How much should I charge as a tutor?
April 11, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What's a reasonable rate for me to charge as a college tutor?

I'm a philosophy grad student, and one of the professors in the department has a student looking for a tutor. Happily, he put me in contact with the student. However, I've never tutored-for-hire before. She wants to know my rate and I have no clue what's reasonable.

Here are my qualifications:

I've TAd this class before. I've also TAd a similar (slightly easier) class twice before. Furthermore, this year I'm teaching my own class which is similar to the one the student is in.

What would be a reasonable rate?

Bonus question: I've TA'd and had plenty of one-on-one teaching with students who come to office hours, but I've never tutored. Should I offer the first session as a trial in case we don't mesh? By trial I mean something like: free unless you're happy and want to schedule a second session.

Thanks as always
posted by chndrcks to Work & Money (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Should I offer the first session as a trial in case we don't mesh?

No. That's not how businesses operate; tutoring is like any other business. The fee you should charge depends in part on where you're located.

For what it's worth, I charge $50 an hour to tutor a high school kid in geometry. That's in NYC.
posted by dfriedman at 11:51 AM on April 11, 2010

When my husband was in a similar position, he met with them first to have the student be able to ask any questions first. He had a Masters degree and was in a Ph.D. program at the time and charged $20/hour, which he thought was reasonable considering his qualifications.

He also said that charging his own rate was sometimes difficult to determine, and in doing so for himself, he decided what the tutoring money was going to be for (beer! and other minor incidentals for fun), so he didn't care too charge as much as someone who tutored for a living. If he were doing it for a living or as a regular part-time job and not just as a side-job for some extra, he likely would have charged more.

We are in a major city in the Northeast. These were undergrads who had parents who mailed the student a check in my husband's name once a month. YMMV depending on your area and depending if the student is paying for the tutoring on his/her own out of workstudy money or something --- but that's just up to you.
posted by zizzle at 11:54 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just checked the online classifieds at my university. The going rate for math tutors seems to be about $25/hr, for language tutors about $15/hr. I'd expect a philosophy tutor to be on the upper end of this scale.
posted by philokalia at 11:55 AM on April 11, 2010

philokalia, the going rate for math tutors at *my* university is $40. (I'm a math PhD student so I know something about this.) So this varies by place. I don't want to touch the question of which tutors subjects should charge tutoes in.

I also am at a university that attracts a lot of rich kids from New York, so I've heard of parents offering more than the going rate because they don't realize things are cheaper down here. (And, of course, the going rate might be higher at more expensive universities even in the same city.)
posted by madcaptenor at 12:21 PM on April 11, 2010

No less than $40 an hour. Philosophy is one of those things that once benefits immeasurably from by speaking and debating, and as such, your physical presence, your knowledge, and your ability to tutor one-on-one is valuable. It depends on whether you're at a state school or not, but this will probably be paid for by the students' parents, not the student. (Also, I have friends who tutor for $40~$50 an hour.)

You could always say "my going rate is $40 an hour, but I'm always willing to make exceptions with regard to the student's needs."
posted by suedehead at 12:22 PM on April 11, 2010

Not sure what happened to the last sentence of my first paragraph. It should be something like "I don't want to touch the question of which subjects tutors should charge more in."
posted by madcaptenor at 12:25 PM on April 11, 2010

Thanks for the responses so far.

I should have been more specific. The class is a philosophy class, but it's an intro to logic class. So in some sense, it's probably more like a math class than what most people think of when they think philosophy class.

I also should have added that I do have my MA (I'm ABD)
posted by chndrcks at 1:01 PM on April 11, 2010

I agree with zizzle; my rates depended on who was paying. I was never comfortable asking a student for more than $20/hour (in Wisconsin), but I earned almost double that as a subcontractor for a private tutoring company that signed contracts with the parents. (I tutored and taught Spanish for 7 years, btw.)

What you charge depends on you (duh) - do you feel the need to charge a student less than you would a parent, and whether or not you live in a generally wealthy area. Does your department maintain a tutoring list? My department maintained a list of grad students, updated yearly, a blurb about their experience and their hourly rates, and passed that info on to any interested student or parent. That might serve as a good point of comparison.

I also agree that you don't need a free intro session.
posted by queseyo at 2:36 PM on April 11, 2010

Tutoring is a market just like any other. The going rate varies with where you are, how much you're willing to work for, how desperate your student is, and how saturated your area is with other tutors. You have TA'd the class before, which makes you highly qualified. If you are afraid of quoting too high a price, say something high and then hedge your bets with a 'but I will consider giving discounts to students with financial need' type of statement.

I am not sure why madcaptenor doesn't want to touch the subject of what subjects tutors should charge more for. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. If there are many more people who offer tutoring in Freshman English than Advanced Math, then the Advanced Math tutor can probably charge more and still get clients.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 2:40 PM on April 11, 2010

What do you make per hour as a TA? I was a philosophy grad student and TA. My yearly stipend was $14,000 for a half-time appointment (20 hrs/wk). That comes to roughly $18 an hour.
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:28 PM on April 11, 2010

Check the ads for tutors that are local to you. Rates are extremely variable depending on where you are in the country. I would price yourself based on ads for math tutors.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2010

I'm not sure if it makes sense to reason from what you're paid as a TA, for two reasons:
1. what you're paid as a TA often includes tuition. How do you count that?
2. The claims of how many hours TAs work a week are often inaccurate. (Lots of professors don't seem to know what they can legitimately ask their TAs to do, if there even are rules.)

As to why I didn't want to touch the questions of who should charge more: basically, I didn't want to suggest that subject X was less valuable than subject Y because I didn't want a horde of enraged X-ists.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:14 AM on April 13, 2010

When I did private tutoring (as opposed to doing it as an employee of the school) I charged a sliding scale according to the student's ability. This was community college, and I had good students with jobs, and bad students out of their depth. One was usher supervisor at the local multiplex, so I got paid in free entry to the movies. I charged the good students less, the slow ones more, because good students are fun to help, the slow are just frustrating. It's not like I wasn't helping practically everyone in the lab (this was back in the day of the dinosaurs, in big air conditioned rooms).
posted by Goofyy at 9:24 PM on April 13, 2010

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