Consider Being A Tutor

Education is one of our biggest spending, be it on ourselves or on our children. In countries like Singapore and China, tuition is a big deal (although China has since clamped down on the tuition sector). Parents will spend big money on their children’s tuition. Yet many do it only on a part-time basis despite the high hourly rate. The chart below shows the current tuition rate to expect for new entrants. Of course this is only a guide and tutors who have built up a reputation for themselves will find themselves earning more.

I will give the conclusion here first: Be a part-time tutor, even if you have a full time job.

Tutoring is considered a freelance job, even if you are doing it full time. As with all freelance jobs, there is no corporate ladder to climb, no welfare and benefits, no paid leave and all other perks that a full-time salaried employee in a company will have. If you work, you get money. If you do not work, then there is no money for you. It does not matter whether you are sick or need a break. Hence many people do tuition only when they were students trying to earn some income to pay off their living expenses and university fees, or being a part-time tutor while holding a full-time job at the side. The latter is much smaller in numbers, and those who do it are generally in the education line where they will be paid more for their experience and skills.

Generally upon graduation and finding a full-time job, most people leave the tuition sector. Hence the turnover is actually quite high.

As a student, we often hear or even thought of it ourselves: What does calculus have to do with my life? Does learning van der Waals force have any practical purposes? Of course as adults we now know that learning all these expand first our general knowledge, second open up more paths so that we may choose from a range of paths in our future studies and careers. But we can turn all that knowledge into something more practical – money. Knowledge may be power, but knowledge is definitely worth money.

But beyond money, being a part-time tutor while holding a full-time job serves a more important purpose – a backup route.

We are already in a recession, so this is probably a good time for this article. Many of us are told to work hard at a job, think of how we can value-add, learn as much as we can, put in the hours and the effort, and the rewards such as promotions and higher salary will come. I do not deny there is some truth to this. Working hard, learning well, value-adding to the team are things that will develop us professionally and as a person. However, those people that told you the above only tell of a half-truth.

In every civilisation, society and company, the power structure is always that of a pyramid shape. The masses are at the bottom and those who wield power are a few. Unless you have extraordinary capabilities or part of an inner circle or given a badge of approval by the system (for example the scholars in the Government sectors), chances are you will always be a commoner rising to the middle management at your best. You are not the only person working hard. You are not the only person who wants to climb. But there are just that few positions of power.

Furthermore, if you are in the workforce long enough, you should know and feel it personally yourself that employees are nothing but tools for the company. Anything goes wrong, out you go. Loyalty? They expect it from you but will give you none. Company not doing well? Good luck in retaining your job. In every recession, there are too many retrenched who had their lives collapsed totally and not being able to financially recover.

Of course, I have to admit here that not everyone is cut out to teach. But for those who can, continue in this line part-time for as long as you can. You do not need to take in many students. You have your life, you have your dreams to chase and that is understandable. Tutoring 1 or 2 students will keep you in this line but still leave you much time for your other matters. You will continue to clock your teaching experience, remain in this circle, build up your reputation while earning some spare change at the side. Of course, if you are teaching that few students, the month-end payment will not be something to celebrate about, but that is totally dependent on you.

When all is going well, you may feel that the tuition is unnecessary. But when things go bad, this part-time job can be activated and expanded any time, minimising any financial impact. But even if things are going well, let’s face it. Most of us are doomed to be in the lower or middle rungs of the corporate ladder. Take out a calculator and work out the math, factoring in bonus and all, how much per hour do you really earn?

Here is another proposition which deviates from the work hard put in the hours nonsense that people tell you: Work hard still and give your best in your job. That is what you are paid to do and your learning develops you. But go home on time. Recognise the fact that unless you are exceptional or favoured, you will not get far. Go teach that tuition and develop a sideline. I have friends who are earning way higher than the rate chart above, simply because they have built up experience and reputation over the years. It is like the salary increment you have in your full-time job. If you are good enough, you may realise that doing tutoring full-time may be even more worth it. I know a few who quit their jobs and went into this full-time.

Good To Have Side Quest
For those who wants to take this a step even further, take a certificate. Whether it is in the area of special needs education, or in the area of professional teaching, such academic stamp of approval opens more opportunities and allows you to command an even higher rate. For those with an even higher ambition, there are countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand who are in need of teachers, especially in the area of Mathematics, Science and Chinese. Science, for obvious reasons that it is essential to the tech-up of the nation. Mathematics because it is the foundation of Science. And Chinese simply because of the growing influence of China and certain countries have already made preparations for it. Teachers of these 3 subjects are welcomed because the countries want their young children to be good at it. Taking a reccognised certificate will open up another path into the country you plan to move to, get a job there and subsequently obtain a PR. Naturally, if you are aiming for a PR in another country, you got to do much more than just tutoring. Tutoring is just a small good-to-have step if you are just starting to prepare to walk down this path.

Tutoring is an easy enough, relatively stress-free job which pays quite decently and which you can do on a part-time basis. Its demand is high. But most important of all, it is a very viable and decent backup route to fall back on should things go wrong (eg retrenchment, sacked from job). Consider tutoring, even if all is going well for you now.

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- Resources Price
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