How to start a tutoring business

A private tutor teaching a teenage student.

Starting your own tutoring business can be a great way to make use of your teaching expertise outside of a formal school environment, while also enabling you to make a good living as your own boss.

Indeed, with an increasing demand for tutors in a variety of subjects and over a broad range of levels, it is now estimated the UK tuition market is worth around £2 billion per year.

However, if you have decided becoming a private tutor is the right choice for you, how do you go about starting a tutoring business? What are the best ways of advertising your services? And what legal checks and insurance policies will you need? Keep reading to find out.

How to start tutoring

Although there are plenty of advantages to starting your own tutoring business, including the fact it is inexpensive to set up and provides you with a flexible work schedule, there are a number of factors you need to seriously consider before taking the plunge. Below we outline five of the most important factors you’ll need to think about before getting started.

  • Pick your location

Although tutoring usually takes place at the student’s house, you can also decide on different locations for tutorials or academic support. A local library, cafe or even the great outdoors may be appropriate in some circumstances. When choosing a location, you may also have to take into account if you want to teach one-to-one or group classes. Finally, it’s important to consider if you want to tutor face-to-face or online. While it may not have the same personal touch, tutoring online does give you the opportunity to teach anyone with an internet connection, potentially giving you a much larger client base.

  • Choose a subject to teach

Choosing a subject to teach and building your knowledge in this area is key. If you are a former teacher, this may be straightforward. If not, it’s important you are fully up to date with the current syllabus of your chosen subject, as well as the most recent teaching methods. It might be that instead of a broad subject, you decide to specialise in tutoring for a specific test or exam, such as SATs or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), for example. Either way, remember, as well as your ability to teach, your expertise is what clients are paying for, so make sure you are fully prepared by brushing up on your subject knowledge, communication skills and teaching methods before you start.

  • Pick an age range to teach

Children and adults of all ages may require tutoring at some point in their lives. This gives tutors a wide client range. Naturally, however, the subject matter for primary school children is going to be very different to GCSE-level high school kids, which again will differ greatly from undergraduate level subjects. For this reason, choosing not only a subject but also an age range and/or an educational level you’d like to specialise in is essential.

  • Think about what equipment you need

One of the only major costs involved in setting up a tutoring business is purchasing the equipment and other physical teaching materials you need to teach effectively. This could cover everything from laptops, teaching and conferencing software, and appointment scheduling tools to textbooks, stationery and tables and chairs.

  • Build up a reputation

As with any business, tutoring start-ups rely on their reputations for long-term success. The best way to generate a consumer base organically is through good word-of-mouth recommendations. However, in order to really build your business, it is also a good idea to do things like ask for references from previous clients that can be shown to potential new clients and build an online presence using a website and social media. You can also use traditional advertising methods, such as paper flyers. It’s also important to be selective with the clients you take on. This is to say, if you don’t think you can help a student to the best of your ability, explain that you cannot tutor them. Stretching your expertise, time and resources to teach a client you are not confident you can help may only serve to damage your reputation.

How to advertise as a private tutor

As we have touched upon above, there are a number of ways to build your reputation and advertise your tutoring services. These methods include:

  • Word-of-mouth referrals

Word-of-mouth can play a huge role in the success of a tutoring business. To help this along, always ask existing clients to provide you with feedback, reviews and testimonials and, if they are happy to do so, ask them to recommend you to friends and family who may be interested in your services.

  • Traditional paper advertising

You’d be surprised at how effective handing out business cards/leaflets, displaying posters in public places and placing an advertisement in the classified section of your local newspaper can be. 

  • Online presence

In this day and age, all businesses need an online presence. Having your own website and social media presence can be a great way to spread the word about your business and get your face out there.

  • Private tutoring agencies

Although an agency will obviously take a cut of your profits, these businesses are a great way of finding new clients, especially when you are trying tutoring for the first time.

Do tutors have to have a DBS check?

While school teachers in the UK are required by law to have an Enhanced DBS Check, private tutors do not currently require any form of check. That being said, it is strongly recommended that you get a DBS certificate if you are planning on becoming a tutor. This will help you to foster trust, especially if you are tutoring anyone under the age of 18, showing parents that you do not pose a risk to children.

Do tutors need insurance?

Although no insurance is required by law for self-employed tutors (unless they employ someone other than themselves, in which case a employers' liability insurance policy is needed), there are two main insurance types private tutors should consider before starting a business. These are:

These policies are designed to protect you and your business if a parent or student is unhappy with the service you have provided and decides to take legal action against you. Legal costs and compensation paid to your client would be covered by this policy if you were found to be negligent.

These policies are designed to protect you and your business should property damage or injury to a third party individual occur while you are teaching.

If the injured party made a claim against you and you were found to be at fault, legal costs and potential compensation payouts would be covered by public liability insurance.


Setting up your own tutoring business can be both rewarding and profitable, however it does come with its own risks. For this reason, it’s important to ensure you have the right protection in place before opening your doors for business.



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