Becoming a certified math teacher is no easy feat - in Canada, you need to complete an undergraduate degree along with a degree from a faculty of education. It takes years to complete the educational requirements, and it can take even longer to find a permanent job in a public school board or a private institution.
If you are in the midst of completing a university major in math, would like to have some extra income, and are considering what math degree jobs are out there beyond teaching, you might want to consider math tutoring. No, you don't need a math degree to teach students who are looking to improve their math grades: many families looking for a tutor for their child simply need someone who has graduated high school. Working one-on-one or in small groups with kids is a great way to get into math education without jumping through all the hoops of education training.
There are plenty of benefits to working as a math tutor in Canada. You don’t have the hassle of managing large classes, you can be your own boss, and you get to share your math knowledge. If you work as a virtual math tutor, you can eliminate the cost of a commute and stay in the comfort of your own home. All it takes is knowledge of your local curriculum expectations and the ability to use virtual whiteboards and math apps!
Are you thinking of becoming an online math tutor? Find out all you need to know about becoming a math tutor or teacher.
Should you happen to be a math student that still wants to complete a degree, tutoring can work well with a busy class schedule while also giving you valuable work experience as an educator.
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to become a math tutor. Do you need a degree to get clients? What do students and families look for when hiring a tutor? What are the advantages of completing a math degree or an education degree, or both? Does a student’s success depend on the qualifications of the teacher?
Read on to find all the answers to these questions!
Do You Need a Math or Education Degree for Teaching Math?
More and more families are worried about math these days in Canada, and it’s not hard to see why. Math scores have dropped in recent years, despite the fact that parents still desire their kids to have strong mathematical thinking and reasoning skills. Why? We need math in our everyday lives, from budgeting to measuring a room to see if a piece of furniture will fit. We use mathematical thinking skills to cook, to travel, to understand the numbers all around us.
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There are so many jobs that require math: accounting, engineering, medicine, and more. Families want to see their kids excel in math because it means they will have so many opportunities in the future. Because so many parents want their kids to be successful in math, hiring a tutor is an easy choice to make when nothing else works.
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When families see their kids struggling in math, hiring a math tutor is an easy decision to make. Source: UnsplashWith so many people willing to pay upwards of $25-$30 an hour for private math instruction, thanks to so much demand from students and their families, you can see why math tutoring has become a popular part time job in Canada. The cost of living only seems to be going up, so it makes sense to save as much as we can.
So are you actually able to be a math tutor? Do you need a university degree to do it? If you are asking yourself these questions, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t require an illustrious academic background. You would only need degrees to teach in a public school board. However, you might still want to have some demonstrated success in math in your classes: the last thing you want is to be stumped by an elementary school algebra problem!
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Ideally, you will want to be a legal adult (18 years old) to teach or tutor math privately and have a criminal record check ready should your clients ask. A secondary school diploma will be valued by families looking for someone to work with an elementary school aged child; though secondary and university level math students will likely be looking for someone who has already completed their degree.
It’s not uncommon for students to find math difficult today, thanks to a lot of changes in pedagogy that require complex problem solving and detailed explanations. Tutors that excel in advanced areas of math like calculus, trigonometry and algebra will be hired without hesitation in many cases, but what’s most important is your ability to get your client enthusiastic about math. In many cases, the bigger problem can be with the student’s lack of motivation or strong learning skills, so you may provide the best math by simply keeping the student on task and excited. This can be much easier when you are closer in age to them than their teachers.
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Take note that most tutoring companies will expect their staff to have a Bachelor’s degree. However, tutoring sites like Superprof do not require those qualifications. Why? Educational companies have no choice but to depend on credentials to demonstrate their legitimacy to their markets, while online sites depend on reviews and testimonials from clients.
