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What's The Difference Between a Tutor and Teacher?

Updated: 4 days ago

A tutor teaching in a classroom for the blog header of this article: What's The Difference Between a Tutor and Teacher?

In online education, it's essential to understand the differences between tutors and teachers. Teachers lead classes with many students, following set lessons. On the other hand, tutors offer personalized help to individuals or small groups, usually outside regular class times. Knowing these distinctions is crucial for individuals interested in online teaching careers or seeking extra help with their studies. 

If you're considering becoming an online educator, understanding whether you prefer the structured approach of teaching or the one-on-one support of tutoring can guide your career choice. Similarly, for students seeking online academic support, knowing whether they need group learning with a teacher or individualized help from a tutor can make their online learning experience more effective.

Definition and Responsibilities of a Tutor and a Teacher

In school, tutors and teachers help students learn, but they do it in different ways.

Defining the Roles:


A tutor is someone who helps learners with their schoolwork outside of regular classes. They work with students one-on-one or in small groups. Tutors focus on what each learner needs help with, like homework or understanding a subject better. They can teach different subjects and are flexible with their schedules, physically and remotely.


A teacher instructs a class, following a curriculum, grading work, and maintaining order. They assist students in learning and test preparation. Physical presence is required for experiments or demonstrations.

Primary Responsibilities:


A tutor's main job is to give learners personalized help with their schoolwork, which can be discussed either physically or through digital platforms. They figure out where a learner needs help and work on those specific areas. Tutors also help learners learn how to study better and do well in school.


Teachers have numerous tasks. They need to prepare for each class in advance, considering factors like traffic, and arrive early. They plan lessons, teach students, grade assignments, and make sure the class runs smoothly. They also help students understand lessons and give them feedback to improve. 

Similarities and Differences:

Tutor and Teacher:

Both tutors and teachers want students to do well in school. They use different ways to help students learn and understand things. They also need to be good at listening and helping students with their problems.

Tutor vs. Teacher:

The big difference is where they work and how they teach. Tutors work outside of regular school hours and focus on individual students. Teachers work in schools, teaching whole classes and following a set plan. While tutors can teach many subjects, teachers usually teach a wider range of subjects and have more students.

Overall, tutors and teachers work together to help students learn and succeed in school. They each play important roles in making sure students understand their lessons and do their best.

Educational Setting and Context

Understanding where tutors and teachers work and how they interact with students

Where They Work:


Tutors usually work outside of regular classrooms. They may work in libraries, students' homes, or tutoring centers. Some tutors also provide online sessions, using video calls or educational platforms to connect with students from anywhere.


Teachers work in schools or educational institutions. They teach in classrooms with groups of students. Some teachers also use online platforms to supplement their classroom teaching or provide distance learning.

Settings for Instruction:


Tutors provide instruction in various settings, including one-on-one sessions or small group settings. They tailor their instruction to meet the individual needs of each student. Online tutoring is also becoming popular, offering flexibility and accessibility for students.


Teachers primarily provide instruction in classroom settings. They deliver lessons to larger groups of students, following a set curriculum. Classroom environments vary but often include desks, whiteboards, and other educational resources.

Influences on Teaching Approach:


The educational setting for tutors often allows for more personalized instruction. They can focus solely on the needs of individual students, adapting their teaching methods accordingly. Tutors have the flexibility to explore different teaching techniques and cater to different learning styles.


Teaching in a classroom setting requires teachers to manage larger groups of students and follow a structured curriculum. They need to maintain order and engage all students in the learning process. Teachers often use a combination of lectures, group activities, and visual aids to accommodate diverse learning needs.

Interaction with Students:


Tutors have the opportunity for direct interaction with students in one-on-one or small group settings. This allows for deeper engagement and personalized feedback. Tutors can build strong relationships with students and provide individualized support.


Teachers interact with students in classroom settings, managing group dynamics and facilitating discussions. They need to address the needs of all students while maintaining a conducive learning environment. Teachers may also provide individualized attention outside of class time, such as during office hours or extra help sessions.

Qualifications and Credentials

Understanding what it takes to become a tutor or a teacher:

Educational Requirements:


Becoming a tutor typically doesn't have strict educational requirements. However, having a strong understanding of the subjects you plan to tutor is essential. Many tutors have completed at least high school and may have further education in specific subjects. Some tutors also have college degrees, especially if they specialize in advanced topics.


