Quora Question: Why the 9-6 Schedule?

This answer is actually a rather fun one. In today’s society, especially since it’s the younger crowd that takes to the interwebs for answers, you may not see a lot of positive answers regarding the “daily grind.” That does not mean, however, that there are not advantages to working in a typical career with “normal” hours.

First, let’s examine some jobs that come to mind when we hear 9–6

  1. Administrators—These folks are the ones that are behind the scenes taking care of paperwork or ensuring that things run smoothly for other employees on the front lines dealing with customers or out performing whatever tasks are required in their company’s field. Though they have a somewhat tumultuous reputation for not caring about others, it is simply in their personalities to take care of the big pictures so that others can handle situations individually.
  2. Healthcare—Follow the link here for a whole list of medical specialists who maintain the 9–5 or 9–6 work schedule. This comes from a history of standard hours that these highly trained professionals maintain where emergencies are not the norm. Instead, you schedule times to meet with these guys and gals so they have the option of setting their hours (often exactly the schedule in question).
  3. Government—Many know this simply because of the frustration of getting off work or needing to utilize one of these services only to find they are closed haha! There are advantages though like holidays off, set schedules and a fairly predictable work day if you’re the one working for them though.
  4. Teacher—I’m adding this purely because I am a teacher. Though this is not exactly within the time frame of the question (I personally report in at 7:30 and am required to be on campus until 3:30 which turns into 5 after getting all of my stuff done), I believe it fits well enough into the vein of this topic as it is a “morning shift” job that has a set schedule around the hours listed.

At first glance, these broad categories don’t seem particularly appealing. The latest generations have found numerous ways to earn a very good living working outside of these norms and without necessitating the drive to a cramped space to churn out results, but still we have those who choose to remain in “white collar” jobs. Why is that?

I believe I have a unique perspective here as I straddle the line. I relatively young having not yet topped 3 decades, and yet I have both a standard morning job as well as a side-gig that I follow randomized hours. Every evening after I finish with the teaching portion of my day I maintain my own business tutoring math. Depending on how I am feeling that day, I may work until midnight or not at all. I have that freedom and sometimes double in a month what I earn at the school.

So why? Better pay. More flexible hours. No boss telling me what to do. Less hours overall. Quite a compelling argument can be made for ditching the 9–6 and is discussed at length all over the internet. Let me try to explain why I still keep both in order to shed some light on the situation.

SECURITY

Not exactly like that. I mean financial security and peace of mind. So many side gigs or online avenues require a certain level of risk. While I clearly found it worth venturing out of my comfort zone in order to earn money with my own tutoring business, I also had the back-up ready to pay the bills.

Many people either do not believe they can start a business or have fluctuating income due to families they have to support or as a result of poor money management. Older generations may not see the value in such crazy ideas, and younger folks who lack confidence to put their ideas out into the world remain happy with their salaries because they know at the end of the day they will be able to eat and have a place to sleep.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with individuals who choose to pursue their security this way as it is tried and true and has functioned well for a very long time. As we will discuss in other reasons, these people usually have more purpose in choosing this lifestyle than fear of leaving it which means their motivation rests elsewhere.

I can personally attest to the frightening aspect of having alternative work schedules. I have had great months where I’ve earned as much as $7000 just working part time tutoring, but I have also seen months where I brought in only $500. With a little saving skills and budgeting, the lean months aren’t so rough, but for the sake of argument here, it is an example worth noting.

Personality

A key to consider here is how others think. Many who find themselves in this thread are probably opposed to the idea of such a work schedule on some level due to the way they think. Unfortunately, everyone in life thinks a little differently, though wide patterns in behavior certainly exist. For example, people who like to work 9–6 for a salary.

Personally, I do prefer my open schedule and higher potential earnings due to the way I’m wired and the values that I hold. I was raised to take risks and always attempt to make the best of myself in every situation. To me, this took on the form of beginning a tutoring business to help others in math where they were struggling in the standard educational setting.

Many, though, find comfort in stability. This goes beyond the security detailed above and refers to where people find enjoyment. A comfy chair after a drive chilling to music might be a calming way to start the morning for some rather than viewing it as stuck in traffic then trapped in a cubicle. Working on approving a new policy with a team then returning to your own life with a definitive time to separate work and play every day might be just what certain personalities need.

Schedule

How could anything be easier to work around than a flexible schedule you control? Those writing jobs you see online aimed at stay-at-home parents who hustle the kids to and fro for school and practice fit perfectly in the down times. Yet the 9–6 crowd also usually has kids that they seem to raise fairly well and even allow for some extracurricular activities. How?

When you know that Monday-Friday you will be occupied for a given time, you schedule everything else around it. In rare instances you take time off for a special event or emergency. You have the advantage of relying on the fact that every day until the end of time, you will have the exact same hours of the day you will work. That leaves the rest for you to do whatever you need to or want to with.

