Difference between a Tutor vs Teacher, Learning Specialist, and an Educational Therapist

Posted by Erica Warren on

Is your child or student struggling in school? Are you considering outside help, but you just don’t know where to start? Finding the right person with the best qualifications to work with your student is often a difficult task. What’s more, it’s challenging to determine the type of professional that is required to meet the needs of your loved one. To help you with the process, here is a breakdown of the responsibilities and expertise you should expect from these many professions.
Finding the best professional help for students with learning disabilities


A tutor is a private instructor that has expertise in a specific school subject. They tutor or re-teach classroom concepts, and they may or may not have formal experience or training in education. Many tutors offer assistance with lessons or homework, and some may offer advice on study habits for students.

Tutor vs Teacher:

Many people wonder if there is a difference between a tutor and a teacher. The answer is sometimes. On the one hand, just about anyone can promote themselves as a tutor. Tutors do not have to have a degree in education, but they should have a bachelor's degree and a college major in the area of instruction.

On the other hand, public school teachers have to have a teaching license from an accredited institution to get a job, while private school teachers need a bachelor's degree. However, any teacher with master's degrees or a doctorate is preferable. Some working teachers also offer tutoring services both in a classroom setting and in the community.

This is common for high school teachers. Other teachers decide to leave their teaching jobs at schools to work with students or children in a full-time tutoring practice. They can work with students of all levels from elementary subjects to high school and college content.

Executive Functioning Coaching

Learning Specialist:

A learning specialist is a private instructor for students, parents, and teachers. They focus on metacognitive as well as compensatory learning strategies and they consider each student's learning style and difference. Many also offer instruction, training, and remediation in specific academic areas such as reading, writing, or math.

A learning specialist should have advanced training, degrees, and skill in education and significant coursework, if not degrees in special education, psychology, school psychology, educational psychology, and neuropsychology. Specific understanding of learning disorders, psycho-educational evaluations, and intervention strategies is paramount.

Expertise or skills in learning styles, multisensory learning, alternative learning and teaching strategies, self-advocacy techniques, and schooling accommodations are a must too. In addition, they should be versed in creating a fun learning environment, assistive technology, , software tools, educational websites, and apps.

Create a successful learning specialist practice in 60 days

Educational Therapist:

An educational therapist is a private instructor for students and other individuals that wish to improve their mental functioning. They too offer metacognitive and compensatory learning strategies but also include cognitive remedial training. This involves strengthening specific areas of cognition that are weak, such as auditory discrimination or visual memory. Moreover, the educational therapist should be versed in strategies that address social and emotional aspects that impact learning. Many also have expertise in working with students who struggle with executive functioning as well as attentional difficulties. Like the learning specialist, educational therapists have degrees in education and significant coursework, if not a degree, in special education, psychology, school psychology, educational psychology, and neuropsychology. Specific training in learning disorders, psycho-educational evaluations, and interventions strategies is vital.
Educational Games for Zoom Sessions

Communication is Key:

Whether you are looking for tutors and teachers, SAT support, homeschooling lesson plans, help with academic subjects, or sessions with learning differences, there are teachers and professionals out there that are happy to share their knowledge. What's most important is that you speak with each teacher, tutor, learning specialist, or educational therapist to learn more about their approach and educational level. Then you can schedule an appointment to determine if it is the right connection/relationship.

How to Find Local Help and Support

If you are having trouble finding the right teacher, you can always:

What About Online Support?

Online support can be another great option for families. Many teachers, tutors, educational therapists, and other support educators offer this option. Students and parents can save on travel time and expenses and students receive support at home on their computers. There are also many options available by people and companies across the world. While this is a great option for many students, for others face to face sessions are a way better option as they need that personal level of support in an environment that is structured and organized.

What Does it Cost to Hire A Teacher, Tutor or Other Specialist?

Each profession has a range of expected income, and there are a number of factors that will increase one's out-of-pocket expenses.

  • The location of the person offering the services. Those that live in high tax brackets tend to charge more than those in locations that offer affordable living.
  • The education level and degree of training also tend to inflate the cost of services. For example, a tutor that has an undergraduate degree will likely charge less than tutors with a doctoral degree.
  • Educational Therapists and Learning Specialists tend to be more expensive than teachers or tutors as they offer a wider breadth of support for their students.
  • People that are new to a profession, usually offer more affordable prices than those that are seasoned and have many years of experience.
  • Some businesses keep their costs down by offering specific programs or they may offer a group class.
  • Online sessions tend to be cheaper than in-person sessions.

Typically you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $200 per hour.

Are There Any Ways to Get Financial Support for Tutoring or Other Educational Support Sessions?

For people in the United States, the answer is yes! The IRS offers a document called publication 502. On page 13 under the heading Special Education, it suggests: "You can include in medical expenses fees you pay on a doctor's recommendation for a child's tutoring by a teacher who is specially trained and qualified to work with children who have learning disabilities caused by mental or physical impairments, including nervous system disorders." Click here to learn more.

Are You Interested in Becoming A Learning Specialist or Educational Therapist?

If you are a teacher, learning specialist, educational therapist, or tutor and you would like to join my Learning Specialist VIP list where you can get freebies, announcements, and advice CLICK HERE. If you would like to learn more about the courses that are currently available CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in purchasing learning specialist/educational therapist materials, go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com.

I hope you found this blog helpful. If you would like to reach out, just say the word and drop me a line.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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