Let’s start with the story about how I started private tutoring. I was a graduating student of Mathematics in The School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU). Since I hailed from somewhat a humble background, I needed cash, and for that reason, I was spending my spare time by doing an hourly-paid job in a DIY store. On one beautiful day, I was trying to make a lady understand how the carpet-cleaning vacuum works. At first, I thought she was very eager to understand the secrets of that machine, but she stopped me in the middle of my rather lengthy disposition about the poor vacuum machine. She then told me with extreme confidence that I should have been a teacher. She also mentioned that she was a teacher, and she knew what it takes to be a teacher. I pointed out that I was still a student, and I had had another two academic years to obtain my degree. She was the least bit unfazed by this disruption and told me about how I could easily be a Private Tutor.
That was the start, and I am still doing it intending to do it as long as I can be able to do it. Of course, not everything was smooth, and I had to undergo stressful situations to make it a career.
But how difficult will it be for you if you want to walk the same walk as I have been walking ever since? Is it worth the hassle of being in the eternal search for new students? Will you be able to enjoy life with the money associated? Or should I, as in plain English, how much do the private tutors earn in this republic?
As per The Household Expenditure Survey (HES) conducted in 2017/2018, about $ 1.4 billion are spent yearly on tuition, and the number seems to be always on the rise. In hindsight, an outstanding amount if you are planning to make private tutoring a career. But it would be best if you also took note that there is cutthroat competition in the sector. The tuition providing agencies and enrichment centers have soared from 700 in 2012 to way over 950 to the present day, and it sheds light on the fierce competition in the tuition sector.
How Are Regular Teachers Paid?
I feel immense pride in saying that ours is a nation that pays the teachers handsomely. As mentioned in the MOE website, the annual salary of secondary and primary school teachers respectively is S$68,954 and S$57,919, including yearly bonuses. The range for a monthly salary of a diploma holder as a general education officer is about $1,750 to $2,300, and the postgraduate diploma holders usually earn around $2,900 to $3,500 in a month.
What About The Private Tutors?
Though the combined earning made by private tutors individually and in a group setting gets mentioned frequently, the Government currently has no structured guidelines about their payment. Now, there is no minimum payment fixed for the private tutors as an industry standard, but the following chart can shed light:
|Level/Tutor Experience||Part-Time Tutor||Full-Time Tutor||School Tutors|
|Lower Primary||$ 25-$30/H||$35-$40/H||$50-$60/H|
|Upper Primary||$ 25-$35/H||$ 35-$50/H||$55-$70/H|
|Lower Secondary||$ 25-$35/H||$35-$45/H||$65-$70/H|
|Upper Secondary||$ 25-$40/H||$45-$50/H||$65-$80/H|
|Junior College||$ 50-$65/H||$60-$80/H||$90-$120/H|
|IB(Primary Years)||$ 25-$40/H||$40-$50/H||–|
|IB(Middle Years)||$ 35-$50/H||$45-$80/H||–|
|IGCSE 7-11||$ 30-$50/H||$40-$70/H||–|
|Adult Language||$ 35-$45/H||$50-$60/H||–|
The private tutors don’t enjoy CPF contributions or bonuses, but the above rate is pretty much the standard of hourly pay for private tutors. So, if you are a private tutor earning around $30-40/H the year-round, you need to work about 40 hours a week to be on par with a MOE teacher whose salary is benchmarked at $ 57,919. This can also be translated into the grim fact that you need to be on a perpetual hunt for potential students and working at the weekends as well as holidays. As the Singaporean parents are conscientious for their child’s proper education, there will always be a regular and continuous supply of students, but, for a starter and determined to be successful in the career, you need to put long hours early in your career. You can also multiply your earning by arranging group tuition sessions at your home or in a designated place where you wouldn’t be attending one student at a time during different hours in a day.
But it is always possible to earn infinitely more. The keys here are to be specialized in niches, complete dedication in apprehending the subject-matter and performing accordingly, professional attitude, working very seriously from the very beginning to build up a reputation, etc. If you can grasp the above attires, you also can be the so-called ‘Super Teacher’ charging maybe even $ 1000 per hour.
I hope, now, you have a general idea about how much a private tutor can earn. But as an experienced professional, I can tell you this – being aware of the numbers won’t ever help you as a private tutor. For me, the love for the job helps me excel in it. I find it magical when a very nervous and hapless student rises from 22% in Mathematics to 88% within a couple of months. If that’s the case for you too, you can take Private Tutoring as a career, and you won’t ever regret the downsides that come with it.
But if that’s not the case, promising numbers will only make you miserable.