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Starting a business

How to Start an ESL Tutoring Business

Tutoring is a popular choice for freelancers because of the high hourly rates and low startup costs, and if English is your native tongue, you already have the knowledge you need to teach English as a second language. In many cases, you don’t even need to know the language that your student speaks. Of course, that also means there is plenty of competition when you’re an ESL tutor, but there are a few ways to get an edge as you start your business.

Obtaining Credentials

Almost all schools and private educational organizations require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for ESL teachers. While you don’t need to meet specific requirements to start your own business, you should still get a degree, ideally majoring in teaching ESL. It also helps to obtain a certification from an ESL organization. One of the largest is Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, and another option is Teachers of English as a Second Language – Canada, or TESL Canada. Both organizations include information about training programs on their sites. Having a degree and an ESL certificate looks good on your resume, and a solid resume leads to more students.

Planning Your Business

By putting together a business plan, you iron out all the details of your business so you know exactly how it’s going to work. This is where you determine exactly what you’re going to offer and how much you’re going to charge for it. Important points to cover at this stage include:

  • Do you plan to tutor in-person only, or online through video calling?
  • What geographic area are you going to cover, and do you plan to meet students or have them come to you?
  • Who is your target market?

It’s usually easier to start local. If you plan to find clients online, you may want to consider signing up with a service that connects students and tutors. To determine your hourly rate, check out what your competition is charging. Using those rates, factor in any additional information to decide how much to charge for your services.

Building Your Client Base

The best way to land students is by connecting with them in person, as they’re going to want to study with someone who makes them feel comfortable. Look for areas in your city that have large immigrant populations and print up marketing materials to advertise in these areas. Community colleges are a good place to look since students go there to learn English, and you should also visit any companies known for having a high percentage of immigrant employees. You may be able to get several new students if you offer to teach classes on site. With its flexible scheduling, high pay, and relaxed atmosphere, ESL tutoring can be a dream job whether you’re doing it as a side hustle or your primary source of income. Once you have your credentials, set up a detailed plan and start going where the students are to find your first clients.

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