To become a teacher, you need a bachelor's degree in education or a specific subject area, depending on what grade level and subject you want to teach. In addition to completing a degree program, teachers often need to fulfill student teaching requirements and obtain a teaching license or certification in their state or country.

Certifications and Qualifications:


While formal certifications are not always required for tutoring, having relevant certifications or training can enhance credibility and attract more clients. Some tutors choose to pursue certifications such as the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification or specialized training programs in tutoring techniques and strategies.


Teachers are typically required to obtain teaching licenses or certifications to work in public schools. These credentials demonstrate that teachers have met certain standards of competency and proficiency in teaching. Additionally, teachers may pursue further certifications or endorsements in specific subject areas or teaching specialties to enhance their qualifications.

Importance of Subject Expertise and Teaching Experience:


For tutors, subject expertise is crucial as they need to effectively convey concepts and provide assistance in specific academic areas. Having a deep understanding of the subjects they tutor enables tutors to address students' questions and challenges comprehensively. Teaching experience, although not always required, can further enhance a tutor's ability to communicate effectively and tailor instruction to individual student needs.


Teachers need to have strong subject knowledge to effectively teach their students. They must understand the content they are teaching and be able to convey it in a way that students can understand. Teaching experience allows teachers to refine their instructional techniques, classroom management skills, and ability to differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of students.

Compensation and Employment Opportunities

Understanding the differences in pay and job prospects for tutors and teachers

Comparing Compensation:


Tutoring is often flexible work, with compensation varying based on factors like location, subject expertise, and experience. Tutors may charge hourly rates or set fees for specific services. Rates can range widely, from modest to higher amounts for specialized tutoring services or in-demand subjects.


Teachers typically receive salaries based on factors such as education level, years of experience, and geographic location. Salaries for teachers can vary significantly depending on the school division, with public school teachers often having set salary scales based on years of service and qualifications.

Exploring Job Opportunities:


Tutoring opportunities can be found in different settings, including private tutoring companies, educational institutions, online platforms, or self-employment. The demand for tutors may fluctuate based on factors like academic trends, standardized testing cycles, and the availability of tutoring resources in a particular area.


Teachers have job opportunities in public, private, charter, and international schools, as well as online tutoring platforms. Job prospects depend on factors such as population growth, education budgets, and subject demand.

Factors Influencing Salary and Job Stability:


Tutors' earnings and job stability can be influenced by factors such as reputation, demand for services, geographic location, and market competition. Building strong and positive relationships with students and parents can contribute to steady work and higher earnings. When considering online tutoring, it's essential to look for a reputable platform or company to ensure reliability and trustworthiness.


Teachers' salaries and job stability may be affected by factors including experience level, educational attainment, and subject area taught. 

Potential for Career Advancement and Professional Development:


Career advancement opportunities for tutors may involve expanding their client base, specializing in high-demand subjects or niche areas, or transitioning to roles in educational leadership, curriculum development, or tutoring management. Professional development opportunities for tutors may include attending workshops, pursuing certifications, or participating in ongoing training programs.


Teachers have opportunities for career advancement through avenues such as obtaining advanced degrees, pursuing leadership roles within schools or districts, or transitioning to administrative positions. Professional development for teachers often includes participation in workshops, conferences, and continuing education courses to enhance teaching skills and stay current with educational trends and research.

Tutor vs Teacher — Summary

Below is a summary table highlighting the key differences between a tutor and a teacher:





Outside of classrooms, flexible locations

Within schools, structured classrooms

Student Interaction

One-on-one or small groups

Larger groups, classroom setting


Personalized to individual needs

Follows curriculum, group instruction


Flexible, subject expertise important

Bachelor's degree, teaching certification


Variable, based on services and demand

Salary-based, influenced by experience

Job Opportunities

Private tutoring, online platforms

Public/private schools, educational institutions

Career Advancement

Expanding client base, specialization

Advanced degrees, leadership roles

In a nutshell, tutors and teachers both play integral roles in education, but they operate in distinct contexts with unique responsibilities and opportunities. Tutors provide personalized support outside the classroom, catering to individual student needs, while teachers deliver structured instruction within school settings. 

Understanding the differences between these roles can help individuals choose the path that aligns best with their skills, interests, and career aspirations in the field of education.

Interested in becoming a tutor? Explore opportunities with EDGE Tutor today!


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