During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and students turned to online tutoring in larger numbers, providing a potential side job for teachers. Given the rapid growth in online tutoring, it’s possible some who have earned a degree in education could get enough work to leave the classroom permanently.

The trend shows no sign of slowing. Americans spent $630 million per year on tutoring services even before the pandemic started,  according to USA Today. A representative of tutoring company Kumon told the newspaper they’ve seen a 230% increase in private, online tutoring in the past 15 years.

Reasons for Growth

Brian Galvin, chief academic officer for Varsity Tutors, told NBC the company has seen a dramatic increase in requests for tutors over the course of 2020 as the pandemic swept across the country. And the age of students has changed. Galvin said in the past, primarily high school students used online tutoring. Now, he said, more elementary school children seek tutoring.

Experts do not think the trend will end once the pandemic comes under control. The Thomas Fordham Institute reports that many school districts are considering funding tutoring because “more students than ever are falling behind grade level. This is true also for students who previously did not have difficulties in school.”

In addition to Varsity Tutors, some of the biggest online tutoring companies include Tutor.com, Club Z, Outschool, Chegg, and Kumon.

The Benefits for Students

Tutoring has held an important place since the beginning of organized education. In many cases, it’s an integral part of receiving a quality education. Tutoring ensures that students who may not excel in the classroom still get a quality education with tutoring helping to complete the educational puzzle.

Online learning has made that goal even more achievable. Education has entered a time when the flexibility and ease of online tutoring allow more students to receive the benefits of one-on-one education. As Stacey Klasnick, Program Director of Merrimack College’s online M.Ed. program noted, “This past year has been a difficult one for students. Some are falling behind or missing that important “one-on-one” interaction with their teacher and using online tutoring can certainly help in addressing some of that missing interaction.

The Princeton Review notes that benefits of online tutoring for students include:

  • The ability to pick when and where you want tutoring help, rather than having to stick to a schedule
  • Access to multiple tutors on different subjects
  • Time savings by getting help online only when you need it
  • All the advantages of one-on-one tutoring from any location

The Benefits for Teachers

For teachers, online teaching became the norm in 2020. While many states have reopened schools (only, in some cases, to close them again), online tutoring has continued.

For teachers, online tutoring offers an opportunity to earn extra money while also doing what they got into teaching for in the first place: helping students. Educators also become more comfortable with online teaching and may learn strategies for using tech tools to connect with students in the classroom.

For those close to retirement, online tutoring can bridge the gap between working in the classroom and full-time retirement. For example, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation launched an online tutoring company in December 2020. In the Boston area, ZipRecruiter lists many online tutoring jobs that can provide stable income.

What Online Tutoring Companies Look for in Teachers

Online tutoring companies tend to favor teachers with experience and a degree in education. Other factors that make for the best tutors include the following.

The ability to build strong relationships

Tutors with the “soft skills” to build personal relationships often end up with students who do better. Those who feel connected to their tutors are more likely to improve their schoolwork because of the level of trust and respect in the relationship.

Expertise

Teachers with pedagogical content knowledge are more effective. They understand how to identify what holds a student back and the strategies they can use to address the situation.

A strong ability to engage

Tutors should have the ability to recognize the signs that a student isn’t engaged and the techniques they can use to re-engage those students.

Great communication skills

This applies to communicating with both students and parents about issues such as goal setting and establishing benchmarks to measure academic progress.

While honing the skills to teach online takes time and commitment, teachers who already have an education degree can expand their career options by looking into the opportunities in online tutoring available and do the work needed to develop the skills they need.