Planning evenings with friends or nights out with the significant other become simple tasks that require very little thought. Personally, my friends make fun of me quite often saying “Kagan isn’t alive during the week.” This began when I had a terrible stomach issue that I couldn’t make time to go to the doctor for. It was silly of me, but having to move around tutoring when I had every single second booked from 7 am to 11 pm Monday through Friday, shifting things around became a nightmare.

For those who enjoy their 9–6 schedules, the idea of having the added responsibility of setting all those sessions up and having every day present a new challenge or whisk me off to a new location to tutor can be a nightmare. It certainly is to me on some days, and I enjoy it! The monotony we see can instead be a different kind of security and comfort for those other personality types.

Reward

The ultimate determination of anyone’s career choice is the reward involved. For some, this may be compensation. How much does it pay, and will it cover the lifestyle I want to live. Others may require the balance between work life and home life. This is the group who typically are “content with just earning a salary and working 9–6 their entire adult life.”

One of the highest rated job satisfactions is securely in place with actuaries. These guys earn a pretty darn good living working the 9–6 schedule, and most report this is due to exactly that balance between work, home, and pay.

Still others do what they do because they believe it is right or for the personal rewards involved. I fall in this category as a teacher. There are so many other things I could do with a math/physics degree, yet I choose to teach. Even then, I have already stated that I earn far more and even find more enjoyment tutoring. So why teach? Just for the security?

I grew up poor and dreamed of having a tutor so that I wouldn’t be so bored academically. (Weird right?) Because of that, I teach so that those who can’t afford private tutoring still get to see me. I still get to have an impact on their lives and hopefully alleviate some of the fears they have about mathematics. Further still, I am able to utilize that secure income to offer a few sessions privately for free to help make a difference that I never got to experience as a kid.

Many find there contentment in believing what they do makes a difference, which keeps them where they are happily working the 9–6. That’s not to say the same satisfaction cannot be had from us entrepreneurs who sought a different avenue. Instead, it simply means these others found their calling in a sector that utilizes a different schedule.

Conlcusion

There are dozens more ideas that could lead to an individual working with the philosophy you asked about that may not fit under the broad categories I mentioned. In the end, however, I hope that this has shown that different ideologies, though potentially foreign to us, can hold just as much meaning to those who hold them.

Thanks!

How much do Online Tutors earn?

As I have been getting quite a kick out of answering these questions I find online, I would like to attempt to shed some light on this area. This answer, like so many others pondering a monetary value assigned to a skill, is largely dependent on a number of factors:

  • Your Credentials
  • Your Tutoring Medium
  • Your Subject Area
  • Your Demand

Let’s look at each in just a little detail so as not to make a monster wall of text but still provide some meat to dig into. (I personally tutor math, so the example numbers I use will be based on that information.)

Your Credentials

As with any job, the more capable you are, the more people are willing to pay you. As a general rule of thumb, high school students charge $15–20 per hour, college students charge up to $30, individuals with a bachelor’s degree move up to $40, and master’s degrees go to $50+ per session.

Typically, this would vary slightly due to geographic location. Large, more affluent cities will be willing to pay higher rates on average than smaller towns. Conversely, areas with less tutors in your specialty may let you set your own rates. Buuuut, the online world doesn’t care about any of that.

In my mid-sized city with one of the lowest costs of living in the United States, families couldn’t care less that some New York tutors charge up to $150/hr because they are paying $40/hr for excellent teachers. My advice, figure out what your specialty averages overall, and charge that.

Your Tutoring Medium

This could honestly be the largest deciding factor in this list. What I mean by medium is how you choose to go about offering your services. Should you choose a tutoring service such as Wyzant to simply list yourself as an in-person tutor, the values would be very similar to what I stated above.

Other sites such as tutor .com pay out somewhere in the $10-$15 range as they take their cut and have to make money as a business. The most profitable, however, are those who have their own websites and promote themselves there. Taking into account the other factors on this list, you could earn quite a good living.

Taking things a step further, you could also offer lessons coaching other tutors or hopefuls dreaming of making a fortune charging upwards of $500 for a specific online course package where you meet with clients.

Your Subject Area

Again, I personally make my supplemental income through tutoring math. The numbers I have been quoting through personal experience. Few academic subjects other than physics or specialty courses will earn you more. That said, there is oh so much more you could do other than simple academic tutoring.

I mentioned above that some internet gurus offer training to emulate their success. Perhaps you’ve heard of copywriting and it’s potential to earn you tens of thousands of dollars for a few hours of work. It isn’t a scam. It is completely possible, assuming of course you are very very well known with outstanding results. But those who are well known are happy to train you for your shot…for a high price.

Add to this skills such as playing a musical instrument or sports coaching one-on-one and you can see just how diversified tutoring can be.

Your Demand

Just how good are you? What can you offer that no one else can? You should be readily able to answer these questions in order to land clients. Perhaps you are just as good as the next mathematician but offer quick wit an humor. That can be your catch for students. Maybe you are an excellent storyteller or have a knack for empathizing to help alleviate stress before tests.

