Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The awkwardnes of getting paid for work

I have a tutoring job lined up. One of the students in University Physics I was quite nervous about the class and contacted the professor looking for someone to provide one-on-one help. Tutoring is somewhat fun, and I always feel somewhat weird taking money for things I would probably have done for free anyway. Nonetheless, money is useful, and my time and experience are of value so I should charge something, right?

How much to charge is a trickier question. I've never been comfortable setting rates for my services. When I used to occasionally babysit, I just took whatever the parents decided to pay. As a result, I'm pretty certain that some of the time I was underpaid. (Based on what I've read, a responsible college student who is trained in cpr and first aid who's watching a two year old and a very rambunctious five year old for the evening and must make dinner and put the kids to bed should almost certainly not be making less than $5 an hour.)

What's the best way to bring up payment? How do I figure out what to charge? Undergrads working for the university in the tutoring center make over $7 an hour, and much of their time is generally spent doing their own homework while waiting for students to wander in. Graduate students have posted fliers advertising one-on-one math tutoring for $20 an hour or more. Does asking for $8/hour seem reasonable? Would $9 be too greedy? Should I wait to see if my student suggests a price?

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