In fact, you can post your tutoring advertisement on Superprof and let your skills, personality, experiences, and passions shine through - which will have a big impact on customers looking for the right tutor. If your post secondary education is still in progress, you can share that you are a strong and fun instructor that gets kids excited about learning. Should you have lots of academic credentials, feel free to include them - they will certainly show you are ready to do the work of math tutoring. The site contains thousands of tutors from across Canada, so you'll see exactly what strong profiles look like. The site is beautiful and professionally built, so your unique tutoring profile will shine.
Superprof also contains an area for your clients to leave reviews, which will strengthen your tutor profile: another amazing feature of the site. If you are a university or college math student, and have great reviews from your clients, that is enough for most people to decide whether or not to hire. In other words, if you are engaging and capable of sharing math knowledge and teaching kids, the more likely students will be successful and better your credibility becomes as the reviews roll in.
Whatever area you can tutor in, bring your own personal qualities and it will go much farther than your degree. You can have a PhD in math and be terrible at working with kids; you could have a high school diploma and be the one that makes math comprehensible to a child.
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Can I Still Teach Mathematics While I am a Student?
Look at most tutor profiles and you’ll see many students offering tutoring, homework help, and test or exam preparation. These students are typically working on an undergraduate degree and looking for work to get valuable work experience and extra income to pay for tuition or rent. Sure, you don’t need to have finished your degree, but you’ll want some understanding of basic math to help younger students.
If you have more general skills in math, be sure to outline that in your profile and prospective tutoring clients. Will they care that you don’t specialize in a specific area of math? In most cases, no. This is because many tutoring clients tend to be kids in elementary or high school that are struggling in math, and aren’t focused on a specific area. In grade school, math is often quite general in scope and focused heavily on number sense or operations. Sure you may get a query from the student who needs quadratic equations or calculus concepts, but if that’s not your thing, simply specify you help younger kids.
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If you have already been accepted into university in a math or a related area like economics, engineering, accounting, or business, chances are you have a solid math foundation already and families will have no problem entrusting you to help their child in math. Another benefit for families is that a tutor who is still a student will generally be cheaper than a certified teacher. Certified teachers generally demand higher pay due to their education and experience. University or college students do not typically expect a higher fee because they are still in the process of gaining that valuable experience.
Parents will also be happy to hire a college or university student as a tutor because kids are usually excited to work with other young people. A narrow age gap means you will be much more relatable to a child than an older teacher, and you can have a unique rapport. You may even play the same video games or listen to the same music as your students - they will be much more motivated to learn and practice when they have a slightly older but cool and fun teacher.
If I’m Studying Engineering or Accounting, Can I Still Become a Math Tutor?
If you are studying for any jobs that require math, especially in engineering, accounting or business, you are most certainly qualified to be a math tutor. Should you happen to be working in any of these jobs, all the better!
Many people looking to get a math tutor are likely also trying to get into jobs that involve math, so they or their parents will value having someone who is already in the field. University or college students in math related fields should have no problem finding tutoring work, and will be just as sought after as those pursuing a math major. Tutors already working in jobs that involve math - engineers, for example - can even find work with undergraduates and graduates, and can charge a higher fee.
Find out how to advertise your services and get more math tutoring clients.
Students will value a tutor that is using math in practical environments. They can get insights on the world of work or your area of study that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. If you can appreciate some extra income and enjoy teaching, tutoring can be a great gig for any working professional.
See online tutoring jobs here on Superprof.
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Good Math Tutor?
Before we delve deeper, let’s distinguish between skills and qualifications. Qualifications are tangible proof of our education: a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, a Doctorate, or Bachelor of Education.
Teaching qualifications are usually learned separate from your degree program in whatever area of study you have undertaken. It’s an additional layer of learning in which you learn curriculum, educational policies, classroom management, and pedagogical strategies. You require a Bachelor’s degree to enter a teacher's college, so you basically need 2 years to enter a publicly funded school, and most private schools as well.
To be a tutor, you don’t need all of these qualifications, as your skills as a tutor are much more important. Background knowledge and a love of math is important, as is an ability to establish a rapport with your clients. You should be at least 2 levels more advanced in your subject than anyone you tutor.
