Hiring Tutors in Singapore: How Much is Too Much?

You can always tell when the PSLE or “O” Levels come around. People involved look haggard, and if you gave them a syringe they’d start mainlining coffee and chicken essence. I’m not talking about the students either; I’m talking about the parents, working two jobs to pay off the tuition fees. But with every one’s out to hire the best, how much should good tuition cost?

 

Not pictured: A childhood

 

In general, tuition fees depend on five factors:

  • Whether the tutor is private or from an agency
  • The qualifications of the tutor
  • The hours involved
  • Whether the tutor travels to the home
  • The school grade of the student (which takes into account several of the above factors)

 

1. Agencies vs. Private Tutors

Some tutors may be Ministry of Education (MoE) teachers, who are not allowed to give more than six hours of tuition each month. In addition, they cannot register as an employee of a tuition agency. As such, they act as private tutors instead.

 

Grimacing teacher surrounded with kids

The teacher’s facial expression will accurately suggest the tuition fees.

 

Because they are actual teachers and have limited hours, these private tutors are in very high demand. It’s not unheard of for prices to hit $70 an hour, even for upper primary.

Agency tutors, on the other hand, adhere to a market rate. They are usually cheaper than private tutors and the rough breakdown based on school grade is as such:

 

Student’s Grade Level

Average Cost

Primary 1 – 3

$15 – $18 per hour

Primary 4 – 6

$18 – $20 per hour

Secondary 1 – 2

$22 – $25 per hour

Secondary 3 – 5

$25 – $30 per hour

Junior College

$35 – $40 per hour

 

2. Tutor’s Qualifications

Usually, there’s no price difference between diploma and degree holders. However, tutors with National Institute of Education (NIE) qualifications often charge 50 percent above the market rate. Tutors who are currently teaching in schools may go as high as double the market rate.

Another factor is “industry relevance”. This is related to the industry the tutor is currently working in. For example, getting an accountant to teach maths, or a physicist to teach science. For enrichment purposes (such as Maths Olympiad training), industry relevance might commend a 50 percent increase over the market rate.

 

Singaporean Parents: Would barely meet their standards

 

3. Hours Involved

Most tuition plans are one hour a week, intensifying to two or three hours a week as exams near. For this reason, it’s become unpopular for tutors to charge a monthly fee.

Some tutors provide value added services; for example, they may not charge for time spent correcting homework. In these cases, they usually give an additional half hour for free. Some tutors may charge more per hour on weekends; this is uncommon and not a local convention.

 

Child checking watch against background of Dali's clocks

“Thanks teacher. 20 minutes into your maths lesson, I understood what infinity feels like.”

 

4. Travel Costs

Most of the time, travel costs are borne by the tutor. Because it’s not a local convention to ask for travel expenses, most tutors will simply turn down a job that’s too far away.

If you have your heart set on a particular tutor, and they turn down your offer, ask if it’s due to travel expenses. Very often, offering to pay those expenses will make them change their minds.

Some tuition agencies have their own centres and classrooms. You might get a slight discount (less than 10 percent) by travelling to them instead. Private tutors sometimes teach in their own home, and may give you a similar discount if you’re willing to travel there.

 

Cost Breakdown

What could be more appropriate than a breakdown for PSLE and “O” Levels?

 

PSLE Tuition Costs“O” Levels Tuition Costs
Base Cost$20 per hour$30 per hour
Tutor QualificationsNIE trained (+ $10 per hour)NIE trained (+$15 per hour)
Number of Hours60 minutes per session, 8 sessions per month90 minutes per session*, 8 sessions per month
Travel CostsTravel to tutor’s house (- $3 per hour)Tutor travels to home
Total per Month$216$360

*30 minutes used to correct homework is discounted

Between using NIE trained tutors and tutors who are currently teaching, I suggest the former. It’s not as if the syllabus changes dramatically every five or even 10 years. And you’ll save a lot of money.

 

Do you hire tuition teachers for your child? Comment and tell us how much it costs!

Image Credits:
HughchisholmRenato GanozaTajaio5comfotologic

 

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