Almost 97% of students in Singapore have had a private home tutor and it is no surprise at all. Singapore has one of the best education standards around the world based on PISA, hence there would be an assumed amount of pressure on students to maintain the benchmark and score well to enter top courses in Universities around the world.
The tuition industry in Singapore is estimated to be over S$1 billion, being a highly lucrative and golden opportunity to join the profession as a home tutor. Private tutors are high in demand, and being a full-time / MOE trained tutor can be quite lucrative. Some super tutors have reportedly made more than S$1 million per year!
If you are seriously considering to tutor full-time in Singapore, the following guide will outline the important steps you should take to become a private tutor, reviewing teaching certifications and providing insights to being a professional tutor.
Role of a Home Tutor
Tutors provide additional academic assistance to help students outside of the normal classroom curriculum. They help students to drastically improve their grades academically, understand and digest difficult concepts, develop study habits and skills, and ramping up for major examinations such as the PSLE or O and A Levels.
These professional private teachers are usually subject specialists, with the required expertise and experience to deal with students of different learning capabilities and learning curves (view how much home tutors earn on average in Singapore here).
How to Become a 1-to-1 tutor in Singapore?
1. Graduate from Junior College or Polytechnic
Tutors will minimally require a GCE A Level certificate or a Diploma to work with students. For any qualification less than that (i.e., GCE O Level), most parents would not choose to engage you as their tutor due to the lack of qualification and experience. Additionally, students who went through the Junior College path will also have a way higher chance of getting assignments.
2. Graduate from University
For tutors with a Bachelors’ Degree from an autonomous university in a high demand field such as English, Mathematics or Sciences, you will be able to expect a higher pay since there is much greater demand for highly qualified tutors.
3. Volunteer to Provide Tuition
Various non-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations, childcare centres and churches are regularly looking for volunteers to provide home tuition to the less fortunate and less privileged students.
Typically, many new and potential tutors can volunteer to teach in these organisations in order to gain some tutoring experience and understand how it is like to tutor other students.
4. Gain Tutoring Experience & Track Record
Once you have your first few students, it is especially crucial that you provide enough and adequate support to the tutee so that they would be able to improve their grades significantly, with the aim of getting a distinction eventually at the National Examinations. Enhancing your credibility as a home tutor and building up your track record will differentiate you from the rest, since you would be able to provide valuable feedback and recommendation from your past students.
5. Advertise your Tuition Services & Rates
With enough proven track record of your previous students, it would be testament to show that you are a successful and effective tutor. You can then demand for higher rates since you have proven methods to secure the Distinction grades for your students.
At this juncture, most of your students will come from word of mouth, home tuition agencies or advertising on different platforms on the internet.
Unlike a tuition centre or preschool, no official certification is required for you to become a tutor in Singapore. Most of our tutors come to the profession from another field, such as Accounting, Business, Research (Science), Education (MOE/NIE), etc.
If you wish to pursue an official certificate to improve your credentials further as a tutor, you may choose to do so from an accredited institution below:
Masters in Education (NIE)
One of the options available would be pursuing the Masters in Education offered by the National Institute of Education (NIE). There are various specialisation available, such as special needs etc. This certification may be less recognised than the others, since teachers do not need to have a Diploma in Education or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) to proceed with the Masters program.
Tutors in this particular category mostly do not have any teaching experience with MOE schools and would not be considered under the category of MOE school teachers. This program mainly focuses on teacher preparation, teaching the basics of working together with students.
NTU / NIE Teaching Program
Under the National Institute of Education, there are two teacher training certification – Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and Diploma in Education (DipEd). Both programs focus entirely on training individuals to become MOE NIE certified school teachers.
Obtaining a PDGE under the Teaching Scholars Programme will allow prospective teachers to teach in Primary School, Secondary Schools and Junior College, depending on their particular specialisations. MOE school teachers will eventually command the highest home tuition rates when they move on to provide private tuition on top of their teachings in schools.
Important Pointers to Note before Signing Up as a Tutor
At this point, if you are still contemplating to become a home tutor, there are few more things that you will need to know before you commit your time and effort fully to give home tuition.
1. You Do Not Need to be Fully Professional
You may be skeptical and hesitant to give home tuition since you may have forgotten what you have learnt in school previously. Conversely, it is far more important that you are dedicated and passionate to teacher, because the proficiency and syllabus of the subject will come naturally and quickly if you are keen to teach the student.
2. Home Tuition is a Service!
Yes, it is important that you plan for lessons and prepare the materials beforehand. However, you need to focus on making your student or tutee feel comfortable around you!
After all, it is all about trust building, regardless of how professional or well you can teach the student. Every child is different, with differing needs and requirements for different individuals. It would be dangerous if you fail to understand this principle – your life would be made harder unless you truly understand the needs of your students.
As mentioned earlier, each student is unique. Some understand concepts faster than others. Part of your job is to be as patient as possible and provide moral encouragement for student to push through tough times. Most of the time, parents typically engage a home tutor because their child is genuinely struggling academically and holistically.
The added support would mean a lot to the student and it would be completely up to the tutor to provide it. The lack of any positive encouragement or discouraging words is a bad sign of teaching and may eventually land you in the hot soup, or eventual termination of the assignment.
4. Teaching the Right Way
If you are new to giving tuition, teaching may be quite a daunting assignment if you are not prepared. It will certainly take time and practice to get the hang of it, and below are some things that you should prepare for lessons:
- Coming up with a lesson plan (topics and sections to go through for the academic calendar)
- Notes and extra practice materials
- Assessment books from Popular
- Past Year Examination Papers (PYP)
5. Tuition is Stressful
Other than added pressure from expectations and parents, preparation during examination periods will get stressful and busy for tutors. There would be great pressure on students themselves to succeed, but there is even more pressure on tutors to make them succeed.
When students have little to no improvement after a certain period of tuition lessons, parents may start to pressure and question whether your tutoring methods are effective or not!
6. It Will Eventually be Worth It!
Despite tuition being a highly stressful job, tutoring is incredibly rewarding as well. The sense of satisfaction when all your efforts and work has paid off when student gets the Distinction both you and the tutee have been working for and the smile on their parents’ faces.
There are certainly many pros and cons of being a tutor in Singapore, and it certainly not an easy feat. It would really depend on how you will want to tackle it. If you like children and enjoy teaching, you will definitely enjoy tutoring.