Keep in mind that you are not doing all the work of teaching, but reviewing and reinforcing what the student has already learned. Your role is to make those concepts more comprehensible and to push your students to practice.
Here are some important qualities to have as a math tutor.
Good Tutors are Patient
Your clients probably wouldn’t be hiring you if they didn’t experience some level of difficulty with math, so make sure you are patient if they ‘don’t get it’ or are experiencing anxiety. As a tutor, your role is to help your student to overcome difficulties and develop a growth mindset so they can feel confident learning and making mistakes. Expect to explain the same things multiple times, stay calm, and know when your tutee needs a break.
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Empathy is Key
Put yourself into your student’s shoes and imagine what kinds of questions they’d ask and how they would feel. When you demonstrate empathy, you have built the foundation for a successful tutoring relationship. Your students will look to you for understanding and help, and you will have a much easier time providing that support when you know where they are coming from. Stay firm, but sympathetic and kind.
A Quality Tutor Cares About the Subject
If you care about math and are passionate about it, your enthusiasm will shine and rub off on your students. They will be excited about math because you are, and will feel inspired by your excitement for the subject.
Be Focused on Your Student
The final and most important skill for a tutor is the ability to truly focus on your student. Remember that this time is for them, and you need to stay vigilant, offer feedback, and walk them through some complicated math problems. Put your smartphone away, focus on your student, and you will accelerate the learning process for them much more efficiently.
How do Math Tutors Prepare for their Lessons?
Preparing for your math tutoring lessons takes a bit of planning: you will need to have a good sense of the curriculum your student is learning, as well as the strengths and challenges they have in math learning.
Find out from the parents or guardians if the student has an Individual Education Plan - do they have any special needs that have been assessed by a school psychologist? Are they receiving modifications or accommodations to their learning expectations at school? These are great questions for an initial interview with the family.
If you do have a student with special needs or challenges, you will need to identify ways you can make the math learning comprehensible for the student.
Once you take account of the student’s background, you can start planning how to run your tutoring sessions. Let’s say your student is in grade 6 and preparing for a test on order of operations. You know that he/she will need to use basic operation skills and mental math to do the work quickly and efficiently. He/She also has math anxiety, and gets even more nervous at the prospect of taking a test.
Let’s come up with a tutoring strategy that will make him/her feel more calm while practicing his/her math facts and skills.
- To lower anxiety, start with a math game or some flash cards within the student’s comfort zone. This will build their confidence and get them thinking about math. Take a deck of cards, flip 2 or 3 cards at a time (you will have to make up values for Jack, King, and Queen), and practice adding or multiplying them. Games like this will help the student practice mental math and spontaneous math thinking while having some fun.
- When your student is finally having fun and feeling confident with his/her skills, start with practice questions that are aligned with his/her skill level. Add a bit of extra challenge once he/she solves a problem independently. Review each step of his/her problem solving with him/her and give him/her feedback so he/she can correct himself/herself.
- Remember that math tutoring can take time: take the time to review, re-teach, and give feedback. Keep your sessions simple and predictable, and your tutee will feel safe and comfortable learning with you.
How do I Get Paid as a Math Tutor?
Many tutors on Superprof offer a free session or a free first hour to get to know the student and their family. During that time, discuss the rate of pay and how you will get paid - cash, e-transfer, and PayPal are just a few options. You can request that they pay per month or on a per-lesson basis.
Not sure how much you should charge? Explore the Superprof site to see how much other tutors you are charging, especially those with similar qualifications and credentials. By simply exploring Superprof, you'll get a good sense at what you can reasonably charge. Generate invoices for your clients as you will want these documents when tax time arrives. Look into claiming expenses as a small business: you can deduct costs like gas, supplies, and technology. Rule of thumb - save your receipts!
Think of your tutoring as your business and you will develop a style of support that kids and parents appreciate while getting the valuable experience of being in control of your success and income!
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