Difference Between A Tutor and A Teacher

November 22, 2022
November 22, 2022 The Spark Tutoring Team

Families that have worked with a private tutor and a teacher often find the two professions quite similar. In fact, if you ask most families, they would prefer a tutor over a teacher because of the results most tutors deliver. However, comparing tutors and teachers goes beyond the results you see. Although both professions are dedicated to helping students acquire knowledge and do well in school, they are vastly different, and each professional has a pivotal role in the student’s academic success.

What is a Private Tutor?

Private tutors teach students individually or in small groups. The tutor often specialises in tutoring one subject or age group. In some instances, the tutor might be a retired teacher or no longer actively teaching by profession. The tutors may travel to the client’s residential home for their tutoring sessions or work at a school or academic centre, depending on where their job opportunities take them. Tutors may be considered an addition or support system for slow students who need additional practice with what they get from the class.

What is a Teacher?

Teachers have a more formal setting. They educate students in a classroom setting. They also devise and implement learning plans and assignments that can work for various learning styles and abilities. Most teachers specialise in a grade level or a specific subject. Teachers are foundational in imparting students’ knowledge and helping them acquire writing and reading skills.

Differences Between a Private Tutor and a Teacher

Many families that have worked with a tutor have seen tremendous growth and improvement in the student and, in many cases, are left wondering whether it makes sense to continue having teachers. Although private tutors and teachers are education professionals, there are numerous distinctions between the two careers, making them both an essential part of the student’s academic success.

Job Duties

Teachers and tutors share some job responsibilities like creating lesson plans, evaluating students’ needs and abilities, setting learning goals and giving out assignments.

But, there are also differences in their job responsibilities. For instance, tutors work with students individually or in small groups, while teachers work with groups of students of about 20 to 30 students. This distinction leads to other differences as well. For example, because tutors have fewer students, they can customise their lesson plans to match each student’s needs. Also, the teacher has more classroom responsibilities, like setting behavioural rules and maintaining classroom etiquette.

Average Salary

On average, teachers earn more per year than private tutors. The payment terms for each profession are also different. The exact amount of salary a teacher receives depends on where they work, with high school teachers typically making more than primary school teachers. Teachers are paid per month, while tutors are paid by the hour. The income for both professions is also determined by other factors like geographic location and level of education, but for teachers, these factors make a more significant difference in their salaries.

Type of Lessons

Teachers provide students with more broad knowledge of a subject than a tutor. That’s because teachers usually have to work with many students with varying academic abilities and needs. Tutors have more flexibility to teach a topic with greater depth because they have fewer students and better understand the learning needs of each of those students. They also have the luxury of planning flexibility with their lessons.

Student feedback

Private tutors and teachers give students individualised feedback. However, a tutor is much better positioned to provide personalised feedback than a teacher because tutors typically work with fewer or individual students. Tutors have the time to give students personalised attention to help them achieve their academic goals.

Work environment

This is the greatest difference between being a teacher and a private tutor. Tutors do most of their work in a classroom in a school. The school may be privately or publicly run. Tutors, on the other hand, are self-employed and have more freedom in their work environment. Some tutors can go to the student’s house, meet at the local library, or even tutor from the comfort of their home if they are tutoring online.


Teachers receive more qualifications than tutors before the beginning of their careers. As such, a teacher can easily become a tutor, but it’s not the case for tutors. They must acquire various certifications and qualifications, including completing education courses at a college or university.

Although some private tutors may have professional or educational credentials, they don’t generally need degrees or licences. Tutors usually show their competency in tutoring through content understanding, good grades and well-organised lesson plans.

Education standards

Tutors have to adhere to the educational curriculum standards and regulations. Teachers must ensure they complete the curriculum and incorporate the regulations required for each academic year. Private tutors aren’t professionally regulated or licensed by the government. They have more flexibility when creating their lesson plans.

How to Know When You Need a Tutor

A teacher is a basic need for the education of every student. However, there are scenarios that call for additional support for the students to help them measure up to the national standards and improve their grades. Some of the indicators that will inform you to get a tutor include the following;

Children with special education needs

Children with special needs will struggle to excel in class with the rest of their classmates. Some of the students require more time and patience to understand the concepts, and having a tutor that can give them that individualised attention will go a long way.

Gifted learners

It’s a common belief that you only hire tutors for students who are struggling in class. But tutors are also a vital resource for gifted students who want to expand their horizons and need guidance while they read ahead of the teacher.

Boosting confidence

Some children are amazing students but are held back by insecurities and uncertainties. They don’t believe in their abilities and second-guess themselves, which can impact their academic performance. Working in smaller one-on-one groups can help the students feel safer to stretch themselves, and the tutors have more room to practice positive reinforcement to help the student work on their confidence and realise their full potential.

Students need both teachers and tutors to do well in school. Although tutors usually come in to help students who are struggling. There is more they can do, even for gifted students. Parents should consider teachers and tutors as a tandem that works together for the greater good of the student.