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What Type of Qualifications Should I Look for in a Tutor?

Graduate students, retired teachers and professional tutors all have a different mix of degrees, certifications and training. So how do you judge their credentials? What matters and what doesn’t?

Because tutor training isn’t always a standardized process, it’s important to keep an open mind when seeking out 1-to-1 instruction. Here’s how you can determine the relative importance of qualifications.

1. Degrees and Diplomas

Typically, you’ll want to find an instructor with at least a bachelor’s degree (ideally in the subject or a related subject to what you’re studying). Keep in mind that Masters and Ph.D. candidates may have the subject expertise you’re looking for, while advanced degree-holders will likely have teaching experience in entry-level college courses.

But be careful about placing too much emphasis and importance on degrees. Remember that teaching experience and methodology are just as (if not more) important. Always be sure to ask about related teaching and tutoring experience, particularly with students at your level and age range.

2. Education Certifications

Degrees in education or certificate programs in teaching, tutoring and special education tend to focus on the theory and practice of teaching. These types of qualifications are an excellent indicator of experience in disseminating information in a way that’s easy to understand.

3. Tutor Training

Since tutoring isn’t regulated at the state or federal level, many tutors seek out certification and additional training from independent associations and certification programs. The main certifying groups are:

All of these groups tend to give out varying levels of certification. For a more in-depth breakdown of the differences between these certifications, take a look at the table, Choosing the Right Tutor Certification.

Tutoring certifications are a good sign, and membership shows that a tutor has an interest in staying current and connected.

What does the right tutor look like?

While qualifications are certainly important, we want to point out that the “right” tutor looks different for each and every student. A perfect match is relative to each student’s unique needs—so the best place to start is assessing what your specific learning goals are, and starting your search from there.