What Does an Online Tutor Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

Online tutors provide learning support to students of all levels, typically via a web-based video conferencing system. There is a fine line between online teaching and online tutoring. The main difference is that tutoring involves providing help with a subject that the student is being taught elsewhere. However, some online tutors can provide extensive teaching while others simply help with homework.

Online Tutor Duties & Responsibilities

The job generally requires the ability to perform the following duties:

  • Acquire tutoring students through marketing and partnerships
  • Provide learning support to students in certain subject areas where they need improvement
  • Help students develop independent study skills
  • Monitor and evaluate students' progress in order to see where improvements can be made
  • Communicate with parents, teachers, or tutoring programs about student progress and concerns
  • Complete reports and paperwork as needed

Online tutoring duties can vary greatly depending on the level (K-12, college, adult ed, etc.) and whether you work for an employer or yourself. For example, those employed by companies that contract with school districts are more likely to have to do some form of assessment of students, while homework help tutors wouldn't be required to do so.

Companies specializing in online tutoring may offer services directly to parents and students or may be contracted by school systems to provide tutoring to students. Tutors can also connect with students using platforms made available by online tutoring companies and then share the revenue.

Online Tutor Salary

An online tutor's salary can vary depending on location, experience, and whether they're working for a public or private institution. Because of the nature of the job, an online tutor is usually paid at an hourly rate rather than a salary.

  • Median Hourly Rate: $19.44
  • Top 10% Hourly Rate: $20.17
  • Bottom 10% Hourly Rate: $15.26

Source: PayScale, 2019

Education Requirements & Qualifications

Typically, the minimum education requirement for online tutoring is a bachelor's degree. However, a few places will hire college students. For those starting an online tutoring business, there is no official minimum education requirement. However, attracting students in this competitive business may be difficult if you don't have a college education.

  • Education: Though the minimum requirements are usually a four-year college degree, many employers require more a master's or doctorate degree. Many K-12 online tutoring companies look for a teaching certificate and a master's degree.
  • Experience: Many companies hiring online tutors may require teaching experience either in the classroom or online. Schools and companies are also looking for people with experience and knowledge in the specific subject being tutored.
  • Technology: Online tutors need to be familiar with online teaching tools and a Internet-connected computer with either an external or built-in camera.

Online Tutor Skills & Competencies

To be successful in this role, you’ll generally need the following skills and qualities:

  • Interpersonal skills: Online tutors need to be able to connect with the students they are helping.
  • Communication skills: They must be able to effectively relay information to students both verbally and in writing.
  • Tech skills: Since the job is mostly done online, candidates must be comfortable with using computers and digital tools.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics doesn't break out data on online tutors specifically. However, it projects that employment in the broader education, training, and library occupations category will grow 9 percent through 2026, which is slightly faster than the overall employment growth of 7 percent for all occupations in the country.

Work Environment

Many online tutors work from their own homes, and the majority of the work is done via computer.

Work Schedule

Many online tutors work part time, but some work full time, as well. Hours vary and depend on when students are available—which often means working on evenings and weekends.

Where to Find a Job in Online Tutoring

Online Teaching and Education Jobs This list includes jobs in online tutoring and teaching jobs from K-12 through college, test writing, online course development, foreign language instruction and adult education course writing.

Jobs for Online Tutors This narrows the above list to online tutor jobs only.

Online K-12 Jobs This list includes only those jobs for those with experience/education in elementary, middle and high school.

Online Teaching Employment Resources This list of job boards and other resources lists places to find teaching jobs online.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People who are interested in becoming an online tutor can also consider some related careers, listed here along with their median salaries:

  • Career or technical education teacher: $55,240
  • Teacher assistant: $26,260
  • Instructional coordinator: $63,750