11 Tutor Skills and Why They're Important for Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 October 2022 | Published 6 December 2021

Updated 11 October 2022

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Tutors employ a variety of skills in their work to prepare study plans, connect with students and explain concepts in a way they can understand. Whether you want to pursue a tutoring job or are considering working as a teacher and want to highlight your tutoring abilities, understanding how to present your qualifications can impact the quality of your application. By highlighting your tutoring skills and working on areas you can improve, you can introduce yourself as a qualified candidate to employers.

In this article, we explain what tutor skills are, review 11 examples of important skills for tutors and discuss how to improve them.

11 tutor skills

Tutor skills are traits and qualifications that help tutors instruct their students and further help them achieve better results in subjects such as math, science, art, writing, history and other specialised areas of focus. Some skills that tutors use in their role are:

1. Patience

Patience is an essential skill for tutors because tutors have advanced knowledge in a subject while helping someone with little-to-no knowledge. Tutors can also work with students of all ages and learning styles, therefore, some students may get easily distracted and have trouble paying attention during sessions. Patience is especially useful when working with students who are learning about a subject they don't enjoy, because they may express frustration during a session or actively try to distract you to avoid thinking about the topic.

By staying calm and being patient, you can not only ensure that the session runs smoothly, but you can also help your students practice self-patience to conquer challenging subjects. Patience also models positive behaviour for the student and shows them that with dedication, they can overcome distractions and learn difficult concepts. You can show patience by redirecting students and politely pausing instead of getting frustrated.

2. Positivity

As a tutor, you can inspire progress by giving your students praise, emphasising their strong points and encouraging them to challenge themselves. Because people often hire tutors for students who are having a difficult time with a particular subject, having a positive mindset about their ability to succeed can make a significant difference in their own mindset. Praising any sort of progress, setting goals and focusing on improvement instead of perfection is a great skill for a tutor because it emphasises growth.

3. Empathy

Some people naturally enjoy learning, while others may enjoy learning more if they had the right person to help them. That's why it's crucial for tutors to show compassion towards their students, who struggle with learning and retaining information. Empathy can motivate tutors to remain dedicated to their students while also empowering their students themselves to continue learning. Being empathetic can remind you that your students are trying their best and motivate you to find new methods to support them.

Empathising with your students can also be a strategy to change their perspective on learning. If you share your own experiences with having a hard time learning a particular concept with your students, they may feel less stressed about their own struggles. This can help them feel more comfortable opening up to you about the type of support that can help them learn and improve.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

4. Confidentiality

Keeping information confidential is a skill that can build a trusting professional relationship between you and your students. As part of a tutoring agreement, tutors can't mention the names or other personal information of their students to those without authorisation. This means not discussing students with other tutors or those outside of the program. When students know they can trust you to keep their educational information private, they may feel more comfortable being honest about what resources and support they want from you as a tutor.

5. Subject knowledge

Technical subject knowledge refers to your level of understanding of a particular topic. As a tutor, it's important to have an appropriate level of technical expertise to help your students master and advance in a particular subject or skill area. Before you can teach your students how to be successful and improve their skills, attempt to understand the topic in detail yourself. Sometimes, this involves acquiring specific lesson plans, test materials and study guides from the student's school so you can fully prepare the correct information to teach them.

6. Active listening

Active listening is the process by which someone demonstrates their attention towards the speaker by taking notes, maintaining eye contact, nodding and interjecting when appropriate. Tutors use active listening to build a positive relationship with their students and to show that they care about their concerns and are listening to their questions. This not only shows the student that the tutor values their time, but it also helps the tutor determine the best way to help them according to their specific needs and learning style.

Related: What Are Active Listening Skills? (Definition and Examples)

7. Communication

Successful tutors use their verbal communication skills to help their students understand complex ideas. As a tutor, you adjust your verbal communication style to match the comprehension level of each student. For example, the way you explain a concept to a college student differs vastly from the way you talk to a child in primary school. Written communication is also important for when tutors contact their students by email or write comprehensive notes for their students to use in the future.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

8. Leadership

Having excellent leadership skills allows tutors to guide their students and keep them on task. You can demonstrate positive behaviour and study habits when tutoring your students by being a positive role model for them. Beyond the specific subject you're teaching, you can lead your students to greater organisation and success throughout their education.

Related: 10 Leadership Skills to Highlight In Your Resume

9. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is the ability to identify a problem and create solutions. Tutors regularly help their students problem-solve and reach new skill levels in a subject. Successful tutors can identify their student's weaknesses in a subject and can help them brainstorm solutions to resolve these issues. They use their problem-solving skills to empower students to develop their own resolutions and answers, providing support when necessary.

When using problem-solving skills, tutors talk to their students about all the potential factors that may impede their ability to learn. Possible causes can include a lack of interest, distractions and difficulty understanding. Depending on their specific situation, they may change their tutoring strategy and collaborate with the student to meet their needs. Tutors can also apply their problem-solving skills when working through challenging test questions and homework problems, modelling how to use these skills in an academic setting.

10. Time management

Another useful skill for tutors is time management. Being able to manage their time productively means they can make sure tutoring sessions don't go overtime. Additionally, staying on task ensures they can cover all the topics their student wants to accomplish during the session.

Tutors also show students how to manage their own time effectively when completing classwork, allowing them to reduce stress when doing homework or when studying for tests. By teaching these skills to their students, they can improve their ability to learn the material and use their tutoring sessions more efficiently.

10. Organisation

Tutors often work with multiple students and may teach several subjects at different levels. They use organisational skills to keep track of all the different assignments, lesson plans and curriculum information they use in each session. This can include keeping a detailed schedule, maintaining a file on each student and reviewing lesson plans before every tutoring session. Organisation skills allow tutors to start each session in the correct mindset and give their full attention and focus to each of their clients.

11. Adaptability

Being flexible and adapting to the needs of each student helps tutors be more effective and support the academic success of their students. Tutors track the progress of their students and pay attention to which techniques and strategies are most effective. When they notice a student struggling, they use adaptability to change their methods. If a student seems to respond to a particular technique, they engage more with that style of learning. This allows them to customise each session and make the experience personal to the specific goals of every student.

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