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How much should I charge for physics tutoring?

by kikko
Tags: charge, physics, tutoring
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Aug15-12, 11:21 AM
P: 7
$10-$20 is reasonable if you are tutoring someone who is in a class. Adding explanation to points they do not understand, helping figure out where they are stuck on problems assigned for homework, and assisting in study for exams.

If you are doing the full instruction, developing lesson plans and homework and even giving tests or running labs... then your workload is considerably enhanced, as well as the expected level of your ability.

I would say what they are having you do absolutely deserves a $40+ rate.

Tutor sadly has been co-opted to mean a large variety of things. You are being employed not as a learning assistant, but as a private instructor.
Aug15-12, 11:24 AM
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Quote Quote by brimacki View Post
Consider how much more they would be paying, plus how much less attention the student would get, if he went to a community college.
Are you suggesting that a community college is a substitute for tutoring?
Aug15-12, 02:34 PM
P: 1,048
I have done private tutoring at about 25 dollars an hour and that felt very overpaid. Thats triple minimum wage in California.

If you can get people to pay 40-80 dollars an hour, all the power to you, but I don't see how one can try and justify that their work deserves that.
Aug15-12, 07:18 PM
P: 746
I've never had a set price, but the parents have always paid me $20-$30/hr when I told them to give whatever they wanted.
Aug16-12, 06:20 PM
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Quote Quote by Redbelly98 View Post
I ... and charged $65 an hour.
Quote Quote by Ben Niehoff View Post
... I don't see how anyone can make a living charging $10/hr for private tutoring. Professional private tutors that I've heard of charge $50-$80/hr. Look up people who do private dance lessons, or music lessons, etc.; this should be in the same ballpark.
I think the big disparity between what others are reporting in this thread, and your & my experience, may be that we are comparing people who tutor for a living to college students who just want a little extra spending money and/or the experience of tutoring.
Aug24-12, 11:51 AM
P: 144
This summer I took on a high school student for chemistry. Since he didn't have any science under his belt, it was more a teaching position rather than tutoring. Needless to say, he got more than his money's worth out of me. I charged $15 per hour (Austin) with 1-2 hours of outside lesson planning per hour of lecture. Next time I will charge $20/hour. Tutors in my area charge $60 per hour for middle/high school students. Yep, tutoring algebra for $60 an hour

Since I was charging a rather discounted price due to the fact he was my 1st student, I had lots of room to play with my style and ideas of teaching. It was a very rewarding experience that taught me more about myself and how to conduct information to others. I'm working on trying to create an introduction to science type lecture series. This would allow a gentle introduction to students who have yet to experience and explore science.
Oct31-12, 02:57 PM
P: 23
The upper division physics students in my department charge $12/hour for intro physics students. It's typically mostly for the experience, and most of us just spend a few hours a week helping students with homework questions.
Nov21-12, 12:53 AM
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The community college where I work pays student tutors $10/hr. It's low, but the tutors don't have to drive to get to the tutee, aren't highly experienced or knowledgeable, and get paid regardless of whether anyone actually shows up for tutoring. They don't have to do any lesson planning. They're employees, not entrepeneurs.

I have a student who has finished a college degree, is very experienced as a private tutor, and is now taking classes to complete her requirements for a graduate program. IIRC she charges about $30-40/hr to tutor high school students. She's very competent and articulate, and I imagine her customers (i.e., the parents) are very happy with her work. She has to drive to get to her tutees, but she puts a limit on how many miles she'll drive. I assume she has to do at least some lesson planning. She's an entrepreneur, not an employee.
Nov21-12, 02:04 AM
P: 783
I tutor math at $10 an hour for 3 hours a week to some middle schoolers (I'm a college freshmen). I certainly don't do it for a living though. I can't imagine tutoring for a living. It sounds like a job with barely any job security, and I imagine the market for it is dwindling.

I'm surprised some tutors have a market at $50+ an hour, let alone $100+. That's more than the hourly rate for a typical engineer. I find this surprising, considering the vast majority of questions a student might have can be succinctly answered by someone on this website far more experienced than your average college student, whereas an engineer does highly specialized work which is a huge value added to companies and can't be easily answered for free in an online forum.

