Why Tutoring is a great occupation for Linguists (Part 1)

This post is written by guest blogger Patrick Goodridge a linguist, language teacher, and writer based in Philadelphia, PA. Read more about Patrick below or on the Career Linguist guest bloggers page where you can also learn about being a guest blogger for Career Linguist yourself!!

I began tutoring for the SAT and ACT tests in 2013 as a sophomore in college, as a way to add to my income on top of a minimum-wage summer gig. Three years later, I can now say that starting my practice was one of the best financial, professional, and personal decisions I have ever made. This is due both to the many benefits I received directly from the work, as well as to the difference I knew I was making in the lives of my clients. Because on the skills both demanded by and developed through tutoring, it is an excellent choice of occupation for linguists young and old. Whether your background is in syntax or sociolinguistics, historical linguistics or computational linguistics, here are some reasons why I’d encourage you to start sharing your many linguistic skills through tutoring

  1. Tutoring is flexible, in more ways than one.

As we all know, there are many career stages for linguistics, nearly all of which are complex to navigate. As an example, let’s take the stage of graduate school. Grad school is a hectic time regardless of the field, linguistics being no exception. For doctoral students, 6-plus-years of scheduling advanced coursework, advising meetings, research, writing, conferences, can feel overwhelming compounded with a lack of stability in terms of income and future prospects. For such grad students, tutoring offers the flexibility to pursue a range of opportunities for growth and exploration.

Not many jobs allow you to choose you own hours, own clients, and own rates, along with where, when, and how you work. As a tutor, you can design your own original lesson plans, or adapt from existing resources. You can meet clients in a busy coffee shop, in the peace and quiet of a local library, or in their home (or yours). You can settle into working with a smaller number of clients with whom you have a closer relationship, spending more hours, or you can choose to frequently take on new or different clients if you prefer constantly changing environments to keep things fresh. You can negotiate with your clients to do an hour a week, two hours a week, or intensive sessions that can be upwards of 4 hours . The possibilities for tutoring offer almost limitless freedom, and the entire process also allows you to get a feel for the experience of being an entrepreneur. In fact, having such flexibility and independence early on may just motivate you to want to break out on your own later after gaining more experience in your industry.

  1. Tutoring pays (very) well.

Everyone needs to earn enough money to subsist and, it is a great bonus to earn enough to actually have fun every now and then. Whether you’re looking for a job that will significantly supplement your income, or you’re just looking for some more walking-around money, your ability to customize how much you earn based on your financial goals is another facet of the flexibility discussed above. As an undergraduate with abundant experience in tutoring, I charge anywhere from $15 per hour (the “friend rate” for basic SAT and GRE tutoring) to $30 per hour (the rate for advanced language study in German and Russian). This is by no means the top of the payscale; tutors with PhD level training and experience, especially those with a quantitative background, can charge up to $70 dollars per hour.

  1. Tutoring is rewarding.

Sharing knowledge and intellectual gifts with another human being is an innately rewarding activity. It also reinforces understanding of the subject. This reaffirmation results in a feeling of confidence and security about skills from logical systematic thinking, to programming, writing, speaking, and other abilities. And it’s not just from within yourself that this confidence is developed—almost all of my clients have sincerely expressed to me their appreciation of my skills and my commitment to my unique areas of knowledge. Few jobs are so thankful (as opposed to thankless). We shouldn’t underestimate the power of such affirmation and encouragement in a world where misunderstanding of our field proliferates.

To come in part 2 of this post:

Tutoring builds social skills, self-promotion skills, listening skills and teaching skills.

Tutoring is the most direct way to teach others about what we all love—language!

And more, so stay tuned!!

Much thanks to Patrick for this tremendous post!!

imagePatrick Goodridge a linguist, language teacher, and writer based in Philadelphia, PA. He will earn his BA in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania this May, and hopes to enter an MA program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies thereafter. He also works as a linguistic adviser for 3ears.com, a new Russian language learning site  You can reach him at pgoodr@sas.upenn.edu or find links to his other work on LinkedIn.