing to put in.

If you’re willing to put in a lot of effort, and want to tutor 20 or more hours a week, you should probably just skip the tutoring sites altogether. Instead, contact JustAddTutor, and JustAddTutor will become the business manager for your tutoring practice.

If you want to be a tutor, but you don’t want to put in the effort to find potential clients, then choose Wyzant. Just be aware that, in the end, it’s not your site. You can get kicked off, and you won’t have any control over who visits your profile.

If you just want to tutor a few hours per week, and don’t want to think about much more than that, choose Varsity Tutors. You’ll never be able to turn Varsity Tutors into your job, but it will be an extra income.

If you’re just looking for easy beer money, sign up with Cambly. It will not pay your bills, but it will cover a 6 pack. Plus, you don’t really need to think about it.

Trevor Klee, a man who can teach you how to start a tutoring business

Not getting enough clients for your existing tutoring business? Want to charge more? Complaints about your teaching style? Let me help!