# How much should I charge for physics tutoring?

bcrowell
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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.

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.

BiP

symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Bipolarity,

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.

bcrowell
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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%.

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.

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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.

BiP

symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
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.

member 392791
When AP exams come around the corner in a few months, it's the cash cow for private tutoring..jack up your prices!

the emoluments for tutoring CG students online

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.

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?

QuantumCurt
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. QuantumCurt Education Advisor 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.