Whatever makes you you is your highest selling point because there isn’t anyone else that can do it the same. Granted, you do need to be skilled at your specialty in order to teach others. Figuring out the demand for your skill as well as your specific ability to teach it will help you determine what you are worth usually through experimenting with different prices.

Conclusion

No answer will be a one-size-fits-all here which is hopefully apparent just with the four extremely broad and over-simplified factors that I mentioned here. In the end, it is up to you to set your prices and come to a justifiable amount for your own services.

What I aim to provide through blogging about this topic is a guide to getting started on your own. Even though every case is unique, researching the successes others have seen can help you to discover your own path to achieving similar goals.

Thanks everyone!

Breaking Into the Tutoring Game

The following is an answer that I wrote for a question on Quora that I will link to here:

How much does an average mathematics tutor earn monthly?

The answer is of course that it really depends. I am sure that isn’t the response you were looking for, however, so I will do my best to toss in my two cents.

First I am going to assume that you mean tutoring privately as yourself and not through a business such as Mathnasium or Sylvan, both of which I have been employed by and even run at some points. At either you can earn anywhere from $9/hr to $20/hr for private lessons. The advantage to such employment is guaranteed income at 5 to 20 hours per week with the possibility of more as you devote more time to them and rise in ranks.

The next factor to consider is what you are charging. This will rely on both your qualifications and location. I live in a mid-sized city where math tutors charge from $15/hr as high school students to $50/hr as teachers with masters degree or higher. I personally charge $20 to $30 for each hour.

Finally, you must take into account the time you are willing to invest in tutoring. As a teacher, much of my day is naturally devoted to my job in addition to planning lessons and grading. Thus, I typically only have from four in the afternoon until whenever I feel like is a good time to stop. A word of caution here, however. It is very easy to get burned out working late into the evening and pulling consistent 13 or 14 hour days, so if this is a part-time endeavor on the side, mind your health.

On average, I once read somewhere that tutors can make an extra $500 a month as a simple side gig. Personally, I average around $2000 tutoring with some months as low as $600 and others as high as $2800. (My all time record was a month where I brought in almost $7000.) I have been told that I am a more rare case, to be fair.

If your purpose in asking this is to begin supplementing your own income through tutoring, I have a few suggestions.

  1. Start Now — I managed to make a name for myself in college by having my name on their tutor list to be provided to local parents who inquired about help for their children. The ultimate key to building up a steady stream of students is through recommendations made over time. I know everyone hates to hear that nothing is a “get rich quick scheme,” but I can attest that anything worth doing takes time. As you work with more and more students, you will slowly gain a following.
  2. Get a Facebook Page — This one is actually unique from what many professionals would suggest purely because I mean to have the page as your primary source of contact. I purchased a website and maintained it for two years with zero response even from the fairly decent number of pupils I had already. My Facebook page, however, continues to bring new customers. Perhaps others have had different experiences, but this is what worked for me. (And it is completely free! I wouldn’t even recommend running their ads!)
  3. Make Every Session Your Best — Ultimately, your best qualification and source of new clients will be word of mouth. This is especially true for any city with a population of less than 100,000. Be your own unique self. Personally, I live by the philosophy that math terrifies people, so I make them laugh and boost their confidence. I promise that if you can get a student to laugh even once, their mindset will change, and their parents will notice. Associating any academic venue with happiness instead of pain for a family that has been having struggles is sure to have them talking about you to their friends.
  4. Figure Out Where to Advertise — Alas, even though this is surprisingly the least important part of the puzzle, it is just as necessary. Where else are you going to find your first student to start making your recommendations? I have found success in Craigslist, Facebook (as mentioned above), college campuses, and math departments. Anywhere that will let you post a flyer will help get your name out. Talk to others in your area to see the most visited spots both online as well as in physical locations. The most useful areas are those where you would find your prospective clientele. You’d be surprised how helpful people can be with a simple conversation about what you are wanting to do.

These are only four of dozens of tips floating around in my head as well as making rounds on the web, but they are broad enough to help get you started. Everyone’s experience is unique, so as you begin to get a feel for how you would like to work you will undoubtedly find your own successful route. What helped me was my experience at Mathnasium and Sylvan honing my ability to break topics down all the way from pre-K through Calculus. This lead to building relationships with parents who sought me out after a center closed and they still desired math help.

Some of those parents recommended me to a private school where I found my dream job and continued to make more contacts. And the success snowballs from there as long as you remain honest and love what you do. That is where the time part comes into the equation.

At the end of the day, the best advice is to begin tutoring because you want to make a difference in students’ lives. This passion will drive you to become better which will draw the attention of the clients you need. I wish you the best and hope that I didn’t drone on too long as well as managed to answer your question adequately. Good luck!

Kagan Love