Maybe the fact that the tutors are mostly self-employed at least partly explains why they are able to negotiate high rates. Or maybe the supply is low because people are scared to go into the field. Or maybe the market is just ignorant/reckless spender. I can imagine tutoring being expensive for things like musical instruments and engineering workshops where upkeep of the studios are expensive but for something that involves almost no equipment, i.e. math/physics it makes no sense.

You can easily find a decent tutor working for $12 an hour anywhere in NYC teaching from middle school to college-level math. You can find people on this website who have even more experience and are kindly willing to answer your questions for free. I don't get the tutoring market.

But very high level tutors teaching olympiad level math/physics, I think that's quite a different story, but this is trig/calc based physics we're talking.

Nov21-12, 02:50 AM
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Try checking the online classified ads for tutoring and tutors. You'll find a few students looking for tutors, and hundreds of people trying to find situations to tutor someone. The supply of tutors ready and willing to tutor is very large.

What to charge can best be decided by comparing what others in your location are charging with what your skills and knowledge is. Myself, I also believe some services are too highly priced. There are students who really need help to pass and can be difficult to help and who really do not need to pay out large fees for tutorial service. There are also the already good students who want help to be able to earn A+++++++ in a class and are willing to pay (or their parents) the high rates. These students are also already going to earn much better than a passing grade even without a tutor. A tutor must really be super-special if he can take a struggling student and help the student to earn a better than a C. What you charge may depend on what you think you can do with a student. Again opinion: High rate for great students, 30 to 40 dollars per hour, low rate for less-than average student, 10 to 20 dollars per hour.
Nov21-12, 10:28 AM
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Quote Quote by Bipolarity View Post
I'm surprised some tutors have a market at $50+ an hour, let alone $100+. That's more than the hourly rate for a typical engineer.
That's an apples-and-oranges comparison. The engineer gets job security, a guarantee of being able to get paid for working 40 hours a week, and benefits. The benefits probably double the cost to the employer of employing the engineer, and from the engineer's point of view, the benefits probably constitute half the economic reward of the job.

When someone is self-employed, they need to charge *much* more than someone who is working for someone else. There's a factor of about 2 because they aren't getting benefits. There's probably a second factor of 2 because they're assuming the risk associated with the variability of their income and work load. This is one of the basic facts of life in economics: risk and variability are bad, and people are willing to pay a huge premium to avoid it. This is why a 1-year US Treasury Bond is currently paying 0.2%, whereas the expected average return on an index fund is about 8%.

Quote Quote by Bipolarity View Post
I tutor math at $10 an hour for 3 hours a week to some middle schoolers (I'm a college freshmen).
There are tons of people qualified to tutor middle school students in basic algebra. There are far fewer qualified to tutor high school students in physics, which is what the OP was talking about.

There is also an extreme amount of variation in the quality of tutoring. Many tutors simply solve the problem for the tutee, which may make the tutee happy, but does the tutee absolutely no good. It takes a great deal of skill and experience to be an effective tutor. Most people who go to tutors are wasting their money. They get absolutely no benefit from it, and should be paying the tutor $0/hr.

A very common pattern with beginning physics students is that they flounder because they're trying to solve every problem by plugging numbers blindly into formulas rather than understanding the basic principles. Many tutors will reinforce this cookbook attitude rather then helping the student to overcome it.

The pedagogical research in physics shows that many beginners gain very little understanding of concepts after an introductory course. Again, this differentiates highly skilled tutors from those who are not highly skilled. To overcome this barrier, you need a highly skilled tutor.

Parents hiring a physics tutor for their high school kid typically don't know enough to be able to evaluate the tutor's level of proficiency accurately. (If they did, they'd be competent to tutor their own kid.) But they can look for other qualifications to serve as proxies for proficiency in tutoring. They can look at whether the tutor has a degree in the subject, and they can look at how much experience the tutor has.
Nov21-12, 04:48 PM
P: 783
Indeed indeed. So far though the PhysicsForums is probably the most cost-efficient effective tutoring program. I can ask any question, get answers from real scientists who have real interest in the subject, and get a nice discussion and learn a lot in the process. And it's done in good faith on everyone's part, with no motivations on money. I love it.

