Expert Math Tutor
My Story

Why do hourly rates for tutoring range from $15 to over $100?

I can only offer my opinions on the range that tutors charge.

Why do some tutors charge a very small amount of money (I've even seen an ad where someone was offering free tutoring at Barnes & Noble)?

Firstly, I'd like to say I think $15/hour is a lot of money. I don't tutor for that small of an amount, but that doesn't mean it's not a lot of money. When you think of the number of jobs out there that pay less you realize $15/hour is a lot. Tutors hired by colleges are normally paid less and tutors that work for the so called professional tutoring services are paid only slightly more.

I think there are many reasons that tutors offer their services for a rate that is below market.

  1. Some tutors simply aren't very good, but they can charge a rate ($15-$25/hour) that is both below market for a competent tutor and well above the hourly rate they can fetch as an employee at a job for which they are qualified. It may be acceptable to some students for a tutor to not have all the answers and/or not be able to deliver instruction in way that is easy to understand when the tutor is charging a rate below market. $15-$25/hour is attractive to those students who want or need a bargain tutor. This may work out fine if the student isn't lost and just needs a little help.

  2. Some tutors are naive. They may not know how much they're worth. They may live with their parents and not have all the expenses one incurs when living on their own. To them $20/hour is an unbelievable amount of money. They may not have the confidence to believe they're worth more. They may believe all tutors who charge more are over charging. What these tutors don't understand is that $20/hour is $40,000/year if you work full-time (40 hour/week). And this $40,000/year figure does not include taxes, health insurance (at a higher cost than employer sponsored group insurance), and travel expenses. Also, full-time one-on-one tutoring is almost impossible. One-on-one tutoring is far more demanding than working a regular job. A good tutor needs to be Johnny-on-the-spot while performing their service. Tutoring is work and tutoring professionally is hard work. Not to mention tutoring involves travel. So 8 hours of tutoring in a day would often be over a 12 hour day. That pace wears on anyone after a short amount of time.

  3. Some tutors only tutor either because they enjoy tutoring or they need/want a little extra money or both. These tutors have regular jobs and aren't supporting themselves through selling their tutoring services. When you charge more you have to work a little harder to get the business. These tutors don't want to or have the time to put in extra effort to get students. They are happy doing a little tutoring with their spare time and are happy with a little extra money.
Also, I'd like to point out that good competent tutors who charge less than what they're worth quickly become swamped with business. When they do not have any more hours to offer students, they have to turn down new students. The result is for them to raise their rate. This is basic Keynesian Economics - law of supply and demand.

Why do some tutors charge exorbitant amounts of money (I've even seen an ad where someone was offering tutoring for $120/hour)?

I don't know how anyone could have tutoring skills so superior that they can justly charge more than $120/hour. I would call this gouging plain and simple. I saw the ad for $120/hour on craigslist once and never again. I think that means the advertiser got no bites.

I think the old cliche "you get what you pay for" applies in tutoring. You can certainly find very good tutors who will offer their services at a rate below market. But that only lasts a short while. The laws of supply and demand will drive up the price of a good tutor.

Related essays:

Compare Rates/Services

Professional Tutoring Services

SMART MONEY: 10 Things Tutoring Services Won't Tell You

Why do you charge more for Statistics?

Send Email