97% of students in Singapore have had a tutor – and it’s no surprise. Singapore has one of the best Education standards around the world (PISA), and there’s a lot of pressure on students to maintain it and score well to enter top courses in Universities.
With the tuition industry worth estimated to be over $1 billion, there has never been a better time to join the profession. Tutors are in high demand, and being a Full-time Tutor can be quite lucrative. Some tutors have reported to make as much as $1 million per year!
If you are considering it, the following guide outlines the steps one takes to become a tutor, reviews teaching certifications and provides insight into being a tutor.
What Does a Tutor Do?
Tutors provide additional academic help to students, outside of the classroom. They help students to improve their grades, understand difficult concepts, develop study skills, and get ready for major examinations, such as the PSLE and O Levels.
They are subject specialists, with the expertise to deal with students of different learning capabilities. (See: How Much do Tutors Earn)
Steps to Becoming a Tutor
1. Graduate from Polytechnic/Junior College
Tutors need at least an A Level certificate or a Diploma to work with students.
Anything less than that (O Level), most Parents will choose not to engage you as their tutor. Students that have went through JC have a way higher chance of getting assignments.
2. Complete University & Education
For individuals with a Bachelors’ Degree from a local university in a high demand field, such as English, Mathematics or the Sciences, can expect higher pay as there is more demand for well-qualified tutors.
3. Volunteer to Provide Tuition
Non-governmental, non-profit organisations, child-care centres and churches, regularly look for volunteers to provide tuition to the needy, less privileged students.
Potential tutors can volunteer in these organisations to gain some tutoring experience, and a feel of how to teach.
4. Earn Tutoring Credentials & Track Record
Once you have your first few students, it is incredibly important to ensure that you provide adequate support to the tutee, that they improve significantly, mostly up to a Distinction. Enhancing your credibility as a tutor and building up your track record will differentiate you from the rest, as you are able to provide feedback/recommendations from your past students.
5. Advertise Services & Set Rates
Proven track record proves your credentials as a successful and effective tutor. You can request for higher rates as you have proven methods to secure the Distinction for students. At this point, most of your students will come from word-of-mouth, tuition agencies, and advertising on different platforms.
There is no official certification needed to be a tutor in Singapore. Most tutors come to the profession from another field, such as Education, Accounting, Business, Research (Science) etc.
If you wish to pursue a certificate to improve your credentials, from an accredited institution:
NTU-NIE Teaching Program
Under NIE, there are teacher training certification, mainly Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), and Diploma in Education (DipEd). Both programs are entirely focused on training individuals to become NIE-Certified, MOE School teachers.
Obtaining a PDGE (degree program) under Teaching Scholars Programme will allow teachers to teach in Secondary Schools or Junior Colleges, depending on their specialisations. MOE School teachers command the highest rates when they move on to provide tuition.
Masters in Education (NIE)
Another programme offered by NIE is the Masters in Education. There are various specialisations such as Special Needs, and etc. This certification is less recognised, as teachers need not have a PDGE/DipEd, to proceed to the Masters program.
Tutors in this category mostly do not have any teaching experience in MOE Schools, and are not counted under the category of MOE School teachers. The program mainly focuses on teacher preparation, teaching the fundamentals of working with students.
Few Things You Need to Know Before You Sign Up
If up to this point, you are still considering being a tutor, there are a few things you need to know before you commit your time to giving tuition.
1. You Don’t Have to be an Expert
You might be afraid of giving tuition as you may have forgotten everything you’ve learn in the past. It’s a surprise just how much you remember when you look at the steps of obtaining the answers! It’s far more important that you’re passionate about the subject – the syllabus and proficiency in teaching the subject will come naturally, very quickly.
2. Tuition is a Service: Hospitality
Ultimately, it is not about the lesson plan, nor the materials you prepared. You need to focus on making the tutee feel comfortable. No matter how well you think you can teach, they need to be able to trust you. Every child is different, and every child will have different needs and requirements. Fail to understand this principle, will make your life that much tougher.
3. Be Patient
Different students have different needs. Some process and understand information faster than others. Part of your job is to be patient and provide the encouragement to push through. Most of the time, Parents engage tutors as their child is genuinely struggling. The extra help and support will mean a lot to them, and it’s up to you to provide it. Lack of encouragement or unfair punishments is a sign of bad teaching, and will land you in hot soup.
4. Learn How to Teach
New to teaching/giving tuition? Teaching can be quite a daunting task if left unprepared. It will take some practice to get the hang of it, so here are some things you should prepare for lessons:
- Lesson plan (topics to go through)
- Notes/extra materials
- Assessment books
- Examination papers
5. It will get Stressful
During examination periods when preparing for exams, the job is stressful and busy. There’s a lot of pressure on students to succeed, but there’s even more pressure on you to make them succeed.
When the students show little or no improvement after a while, Parents will also start to pressure you, questioning if your methods are effective or not.
6. It is Incredibly Rewarding
Despite tuition being stressful at time, tutoring is incredibly rewarding as well. The feeling when all your hard work has paid off when the child gets the Distinction both you and the tutee have been working for; all those hours spent doing assessment books and correcting them; the smile on their Parents’ faces.
There are many positives and negatives to being a tutor in Singapore – it is certainly no easy task. If you like kids, and enjoy teaching, you’ll definitely enjoy tutoring.