Nevertheless I sympathize with the situation of self-employed tutors, but I still think it is a field that going to become obsolete quite soon, at least in math/physics. It will probably be strong in music and athletics though for a good long time. This is just my opinion though...

Just by posting in this thread I have essentially learned a lot, but I haven't had to hire anyone in the process or anything. Thanks guys.

Nov21-12, 11:15 PM
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Bipolarity, from post #31,

Count on a continued demand for private tutoring. This has been the case for hundreds of years, and since it is a very normal human thing, it will continue. Also count on the availability of an oversupply of tutors and teachers. Educated people are employed, unemployed, changing jobs, and some need or want extra money and can provide instructional service, both privately, and through private institutions. Just look at what community college instructors do: many go to jobs at more than one C.C. because each C.C. which hires them puts them on as part time at few enough hours that the C.C. does not need to pay benefits. Since class size are somewhat unpredictable, the teacher risks class closure; and can't be sure if he has a job at the place the following term. So many of these people while maintaining some knowledge and skills through teaching can also tutor and may try to. The universities and community colleges also have establshed tutoring programs for their Mathematics courses or a tutoring center somewhere on campus so there are tutors there.

Tutoring is not going to go obsolete any time soon.
Nov22-12, 01:26 AM
P: 746
When AP exams come around the corner in a few months, it's the cash cow for private tutoring..jack up your prices!
Dec19-13, 10:36 PM
P: 1
Hi Friends, I have been approached by an online tutoring company to take online tutoring sessions for CG students based in US/UK, they are paying Rs. 2.5 per minute, is it ok or should i charge more for it.
Dec20-13, 06:21 AM
P: 271
Quote Quote by kikko View Post
I'd be tutoring a highschool graduate in highschool physics. His parents want 6-8 hours a week. What should I charge? I'm a physics major/math minor/chemistry minor in college. This is my 3rd year of physics, though I'm a senior. I would think $15 an hour, but I don't know if that's low or not.
My parents paid for my elder brother to have a private math tutor for one hour per week and that cost 20.

That's like, $30?
Dec27-13, 10:11 PM
P: 308
I work in my schools tutoring lab making $9/hour. I also do private tutoring as well, and I get between $10-15/hour for the private tutoring. I weight it a little different depending on the class. If I'm tutoring someone for Algebra I, I'm only likely to charge $10/hr, but if I'm tutoring for College Algebra, or Trigonometry, I'll charge $15/hr. I just finished Calculus I this last semester, and I've already had a couple people tell me that they want me to tutor them next semester. They both were more than happy to pay $15/hr. Most of the students I tutor receive somewhere around 3 hours of tutoring a week.
Dec27-13, 10:18 PM
P: 308
Quote Quote by brimacki View Post
People who don't have a college degree probably shouldn't be charging more than $20/hour. However, you have a college degree and you won't be working with a firm. I'd say quote something on the order of $40-50/hour. The fact that you charge a high amount should make the parents want to hire you more. This means you have confidence in your skills and are willing to deliver. Consider how much more they would be paying, plus how much less attention the student would get, if he went to a community college.

I'm not sure how to take this comment. What do community colleges have to do with anything?

Community colleges often result in MORE attention from professors, because class sizes are significantly smaller. I'm in a community college currently, and the largest class in my entire school has around 80-90 students in it. Over 90% of classes have fewer than 30 students, and the professors are nearly always very available. We have a comprehensive tutoring lab (which I work in), with tutors for nearly every class in the school, aside from more specialized classes like nursing, welding etc. A lot of the lower level classes like introductory calculus, calculus based physics, and general chemistry would have hundreds of people at a lot of universities. I've never had a physics or math class with more than 20 people in it.

Smaller class sizes and more personalized attention is often considered to be a perk of community colleges.

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