A physics tutor is a person who instructs individuals or groups in physics outside of a formal classroom setting. Usually, the people whom a physics tutor instructs are formally learning physics in a classroom setting but are in need of additional help. This is not unusual, as the field of physics contains many difficult concepts that students often find difficult to master. This is true in all levels of physics; high school and college students often find the need for extra help outside of class. Sometimes, even working professionals such as engineers and businessmen make use of physics tutors when their work overlaps with some kind of physics concern.
The qualifications a physics tutor should have vary based on what kind of students he will be tutoring. To tutor high school students, it is often enough to have completed high school physics with good grades. It is not at all uncommon to find high school students tutoring other high school students. Tutoring in college is similar, though it is not uncommon to find physics or mathematics graduate students tutoring undergraduate physics students. Some people, including physics teachers, have jobs in the field of physics and work as tutors on the side either to make extra money or simply to help out.
One may choose to be a physics tutor for many different reasons. Sometimes, an individual tutors his friends simply because they need extra help. In other cases, students tutor others to gain service hours, which are important for honor societies and for many religious schools. Unpaid tutoring also tends to look good on applications for college or for jobs, as it demonstrates a sense of goodwill toward the community. Most tutors, however, have some form of paid arrangement with the students they tutor or with the parents of those students.
Physics can be a difficult subject because it demands a variety of different skills and a significant width and depth of understanding of many topics. A physics tutor may only need to help his students with the mathematical aspects of physics, which many student find to be particularly demanding. The conceptual aspects, however, can be just as difficult to grasp; this is particularly true when students study astrophysics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. A physics tutor needs to be able to instruct students through often-difficult mathematical problems and in hard-to-grasp conceptual issues ranging from simple Newtonian mechanics to magnetics and electricity.