Online Tutoring Versus Online Teaching: What’s the Difference?

••• Getty/Cultura

Actually, the differences between online teaching and tutoring may be very little, depending on who is doing the hiring. Some companies use the terms online tutor and online teacher interchangeably. However, there are a few distinctions between "online teaching" and "online tutoring" that many employers do make.

Subject Matter

The biggest difference is that typically—both online and in the real world--tutoring means helping a student with a subject that the student is being taught by someone else. Tutors are helpers not necessarily the teachers, though, some online tutors can provide extensive teaching. Tutors may not follow a specific curriculum like teachers but assess where the student needs help and provide it in specific areas. 

Tutors also may do test preparation for tests like the  SAT, ACT or GRE. Like online teaching jobs, online tutoring jobs cut across every discipline and age group. Many of these jobs are aimed at the teen and adult  test prep (SAT, GRE, ACT, etc.) market, some online tutors work with kids as young as kindergarten.

Tutor Qualifications

Another difference is in the qualifications for the jobs. Those applying for online teaching jobs usually need close to the same qualifications of in-classroom teachers, meaning they must have teaching certification. A bachelor degree is a bare minimum, but most will require a master's in education. Requirements for online tutoring jobs vary widely. In fact, "online teaching" jobs that don't require a degree or certification jobs are, in all likelihood, actually tutoring jobs.


Online teaching is generally a more lucrative occupation. Most tutoring positions are part time. And while some companies pay online tutors by the hour, many only offer a platform to connect students and tutors and then collect from the tutor a percentage of the fees charged.


Tutors typically connect with students “face-to-face” via teleconferencing. Online teachers, particularly those at the college level, may teach an asynchronous course, meaning that the teacher and the students work at different times and do not meet face to face, but interact via email, discussion boards and assignments.


  • Online tutors provide additional help in a subject rather than teach it to the student
  • Qualifications for online tutoring jobs are generally less extensive
  • Online tutoring jobs are more likely to be part time and are generally less lucrative than online teaching
  • Online tutors typically use synchronous, face-to-face teaching

To find jobs in either online tutoring or online teaching, check out these lists of companies that hire for work-at-home jobs in education: